Saturday, October 05, 2013

School, Impulses and RAD/ADHD

  We have constantly been seeking out ways to help Jon heal, regulate himself, and control his impulses. Although medications can do wonderful things for a child's behavior, they only mask the underlying issues and do not fix them. Therefore we have only used meds when absolutely necessary and at times it was the only way for him to be successful in school (and for us not to force teachers into early retirement!)

  We are now completely medication free and he is doing okay. Occasionally he gets a color change at school but they are now for things like talking and playing in line. Hey, thats like a normal kid! He has been having difficulty in PE but we are working on it.

  Here are the things we have done that may or may not have had any real impact. Somehow the total of all of them have worked. No, he is not 'fixed' but he is so much better. And so much HAPPIER!

1) Black and white. There cannot be any gray areas for him. If he gets by with something once he then begins to spin out of control. It takes 1000 reinforcements to convince him that the boundaries are there.

2) Coordinate with the school. We are extremely blessed to have wonderful people in our school who truly care and want to help. This has been a true blessing. I was up at the school on Thursday when a dear PE teacher that Kaytee had since 2nd grade came and found me. It seems Jon had been very disobedient and disrespectful to her while waiting in the gym for the bell to ring. She was concerned because this was new behavior she had never seen. We had a long talk about meds and behavior and such. She was very supportive and together we came up with a plan of action. I am meeting with his teacher on Monday. I had e-mailed her a few weeks ago just to give her a little insight into him but I think she didn't quite grasp what I was saying. She just assured me that all kids need time to settle into the school year and he would be fine. She didn't even react to the fact that I had already confiscated several stolen items from him. She will not be helping him by being nice and going easy. See #1 above.

3) Therapies. We started with the traditional therapy route. Talk, talk, talk, play, act out scenes, etc. This was a total bust. He is charming and delightful around strangers and shows absolutely no sign of the extreme turmoil raging inside of him. Two different therapists told me he seemed fine. I got the feeling they thought I was trying to create issues with him for my own attention. I wish! This is when I began to think outside the box. We took him to a year of ABA (Applied Behavioral) therapy. This is an intense form of therapy often used for children with Autism. For Jon, we had them concentrate on emotions. Reading other people's emotion, reading his own emotions, and the proper reactions to those signals. Before he started he had absolutely no comprehension of facial expressions. I would be joking with him and he would burst out crying or screaming thinking I was mad. I had a light fun tone to my voice, big smile on my face, and open body position, but he saw MAD. Now he is able to read those expressions, and can even tell me what he is feeling. Amazing progress! We have done some neuro-visual therapy to re-route pathways in his brain. This has been proven to work for PTSD. There has been Hippo therapy (horse back riding) and our therapy dog Buster.

4) Supplements. I am a big believer in nutrition having an impact on whole person wellness. Research has suggested that kids with ADHD symptoms may benefit from Omega's. There is also some studies that report these kids may also be low in zinc and iron. We have begun adding these to his routine. He fights me on taking them, not because they taste bad or make his stomach hurt like the ADHD meds do, but just because he has the need to control EVERYTHING. He is very passive/aggressive about it. He will smile and take the pills, act like he swallows them, and then I find them under his chair, in the dog food, in the toilet, etc. If I stand over him and watch him and make him show me his empty mouth afterwards, he cries, chokes on them and will throw up. (He can vomit at will, a common trait in RAD kids) One other thing I found is that ADHD kids do not sleep well and are perpetually tired, leading to more behavior issues. We now use melatonin each night and he is falling asleep much faster and staying asleep.

5) Diet. This goes along with #5. I restrict the amount of processed foods he gets. I cook from scratch as much as possible to limit preservatives and additives. I pack his lunch every day (I had to lock his school lunch account because he was buying a bunch of stuff I didn't want him to have and not eating what I sent). He gets a nutritious snack every day at school, too. (Our school has a snack time for every child every day. They have realized that a child who has breakfast at 7:30 am cannot make it to lunch at noon without running out of energy) As for sugar, I don't actually limit it but I do watch what kinds of sugar he gets. Less processed and more natural sugars. Does this help? I don't know, but it makes me feel like a good Mom! LOL!

6) Discipline. Ugh. I feel like I am on him so much more than the other kids. He just requires so much more direction and external regulation. I hope this gets better because I cannot spend my life following him around and telling him what to do. I have to think way outside the box on this one. I use a lot of humor to redirect him. If he tells me No (not allowed) I will make an exaggerated face and in a super goofy voice ask him, "What did you say? I didn't quite get that?" and he will giggle and do what I asked him to do. If he starts screaming mean things at me, I place him on his bed, then stand in the other room screaming bizarre things. He screams he hates his life, so I scream I hate lima beans. He screams how mean I am, I scream how big an elephants behind is. He usually stops screaming in less than a minute and ends up smiling. Then I tease him about smiling......and he smiles bigger. When humor doesn't work, I will have him do chores for me to make up for his behavior. He actually likes this! I give him things to do and then tell him what a great helper he is, how good of a job he is doing, etc. Positive, positive, positive. Not over-the-top fake positive but sincere words. I have also been known to completely loose my shiznit and scream at him. Not proud of those moments. We do sit and talk about it afterwards. Sometimes when he pushes me that far it has a huge impact on him. On one hand he is trying his best to push me over the limit, but on the other hand it scares him a little bit. We talk about it afterwards and he and I have a bonding moment. He is like me I say. We both lose our cool sometimes and we talk about how to do things better next time.

What has worked for you? What hasn't? I have no idea if I am doing things right, but I just keep trying!


Reba said...

Sounds like you are doing a wonderful job! Love all you have said. Probably one of our biggest helps was the whole diet thing. Once we figured out our kiddo is "chemical sensitive", we started paying a lot more attention to what goes INTO his body as well as ON his body. (Chlorine pools are not our friend) So I cook a lot more, we avoid certain ingredients, and life is better. We also have just learned to parent differently. Once we started realizing how many behaviors are from anxiety, we changed a lot of ways we handled things and it has helped. I still don't have all the answers but we are getting there...slowly but surely!

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

arg, I hate that feeling that you're "on" one so much more than the other. It's just that the one is instigating and provoking in order to get me "on" her and it works.
BTW, I'm quoting your post on twerking with a link. Hope that's okay!

Anonymous said...

So happy he is doing better! I've been looking I to neuro linguistic programming and Even emotional freedom technique. I thought they sounded far out there before but when you look at the science they make so much sense and the result for a myriad of childhood and adults issues can't be ignored. I'm looking into traveling very far to see a neurolinguistic programming practitioner I've been reading about for the last few months. Neuroplasticty is so amazing. Glad you guys have been dabbling in that too. Best of luck always.