Friday, July 27, 2012

Ben ADHD update

We are close to 90 days into the decision to medicate Ben's ADHD.  Yesterday was a good example of the strides he has made but also how very difficult managing his behavior remains.  The third med trial resulted in a choice of a medication that he takes with breakfast that lasts until around dinner.

Most days Ben is at his best in the am so we have blocked out weekly tutoring, 1/2 day camps, or appointments early. Afternoons are for the pool, playing outside with our neighbors, t-ball, and being lazy until dinner.

We've gotten into a summer pattern that seems to work with the exception of tearful outbursts over what seems to be inconsequential nothing. Luckily the tantrums are fewer on the medicine but still occur and mostly are triggered without notice.

Let's take yesterday as a prime example.  Ben is in a 1/2 day art day camp called "Art Outside the Box."  All week the class is using unconventional items to create art.  Yesterday they created mud paintings. When I dropped him off today they were stuffing paper inside an upside down tomato cage with the intention of throwing paint a la Jackson Pollack for some type of sculpture.  For a kid that normally raids our recycle barrel to create art projects this was a great camp for him. 

Back to yesterday when he dropped the mud painting in the parking lot sending most of the mud to flake off and be ruined.  Enter a massive meltdown with crying, kicking my car, screaming and at it's worst hitting and kicking me.  

What I have found is that when Ben falls into one of these tantrum, it is best to let him burn it off in a safe place.  When driving, I pull off the road and if needed pull him out of the car if he's throwing items, if in a store or restaurant someone sits with him outside until he is calmed down.  In the case of the ruined painting we sat outside the building on a bench while he transitioned from anger to sobbing to asking if we could ask the teacher how to make the mud paint and try it at home.   

It is a test of all our wills not to react in anger but rather calmly explain that we are not leaving or returning until he is calmed down. What also works is to let him know that if he destroys something, it will not be replaced unless he pays for it, if he physically hits us or Ian he automatically goes into time out regardless of where we are with additional punishment once home.  Part of me has just has to suck up the embarrassment of a bear hug to temper an out control tantrum in public.  Luckily minus some scornful looks, I've not had anything said to my face.  

Part of helping Ben, is also letting him figure out how to rebound and move on.  Even with abysmal behavior he on his own apologize and tell me he is going to try to think.  I like "try to think over try harder, because ADHD is not about doing it harder."  This is a huge gain for him to learn to regroup and move on with limited adult involvement other than physical proximity.  

As I already have a toddler in tow some days it seems like Ben is just a 50 lb version of Ian. The days of double tantrums are hard.  I still wouldn't trade that he is better due to consistent medication.  He has soared with self confidence working with the tutor as well as with praise for listening and acting appropriately during t-ball games/practice from his coach. I finally decided to check the box on camp applications and briefly mention that he has a diagnosis and is on medication and asked to be called immediately if he has a tantrum at camp.  So far not one call this summer and each of his counselors have reported good behavior at pick up.   

Doing the medication trials over the summer gave me so much more time to evaluate beyond relying on teachers' observations alone and I have hoped that instead of blindly guessing what the deal is with a tantrum, if knowledgeable can react appropriately.  I feel like a huge piece of my job as a mother to a child with ADHD is public education that my kid has something that makes him different, just like any other illness. Providing insight into what works for him including legit praise and catching him being good as a 1st line of defense.  Ben also reacts well to silliness, just like every other kid this age I know.  

Being at home with the boys without the responsibility of work has also allowed me to spend time with each of the boys alone.  Ben almost always chooses water slide racing at the pool and the days Ian has been in camp from 9-noon we've raced to the point my 37 year old butt aches.

Before his last art class today we walked to a nearby old time soda fountain as a field trip Friday at Camp Mommy.  Ben's behavior was stellar to the point that the man behind us commented on my kids good behavior and that watching Ian eat ice cream was the highlight of his lunch.

Remind me to revisit this day when the transition to 1st grade arrives with what I've sure will be behavior to match.  I'd like to be surprised that Ben's gains are more than imagined, they are real.


LauraC said...

So happy to hear this news.
Wish us luck since first grade starts today. I am a bundle of nerves, and I'm sure since I got up at 4AM to fly home, I'm not emotionally in a great place!

Beth said...

What a summer! And progress is progress, so give yourselves a huge pat on the back. You all deserve it. Thinking of you as you gear up for Africa!