We had Nate's first conferences of his Middle School career where we received Nate's report card today. His report card consisted of all As and the teachers comments were phenomenal. Nate's conferences were even better than the report card. Each of the teachers talked about how Nate contributes and how he is a model student academically and behaviorally. We sat in line at conferences behind parents who were yelling at the teachers or crying or shaking their head at what they were hearing. One teacher even told us what a great day we would have as we went around and talked to each of Nate's teachers.
(Nate gave me his permission to share the following)What makes this even better is that his elementary school school career was not marked by such glowing feedback. Conferences used to be quite a bit more painful, marked by mid-marking period follow up meetings. The feedback we would get over and over would be that he couldn't stay focused, he didn't take his time on his work, he was disorganized, distracted and he made lots of mistakes because he flew through the work and the teacher's could read his hand writing. Behaviorally, he was constantly distracted and a distraction to others as he couldn't keep his hands to himself. All of the teachers said that he was smart and got the material, he just had all of these other challenges. We worked with Nate for years on organization, focus, slowing down and being more methodical. We saw improvement, but minimal.
About two years ago, I decided that I would try and get a handle on how my ADD impacted me in my life. I was diagnosed when I was 18 with ADD, before it was cool to have, but I was never treated for it. I had challenges around staying focused, goofing off and general concentration amongst other things. I struggled through all of school with it, but like Nate, was smart enough to get by. I figured out ways around it and sometimes was able to use it to my advantage in terms of multi-tasking. I knew my ADD was hindering me, I just didn't know how much.
I went to my doctor and started trying various drugs. I've gone through six different drugs, trying to find the right one that works. I'm finally on Adderall, basically a time released version of Ritalin that I take every morning. I've seen a huge difference in terms of my focus and how much less it drains me to have to stay focused throughout my work day.
Cathie and I talked long and hard about treating Nate's ADD with med's. On one hand, I learned how to cope with it, but I wrestled with wanting Nate to have to go through the same pain I did. I wondered how much we were hindering him by not doing anything about it. In April, we had Nate assessed. They basically try and figure out what your potential is and then how you're doing relative to that potential. They did IQ tests (Nate scored very high, 120+) and other tests to see where he was at developmentally and behaviorally. The Doctor saw the impact of Nate's ADD during these tests and diagnosed him with middle-of-the-road severity ADD. We then worked with his doctor on his medication. He's currently taking Concerta, basically a time-released version of Ritalin like I'm on.
The difference with Nate is night and day without any real side effects. Nate's report card and conferences were a testament to that, not to mention the level of focus and intensity we've seen in football. The most significant side effect is the decreased appetite that results from the drugs, and we offset that by being very aware of how much and when he's eating. I know that Ritalin is not a care for everyone and everything and that it's probably over prescribed for kids. If you were to ask Nate, he'd tell you it's making a huge difference and he wouldn't go back.