100th post, first week of school, meds change...I'm exhausted
Posted Aug 29 2009 10:49pm
This is my 100th Post on "a mom's view of ADHD." I never imagined it would turn into such a great community of concerned family and friends, well-wishers, and other ADHD parents who can relate. I am so grateful for all the ideas and support you, my readers, give me. I am touched by the camaraderie of my virtual friends. I am glad I took the leap of sharing my experiences and emotions with the world, it turned out so cathartic and rewarding. I thank all of you reading this for touching our lives. To the gifts ADHD brings into our lives!
So we just completed the first week of school. Luke started 2nd grade and Emma 5th. We had a super rough start. The first day was a somewhat isolated experience for Luke and Emma cried for two hours after school because she is in a class without any of her friends and wasn't befriended all day.
But it could only get better, and it did. We ended the week nearly on a high note.
Luke's new teacher, Mrs. G, has been doing everything she can to try to follow Luke's 504 Accommodations and to make sure her classroom is an environment in which he can learn too. Many things were overkill though and were more detrimental than good.
When I walked Luke in on morning #1, she had given him his own "office." He had two desks all to himself and a large area taped off around it and he had his own corner of the room. She even had several table-top games like dominos and a math game and an entire bucket of wooden building blocks. Sounds great, I know. But when you think about the special needs of an ADHD child in the classroom and the fragile confidence of the ADHD child, you begin to see this wasn't the ideal setup.
First, isolating a child, any child, isn't good. He was placed very far away from all the other children, who's desks were grouped together. So he was alone and far away, and he knew it, he felt it.
Secondly, with this far-away placement, he couldn't see the teacher's face when she was talking to the group. Eye-contact is crucial when speaking to anyone with ADHD. It ensures they are paying attention to what you are saying. I don't think he heard much of anything she said that first day.
Thirdly, the items she gave him as "fidget toys" were actual toys that were a complete distraction. Not only a distraction for Luke but the other kids were gathering around his desk to check things out too. He needs items like a stress ball and putty for hand manipulation while listening to the lessons. Not something that will fully deplete his attention. Now the wooden blocks came in very handy toward the end of that first school day when Luke started crying for me and they were able to re-direct him by allowing him to build for a bit. but, by Friday, the blocks had become an off-task issue, keeping him from completing his work.
So I marched into the classroom with Luke on morning #2 at 7:30 am, the earliest you are allowed to enter the classrooms in the mornings. I expressed my concerns again about the isolating placement of his desk and let her know he was expressing concern also and that he said he had a hard time hearing what she was saying. She immediately said she'd do whatever she needed to in order to make him comfortable. She also expressed that she hoped I realized she only wanted what's best for him. Of course I realized that and I let her know how much we realized and appreciated all the effort she was putting into doing just that. I offered to come back after school to help her move the furniture and desks in the classroom. She said they would do it while the kids were at art class. But then she said she just wanted to go ahead and do it right then before class started. I think it was bothering her that he was unhappy.
And so we moved desks and tables at 7:40 am that morning. I left the classroom in a sweat. While his placement still isn't my ideal, it addressed the most crucial and immediate deficiencies. He is still off to the side but right up to the edge of the grouped desks of the rest of the class. I think he can see her face when she addresses the class now. I plan to go in late next week and observe and help in the class and see how things are going.
Which brings me to my last change of the week: Luke's meds. I had complained to the doctor's office two weeks before school started that Luke was starting to have some anger episodes again. We had only seen this behavior in him during medication trials when we had the wrong medication or the wrong dosage. I was concerned that his medications weren't right. That his body was starting to reject them, so to speak. After two weeks, on the afternoon of the first day of school, they called to tell me I should taper him off the Tenex and how to do that. Then we are to assess how things are going once just on the Concerta again and see if the Tenex was working and should be added back. Ugh! I tried so hard to avoid something like that during school and their inefficiency caused just that, meds change right at the start of a new school year. So we've reduced the amount of Tenex he gets each day by 25% so far and his behavior is, at times, almost as bad as pre-medication, if not worse. It has not been a good change and it will take four weeks to completely taper off.
But we will persevere.
How was the start of a new school year for your ADHD kids?