I feel strongly that medication is a personal choice every parent has to make. There is no right or wrong – there is just survival and trying to do what’s best for your child, your family, and their future.
I recently made a friend whose son was diagnosed with ADHD and Aspergers. She has decided to go the med-free route because the meltdowns caused by the ADHD meds were too much. I understand that. I understand the worry, the anxiousness, the fear these meds can cause.
What I also understand is the way Colin behaves when he’s unmedicated.
He can’t sit still. At all. Mornings are definitely the most challenging part of our days. When I first moved in, mornings were almost my undoing.
We have a routine. It’s pretty simple. Nothing that happens the night before seems to change the morning routine – we’ve tried it all.
Sometime between 5-6am, Colin stands in our bedroom doorway and watches for a moment before saying, “Good morning, Mommy!” (We had to create a rule of announcing yourself because one morning I woke up to his breath on my face and almost decked him!) The closer to 6am it is, the more likely I am to respond with “Good morning, Colin!” Our rule – that we try ever so hard to enforce – is that it’s completely unacceptable to wake up before 6am. Colin, however, will point out a 6 anywhere on the digital clock by our bed and say, “See? It’s 6! It’s wake up time!”
I groggily rub my eyes and look at the clock. “It’s 5:26, Colin. It’s not wake up time. It’s still bed time. Please go back to bed.”
He leaves the room…and does God knows what.
I call out, “Please go to your room and close the door, Colin!”
(Slamming doors has become a great pastime for him lately.)
I rub my eyes and wander to the bathroom. I flick on the closet light, hoping he won’t see that there’s light on in our room. I email my husband to say good morning (he works overnights). I hear breathing that doesn’t sound dog-like coming from our bedroom.
“WHAT?!” Copping an attitude whenever you call his name has become a routine I’d like to put an end to.
“Please go back to your room. I will come get you in just a minute, okay?” I try with every ounce of patience in my being to not sound angry or frustrated.
“Okay,” he responds.
When I leave the bathroom, I hear him scamper across the living room. ***SLAM!!***
I grab his pills and head to the other side of the house. I let the dogs out. Before I get to his room, Colin’s door swings open – lights are on inside – and he appears. “Is it wake up time?”
“Yes, Colin, close enough. Come on – let’s take your pills.”
He takes his medicine and then runs to the living room, throwing himself on the couch. Somewhere between somersaults, he says, “I want frosted mini wheats.”
“Can you ask nicely?” I’d say maybe once a week he actually does not need this prompt.
“May I please have frosted mini wheats?” Another flip. Maybe a headstand.
“Yes, you may – thank you for asking so politely.”
As I make his bowl of cereal, I hear him flailing about on the couch. Sometimes he just sits and rocks, but usually it’s acrobatics.
“Please go sit at the table. Please.” It’s maddening – even after all this time – to see someone throwing themselves around like that when I can barely get one foot in front of the other.
I bring him his cereal. I let the dogs in and give them their food. One of them finishes up and goes to say good morning. He’s swinging his spoon around in the air between bites – I can just picture all the drops of milk flying, even if they can’t be seen. I stop making my breakfast half a dozen times to tell him to leave the dogs alone while he’s eating. “That spoon belongs in your mouth or in the bowl.” “All four legs of the stool need to stay on the ground!”
Several questions are asked through a mouthful of cereal and milk, milk dripping down his chin.
“Please stop talking with your mouth full – I can’t understand you.”
Cereal is swallowed. “Are we going to school today?”
“Yes, Colin. It’s <insert day of the week here>. You have school today.”
“My brothers are sleeping?” (He often makes statements that sound like questions.)
“Yep! They sure are.”
“Why are they sleeping?”
“Because it’s not wake up time yet.”
“How do you spell <insert any number of random words – real or imaginary – here>?”
About 75% of the time I humor him. I won’t spell imaginary words. I won’t spell BUTT (his favorite word). Or any other word I know he knows how to spell!
He finishes his cereal and by now at least one of his brothers is awake, sitting on the couch, rubbing his sleepy eyes. Usually it’s Robbie.
Within seconds, I hear, “COLIN!!!!!!!”
Colin’s back to doing acrobatics on the couch and/or has his head/leg/foot/hand/etc touching some part of Robbie’s not-quite-awake body.
“Hands to yourself, Colin!”
That never lasts more than a few minutes.
My point is… he wakes up full throttle. This is Colin as unmedicated as he ever gets…and he’s a firecracker. He can’t focus. He can’t sit still. His mind and body are both going a mile a minute. He has a million questions and a million compulsions all at once.
If you don’t give him his medication, he actually requests it.
In the afternoon, when he’s almost due for his smaller dose, he asks for that, too. I think he feels himself losing control. I don’t think he likes feeling that way. He’s also more prone to accidents, which scares me. Early in the AM and late at night he’s far more likely to do a spin and slam himself into something (or someone).
I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even have a few of them.
I’m anxious for our psychiatrist appointment on Friday. I don’t know what I expect, but maybe having no expectations is best.