Friday, January 16, 2009

To Medicate or Not To Medicate

I haven't mentioned this before, but my son, Sam, is a special needs child. He was diagnosed last year as having ADHD and PTSD, but I don't agree with that diagnosis. But because of that diagnosis, he was able to get help in school from the special education department and from that, get on an IEP (Individualized Education Plan).

Personally, based on a lot of things, I think Sam has Sensory Integration Disorder and Asperger's Syndrome. He hasn't been tested for either, but that's coming later.

In spite of my reservations about his diagnosis, last fall, I had Sam put on Adderal, because of the issues we had with him last year at school. Sam asked me, "Mommy, can you fix my head?" Well, how could I not? So I took him to our general practitioner and he prescribed 5 mg of Adderal daily.

The first part of the school year was going really well. Sam was excelling in first grade, and when he started to have an outburst, his teacher was able to diffuse the situation rather quickly.

Then things in our personal life started going downhill. In November, we had a house fire. Because of the house fire, we were forced to stay with my sister for a couple weeks until we could get into an apartment. Then we had to move. Then we had to make a medical trip to Shriners Hospital in Minneapolis. (Sam suffers from Idiopathic Toe Walking.) Then we had Christmas break at school. A couple days after school started again in January, we had another trip to Minneapolis, during which we were stranded because of the weather.

Sam doesn't do well with transitions, and his behavior at school had been deteriorating since before Christmas vacation. While on our trip to Minneapolis last week, we ran out of the Adderal. He didn't take it for several days, and I didn't notice a difference in his behavior, which led me to believe the medication wasn't doing its job.

I decided at this point to discontinue the medication until we could get an accurate diagnosis. We have an appointment with a Disabilities Diagnosis Clinic in February. But until then, something had to be done about Sam's behavior, so I called a meeting with the IEP team.

We discussed his sensory issues (I won't get into all of them, because there are a lot), and how to help him get the stimuli he needs. I told the team he was off meds and I planned on keeping him off meds. For the most part, the team was supportive, except the music teacher who shot me a nasty look and then left the meeting early.

I was excited about the plans we made to help Sam at school, until the music teacher called me after school today. She told me Sam was disruptive again in her classroom and that he is no longer allowed in her class "unless he gets back on meds again or something". I was furious! After all we talked about at the meeting yesterday, and she's going to try to blackmail me into medicating my son!

I stopped listening at that point and when I got off the phone with her, I immediately called her boss, the school superintendent. He apologized profusely to me (I think because he realized that he was lucky I called him next and not a lawyer). He assured me that he would be speaking to this teacher about her "lack of tact" before she left school for the day.

Well, I had already made the decision, based on the information I had received at the IEP meeting, to put Sam back on medication for now. It has to be so hard for him during the day, trying to control his impulses but not being able to do so. So Sam is back on Adderal with an increased dosage of 10 mg daily.

Regardless of his now-medicated state, I am not allowing him back into that music class with that teacher. If she thinks she can try to force my hand into doing something I didn't want to do (nevermind that I had already decided to put him back on meds), then she's got another thing coming. I do not want my son around someone who lacks such total empathy toward a child with obvious disorders. That she would treat a special needs child as someone she "needs to control" is at least irresponsible. I know that Sam's disorders doesn't give him a free pass to misbehave, but at this point, I believe he's incapable of behaving. And especially for a teacher who doesn't like him.

Blackmail me, indeed.

1 comment:

  1. Now you sound like a mamma grizzly! But seriously, when it comes to our cubs, we'll fight for what we feel is right. It was unfair of her to blackmail you in such a fashion, and that absolutely was inappropriate. My SIL teaches music and she does have some problem kids. She just makes their teacher come and get them from her class if they get too far out of control.

    Have you tried tweaking his diet? I read something somewhere that eliminating certain foods can help some hyperactive kids because their bodies just don't process some food stuffs like most of the rest of us.

    Linky to diet information

    Good luck Heather.