My 10 year old son has ADD. I resisted believing it was really a problem or anything other than that boys have extra energy, for as long as I could. I tried a gluten free diet. I hoped meditation and yoga might help. I tried to keep him as physically active as possible. I cut down on sugar and got him to school earlier. Nothing seemed to help. It wasn’t until his 3rd grade teacher told us in a very difficult parent/teacher conference that we were in what she called “crisis mode” that we took some serious steps.
We had him tested numerous times by various child-psychologists over the years to rule out things like Autism or Asperger’s. But despite the assurances from over 5 doctors that he had neither, I was still met with the anxious and harried face of his preschool teacher in the pick-up line every day telling me that, “We had another bad day.” It got to the point where I said to the very kind teacher clearly at the end of her rope, “Just for novelty sakes, why don’t you just tell me if there is ever a good day, ok?”
The complaints were always the same: the humming, the noises, the inability to pay attention and the annoyance of him distracting the other children. I felt at a loss for what to do, being given the advice that he may grow out of it, or otherwise we might have to resort to the dreaded final step of medicating him. I say dreaded, because I believed and still do to some degree, that we too often reach for a quick fix pharmaceutical rather than trying to get to the root and finding a more whole body solution. We tend to be a overprescribed culture. I also had real concerns about how it might affect his growing body and mind.
A call to action came from this 3rd grade conference. Zander had already qualified for and was receiving additional help through the IEP (Individual Educational Program) in our public school based on testing and his qualifying as a special needs student with ADD. The teacher felt quite strongly that some additional intervention needed to occur. His teacher pointed out that he was really acting out and clearly seemed to be identifying himself as a bad kid and was therefore seeking negative attention as the class clown.
After this meeting, I spoke with a friend who is a child psychologist. She helped me understand that once his ADD was genuinely starting to effect his self-esteem, the effects could be long term and emotionally scarring. We sought out additional counseling and ultimately went to our family pediatrician to look into medication. Our pediatrician who is well known for leaning toward the most natural and holistic approaches to health care advised me to try a new drug for Zander. He said he had been truly amazed by the positive turnaround in the lives of kids whose ADD had been hindering them.
I started Zander on a low dosage over Christmas break so that I could monitor him all day and watch his mood and behavior. The result was remarkable. I wouldn’t say he was a different kid, but he was the same wonderful, sensitive, intelligent kid as always, in a much more present way. He described it like he is now able to behave and engage in the ways he had always wanted to but couldn’t control himself enough to do.
The rest of the school year was infinitely better. He was able to demonstrate his intelligence with his school work, he became intensely focused at martial arts and swelled with pride as he mastered the guitar. His self- confidence went through the roof as he made new friends and finished out the year successful and happy.
We often think miracles must come in some mysterious form or magical circumstance. I have been humbled to learn that sometimes a miracle can simply come in the form of a necessary drug at the right time.
Last night, my ten year old boy joined me, once again, for my 20 minute evening meditation. I watched him as he sat cross-legged in the candlelight, perfectly still with a contented look on his face and I felt infinite gratitude. Miracles abound!