Friday, December 6, 2013

ADHD and Kindergarten

Conner has been in school for a few months now. We are still getting in to the routine of things and Conner is still so tired when the day is done. His schedule is so busy at the beginning of the week that it is a relief when Thursday rolls around and we are finally winding down a little.

Let me first say that Conner's school has been AMAZING so far. They have done so much more for him than I ever imagined. The staff is great and loves him and takes care of him. It's not perfect and some days are better than others but for now, he is in a good place. His teacher is absolutely the best. I don't really know the other two teachers, but I feel like Mrs. D is just a wonderful person, teacher and the best possible teacher for Conner to have. That has made this transition to elementary school so much easier.

Conner now gets OT and Speech at school 2 times a week each. He started getting Adaptive P.E. and loves going to that once a week. He goes with 2 older kids and he loves the extra attention and physical activity indoors (he doesn't love being cold on the playground and it's during recess). He is also going to the Resource Room when necessary. We think he is getting Social Work services to help him deal with the situation that arises when other kids can't understand him. He gets very upset when you can't understand what he is saying and he needs some tools to deal with that. So, he is very well taken care of. There is a special education paraprofessional that visits his room during the day and will sit with him when she can to help him one on one. She is shared between all the kindergarten rooms, so I'm not sure how much he works with her. The staff is wonderful and we have been so pleased.

The biggest issue for Conner is that there are 25 (used to be 26 and I'm assuming they will go back to 26 by January) kids in his class and one teacher. He has significant ADHD and it has been very hard for him to stay focused at school. I'm not sure there is a solution to this problem. If you combine this problem with cerebral palsy and Conner's difficulty with using his hands (writing/cutting/etc.), it makes things a little more challenging. He also does not seem to be connecting with the kids in his class. He is so friendly and social but the kids don't seem that receptive to him. All I want for him is to make friends and to be happy. The staff love him. I wish the other kids would give him a chance.

We visited a new neurologist in September after having a terrible experience with our old neurologist. We tried to get Conner in to a U of M neurologist and he still does have an appointment scheduled for June 2014 (I made the appointment in July 2013) but we are thrilled with the doctor that we found. The first order of business for him was weaning Conner off the seizure medication he was on all summer. The doctor said that there are 2 reasons he should not be on this particular medicine. First, he has never had a visible seizure so we should not be treating an EEG. The medicine he was on was doing nothing for him. The second reason to take him off, was that this particular seizure medicine exacerbates ADHD symptoms. So the whole reason we were at a neurologist in the first place was for ADHD and the doctor gave us a medicine that makes it worse. I feel horrible that we even started the medicine in the first place. It took a month to wean him off. We noticed a difference as we lowered the dose.

We also have tried three medications for ADHD. I was so resistant to trying anything but it became very apparent once school started that it was very necessary. The neurologist wasn't sure anything would work and his hope is that Conner will eventually outgrow some of his impulsivity but he felt like we had to try in order for Conner to be successful in school. The first two medications we tried, both stimulants, were a disaster. The first caused rage (and Conner gave himself a black eye the one day we gave it to him) and the second medicine caused crying, mood swings and uncontrolled tongue movements. I was feeling very disappointed and was losing hope. I emailed our new neurologist, who is so fantastic and emails me back so quickly, and he said we should try a non-stimulant. I was hesitant. We started the third medicine on a Friday. The doctor said it could take a week or more to notice anything. We dealt with some side effects - sleepiness and diarrhea, but I felt like it was working and we stuck it out to see if those symptoms would get better and they did. We are noticing HUGE differences at school and at therapy. His teachers and therapists are also noticing a difference in his stuttering, which although it is still severe, he is having less tension in his neck when he speaks.  For once, we feel hopeful. We feel like Conner has a chance at school to learn and succeed. These issues we deal with are so stressful and to have something help is such a relief. We are hoping it stays this way.

These things may not seem like a big deal. But as parents, we are so tired. We are so tired of all these things that Conner has to continue to go through on a daily basis. School and learning and making friends is a big deal to a Kindergartener and we pray every day that he is happy and enjoying his life.

We are all looking forward to the holiday break so we can spend some time together. We really miss Conner when he is gone all day and look forward to our Starbucks dates, movies and time to play together.
 Running with a teacher (another K teacher, not his!)
 Running with his awesome principal!

Forest Fun Run 2013

Brennan update

B started preschool in September again. She is doing the 2 year old class again (she doesn't turn 3 until March so this was the most appropriate place for her). There are 11 kids and 3 teachers in her class. She is one of the oldest kids in the class. She is enjoying it and is learning a lot. She is talking a ton these days and all those initial worries about her speech are pretty much gone. She has a few weird speech things but Conner's speech therapist wasn't worried when we talked about it. Anyway, she loves going to school. I think her favorite part of the day is Arts and Crafts. She is very crafty, especially compared to Conner. She also likes music, stories, cooking, etc. She has made some friends and she is well behaved at school. Going to school is great for her and we love hearing everything she has to tell us at the end of the day.

school picture - 2's

Brennan also takes a dance class and to say she loves it is an understatement. There are 5 little girls in her class and her teacher is fantastic. Brennan talks about her teacher all week and practices her moves. I loves watching her in her little tutu!

Princess day (Halloween) at dance

She also takes a class at the gym and is loving that too. She has changed so much in a year. Last year, she was so shy she wouldn't go near anyone and now she goes willingly to all of these activities. It helps that she knows her teachers and is very familiar with everything but she is getting so grown up!). Her class at the gym is a little playtime and a little bit of preschool type activities (songs, books, bubbles, art, play). She loves it.

A few weeks ago, she started swimming lessons as well. She loves this too. She has gone 3 or 4 times and has already started putting her head in and doing big scoops, pushing off the wall and jumping off the side of the pool.

At home, B is a little drama queen. This morning, she HAD to wear tights. She HAD to have her hair in braids (which I am not that good at doing!). She is particular about what she wears, likes to wear dresses, only will wear her pink tutu to dance, likes her hair a certain way, likes to wear a bandaid and stickers to bed. She is tiring! But also so sweet.

She is a picky eater and a little difficult at night to get to sleep. Her favorite foods are Chobani yogurt (every day), Kraft Mac and Cheese, plain noodles, and hot dogs. Gross. She will eat broccoli and almost all fruits and if we go to sushi, she likes edamame, California rolls and Miso soup. We just wish she would try a few more foods. We have tried a little to give up nap time because she has been having trouble falling asleep at night. But she is so tired in the day that she is still sleeping for about 1-2 hours. If her bedtime gets much later, we will have to try again to give up her nap.

Brennan, overall, is doing so great and we love her so much. She is such a great buddy to Conner and even though they sometimes don't share and they get a little crazy, I'm so glad they have each other.