Otto Learns About His Medicine

Last night, I read Otto Learns About His Medicine to Robbie and Ryan. 

Colin was sitting on the floor nearby, putting a puzzle together.  He rarely sits with us when we read together, unless I’m reading Where the Sidewalk Ends (that one is my favorite, too).

Ryan and Robbie are always very excited when a new book turns up.  And this one’s bright red, so it was hard to miss that Mom was holding something new when they finished with their showers.

Before I started, I said, “While we’re reading this book, I want you to think about whether or not this story reminds you of someone you know, okay?  When I’m done, we can ask questions about everything and talk for a bit.”

The story tells of a little car named Otto (whose last name is “Mobile”).  Otto’s engine runs too fast.  He gets distracted by every little noise in the classroom. He speaks out of turn too much in class. He can’t hold still and sometimes runs into other cars without meaning to.  At one point, he ran off from a gas station while still getting filled up because he saw a friend with new racing stripes – gas wound up going everywhere. 

Otto’s teacher suggests to Otto’s parents that they take him to see a “mechanic” for a check up.  The mechanic decides he should go to another mechanic for more help.  They explain that the different mechanics, family members and teachers are part of the “pit crew” that is there to help Otto.  The new mechanic (specialist) suggests that another helpful member of the pit crew might be medicine.  He explains that medicine can’t make you learn or focus or behave.  It is there to help Otto – just as the rest of his pit crew is also there to help him.  They even discuss that sometimes medicine can have side effects and that this special medicine may make it hard to sleep and make Otto not as hungry. [I was a little surprised at the mention of side effects! But I feel they did a good job explaining what they meant.]

When the book was over, I asked the boys if the story reminded them of anyone.  I had a feeling I knew how this might go.

Robbie said, “That sounds kinda like me!  Like when I get distracted at school!”

I was worried he would relate to the book.

I said, “You’re able to sit down and focus when you want to, though, right?” He admitted he could.  “Does this book make you think of anyone else?”

Ryan quietly said, “It’s like Colin, right Mom?”

I told him he was exactly right – the little car Otto was a lot like Colin.

When I said that, Colin perked up – suddenly he wanted to know what was going on.

“This book is about a car that’s just like you, Colin!” Robbie was so excited. “It’s motor runs too fast, just like yours does sometimes! And he takes medicine like you do to help!”

Rick chimed in, “What part of your body is like a motor?  Can you think of a body part that’s similar to a motor in a car?”

The boys thought for a moment, but couldn’t come up with anything.

“How about the brain?” Rick asked.  They all agreed – a brain is like a motor!

Rick explained that sometimes Colin’s brain runs too fast and it makes things very difficult for him.  His brain tells his body to do and say things even when he knows he shouldn’t.  We explained that we’re trying a new medicine that can help.

“Can medicine make Colin behave?” I asked.

“Noooo!” answered the boys.  “It just helps him so he can try to make good choices!”  (I was really glad the book explained this aspect of medicine. Before, Robbie kept thinking that the different doctors and medicine were going to somehow be a cure-all for Colin – I think he’s been disappointed that we kept saying we were trying different things and yet Colin was still…well.. Colin.)

“Remember that part in the book where Otto couldn’t sit still?” I asked.  “Remember how he ran into the other cars and they got mad?  What did they do?”

“They pushed him back!” said Robbie.

“Is that what they should have done?” I asked.

“Nooo!  He didn’t mean to run into them – it was an accident. He couldn’t help it because his engine was running too fast!” Robbie answered.

“That’s right.  And sometimes Colin does things he can’t help, too. We need to remember that.”  I hugged my boys.  I think this book has helped some things about ADHD click for them.

Meanwhile, Colin had the book in his hands and was looking through the pictures.  “I want to read it now. Can you read it, Dad?”  It was already after 8pm – bedtime, for sure.  Rick promised Colin he’d sit down with him tomorrow and read it with him.

I’m thankful for this book.  It’s a bit wordy, but not too bad.  The only thing I’d change are the illustrations.  The cars stand up on their back wheels and start to look a little creepy during the “mechanic” sections.  I think the car metaphor worked well because our boys are big fans of the Cars movies and understand what a pit crew is. 


Colin is definitely having issues sleeping.  Last night, he was still up at 9:30pm and I couldn’t keep my own eyes open any longer.  I was reading in bed and kept nodding off.  I finally called it quits around 10pm and shut off the light.

At around 1:30am, Chloe started pacing.  When she does that, it usually means she really has to use the bathroom. If you don’t get up, you’ll find a present in the house later.  I decided I’d take the dogs out.

When I walked into the living room, I saw Colin was asleep on the couch.  I’d bet he came out there as soon as he thought I was asleep.  I woke him up and sent him back to his room.  My guess is he’s sleeping on the couch more than I care to admit – that’s probably how he’s waking up within seconds of me in the morning. 

Thankfully, once he was in bed, he crashed pretty hard.  He was the last one up this morning at around 6:10am. 

The 20mg twice/day of Adderall has done wonders for him at school – two green days so far this week!  But it’s making sleep very difficult.  I feel bad for him.  Not sure what we can do to help.  I’m going to call the doc today and see what he thinks.  We have an appointment on Friday, too, but maybe he can suggest something in the meanwhile.

6 responses to “Otto Learns About His Medicine

  1. I don’t think I could take it if L wasn’t able to sleep. It’s looking more and more like an adhd/autism situation for us and so the possibility of the medication route is looming. It’s been really great to hear how it’s been going for you guys. Thanks for sharing all this – a huge help!

    • That’s part of why I started this blog. I was looking for answers one day and ran across someone else’s blog detailing her journey. She stopped blogging some time ago, but her “real” view of things was so refreshing to read. I was hoping I could do the same – just share an open and honest view of what we’re going through.

      Does L sleep well now?

      The hardest part, in my opinion, is getting the dose right. Those weeks of trial and error can be so tiring. But then things start to work out and you realize it wasn’t all for nothing. 🙂

      • He is sleeping beautifully thank goodness. It’s been a long haul, hard won process, but we are there now and that is brilliant. He goes into to bed around 7pm and is usually asleep by 7.30 at the latest. I’m just moving from having to sit on the end of his bed until he’s asleep to sitting in my study (so close he can see me) while he goes to sleep. Some nights it works, others no. Get gets up pretty early though – about 5 – he’ll switch his light on and that can wake the others as well. Such a tricky business!!

      • Very tricky, indeed! We have similar issues.
        But we’re a long way from where we were. Colin used to sleep on the floor. He wouldn’t sleep on his bed at all – he would sleep on the floor with his face looking under the door. (This made it *very* tricky for the Tooth Fairy to visit!) We’ve slowly talked him into sleeping on a bed, though now he’s spending parts of his night out on the couch. This morning he woke up at 4am and never went back to bed. *yawn* Ugh.

  2. Hi – I found your blog this am as I was trolling the blogosphere for Moms with ADHD sons. My 5 1/2 yr old has an appt soon for an evaluation. I’m scared. I’ve read through a bunch of your posts and they’ve helped me to feel a little better. I see a lot of my son in “Otto”. I’ll be following along as you’re ahead of me on this journey. Thanks.

    • I’m glad you found my blog!
      It can definitely be a scary experience. I think the most important thing you can do is educate yourself. Try not to be too discouraged by the negative things you find (because you will find plenty! just remember that people are more likely to speak up when things are going wrong than they are when they’re going great!).

      You might also want to check out my husband’s blog

      Feel free to shoot me a message if I can help at all! I look forward to hearing about how things go with your boy.

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