I know…I know…it’s Wednesday. I choose to focus on the fact that I finished this post, and not on the fact that I am a day late. 🙂

So, what do I have for my loyal readers today? (Side note…I HAVE READERS!!! I actually looked at my stats yesterday and saw that there are 25-30 of you that seem to be checking in regularly to read my posts. I knew I had a few supporters out there because some of you send me such lovely messages or link your blogs to mine. Thank you so much for that support! But 25-30 readers?! I had no idea! A big hug to each of you. 🙂

Anyhow, now that I realize I have actual readers, I will do my best to be a better blogger. You can’t see me right now, but my hand is on my chest. I’d lay my other hand on the bible to make it an official oath, but I’m not religious enough to know where my bible is. Or if I even own a bible. 😛 )

Anywho…back to my tip of the week….

Check out the link for a Family Barometer Satisfaction tool I found, from the website www.ADHDSupport.com. I really like this tool for a few reasons.

1 – If you have a child on medication, you should really try to measure their progress and success, at home and at school, on a regular basis. This is the only way to objectively get a reading on whether the medication is helping over a longer term. (I haven’t been doing this, but I will be starting after our next appointment with Dr. M as we’ll likely be trying a slightly higher dose of D’s Vyvanse.

2-This document can be used, as is, by simply printing off several copies (4 for you, and 4 for your child’s teacher) and placing them in a binder to keep them organized. Easy!

3-You can also use this document to create a list of expectations for your child. Grab some big paper (newsprint, flip chart paper or bristol board) and write out the items you and your partner feel are important for your child to work on. This needs to be written in a way that is age appropriate for your child, supportive and with a little creativity and colour! 🙂  You can use the document as inspiration.

For example: In my house, my son has daily chores and weekly chores. He’s 12 so I took some colourful paper and wrote up what is expected of him each day (tidying his room, taking out the compost and emptying the dishwasher) and each week (cleaning his room, sweeping upstairs and folding some laundry). I used washable markers to make it more colourful and interesting and then posted them on the wall, where he can see them.

This makes it easier for him to remember what is expected of him. I still have to remind him that it’s time to do his chores, and I still have to check to make sure he is completing them properly but I don’t have to keep repeating what he needs to do.

Trust me, that’s something. It’s one less broken record playing at him all day. 😛

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ADHD and Substance Abuse

January 25, 2011

Photo Credit

Though I like to focus on the strengths that come with ADHD, the reality is I wouldn’t be blogging if it was always smooth sailing, now would I? I promised to be real on here and the reality is that anyone living with ADHD knows that the condition comes with a fair number of challenges.

One of them is substance abuse and the statistics are staggering. It is said that between 30-50% of those living with ADHD will try drugs or alcohol in the hopes of improving their abilities, numbing their fears, decreasing their anxiety, and coping with painful issues and past traumas. Self-medicating may seem like a good idea in the short-term, but in the long-term it will result in a host of other addiction-related problems.

Wendy Richardson MA, MFCC, CAS, author of the best-selling book The Link Between ADD and Addiction explains, “The problem is that self-medicating works at first. It provides the person with ADHD relief from their restless bodies and brains. For some, drugs such as nicotine, caffeine, cocaine, diet pills and “speed” enable them to focus, think clearly, and follow through with ideas and tasks. Others chose to soothe their ADHD symptoms with alcohol and marijuana.

People who abuse substances, or have a history of substance abuse are not “bad” people. They are people who desperately attempt to self-medicate their feelings, and ADHD symptoms. Self-medicating can feel comforting. The problem is, that self-medicating brings on a host of addiction related problem which over time make people’s lives much more difficult.

What starts out as a “solution”, can cause problems including addiction, impulsive crimes, domestic violence, increased high risk behaviors, lost jobs, relationships, families, and death. Self-medicating ADD with alcohol and other drugs is like putting out fires with gasoline.”

That last part has been stuck with me since the first time I read it in her book. It makes so much sense to those of us on the outside, looking in. It is so easy to see clearly when you aren’t the one affected. It isn’t that simple for the addict though.

They can’t see what we see. Addiction is a disease that fools even the addict. It sits on their shoulder and tells them whatever they want to hear. It blocks out the ugliness they can’t deal with by covering everything with darkness, until they feel nothing. Their families and friends struggle to reach them and pull them back into the light but it’s never easy for either side. The brightness can be too harsh and the pain too much to fight with only good intentions. And so the struggle continues.

It doesn’t have to be a losing battle though. So many have overcome addictions using treatment plans that include medical interventions, therapy, 12-step programs and the support of the friends and families. There are so many inspiring stories out there and so much support to be found in groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, from people who’ve been there and survived to tell about it.

So, where do you start if you or someone you love suffers from this disease?

The first step to dealing with a substance abuse problem is recognizing that there is a problem. To do that it helps to understand the disease better.

  • What signs should be looking for?
  • What might be causing it?
  • What part do genetics have to play?
  • What changes can be made to improve your situation?
  • What treatment options are right for you or someone you love?
  • How do you take care of yourself, if you love someone suffering with an addiction?
  • Etc.

I’ll be posting some helpful links over the next few weeks to help address this challenge. If you’re reading this and have any links to share, please feel free to comment below or send me a message.

Substance abuse is something I hope to teach both my sons to avoid. Given our genetic pre-disposition for it and the fact that D has ADHD, it won’t be easy.

I can use all the help I can get.

I still remember exactly how I felt, nearly 9 years ago, sitting in the psychologist’s office after she told me that my son had ADHD. I was afraid and relieved, all at the same time. I finally had a name and a diagnosis that made sense and that I could sink my teeth into, but I was terrified of what was to come. I needed more information and answers to my questions. I needed a place to start and resources that were supportive and encouraging to read. I needed someone who had been through it all and would understand.

I didn’t really have anyone like that then and I know there are still many people out there who are dealing with this diagnosis alone. It can be overwhelming at the best of times and you’re going to need a strong support system in place to help you be at your best as a parent, so that the sweet little person who tugs at your heartstrings everyday gets the support and love they need to thrive.

Though my family didn’t understand D’s diagnosis (and still may not quite frankly), I was able to find the information and answers I needed, from someone who understood. Instead of sitting down over to coffee to talk about things though, I curled up in bed every night and found the answers I needed to get started, within the pages of some great books.

The books I curled up with in those early days are the same books I refer back to whenever I need to shift my thinking or reflect on what’s working and what isn’t. Driven to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction were my ‘bibles’ 9 years ago and they remain the top books I recommend to others learning to manage ADHD in their family. I used to lend them out, but they were SO good, I rarely ever got them back. 😛 In the last few years, we have also purchased Superparenting for ADD, which we love!

(Editor’s Note: There are many other authors and resources I have since discovered and LOVE! I’ll be sharing some of my favorites over the next few months, so stay tuned.)

The link below will take you to Dr. Hallowell’s website, to a favorite section of mine, where you can find a message to parents who are looking for a place to start their search for information and empowerment. Dr. Hallowell’s website has a variety of resources to help you or someone you love with ADHD. His website (like his books) is exceptional – supportive and uplifting, with strategies and techniques to improve your whole family’s experience with ADHD.

Help! I Just Found Out My Child Has ADHD!

Good luck with your next steps! 🙂 Remember you are not alone.

The Wait is Over! Or is it?

September 18, 2010

What a way to start the day. Sigh.

This morning, we had an appointment with our ADD/ADHD specialist, at her office. We were meeting with her to FINALLY get a copy of the assessment she completed with D, in June. THREE months ago now.

As you may recall, we found out back in July that our specialist was moving to a neighboring province for a new job. As this was all quite sudden and abrupt, many of her patients were not transferred to anyone new, including D. We had done our part in making the three necessary visits to her office and sitting through sessions lasting approximately 2 hours each. Yet, his file wasn’t completed before she left. So we were pretty frustrated, to say the least.

Even before this move had happened, we’d had our challenges with this specialist. We found her to be overbearing, disorganized and even condescending at times. We were not impressed with her services but as we had been on waiting lists for nearly TWO YEARS to see someone, we felt somewhat powerless to do anything about it. So we had continued on – completing our visits and all the necessary paperwork – so that we would have his assessment for the start of school a few weeks ago.

This did not happen, despite several requests. When I called again last week to complain, her assistant offered to book us in for today, since she would be here in the city wrapping up a few loose ends. She thought we “may have better luck in person”.

So, there we were, waiting in the doctor’s office. She was already 35 minutes late for our appointment and her assistant was busy trying to reach her on her cell. We could hear everything from the waiting room. No answer. No answer. Then finally she picked up and her assistant reminded her that we were there to see her. About 10 minutes later, she arrived and spent the first few minutes chatting with her assistant, asking how to raise the volume on her iPhone.

Then, she seemed to remember us finally and invited us into her office. As she was closing the door, and having still not apologized, she proceeded to tell us how she was in bed…ASLEEP…until just minutes ago when her assistant woke her. And then she laughed. She guffawed like she was truly tickled by her unprofessionalism.

Oh. My. God.

(I may be thinner and cuter, but I totally looked like that.)

WHO DOES THAT?! Who would be so unprofessional and inconsiderate and then come in and be brazen enough to laugh about it, without so much as a sheepish apology? Argh!

As frustrated as I was, I managed to hold it together to request that she complete the file and provide us with a complete copy of D’s assessment before we left her office.

Anyhow, I’ll spare you the details of the visit but there were “words” between the doctor and I. (J got in there a few times too.)

In the end, she provided us with…drumroll please….an incomplete file! 😦

Sure, the diagnosis was there but some of the supporting documentation was still missing. Not a problem if your doctor is sticking around, but most definitely a problem in our situation.

I did manage to get a letter for the school from her however. I never gave it to them because there were too many spelling errors and…oh yes, this is my favorite part…she put the wrong year in for his birthdate. Easy mistake to make…I’m sure he could pass for EIGHTEEN! Let’s be honest, that letter would only hurt our credibility with the school.

Sigh.

After today’s experience, I think it’s safe to assume that this 6 second video sums up our feelings…

Moving?! What?!

July 27, 2010

Apparently, our ADD/ADHD specialist is moving. In a WEEK!

How did I find out the doctor we waited nearly 2 years to see was leaving her practice, you may be wondering? I called to set up an appointment for next week and was told by her assistant that she wouldn’t be available as she’d be gone by then.

“Gone?”, I asked.

“Yes, she’s moving away and closing the practice.” Hadn’t I received the letter in the mail, she asked.

No, I had not.

News of this very abrupt move leaves me feeling stressed. We still haven’t received a copy of his assessment (completed in June) and we need this before school starts. To complicate matters more, we’re leaving for England in a few days and we’ll be gone for 5 weeks. By the time we return, school will be underway and we wanted to have all of this taken care of before we left.

Now we will also need to ensure we get a copy of his records and all documentation too, so that we have everything we need before she leaves. Otherwise, we’ll have to start from scratch with a new doctor and I can’t even bear the thought of putting D through that again.

This doctor is giving me grey hair. And let’s be honest, very few people can pull that look off. Anderson Cooper really is an exception. A very handsome exception. 😉

We have just returned from D’s check-up with his family doctor, Dr. M.

We hadn’t been back since D’s assessment at the ADD Clinic in June, so it was nice for D and I to bring her up to speed on the assessment and how we felt about the process.  D was also very proud to share the good news that his report card for this term had been one of his best yet (mostly Bs, with a few Cs). Yay!

I haven’t set up a follow-up appointment yet with the ADD Clinic to discuss treatment options. (I am still having some issues with the doctor and her methods to be honest, but more on this in a future post.) I am aware however that we need to keep trying to sort out the options for medication, until we find something that complements everything else we’re already doing. It’s just easier for us, at this point, to work with Dr. M because she has a really good understanding of our situation. She knows how committed we are to helping D and she knows how hard it was for us to even consider medications. Bottom line, I trust her and we work well together.

So far, we have tried Biphentin (20 mg) and Ritalin (5 mg).

Before trying Biphentin for the first time (back in May), I had done quite a bit of research on the possible benefits and side effects. One of the reasons I liked Biphentin was because so many parents recommended it. The main reason they preferred this drug to others was because it seemed to allow their child’s personality to flourish, while controlling the impulsivity and lack of focus. This appealed to me because D had a great personality and sense of humour. He is a curious child and loves to talk. I didn’t want to lose all this, just to be able to control the challenges better.

I also liked that Biphentin is a slow-released medication. D would only have to take one a day, in the morning, and then the condition would be managed with the minimal highs and lows can that happen with stimulants.

Anyhow, D’s reaction to the 20 mg dose of Biphentin was bad. Really bad. Scary bad. He was fine at first, but then the side effects started to appear. I won’t get into all the gory details, but I will say that at one point I found it so hard to look at him that I had to go cry in the bathroom of the Chapters store we were visiting. I wondered if I had made a horrible mistake even considering medication at all. He wasn’t much better as he came off the medication either. It made him weepy and anxious. It wasn’t a good day.

I contacted Dr. M right away and over the phone told her about D’s reaction to the medication. She said we could try a lower dose to see if that might be a better fit for him, but I was so spooked at that point that I didn’t want to hear anything about Biphentin EVER AGAIN. So we tried Ritalin. Just a little. Perhaps too little, because it didn’t do anything. D felt no different, and we saw no changes over the time he was on it.

So here we were, back in Dr. M’s office, talking next steps.

Well, you may have already figured out by the title of this post that we’ve decided to give Biphentin a second chance.

I know…I know…but believe me I have thought this through fully. I have been reading more about medications and their effects, both good and bad, to get a better understanding of what went wrong the first time. I have also been talking to our doctor and the doctor at the ADD Clinic and we feel ready to try it one more time.

I’m always advocating for second chances, so I’m taking my own advice.

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