So, it took me a while to decide on a topic for my blog. I figured what would be better than some insight into our ADHD world? My daughter was diagnosed at only 4 years old. I had my suspicions that this was coming, but I was hoping to avoid medication at such an early age. No such luck. With the support of her pre-k teachers and pediatrician, we took the route that felt like the best fit for her.
I do not see myself as a mom that depends on my daughter’s medication to get through the day, but in all honesty, it does make it easier when we have a rough start. She started out on 5mg of the extended release of Focalin. This journey started off as a fight with the insurance company. I researched and researched any and every method and medication out there for my kid. We used oils, supplements, you name it was tried it. Medication was a last resort. And, of course, the one I felt most comfortable with just happened to be one not easily approved for children under the age of 6. It took eight phone calls (just to her insurance company), three letters of reference from her teachers and doctor, and a month trial on the medication. This was a big risk for me as a single income household. If they still decided to deny it I would have to pay back the $200+ for the medication. My persistence and determination proved successful! I kind of think they just got tired of hearing from me. 🙂 It was not an easy task, and was very mentally exhausting, but so worth it. She thrived in school after starting it. The only side effect she had was a very hard let down when it was leaving her system. (That turned out to be another round of trial and error.)
With this medication came the task of getting her into behavioral and emotional therapy. This required an hour trip one way to her pediatrician’s office. (Small town life means very few resources close by.) We stretched this to every three weeks instead of every two. He helped to rule out depression and supported her diagnosis of ADHD. It was a great resource to have and a wonderful outlet for her. She was able to learn some additional behavior management skills, as well as discuss her feelings about her dad. From the time she started on Christmas break to the end of the school year, she morphed into a stronger child. My little girl was able to mostly control her outbursts. Some of them required talking her through it. She did much better than expected and we were released from him once school got out.
Now, back to that trial and error for her medication let downs…Hardest. Time. Ever…She cried. She screamed. She fell out in the floor with a fit at any given moment over the smallest things. This is when I took to asking other parents with ADHD children. I was told to give her sugar or caffeine. I was told to put her in a dark and quiet place. I was told to give her a tablet to distract her. Sugar was not going to happen. The dark and quiet place helped, but only while she was able to stay in it. The tablet isn’t something that I wanted her to become dependent on, so it was used for those times that we had no other option. Then I broke down and tried the caffeine. Coca Cola = NO. Diet Coke, however, was a life saver. She gets only a small amount when I notice her let down beginning. Luckily she is with me when this happens. I monitor her caffeine intake and it is very limited. If she goes somewhere else, I send the “required” amount with her and precise directions on the time she needs it. (No, I’m not a complete control freak.) There is no medical evidence of any of these techniques working better than any other. Her doctor is aware of her Diet Coke need and says “if it helps, then do it”. She does not try to weasel her way into getting other soft drinks from anybody else. She knows what she can and cannot have. I love that her self-care skills have expanded to this!
It just so happens that her well child check-up falls in the time frame for her six month meds check-up. Her medication does make her lose her appetite, so a hearty breakfast before taking it is a must. She also gets a high protein snack in the afternoon. I was very adamant that she wouldn’t lose weight and have to be taken off of the only thing that has helped her. Her growth chart is proof that we are on the right track. She is a very healthy 5 year old! Her pediatrician looked at notes from the end of the school year and asked some questions from a check list. This all showed that she could possibly benefit from a dosage increase. She is now on 10mg of the extended release of Focalin. Different dosage led to different side effects. None major, but itchy ears and trouble falling asleep can be hard to deal with for a kid. She gets 5mg of Melatonin about thirty minutes before bedtime and still has some difficulty. But she sleeps so well and all night. The itchy ears, we are monitoring those. No other itching or swelling, and Benadryl is not a good fit for her. That effect is way worse than a non-medicated ADHD day…we shall see where this goes. The dosage seems to be a good fit and she can focus so much better for a longer amount of time. (She is not medicated every day. If we stay home, she doesn’t get it. We work on other methods of self-regulation to hopefully wean her off of meds in a few years.)
I will be more than happy to share our journey more in depth with you! If you have any questions, please feel free to message me. This goes so much smoother for parents when there is a community you can rely on. Hope you all have a blessed day!
Nicole & Rae ❤