Monday, September 09, 2019

ADHD and my teenager

A couple of years ago, Belle came to us and asked if she could be re-tested for ADHD and possibly try medication (again, as we had tried several years prior). Honoring her request was the first step in showing her that we supported her quest to become the best version of herself. 

We made the appointment, did the parent intake interview, and set up a testing appointment. When we went back to hear the results of her testing, we were not entirely surprised. Belle was officially diagnosed with ADHD-I(inattentive) and GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder). Very shortly after learning her diagnoses, we started Belle in weekly therapy and started seeing a physician to figure out what ADHD medication would be best for her. Double edged sword: ADHD meds can make GAD symptoms worse.

Contrary to popular belief, ADHD isn’t something you can just throw meds at. We had to discuss her specific symptoms and possible side effects, then started meds at the lowest realistic dose before titrating up. Regular trips to the doctor to check her symptoms and side effects, lots of discussion with her psychologist, and regular blood work was necessary. Some side effects go away in time, some are so uncomfortable that they require medication changes (which starts again at the lowest dose, titrating, and possible side effect management). Fortunately, Belle had few side effects and with a couple of adjustments she was fine. 

Fine and, in fact, fantastic. Fast forward 18 months and we have this child who is a complete light to all who know her. She’s always been that, but now she’s also focused and driven. She has always been self-motivated, but can now manage her to-do list. She can even multi-task effectively!

Not only has she accomplished all of these things, but through her weekly therapy sessions she’s learned what ADHD is. She’s learned how her brain works and has effectively trained herself (with the help of her wonderful psychologist) to work around the limitations ADHD previously placed on her. 

Have there been hard times? Oh, absolutely. Have we disagreed on how things should progress or how issues should be handled? Of course. But I really have no regrets. Well, I do have one regret. I wish that we had worked harder when Belle was young to find the treatment that would help her feel successful. I hate knowing that we could have done more to help her and we didn’t. I was afraid of the stigma. I was embarrassed. I felt like a failure as a mom and as a teacher. I had to get over myself so I could help my kiddo.