I mentioned in a previous post that we were having Isabelle evaluated for ADHD. We have been engrossed in this process for the last two weeks and today is the first time that I feel ready to come up for air. After much prayer, patience, and faith, we have come to a point of peace and are ready to move forward.
The first step was to have her hearing rechecked. She failed her hearing test at school last month and the doctor felt it necessary to send her to an audiologist to rule out hearing loss. We went to see the referred audiologist and they did several different exams on her. They were extremely thorough and explained each test to us in detail before administering. She passed with flying colors! Step One: CHECK.
The second step was to complete "homework" given to us by the behavioral specialist referred to us by our pediatrician. I did some research on her before our appointment and was pleased with the testimonials I heard from her patients. We were given detailed surveys to fill out before our first appointment: one for Shawn, one for me, and one for Isabelle's teacher. The surveys covered a variety of topics centered around attention span, social skills, and over all attitude. We completed them as honestly as possible. Step Two: CHECK.
The third step was an exam performed by the behavioral specialist. She did a complete head to toe physical assessment on Isabelle. She then asked her a ton of questions regarding her home life and school habits. She asked us a lot of questions as well, some of them even asking about how she was as a toddler. What I liked the most about this doctor was her overall vibe. She was so kind, so respectful. She spoke to Isabelle in the most warm and loving way. There was NOTHING intimidating about this doctor's visit. It was just a nice conversation. Step Three: CHECK.
After some deliberation, the behavioral specialist informed us that she does NOT think that Isabelle has ADHD. However, she feels that she is borderline ADD. And by borderline she means that it is very difficult to diagnose a girl of her age. In fact, most girls her age with ADD go undiagnosed because their symptoms are harder to read than little boys. She also thinks that Isabelle has some anxiety issues that need to be addressed and are probably the root of some of her problems in school. Diagnosis: CHECK.
Now, what are we going to do about it? First off, we have a tutor coming once a week to our house to help her in her weaker areas. Her teacher is working directly with the tutor and sends her work that needs to be reviewed, advices her on topics Belle is having trouble with, and gives her a lesson plan of what they are covering in class. This is so exciting to me! Not only is she getting extra attention from an educator, but these two influential people are working together to make the program that much more effective! Isabelle LOVES her tutor so far and really seems to enjoy their time together.
Second, the doctor put her on a non-stimulant medication called Stratterra. Of all the ADD drugs out there, I feel pretty good about this one. Since it's a non-stimulant, it won't make her sedated or zombie-like. We don't want her to lose her spirit, we just want her to learn to use it more productively! This particular med is also very effective with people who suffer from anxiety and thus a good choice for her. Shawn has taken ADD meds for the last few years so we were pretty aware of what side effects to look for. She was a bit tired the first three days and didn't have her usual hearty appetite, but those symptoms have subsided as the first week has passed. She seems to have gotten her natural energy back and is eating normal again. This medication takes a while to really get into the system, so I'll report back as we start to see results.
And third, the behavioral specialist gave us lots of behavioral modification techniques to try at home. Reward charts, goal setting, time limits, etc. We have already been implementing some of these and she enjoys them immensely. She is a goal oriented person and accomplishing tasks makes her thrive.
So, here we are. My emotions are still on edge about all of this. You give birth to these perfect little creatures and you have no idea what life will bring. You just want your children to be happy and healthy, to have everything in life they could dream of. And that's what we want for her. We want her to have every opportunity to be everything she can be. And so we will move ahead with this new plan, this new outlook, and we will give her every tool she needs to succeed. Because she can do anything, be anyone. Because she is loved.