Thursday, January 27, 2011

Murphy Update

So, I never updated you on Murphy.  I've had a lot of people ask me privately about it.  And I think my experience might help or at least educate some.  So, here's what happened:

Tom and I got some questionnaires from Murphy's pediatrician.  We had to fill out some (separately) and his first grade teacher had to fill out a different one.

While that was happening the school conducted some tests.  He met with a bunch of different people.  This was in October (I think) so my memory isn't great.  But one of them tested his comprehension with reading.  She said that during the test he would read a sentence and then stop to tell her a story that the sentence reminded him of.  He did that throughout the whole test and his score proved he was very distracted.

So, we turned our tests in to his pediatrician and then Tom and I went in to meet with him about the results.

The results were very obvious.  He has ADD - Attention Deficit Disorder.  This is different than ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  He is definitely NOT hyperactive, that's for sure!

We certainly discussed lots of ways to help him focus at school.  But after a long discussion with his pediatrician, we believed that trying medication was the best way to go for him.  Tom struggled with this more than I, so it was not something we rushed into.

I think one of the major obstacles for parents in this situation is accepting that your child needs a daily medication.  It sounds scarier than it is (in my opinion).  For the past four years we have given many medications to Harlie.  One medication was Reglan (the one that has the commercial about the side effect called Tardive Dyskinesia).  I am happy to report that she is no longer on that one (with no side effects).  With every medication you have to weigh the risks vs. benefits.  And she's been on a heart medication for a while now.  And she will stay on that for a long time.  And she's still on reflux meds.  Not to mention what she's been on in the past (lots).

My point is that I'm used to giving meds to my kid.  I've accepted that meds are needed.  And quite frankly, I'm thankful that meds are available.  And if his doctor says he believes Murphy will greatly benefit from the medication, I felt like we had to seriously consider it.

Our thinking was that the side effects of the meds (in our case a loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping) was not as bad as doing nothing at all.  Without medication, he would struggle - and struggle a lot.  Here were his problems:
  • He felt lost in class.  This kills self esteem and confidence and it can take a long time to recover once this happens.  
  • He wasn't participating in class activities.  
  • He wasn't playing with his peers.
  • He couldn't remember his classmates names.
  • He scored very low in the PALS testing.  His score was not indicative of what he knows, he just couldn't focus during the test.  Think of how this alone could affect his schooling and his ability to succeed! 
  • He couldn't complete class assignments.  
  • None of his issues were behavior related.  He didn't act up in class.  He didn't call attention to himself.  Every day after school during our walk home, he would tell me he had "another bad day" but that "I tried my best."  It killed me.  It was very obvious that he was trying and that he was disappointed in himself at the end of the day.
  • He just couldn't focus for the length of time necessary to learn. Period.
The side effects of all of those things are WAY worse than the side effects of medication.  So, we agreed to try it.

In ONE day - he was a completely different student.  ONE DAY!!!!  Instead of not completing his assignments, he was the first to finish them!  And then he would help his classmates!  He started making friends and getting to know his classmates.  He would complete his homework in a fraction of the time he did before - and with way less instruction from me!

The medication was life changing.  No doubt about it.  He was prescribed the lowest dose.    And we hardly notice any side effects at all.  He definitely eats and sleeps more when he doesn't take his medication.  But, it's not an issue when he does take it, either.

Our follow-up Child Study meeting was last week and it went great.  His teacher said she can't wait to test him in the spring.  It is the same testing that was done prior to him going on medication - and put him at a pre-k level!.

The bottom line is that he is a happier kid.  And now he likes school.  And considering he's got a lot more school to go - that's a good thing.

Now you know!


kadiera said...

You know, my husband has ADD. He was medicated through elementary school, learned some good coping skills, and then went through high school and college without meds...

...and went back on them shortly before I got pregnant with Alex, because neither of us could stand to live with him anymore. The right meds can be down right amazing. I don't think we could have survived the NICU or the trach if he wasn't on them.

At any rate, I'd encourage you (like you don't have enough to do) to look into working on coping skills at the same time - teaching organization skills while he's on meds can really help if he ever goes off of them, or forgets to take them.

Brittany said...

That is GREAT news, Christy! I respect the care and consideration that you all put into evaluating whether or not medication was the right answer for Murphy and I'm glad to know that his life will be better for it.

Pam said...

It is a hard call for parents, but I have had many kids see the results Murphy has seen-glad he is doing well-On a lighter note-Conor also took the drug Reglan for quite a while when he was younger and one day he was watching the commercial and saw the ad-he got hysterical and asked if he had Tardive Dyskinesia-I said do you feel like you have it-he said no-so I said I think you are safe-we got a kick out of it, but seriously-I know a lot of medicines have crazy side effects and it is scary! Like you said you have to weigh the good with the bad! Go Murphy- I am sure he will rock the spring PALS

Susan said...

That's great news!

Rebecca Bennett said...

That is wonderful to hear. You know we have our share of struggles with ADD/ADHD in my family. I am glad you found the solution that works best for Murphy. I know he will continue to thrive and grow.