Monday, September 24, 2007

Do You THINK Before You Talk (Type)?

Do you ever think that you might be hurting someone's feelings when you expouse your .02 theory on ADHD, or any other mental disability? Really, you know one person who got the wrong medication, a misdiagnosis, or made a hasty decision, and you think you know everything?
Did it ever occur to you that people with ADHD are human beings, many of which have suffered their whole lives, not knowing why? Did it ever occur to you that people like us come from long lines of dysfunctional families, and just as we're relieved to finally know what's swirling around in our genepool, along comes some thoughtless jerk telling us we're making it all up, or we're looking for an excuse to take drugs?!
Did it ever occur to you the agony that parents go through, searching, striving, struggling to help their children? Did it ever occur to you that people HAVE tried everything else before putting their children on medication? Did it occur to you that these people might have a problem disciplining their children, because their children don't act like eveyone else's children?
Did it ever occur to you that teachers work their asses off for low-pay, and low-recognition, dedicated to the education of ALL children, and that they might know a thing or two about a child who is standing out like a sore thumb?
Did it ever occur to you that not all children with ADHD have behavior problems? Many are just inattentive, with memory and focusing problems. And many that seem to have behavior problems are just crawling under their skin having trouble sitting, paying attention, and completing their schoolwork?
So maybe your child was misdiagnosed, or you don't agree with a diagnosis your child got from one doctor, or a suggestion from one teacher. Get over it! You made your decision, you either chose to accept one teacher or one doctor, medicate your child, not medicate your child, and it went bad. Whose fault is it if you didn't get a second, third, or fouth opinion? And because it didn't go well for you, ADHD doesn't exist, or the teachers and doctors are pushing drugs, or ADHD is way overdiagnosed?
I've got news for you. ADHD is underdiagnosed as much as it's overdiagnosed. There are people out there who won't get help for themselves or their children, or who won't try medication, because of stupid people that won't mind their own business about other people's mental health, who spread stereotypes, and malicious misinformation!
How about this, you keep your mouth shut about things you are not going through, and have no clue about?! How about you find out the truth about ADHD, that medication is not a magic bullet for behavior, and that stimulants make non-ADHD people MORE hyper, and "zombie"-like behavior can be a temporary side-effect of medication. How about you just be supportive, and stop the judging, and hurtful remarks?
It's only a forum posting for you, a debate, a comment, but THIS IS MY LIFE!
I didn't go to the verge of destruction and back to read snide, thoughtless remarks about ADHD.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Our Journey To Homeschooling

I wrote quite a while back about how we began homeschooling. Shame on me for not continuing the story sooner.

3 weeks of school had gone by in Red's 3rd new school in 3 years. I had seen the classroom they had my son relegated to-a dingy 9 x 12 modular at the end of the school, with stained carpet, and sallow walls. Mrs. S. wanted to talk to me about Red's math. She felt he couldn't do 5th grade work. This is a child who could count handfuls of coins when he was 4 years old. This is a child who was once in the advanced math class. I couldn't understand it. "I thought the point of having small group instruction was so that Red would get more help." "I've got 2 6th graders doing 3rd grade math.", was Mrs. S's reply.

"And I want to leave my child here to learn?", I thought.

That was but one of the red flags that went up the first month of school. Red was coming home crying, miserable. I watched all sense of vitality draining from my child. The grand finale in this disastrous placement was going to Back To School night. For 30 minutes, my husband and I sat in the auditorium listening to the school principle extol the virtues of his school, referencing their shining PSSA scores.

Since I'd already met my son's special education teacher and seen his cell-I mean special ed classroom, I decided we'd go to the regular classroom, and meet the regular ed teacher. The teacher was very enthusiastic, going on about all the great things our kids would be learning this year in her classroom. While I listened, I scanned the room looking for my son's essay. All over the walls were essays the children had written to show off to the parents. I looked and looked, but could not find my son's. Finally I spotted it hidden behind a desk, hung so low on the wall, it was almost on the floor. When the teacher was done talking she greeted some of the parents individually. She chattered on with little Bobby's mom, and Susie's dad. Then I approached, extended my hand, and gave a warm smile. "Hi, we're Mr. & Mrs. K..., we're Red's parents." You would have thought I'd said, "Hi, our son's the leper in your class." The teacher cast her eyes down, her wrist went limp, and she hurriedly dismissed us to go talk with someone else. I had to grab back her attention to ask her about music lessons. I'd been wanting Red to learn guitar. "That's probably not a good idea, Red needs all the time he can get to work on his regular subjects. Guitar would be a distraction."

I had barely made it to the car as my eyes welled up. I felt like complete shit. I thought if one hour in this school made me feel like this, what was 6 hours a day doing to my 10 year old son! That is when I made the determination to get my son out of there, and teach him myself. I couldn't possibly do any worse.

Thank the Internet gods, that I came across some very helpful people who got the ball rolling for me. I actually enrolled Red in a public cyber-charter school. The first week was frentic. But little by little we made a lot of progress. I saw that spark come back to my child's eyes.

The next year, AJ joined us at home. Homeschooling proved to be quite a good formula for him as well.

Fast forward 5 years later, and I've got two happy, intelligent boys working to their fullest potential. They're not geniuses. I'm not into trying to prove anything to anyone else. What they are are independent free-thinkers. They're both talented musicians as well.