Monday, February 20, 2012

Wouldn't want life to get too easy

Cooper's preschool teachers talked to GeekBoy Thursday about some problems Cooper is having in class. He's not paying attention, he won't sit still, he can't focus, it takes him forever to do a worksheet because he can't remember things short term, he doesn't follow directions he hits or pulls hair or lifts shirts of other kids, especially during circle time, etc. This was at the end of a week where Cooper lost all of his tickets - they get three tickets at the beginning of each day and lose one when they break a rule - every day.

When GeekBoy told me this, I felt like someone had stomped on my heart. No one wants to hear that their child is struggling in school. Discussing these symptoms, which we had also noticed at home, but to a lesser extent since he is an only child and doesn't have to sit still often, I brought up the idea of ADHD. This wasn't a huge surprise because GeekBoy has had ADHD(undiagnosed) for his whole life, and finally got diagnosed last month and went on medication to treat it. It's made a big difference in his behavior. We probably wouldn't have immediately jumped there if he hadn't sought treatment last month. Looking at the diagnostic criteria for ADHD, Cooper demonstrates 17 out of the 19 criteria, many (most?) of them to a degree that affect his functioning to the point where he is demonstrating some sort of deficit in the classroom.

If it turns out that Cooper has ADHD, it will be a lifestyle change for us. But I think we've been prepared for this. It is easier to see now why I have felt so impressed to home school. All the things that he is struggling with right now are just going to be a bigger part of his school life if we put him in a standard classroom. GeekBoy finally sought out treatment for his ADHD so we were looking for that connection.

So we've scheduled an initial evaluation with his pediatrician for tomorrow. We've sent a functional assessment checklist to his teacher to fill out so we can take that with us tomorrow as well. And, to the surprise of absolutely no one who knows me, I spent the weekend researching and reading everything I can get my hands on about parenting, teaching and ADHD. We are increasing the protein in his breakfast. I've researched the legal rights of children with ADHD. I wrote my first letter requesting accommodation for my child last night and sent it to school this morning. We roleplayed with him what to say when he gets frustrated, and how to ask for help, rather than hitting.

And today he kept two of his tickets. Whether it was a fluke or because of the work we did with him, it felt like someone saying, "You can do this. And so can he."

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