Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Little Girl and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Medicine (Part 1)

So in recent weeks, Little Girl was officially diagnosed with ADHD.

I have many opinions about this. First, how do you diagnose a child with ADHD anyway? You have the parent and the teacher fill out a questionnaire, that pretty much any kid who is being referred for ADHD testing is going to fail anyway, and then they call it a diagnosis. It's not like they can do a blood test or a brain scan or something and say, "Oh, look, yep, there's the problem right there, this is definitely a case of ADHD." So I don't put any stock in a doctor's diagnosis of ADHD anyway, for any child. All they're doing is putting a label on symptoms, not diagnosing a cause.

Second, do I think Little Girl truly has ADHD? Maybe she does, but I'm not convinced. I think she has a combination of things going on, myself. Her diet first and foremost. I have told my sister repeatedly that if she would stop letting her eat anything she wanted (and she eats a LOT of junk food... a LOT) that that might be enough to cure her right there. But she won't take the time and the effort to change the child's diet. "It would upset me if I couldn't have cookies and candy and pop," she says. "I don't want to upset her."

Um, yeah. Not impressed.

She also has not been consistently disciplined. It's understandable to an extent. Her dad walked out on them when she was just a baby, my sister was young and very inexperienced and trying to struggle along raising an infant by herself, then I won't even go into all the men she dated along the way who all had decidely different opinions on how Little Girl needed to be treated and my sister is a pushover (except when it comes to my opinion, apparently!) and then all the uproar with Little Girl emotionally when my sister finally married. And they do much better disciplining her now, but even still there are certainly flaws in consistency... and Little Girl takes full advantage of them!

And add on top of all that the fact that she inherited the family stubborn streak. :) She decides what she wants to do and by golly, nobody's going to convince her any differently. That includes teachers.

However, despite all these issues, she really hasn't had problems this year at all. In kindergarten, she was constantly in trouble, but she has a much more reasonable teacher this year who recognizes that, hey, these kids are 6, and doesn't expect them to sit motionless and silent for 7 hours a day as the K teacher did.

So why my sister decided Little Girl has to be on meds now is beyond me anyway. I think she sees it as a magic pill that will make her perfectly well behaved and she won't have to do any work to do it. No discipline. No dietary changes. Just pop a pill every morning and I have an angelic child.

I was very very unhappy with this decision, and have been fighting her on it for months, to no avail. I even found an "alternative" treatment which utilizes various vitamins, minerals, Omega-3s, etc. to boost attention in kids -- all of which I know Little Girl doesn't get enough of because all she eats is junk -- but the pills were too big for her to swallow, and when we opened the capsules and tried sprinkling it in food or drinks, well, it just wasn't going to happen, let's put it that way... I don't know why on earth they couldn't have made this in a chewable form, or in smaller pills, knowing it was designed for children.

So two weeks ago, Sunday, Little Girl took her first ADHD pill. She's on Vyvanse, for all you google searchers whose own darling children have been transformed into someone you don't even know and you're looking for more information.

It was a dreadful day from beginning to end. The first I saw of her was when I went to pick her up from Sunday School. Typically, I enter the room to find Little Girl up and about, doing something. Always busy and happy. She'll turn and see me and excitedly run to meet me and show me what she's playing with or working on. But on this day, I walked in and she was sitting in a chair. With her head down. Doing absolutely nothing. Just sitting.

"Little Girl," I called. She looked up. No reaction. She just sat there. I was alarmed. Was she sick? Hurt? What on earth had happened to our Little Girl? No, she said she was fine. She very quietly got up and came with me. No excitement, no nothing.

She didn't even ask for a donut on the way out, and that has NEVER happened before. Typically it's me trying to scoot her past them on the way out of church without her going into a tantrum, because if Grandpa is there, he always lets her have one.

Typically the whole family goes out to eat every Sunday after church, but on this particular Sunday, various members had various things going on, and as it turned out, only my parents, Little Girl, and I went to dinner. She talked incessantly the whole way there as she always does, but somehow it was different. Usually there's so much enthusiasm, she's so cheery and chattery, but this was just like a nonchalant rambling with no excitement to it at all. She just droned on and on.

We arrive at the restaurant, and she receives her kids' menu and starts working on a word search. And then the real problems began. Typically she sits and works on her puzzles and coloring and such in her menu and never asks us for any help at all. If she can't do it, she just does what she can. Sometimes she might show us what she did. But that's it. Not this day! She wanted constant help -- but she didn't really want help. She would whine that she couldn't find a letter, and that that letter wasn't in the puzzle, but she wouldn't let me show her where it was or even give her a hint. If it so much as looked like I might be going to give a hint, she went into hysterics. And the tears just rolled down her cheeks nonstop. It was the most dreadful word search I've ever seen in my life.

And then she was circling the word "butter" and accidentally drew her line a little long so it started to encompass the next letter, which happened to be an S, and she flipped out. "It's okay!" I assured her. "No big deal, here, we'll just fix the circle." Normal Little Girl behavior would have been to fix the circle herself and never even mention the problem.

"But you can still see it going around the S and you can't erase crayon!" she wailed. "Well, we'll just mark it out," I tried to calm her, and I took the crayon and scribbled out the extra mark. "But you can still see it!!!" she cried. "Well just circle the S and make it butters then," I suggested.

"Butters isn't a word!" she kept on crying. "Sure it is," I said. Anything to try to calm her down. The waitress had just brought the basket of bread, so I picked up two little packages of butter and said, "Look, here are two butters for your bread." ;)

"It's not butters, that's WRONG, it's just BUTTER!" she declared. "Butters isn't a word!"

"It's a word," I said. "If Grandpa says nice things to Grandma so he can get her to do something, you'd say that he butters her up."

It didn't work. Finally she moved on to just coloring a picture. Surely there wouldn't be any stress involved there, right?

Wrong. She didn't have brown, and the picture of the boy on her menu is the same as the boy on her cup, and on the cup the boy's hair is brown, so she has to have brown. "Just use red," I said. "He can have red hair."

"But his hair is BROWN!" she retorted. She attempted to use every color she had on his hair in the hopes that the mix of colors would make it look brown, but it just looked a mess. This did not help.

Despite the fact that Little Girl is "grounded" from getting any toys except as gifts for holidays right now, because of repeated tantrums when being told no at stores, we bought her a Webkinz that day. We figured her mother would just have to deal. The child was distraught. She deserved a Webkinz. Did I mention she didn't eat anything for lunch? Not a single bite.

So we went home, and she went straight to the computer to register the new Webkinz and was quiet there for awhile. But I noticed her hands shaking, like tremors. I watched for awhile without saying anything, but it just kept going. Finally I said, "Are your hands shaking?" to see if she was even aware of it. "Yes," she responded calmly. "Do your hands always shake like that when you play this game?" I questioned. "No," she said simply.

Great. And she still wouldn't eat.

After awhile, she asked where Baby Boy was. I said they had gone to a special activity somewhere but they would be here sometime this afternoon. "I wish he'd hurry up," she said. "I want to play with him." A few minutes later, they arrived. I ran in to see him, but Little Girl didn't come. I thought perhaps she was so engrossed on the computer that she didn't realize he was now here. "Little Girl!" I called to her. "Baby Boy's here!!"

Typical Little Girl reaction? She LOVES her little cousin. ADORES him. She typically would have jumped up and come running and scooped him up and covered him in kisses. Her response on this day? A droopy glance up, and a sigh. "I know." That's it. No emotion.

Well, Baby Boy had brought with him a new kite, and it was a windy day, so we took the kids outside to play with it. As I said, she adores Baby Boy, never has any problem sharing with him or giving him turns, or even letting him have ALL the turns!! Not today. SHE wanted to fly his kite, she wanted every turn, she had numerous meltdowns when the kite wouldn't fly, she did NOT want my brother to help her, she wanted to do it herself and it wouldn't go up without some help.

My brother's reaction? "This (the medicated version of Little Girl) is supposed to be BETTER?"

Yeah. Exactly.

I don't know who that child was that day, but she wasn't our Little Girl.

And she never did eat anything. ALL DAY.

To be continued...


Christine said...

((HUGS)) You are breaking my heart with this story. Parts 1 & 2. I'm so sorry to hear of this.

My husband is a teacher and has seen great strides in the kinds whose parents have regulated diet, cut out the junk food, processed white flour and gotten on some good Omega 3's. Not to say that is the cure all for everything but I sure would want to try it before medicating my child.

It's good that you have moved back, sounds like little girl needs you....

Prairie Rose said...

Thanks... hoping part 3 contains a solution...!! :) Just have to convince my sister to give it a shot!