Friday, August 17, 2018
STRUGGLING (part 1)
Like I said before, a lot has been going on these last few years – health, ladybug, work, hell… LIFE! – and to catch you up would probably take an act of God. So, I’ll just give you the highlights and we’ll pick up from there.
Well, she’s 16 now (guess I should change that picture, huh?), and is still the sweetest, easiest kid ever. Truly. And I THANK GOD because I am not the kind of person that could handle all that drama that comes with teen girls. We’ve been really struggling with her the last 2 years with her learning differences though. She was assessed in the 8th grade and diagnosed with Central and Auditory Processing Disorder with working memory issues. We’ve done all sorts of cognitive behavioral and executive functioning therapies along with hiring an educational coach til tenth grade. She’s been in an amazing private college prep high school with an equally amazing program for high achieving kids who learn differently.
She’d been doing just fine until May of last year; puberty hit and she began to crash and burn. We worked with her over last summer, putting measures in place for her 11th grade year and the school was great, doing everything they could to help and support us/her. The allowed additional accommodations, assistive technology devices (the LiveScribe smart pen), and the option to take tests orally. But… she completely fell off the cliff. She did not pass the 11th grade.
It’s been a very difficult time for us. She has really been floundering academically; funny though, her spirits have been ok. After several meetings with her school therapist, counselors, and teachers we decided to do an additional assessment in February and found that she also has ADHD-Inattentive Type. So, after all was said and done, it was clear that we needed to medicate her since we’d already done all the cognitive and executive functioning strategies and tools that basically just stopped working. It was a hard decision that we researched the hell out of, particularly given my own medical history. Apparently, in girls particularly, puberty can bring it on with a vengeance for those with an already preexisting learning difference – like Ladybug. To manage the medication I had to find a pediatric psychiatrist or a behavioral pediatrician and was an odyssey in and of itself because there aren’t many doctors who take teens, but I did. I interviewed her a few times before setting the appointment for LB.
After a two hour session with LB, the doc decided she was clinically depressed, and in order to even address the ADHD, we had to deal with the depression. I didn’t fully agree, but with my own clinical therapy background (my original training waaaaaay back when), I understood that depression presents in many different ways, especially in teen girls… So, I rode with it. This past April the doc prescribed her a well-known medication for depression AND ADHD of which J and I researched and green-lit it on an extremely tight timeline, along with weekly therapy. After 3 months we saw no change. During this time I mentioned this to the doc several times, who said we just needed to increase the dose and let it get to therapeutic levels. Well, by the beginning of July I’d had enough and had LB taper off. I made a list of the issues (mainly that we didn’t think she was ‘clinically depressed’), the things we were still seeing, and what our expectations where, then spoke with her. The doc totally blew me off, told me I needed to “calm down and relax”, then blamed me for all of LBs issues! Yep. She sure did. Then told me that nope, in fact LB wasn’t clinically depressed after all, but that “she should be” because “she has a terminally ill mother and all that goes with that”… Yep. She actually said those words too. Also, that all LB needed was an “attitude adjustment”. All with LB sitting right there in the room. Sigh.
These last few months have been beyond stressful. Seeing your child struggling, floundering, and not knowing how to help her. That everything you’ve done and tried just isn’t enough. Having to pull her form a school community we love, who love and support her. I have shed some serious tears, along with LB. So… yes, I’m now looking for another doctor and therapist because the issues have still not been addressed. We’ve had to pull LB from school as a rising senior, and we will be homeschooling her. Quite honestly, I feel amazing about the decision, but am overwhelmed with all the information and options out there! But we’re all super excited – mainly Ladybug! She’s never been a ‘classroom kid’, NEVER. And she just learns differently. This way we can make school, well… learning really, interesting, meaningful, and fun for her. Yes, she’s sad that she’ll be missing her senior year and all the fun and activities that go with that, but she gets that this is best and why.