Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What a Difference a Day Makes - By Cara Potapshyn Meyers

Or, more accurately, what a difference a medication can make over the course of one day!

As I ranted last week about my son continually taking off his medication patch for his ADHD, my HUSBAND (yes, the same one who would NEVER, EVER put his son on ADHD medication!) actually put a call into my son’s ADHD doctor to see if we could switch from using the patch medication to a long-acting oral pill. We were given the same medication that was in the patch, but given by mouth once a day instead.

What a difference a day DOES make!

The first day that my son took the pill, he behaved exactly like our son only toned down a few notches. Even better, I discovered that my son has exhibited less overall anxiety and has been far more in touch with his feelings. Instead of blowing up when his anger became too much to handle, he has been much better able to communicate what he wants or needs in the present moment. I have found that ability in him to be remarkable. And it is all due to a tiny, time-release medication. I thank the Heavens that this med is working for my son and working well. I don’t think my husband would tolerate trials of different medications to see which worked best. I have finally discovered my true Angel, only a little more new and improved!! And I absolutely love it!

My son’s ADHD is genetic on his paternal side. His father has it. His Uncles have it. Even his Grandfather has it. Only one of my son’s Uncles is willing to admit he has ADHD. The rest of the family is in denial. My blog today focuses on parents and how they deal with their children’s diagnoses. ADHD is often genetic. As I mentioned above, my staunchly adamant ADHD husband, who was against giving my son ANY form of ADHD medication, now is convinced that we have a “new and improved” child!

The research is quite intriguing. From what I have both researched and personally experienced, parents come in two distinct categories when it comes to their ADHD children. There are parents I have met who accept that their child has ADHD even if the other parent refuses to accept the diagnosis (such as in my case). The accepting parents try very hard to play an active role and be the very best role model they can be when they are with their child. They try their best to educate themselves and learn to work with their ADHD child rather than against him or her.

On the other hand, there are parents who resemble my husband. These parents refuse to acknowledge that their children have any disorders at all. They are harsh with their children, overly strict, and domineering. A combustible combination if there ever was one. Because ADHD children are commonly very intelligent, they recognize that they are not being treated fairly and power struggles ensue. Relationships with these types of parents either never “jell” or they fail miserably because of the parent’s refusal to look beyond themselves and see who their child really is.

I discovered some interesting facts through my research of how parents relate with and affect their children. There are parents who take classes, look for books or articles to read or join support groups to learn as much as they can about their ADHD child. Also, the parents who are accepting of their child’s ADHD should try to educate themselves not only about the disorder, but also about the different types of ADHD and how it affects their child.

According to an article from the Northern County Psychiatric Associates, ADHD has three basic features:

•  Inattention (distractibility, daydreaming or “spacing out”)
•  Physical hyperactivity (fidgetiness, running about, or “flitting” from one task to another)
•  Impulsivity (acting without thinking and many times later regretting it)

The article states, “Children with combined ADHD involve inattention along with hyperactivity and/or impulsivity. This is a classic ‘boy type’ ADHD. These children can be creative and charming, but may require more of the parent’s time and energy.” My son falls into this category. And as an older Mom, I could have told them that these children definitely require much more time and energy!

I am not the only one in a situation where parents are divided on this issue. As the aforementioned article points out, “Some parents may base their opinions on inaccurate or skewed material. In previous generations, there was more stigma associated with mental illness and behavior disorders." If a parent perceived ADHD as shameful, they didn’t want to think that it could appear in their family.

Very unfortunately, there are parents who constantly yell at their ADHD children. Some parents spank their ADHD children. The article goes on to say, “Parents should take special care to avoid such punishment in ADHD children because it can lead the children to become impulsive. These children might get the message that the use of hitting or violence is a way to resolve conflicts. Gentler methods, even if they take longer, provide the child with a model of how to resolve disagreements.”

Parents must strive to use gentler methods and be a positive role model to their children. This was why it was so challenging to discipline my son last week when he was going through his “rebound effect.” His nerve endings were going through withdrawal. It would not have been fair to my son to punish him when he has absolutely no control over his nerve endings! The best I could do was to try to keep him safe until the medication left his system.

Above all, treating the child with respect elicits lasting respect between parents and their children. This is the foundation in every action you have with your child. Especially an ADD/ADHD child. Respect goes a huge way towards fostering a loving, caring relationship with any child and his or her parents.

“Parents can fill an important psychological role in their children’s development,” the article states. “Children tend to perceive the parent’s acceptance as more unconditional. In many cases, the parent can be a source of advice and comfort. Even during adolescence, a child may try to pull away from their parents but because there is still respect, the teen usually will choose to maintain a closeness to their parents.” This is why it is so imperative that parents be encouraged to learn all they can about ADHD and how it affects their children. The more empowered parents feel, the more proactive they can be.

A little bit of knowledge, at any age, can go a long way towards helping children with ADHD feel loved, accepted and successful. And respect can go a very long way to fulfilling lasting, unconditional relationships between both parents and their children. And one day, should your child require ADHD medication, you might see a miracle buried inside of your wonderful child. Then you will agree and be saying, “Wow! What a difference a day (or a medication) makes!”

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Blogger Robin Gorman Newman said...

Good piece Cara, and glad your family is having a positive experience with the medication.

Another point for those families contemplating medication for their child, but perhaps aren't a fan of the notion......It's truly a personal choice if you go that route, but you want to consider that you don't want your child's self esteem to suffer. And, if you wait a long time, and they experience challenges in school, both socially and academically, then being in denial isn't serving you or your child.

As parents, yes we need to be positive role models, but we also have to put aside our own pride if it means that we have to meet the needs of our children in a way that we prefer not to admit, for whatever reason.

At the end of the day, you want your child to succeed and have the most supportive, nurturing family dynamic possible.

7:59 AM  
Blogger Cara Meyers said...

Thanks for adding that, Robin! In fact when my husband stated to one of the professionals who evaluated my son that he would NEVER give my son ADHD medication, the evaluator said to him, "I realize that is YOUR opinion. But what is in the best interest of your CHILD??" He, of course, didn't say anything. Now he thinks he found the cure for every malady known! Thus the title: What a difference a day makes...

5:36 PM  

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