paying attention part 10: limbo

Before taking my blogging hiatus, I had started to tell Bentley’s story. In nine different posts, I shared his diagnosis of ADHD-Inattentive, the struggle to find a doctor, our issues to medicate or not medicate, and the worst struggle of all: teaching him how to swallow a pill. (Yeah, I’m not kidding. That was the worst.)

We are now two years into his diagnosis and things are…good. Actually, they are really good. We ended up changing his medication one more time. Like many conditions that can be managed with medication, it takes a while to find which medication is best. Bentley is on his third medication, Concerta, and this one finally seems to be the right fit. There are still side effects, his lack of appetite and trouble falling asleep, but he started taking a second medication at night that helps with both of those. Wasn’t our first choice to put him on not only one but two medications, but after trying it for a few weeks we noticed great improvements. Great improvements are hard to deny.

But medication isn’t the only fix. We also met with a couple of therapists. After reading about the benefits of something called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that works well in conjunction with medication, I went on the hunt for a therapist. This type of therapy works to help kids change the thought patterns that can keep them from staying on task and focusing. It also helps with other areas that kids with ADHD/ADD struggle with like time management and organization.

Much like my hunt for a doctor to diagnose him, finding a therapist wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be. I would love nothing more than to help my son myself.  I wish that I could just read a few books and be able to help him focus, help him pay attention, stay on task, stay organized. But I can’t. I am his parent, not his therapist.

The first therapist we found who claimed to treat kids with ADHD/ADD didn’t even know what CBT was when I brought it up.

“Now, what is that exactly?” the therapist asked me during our first appointment.

“I read that CBT is one of the best therapies to help kids who have my son’s diagnosis of ADHD-Inattentive,” I replied. “And, well, you said that you worked with kids who had been diagnosed with ADHD/ADD.”

“I’m just not familiar with that particular therapy,” he said.

I have a problem with going to a professional where I know more about his field of study than he does.

“Actually,” he said, “I think Bentley might have control issues. Does anyone else in your family have control issues?”

“Yes, well, me. Yep, I come from a long line of controllers. We’re not controllers. We just want it the way we want it.” I stopped talking and tried to force a laugh but it came out sounding manic, which is never good when you’re sitting in a therapist’s office.

I couldn’t get out of his office fast enough.

Finding professionals in the fields of medicine and education that have been trained/educated about ADHD/ADD in children has been far from easy. This has shocked me more than anything else about Bentley’s diagnosis. According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 10 kids has ADHD and that since 2007, 5.4 million children have been officially diagnosed. That’s not a small number. In a school of 500 kids, there are at least 50 that have ADHD/ADD. That’s a lot, people.

We eventually found a therapist who was familiar with CBT, had worked with kids with ADHD-Inattentive before and was willing to work with our son. We met with her a few times and Bentley seemed to like her, mostly because she had a cool LEGO game in her office that he got to play with while he was there. After four or five meetings, she told me in not so few words that Bentley was good to go.

Really? That’s it? Um, okay. Sigh. So much for that.

Did I try to find someone else? No. Bentley was about a month into the new school year and seemed to be doing fine. Better than fine:

  • he was staying on task at school
  • he was doing homework without being reminded
  • he was no longer bringing home unfinished school work
  • he liked school
  • he wasn’t a discipline problem
  • he was making good grades
  • he had friends
  • he was happy

I mean, I have friends with kids without ADHD/ADD who don’t have it so good.

Maybe our boy was getting better. Maybe that LEGO game did more for him than I realized.

more to come…

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