Rachel writes the second instalment of a three-part series charting her son Jake’s ADHD; a very honest and endearing account.
One year after we had been given Jake’s diagnosis of ADHD, ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) with traits of Asperger’s Syndrome we sat in his consultant’s office discussing medication. We had spent the past year really struggling. The behaviour was getting worse – dangerous even. Whatever we did, whatever we tried, it didn’t seem to work. It had no effect on him and even amending his diet and removing sugars, e-numbers etc. helped.
His behaviour at home was affecting the family. He was starting to hit out at his siblings, and at me. There had been times where I had to physically restrain him because he was lashing out so forcefully. It was either that or he was going to seriously hurt himself. Our family became strained. Family members struggled with the diagnosis, not believing it. Others asked when would it go away, when would it stop – and struggled with the concept that this is a brain condition.
It will never go away, it will always be there, and it’s about teaching Jake how to manage it. School were becoming more concerned too. They were starting to struggle to control him. He was becoming disruptive and starting to fall behind the rest of his classmates. We had discussed everything with the ADHD Nurse at our appointments throughout the year. We had done as advised with regards to discipline and how to handle Jake, but without any respite, it was a struggle.
So when the consultant recommended medicating, it felt a relief. Like there was a light at the end of the tunnel – at least for a few hours a day. We discussed the different medications, and his consultant decided which would be best for him. He had his height, weight and blood pressure checked and the dosage was sorted out. We were to start him off on a low dose of 10mg, and slowly build him up to 40mg.
At first we didn’t see much of an improvement. When we reached 30mg, there was a slight improvement in his behaviour. It wasn’t until we reached the 40mg that we really noticed a difference. He became manageable, he calmed down, he stopped hitting out and you could actually have a conversation with him. Sadly, this was only when he was medicated, and when the medication wore off, he was back to his ‘normal’ self.
One downside of the medication is that the come down and the behaviour afterwards is worse than it would be without medication. He is harder to control, but we need that respite of 6-8 hours a day where he is calm and manageable. His teachers even commented on how he was like a different child and he had started becoming a joy to teach. He is such an enthusiastic learner – especially if it is a subject he is really interested in.
Jake has been medicated nearly every day for the past 3 years. He will eventually have to come off the medication – something I dread – but it means that we have this time now to teach him how to manage his ADHD. The hyperactivity should wear off as he gets older, but the other issues associated with ADHD will remain forever.