Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Birthdays for boys and a diagnosis

Well, we officially have an 8 year old boy in the house and for his party this past weekend 2 of his closest buddies came over for a sleepover complete with mini-golf, nerf gun target practice, a late night movie, pizza and cake and a pancake breakfast to boot.  Wow.  I felt like I needed the next couple of days to recover from all that!  The decorations were kept pretty simple- just some balloons, streamers and paper airplanes hung over the table.  A couple of old trophies made for a fun centerpiece.  I did end up putting a 'Darth Vader' Birthday Candle on the cake so it was a little more appealing to the boys.  Anyways, it was fun and wild and sometimes crazy but that's how it goes with boys this age.

Yesterday we had our meeting with the school psychologist who actually did do some diagnosing.  I'm still trying to process some of the results- more the labels and associations that come with the diagnosis.  It seems that Johnny has some form of ADD and dislexia that are inhibiting his ability to learn to read and write as smoothly and quickly as other kids.  Both diagnosis were kind of a surprise to me. Johnny has never mixed up letters and he can read and write, albeit slowly and below his level.  So there is a program he might do for 10 weeks in fall to re-learn how to read and write geared for kids with mild dislexia. 
I think what surprised me more was the whole ADD diagnosis.  I sat down to do some research yesterday and frankly, it's hard not to see every boy Johnny's age as being somewhat ADD.   Knowing that about 7 of Johnny's classmates have undergone a similar psychological assessments this year makes me a little frustrated that we aren't looking at the process of teaching kids as opposed to simply trying to medicate and diagnose our kids into being good students. ADD or ADHD seems to be a catch-all phrase for kids who have a lot of energy and a low attention span.  Perhaps it's not just our kids who have the 'problem', perhaps some of the issues have to do with educators and parents who haven't completely learned how best to motivate these kids to learn and cope with life at their optimum.
With that in mind, I can see that there are a few strategies that I can work on personally as a parent to make life a little smoother for both Johnny and us as parents.  Some of those parenting tips I found here, some more I found here- both sites and the video being advocates for the concept of 'positive parenting'.  Essentially, the idea behind positive parenting is to learn how to avoid conflicts/power struggles with your child while trying to teach them how to make positive choices.  For me it will mean being more intentional about how I relate to my boys and not trying to rush over the parenting tasks that I do every day.  Also making sure that we have a more consistent schedule, complete with lots of meals/snacks, good sleeping habits and lots of physical activity will be on the agenda.  Good thing I bought some new running shoes on the weekend- I have a feeling I'll be playing a lot more soccer and going for more hikes and runs throughout the summer...


vicki hartman said...

sounds to me like you are on the right track. and it does seem crazy that we expect these little bursting balls of energy to sit and learn academics in 40 minute chunks of time with little physical activity in between, and often no real life applications to draw them in. i hope he has great teachers you trust.

looks like a FUN party!!

becka said...

Looks like so much fun, that cakes look delicious!

My younger brother was diagnosed with ADHD and aspergers (such a brutal combination) and there has been lots of discussion over medication vs. non-medicating, behaviour vs. chemical imbalance and it's really tough. I totally understand your frustrations, and I do think we can have a tendency for over medicating and diagnosing but then talking to some adults who have ADHD and hearing them being able to articulate what it actually feels like inside their heads (even when they don't seem 'so bad' on the outside) it helped me to understand this 'invisible disability' with much more clarity.

Sorry for the rant! It's something that's pretty close to my heart, ha. I'm glad that he's getting support though, and I hope you as parents are also. If you ever need anything, info, tips, sounding board, whatever, you know where I am!

dahlhaus said...

Yes, I think our educational system is a little rigid on how the kids must sit and learn without moving around much.
And thank you for the insight Becka! It's helpful to hear other people's experience with these invisible 'disabilities' for sure. I'm trying to keep an open mind on how best to approach an 'action plan' with him on the whole, even though I really do hope to avoid medications, especially since the side affects are almost worse sounding than what we are currently working with.
Anyways, it will be a journey and it certainly helps to have some support along the way!

jan said...

Oh 8 years old - such a great age! And yes if you ever want to talk - well in fact I think I'll email you! I have a little something in common in this department as well.