Friday, January 06, 2006

Every morning...

...I get a glimpse of what life was like before drugs for Perrin. Every morning, I get to listen to him scream answers to simple questions at the top of his lungs. I get to listen to him totally lose control of his emotions. It's an absolute catastrophe if he must scoot his chair over a little bit at the table. When I ask him to find his shoes, he yells, "Nooooooooo! Shoes?!? Shoes?!? Why do I need shoes?!?!?" And when I say yells? I mean loud enough for people in the next county to hear. He runs at full-speed to get wherever he's going. Even if it's only a few feet away...and even if there is someone directly in his path. Heaven forbid his brother or sister should actually speak to him. All hell breaks loose. He's incapable of making rational decisions. He tries to throw away his toys. He tries to destroy his bedroom. He's incapable of touching people nicely. He's incapable of touching anything softly. It's as if every fiber of his being is set at warp speed. Following simple one-step directions is virtually impossible for him. His mind flips from one topic to the next to the next, and he can't get out a full sentence without losing his train of thought. The other two kids have a hard time hearing me speak to them because Perrin is making such a ruckus. He climbs the furniture and jumps off. He literally climbs the walls - all the way to the ceiling - in the hallways. When he gets upset, instead of stopping at the logical point and de-escalating, he just keeps getting madder and madder until the anger encompasses his entire being.

And then the magic happens. The medicine kicks in.

The change is amazing. It's so dramatic. He goes from a totally out of control child to one who is sweet and loving. He can walk through a room and say, "Hi, Mom!" He can concentrate on a task. He can speak in a normal tone of voice and carry on a conversation without his thoughts getting all jumbled. He can take the time to enjoy a game or a book or a toy. He can not only follow simple one-step directions, but he can accomplish complex tasks without getting frustrated. He can make decisions based on reality, not on the strange urges that drive him without his meds. He can hug me without bruising me. He can sit down and eat his breakfast without climbing up onto his chair and jumping off of it.

Sure, he still gets upset with things that I do or say, or things that his dad or brother or sister do or say. He should! He's a 7 year old boy! But he sees when his anger is unreasonable, and he remembers that how he lets the anger affect him is a decision. Sure, he still sometimes runs through the house at top speed, but again, he should - he's a 7 year old boy! And sure, sometimes he yells and screams, but once more, he should - he's a 7 year old boy!

I know that there are a lot of people out there who think medicating kids diagnosed with ADHD is wrong no matter what. I disagree. I do think that ADHD is highly overdiagnosed, but there ARE children out there who SUFFER from ADHD. If behavior modification alone doesn't work, these drugs, when used properly and in the right dose, can give a child the world. A world that they would otherwise be missing. When used correctly, they by no means turn the kids into zombies. They are not a method of controlling children. They don't take anything at all away from the child's personality. If anything, they give the kid a chance to learn how to control themselves and allow their personality to shine through.