Ever since my triplets were born, I’ve always blathered on (to anyone who could stay awake) about the story of my kids’ birth. I’m sure I’ve bored many townsfolk about how my husband and I dodged a hail of bullets bringing our kids into the world. Arriving 11 weeks early – our triplets missed a great deal of time in utero meant for growth and development. Not to mention the drawback of having a mother born in the Mesozoic era.
As we discovered during our children’s eight week stint in the NICU, many preemies have major physical or mental issues that can be devastating for their families. We are filled with gratitude to have children who have been in excellent physical health over the last nine years and, thus far, possess only minor developmental delays. However, our son’s recent diagnosis of ADD has created a new challenge for us as parents. We’ve watched our child struggle to accomplish his homework every afternoon. He has the attention span a millisecond long and you can see him check out or start to fidget in his seat. He’ll often begin to tell us a story unrelated to his schoolwork, which, no doubt, is aimed at taking us along on his journey far, far away.
During parent/teacher conferences it became common for us to hear from his teacher that she has to redirect him many times throughout each lesson. I am grateful that my son happened to be placed with a third grade teacher who has experience teaching special needs kids because she has additional tools to help him learn, and extra compassion for his condition. When describing my son’s functionality in school, she uses the analogy of a radio with the dial constantly turning to different channels. He can’t keep the dial in his head on one radio station. This makes it difficult to focus on the subject at hand.
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates three percent to five percent of kids have AD/HD, but some experts believe that figure could be as high as 10 percent. It is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder in children. Clinicians diagnose ADD/ADHD much more often in boys than in girls.
My son doesn’t display the hyperactivity that accompanies ADHD, but I suspect that his heightened emotional makeup is part of his condition. He gets hysterical at the drop of a hat whenever someone frustrates him or his statements are challenged. If this episode goes on too long he is likely to hyperventilate and tell me he can’t breathe. He’s left with a sore throat and exhaustion.
My husband and I…being mere mortals…have played the typical head games with our own psyches. “Is this my fault?”; “If I hadn’t inhaled in college…” (That one’s my hubby, not me); “Could all that hot tubing have damaged the boys?” (Clearly not me either); “Was it all that adult dodge ball we played?” You can make yourself crazy.
The truth is that it is not clear what causes ADD/ADHD. The medical community states that a combination of genes and environmental factors likely play a role in the development of the condition. My hands continue to wring over it all. In consultation with his pediatric medical team, we have recently started him on a course of treatment involving medication and therapy. We are already beginning to see small signs of improvement.
Some people close to my husband and I have weighed in negatively on our decision to medicate our son, espousing homeopathic methods of treatment. Every parent has to make their own informed decision. I’d love to hear your comments about parenting children with disabilities. Let’s talk.