Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How do you feeeeel about that?


I've been trying to decide whether it violates my daughter's right to privacy to post this, and I've finally come to the conclusion that she might want to know the story one day.  Soooo...

We recently took Flanna for testing at Duke's ever-so-respected ADHD Clinic.  I'd been reading about ADHD for quite a while and had been concerned about it being a possibility for her since a few months ago.  It took eons to get her in for an appointment because of their long waiting list, but in the meantime, we filled out zillions of questionnaires, had her teachers fill out zillions of questionnaires, and twiddled our thumbs until the appointment.  

The day of the appointment arrived at last, and, as requested, we brought a babysitter with us so both Robi and I could talk to the psychologist for hours and hours.  The sitter played with Flannery while we filled out more questionnaires and answered questions.  Then, the psychologist brought Flannery back into the office and observed her playing with us.  First, the psychologist observed us during natural non-directive play, and then she asked that we be very directive in the second observation.  After that, she worked with Flannery a bit herself while we waited in hungry silence with the babysitter.  (I'm not being poetic...we were just starving by that time.  And waiting with a sitter who's been stuck with your four year old in a waiting room for four and a half hours while you're waiting to find out some pretty big and personal news is not awkward at all, by the way.) 

Then, the sitter again watched Flannery while the psychologist gave us the results.  

And the results were pretty straightforward.  Our sweet Flanna has ADHD, as we had guessed.  The psychologist said it seems to be a mild case, and didn't recommend medication, but did recommend that we put several behavioral interventions into place.  Then, the psychologist got quiet, tilted her head to one side, and said, "So, how do you feel about that?"

I admit it.  I got a little emotional.  I'm not sure if it was noticeable, but my voice wavered a little as I said, "Yes,  that's what we expected."  And my eyes teared up a tiny bit as I asked, "So, what books and resources do you recommend we read?"   And as we were leaving, a voice in the back of my head wondered, "Maybe they made a mistake.  People do get misdiagnosed.  And she's so young."  

I never actually answered the "how do you feel" question at all that day.  I think that, although intellectually, I'd been pretty convinced that Flannery was going to get a diagnosis, I was still, on some level, hoping that I was an overprotective worry-wart of a parent, that the subtle things I noticed would just be subclinical quirkiness, and that the doctor would tell us that yes, our child was energetic and talkative, but isn't every four year old?  

It's been a little over a month since that day.  We've been trying out the recommended strategies, using behavior charts to reward everything from sitting at the dinner table to getting dressed for school.  We've been reading books and articles, and trying to be better advocates for Flanna at her school.  Some days, things can get pretty intense and exhausting, and other days, I completely forget about ADHD.  

And now that we've had some time to absorb the diagnosis, I think I'm ready to answer that question.  So, how do we feel about it?

Like we've got a heck of a lot of learning to do to be able to help our smartypants kiddo push through the frustration of ADHD so she can be and do whatever she wants to be and do one day.  

How do you feel about the prevalence of ADHD these days?  Do you think it's overdiagnosed?, that it's a natural consequence of the barrage of input children receive these days?, that it's worsened by the amount of "sitting still" our traditional schools require?  I'd love to hear what you guys think.  

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