So in my last post I told you I am home educating Caleb, my sixth grade grandson who is both dyslexic and unmedicated adhd. I also told you I'd come back a lot more often to post than I had been. ahem. Yes, that was over 3 months ago. I'm sure you can put two and two together ;)
An opinion piece published in today's NY TImes was brought to my attention, and that is what motivated me to come on here and make the time to write more.
Caleb was put on Adderall for adhd when he was four years old--not yet even in kindergarten. He had already been asked to leave two preschools and I saw the writing on the wall. So I went to the pediatrician (along with Caleb's mother, my daughter Melissa) and pitched such a case for the boy that without arguement, the doc went and got his prescription pad. I've always heard pride in my voice when I tell that story because I thought it was pretty unheard of. I was under the impression that the typical way to go about it was failure in school for a couple years, batteries of tests, etc. What I'm hearing now is that prescription writing is pretty much the norm. Anyway, the Adderall did well by Caleb for many years--through the first half of 5th grade. At that time we took him down to the Davis Dyslexia Institute in San Francisco, and the facilitator who was assigned to work with Caleb somehow knew on the first day that he had taken his Adderall, like he did every day. She basically refused to continue the ($3,500) weeklong program unless he skipped his pill the rest of the week. It absolutely freaked me out but it was them against me so the week progressed with Caleb unmedicated. He hadn't gone without a pill for one single day for six years. I thought it would be a train wreck. But it wasn't. When I walked him in to his classroom the following Monday, I told the teacher, "You never knew Caleb was medicated before but you're gonna know he was now!" At the end of that first day she said, "Um, yeah..thanks for the warning!" By the end of that week her report was, "I miss my quiet, on task Caleb, but honestly; he's no more rambunctious than the rest of these boys."
I had been doing a LOT of reading about Dyslexia at that time and I told Caleb at one point, "I'm probably going to ask you to take some daily oils and vitamin supplements" and he said, "Grandma, I'll do whatever you want, just PLEASE don't ever put me back on that pill." He said that for the first time ever he felt truly alive. Certainly for the first time ever he had an appetite. He literally gained 40 pounds last year!
I wanted to share this part of his story right away because I know there's people out there just like we were who are finding life with medication pretty smooth, and the thought of it's absence is really scary. Two people here in Eureka I know personally that I've shared this story with because they have medicated boys the same age keep telling themselves, "maybe we'll give it a try next year." But I fear that what can happen is life flies by and next thing you know the kid is 18 and all he's ever known is to be medicated.
Everything DOES happen for a reason. I can't say Caleb learned much about managing his dyslexia that week in SF, but they ripped the bandaid off in a way that we might still have not done it to this day, you know? And I think that alone was worth the price of admission. :-)