Ah, medicine

So my son is on Vyvanse and Concerta. Has been for a while…months.

Yesterday, he pipes up that the Concerta has no effect.

Huh?

No, no effect. 

Now, from listening to numbers from Dr. Dodson, about the same percentage of people are affected by the stimulant class drugs (Vyvanse) and the methylphenidate drugs (Concerta), but not the same people. So if you add them together, some percentage in the 80s can be helped by medication but you do have to search.

We are going to try a higher dose of Concerta, in case that’s the issue, but he might be a stimulant-only kind of kid. (We know Strattera doesn’t work.)

Aside: New idea for parenting. We have this problem where I say, “Hey, do this chore,” and the kids don’t, and because I am also ADD-distractable, I don’t check, and the kids get off without doing the chore. So here’s what we’re going to try: When I give a chore like “clean up the kitchen” I’m going to take something essential from the thing the kids want to be doing, such as a bike helmet or a laptop computer. This serves two purposes: first, the kid can’t go off and do the preferred thing. Second, it’s a tangible reminder to me. When the kid is done, he or she comes to me for the object, I check the job, and if it’s good enough, they can continue. 

I foresee possible pitfalls here, but benefits, too.

Okay, not as dire as I feared

There is life after Fast Forward math. We met with the teacher and really, it comes down to the fact that last year brought him up to one year behind. That is, instead of doing 8th grade math in 8th grade, he was doing 7th grade math. To switch over, he essentially has to do the fast forward and then take 9th grade math….a bit more math than he’d like, but you can go from one stream to the other.

So this doesn’t necessarily close any doors for him.

Whew.

Deep breaths, remember

My very ADHD son started high school this year, and in our area that means he’s been in school since September 3: Sixteen days. Last year they made great strides and actually got him back into a mainstream classroom, though granted it was a year behind his social grade. (I don’t know what the real term is…nominal grade?) But still: given that he had lost essentially three years dealing with anxiety and other issues and that he has his own learning style, bringing him up to a point where he could be with the other students was huge. Huge.

And now, sixteen days after the start of the school year, thirteen school days after the start of the school year, I got a call from the teacher.

He doesn’t seem to be absorbing the math. He seems okay when you talk to him about the concepts, but it doesn’t show up on the tests. We’d like to move him from the Applied stream into the Fast Forward program.

Brief digression: In our school system, the Fast Forward program is essentially where they teach skills for living and abandon all other pretense. (There might be one lower, but at Fast Forward, we have left the normal school system entirely.) Once your child has gone into Fast Forward, I suspect they never get out: It is the bourne from which no traveller returns.

My heart sank. I have been listless, depressed, angry since they called. This is a decision more far-reaching than any other we have made because we cannot turn back if we say yes.

At least, I have that impression. I feel like this is the point where the school system gives up, where they stop trying anything like a normal education for my child, and they settle. “Oh, he can add. Good enough.”

Am I right? I don’t know.

Reasons why they might be right: He does have trouble learning things. He is anxious and that will hold him back. These people are professionals who work with kids all the time: they might be seeing signs that I’m ignoring. My son would rather be active doing things than studying, reading, doing schoolwork. He is, though I am sad to say it, a prime candidate for the kind of kid who drifts into a life of…not crime, but with no direction and bad behaviour that has never been thought about.

Reasons why they might be wrong: He is not stupid. This teacher is new for this kind of Special Ed work. I am not certain that he studied for this test–he was at the house of one of his classmates and I have no idea if actual studying happened. It has been thirteen school days: this first test should be a chance to be mistaken and then rectify it.

Heart-sick. That’s how I feel.

Even if we say, “No, you can’t put him in Fast Forward yet,” there is clearly work ahead of us, going through the math every night, and finding a way to make him successful.