NAP and Psych Meds?

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NAP and Psych Meds?

  • Sarah Meyer

    Does anybody in this community have any experience with mental illness in children? I want my child to “be himself” and I don’t want to mess with his developing brain… but this isn’t just a public school conformity problem anymore. I honestly think if he continues to slide, we might have no choice but to start an aggressive treatment plan. We’re just beginning cognitive behavioral therapy, so I can try to wait and see if that starts to help, but in the meantime… he’s slipping away from me. I’m losing my boy! Professionals seem to think that he’s got ADHD as well as an Anxiety Disorder. His interactions with adults and peers has degraded to complete and total dysfunction. He’s unable to complete any schoolwork at this point. How do I save him without hurting him??? Any advice is helpful.

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  • Mike Reid

    Ouch. I have no expertise to share, Sarah, just sympathy.

    If it’s feasible, I guess I’d start by pulling him out of public school, and hoping he can decompress and find his mental way again in the loving family environment. His mental problems might be aggravated or even caused by the pub-school environment. Justin Arman talks about the crazy transition of unplugging his kids from public school in his liberty guide. Probably a long process before any good comes.

    I guess it’s also possible that (a) you can’t economically get the kid out of public school, or (b) your poor boy’s mental state can’t be improved by changing his environment. In that case, I guess I’d be willing to consider meds if I were in your situation and if the cognitive therapy wasn’t helping.

    In general, I wouldn’t worry about schoolwork in itself. I’d focus on getting his emotional and relational issues straightened out first. If his emotions and relations get good again, he’ll probably be able to tackle school stuff later on his own terms. If his emotions and relations stay bad, getting good grades won’t be enough to make him happy or healthy.

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      Sarah Meyer

      Thank you Mike for the supportive words – advice or no, it’s more helpful than you realize just to hear another’s point of view in a non-judgmental way. I’m definitely on board with your suggestion that we work on “him” and worry less about the school work… however, his teacher has a job to do too, which often times puts us at odds.

      Unfortunately unschooling is not an option right now because I am a single mom… and I simply have to work, and work hard, sometimes long hours too – because the further ahead we get the more options we ultimately have.

      So yeah, when I say “we” I mean, me and the kiddos. We’re a single operating unit in my mind.

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    Sean Ridlon

    Letting my kids out of public school was great. They get to be themselves. I can’t say to have any experience beyond being a fellow parent of a male child and a male. Is this young man your only son? Do you have any male siblings? What I’m getting at here is do you know what is and isn’t typical male behavior? Im not picking on you, I just remember my own mom (with one brother was a very studious quiet boy) not knowing what to do with my two brothers and I who behaved more or less like typical little dudes- you know leaping and climbing, wrestling, frog in the pocket type stuff.

    I know a little about yall just from Liberty.me, but that little dude your raising there has been thru a lot. It’s tough to work out. He might need help from professionals, I can’t say. But I advise most folks to let kids be themselves and just be there for them. Don’t let people break their little spirits.

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      Sarah Meyer

      Gaaahhh! I wrote a response to you too Sean, and something went wrong with the website, and now I’m having to start over. Sheesh.

      Firstly, I appreciate your thoughtfulness! I do rely on male family members to help me out sometimes when I’m not sure whether his behavior is “boys being boys”… we’re past that stage now, unfortunately, and I think it behooves my son to not make excuses for him. He needs help and I recognize that.

      My single brother lives with us, so that there is a male influence in the household, and he is adamantly opposed to meds as well. He is also of the libertarian mindset, and we agree whole heartedly in this regard. I feel like psych meds violate my son’s autonomy, the freedom to grow into the brilliant brain he’s been given, and the personality which simply doesn’t conform right now. Maturity will do a lot for my son as he grows.

      That being said, he is showing signs of serious mental illness, which as you can imagine strikes FEAR into my heart. His father suffered mental illness, he did not live a life conducive to raising a family, and died at too young an age because of it. I have very real reason to be scared out of my wits for my boy.

      We have a strong family, full of love and freedom. That is my comfort. My husband didn’t have that – so I’m counting on nurture over nature to work it’s magic here. To your last point, about their spirits… trust me, that is my primary concern – that the matriarchal school system will wear him down so badly no amount of the love and safety he feels at home can protect him during his long and painful school days.

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    Sean Ridlon

    Hang in there and don’t give up! I’m not a professional by any stretch but you sound like you are doing a lot of stuff I would do if faced with the same challenges.

     

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    Mike Reid

    On this topic, I really love this recent pub-site article by @BretigneShaffer: “Dog-Eat-Dog Statism for Special-Needs Families.”

    http://bretigne.bastiatinstitute.org/2014/04/23/dog-eat-dog-statism-for-special-needs-families-youre-either-at-the-table-or-youre-on-the-menu/

    It makes me wonder how useful the unpleasant and perhaps unethical approach of “advocacy” might be in your case, Sarah.

     

    You and your beautiful kids are in my thoughts.

    Mike

     

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      Bretigne Shaffer

      @SarahMeyer, have you tried any non-pharmaceutical solutions?  I recently published this rough draft of an “anxiety-busting yoga” booklet I am writing for kids who suffer from anxiety.  I don’t have links in the booklet yet, but the benefits of yoga in dealing with anxiety are well documented.

      I would also second others’ recommendations to get your son out of public school.  I’m sure my seven-year old would be having much the same issues if he were in a public school where he had to sit still all day and be treated like a lesser being.  I don’t know your situation, but if it’s a possibility at all, I would really make the effort to get him out of there.

      Also: Diet, being in nature, horse therapy… are all things that have helped other kids with similar issues.  We have different issues, so I haven’t tried the dietary recommendations for autism (there is a protocol written up somewhere – maybe more than one), but you can look up dietary treatments for autism. I know that’s not what your son has, but some of those recommendations can really help with things like anxiety, ADD, etc. Some of the basics are: Eliminate gluten; eliminate (or greatly reduce) sugar; eliminate (or greatly reduce) processed foods.

      Also, just my opinion, but I think a lot of the behavioral therapies out there are counterproductive in that they sort of see the child as an adversary.  There are some more “child-centered” therapies, which I think are more respectful of the child, follow his/her interests, etc.  DIR Floortime is one, Pivotal Response Training is another. Not sure if either would be appropriate in your case, but it’s worth checking into.  DIR Floortime would probably be easier to get.

      Here is a link to my anti-anxiety yoga booklet: http://bretigne.typepad.com/on_the_banks/2014/10/annis-stress-busting-yoga-sketch.html

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        Bretigne Shaffer

        …OK, I just saw that you said you are a single mom and need to have your son in school. Are there any options other than public school?  Anyone else who could be with him if you just decided to pull him out even for a short while?  How old is he?

         

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        • Sarah Meyer

          A: VERY COOL Yoga booklet. I’ve already got it printed and ready to try 🙂 We’ve never practiced yoga, but I think we definitely will try it out!

          RE: non-pharmaceutical options… yes, sort of. The CBT for one thing. He drinks coffee in the AM, and I’ve got permission to get him another caffeine boost after lunch with a bottled green tea. For some reason adults are really offended by kids drinking coffee… ? Why I don’t know. The caffeine is a much more subtle stimulant than amphetamines. I’m aware that our diet should be high protein low carb, zero processed carbs. Sticking to it?? That’s a bit tougher. The kids vehemently protested the lunches I was sending them with. In our school district, breakfast and lunch are provided to all children for free (no need to qualify) – but that basically means the carb-free and healthy lunch I provide them with is in competition with the 80 other kids in the lunch room eating burritos or pizza. It’s a tough sell, but… also, just an excuse on my part – that is something we definitely need to work on again. I do think the kids would skip the school lunch if I sent them something palatable.

          B: I’m not quite sure what to do about school. Parent-Teacher conference last week was horrific. I really don’t know anybody else who could help out in this regard… plus, isn’t it illegal to just pull your kid out of school, unless you’re approved to home school?? I’m really not sure how it works. All I know is that I forgot to call and excuse them once, and I got a nasty letter, reminding me that “attendance at school is compulsory and continued truancy could result in fines and/or jail time.”

          C: He’s 9, in 4th grade… his teacher is confident that he’d be identified as “gifted and talented” if only we’d medicate him, and I concur that he is brilliant. I know most parents are biased, but this is more than that. There doesn’t seem to be anything related to autism, but his brain is processing things differently – even his teacher agrees, he understands the abstract concepts before even being “taught”. Unfortunately, according to her, if he can’t focus he won’t learn the application of the concepts. It’s malarkey if you ask me. If he understands the concept, why is it important that he is  forced to fill out a practice worksheet? You can practically see the physical pain he is in when he has to sit still and write. The act of getting a thought or idea all the way from his brain, through his arm, out his finger tips, and scratched onto a piece of paper with a pencil is excruciating to him.

          I’ve begged the counselor, the teacher, and the GT resource coordinator to test him VERBALLY, that if you’d just ask him, he knows the answers. He may be climbing the walls – or flicking his pencil, he may not be looking at you – but if you ask, he’ll answer. They “can’t test that way.” The only concession they made for his intelligence testing was to allow him more time to complete it. For real. He knows the answer within 5 seconds, giving him more time to fiddle fart around isn’t going to help anything.

          Thanks for pointing me in the direction of your blog!! Awesome article on advocacy and the dog-eat-dog way it is also. I know exactly where you’re coming from.

          Also, good luck with your family too!

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        • Bretigne Shaffer

          Thanks!

          It just makes me angry to read things like this. His teachers, counsellors, etc. aren’t interested in helping him – they just want him to fit into the model they’ve got. What they should do is change the model to fit the child, but that doesn’t happen in government schools.

          Laws on homeschooling vary from state to state, but here in CA, it’s not illegal to pull a child out – you just have to file a homeschooling affidavit.

          The Homeschooling Legal Defense Association is a fantastic resource for these kinds of questions: http://www.hslda.org/ – and if you become a member, they have legal staff on call who you can talk to to get advice, questions answered, etc.

          One thing you can do, which I almost hate to mention, is get a diagnosis for him.  Once you’ve done that, you have established that your son has special needs and the government schools are required by law to provide for those needs (via adapted lesson plans, assistive technology, therapy, etc.) – and if they can’t, you can then sue the district to get them to pay for private school. Yes, the whole thing is very yucky and gross. And there may be consequences to getting a diagnosis that you won’t be comfortable with – I wouldn’t know because our daughter actually has a chromosomal anomaly. So getting a diagnosis wasn’t a choice for us.

           

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        • Sarah Meyer

          Cool, thanks again for another resource I’ll check out. If only I could do my job from home, or off-hours… maybe a different career is in order?

          I appreciate your insight, and while our children aren’t the same, as far as the issues they face – I can see the similarities when it comes to dealing with the system.

          We’ve gotten a diagnosis, and I worked with a government worker last year (yes, icky and gross) but she was pretty short on resources also. Everybody just looks at you like you’re a crackpot, conspiracy theorist when you tell them that medication (speed for kids) is not something you’re interested in.

          I wish you many blessings with your exceptional daughter! I know it’s not an easy road you’re travelling. I’ll bet you’ve seen it before, but I just LOVE this poem. http://www.child-autism-parent-cafe.com/welcome-to-holland.html

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        • Bretigne Shaffer

          Yes, I like that one too!

          There are so many options available for helping with these issues that don’t involve drugs – but doctors are used to people looking for quick fixes. And the other ways do involve some work. But it’s not always as hard or rigorous as you’d think – I just heard from one dad who really turned his (Down Syndrome) son’s health and mood, etc. around just by adding lots of vegetables to his diet. Another thing I wanted to mention (and then I’ll shut up!) is just getting him outside. With a lot of kids, it can work wonders – my daughter included. Does he enjoy any outdoor activities? Is there anything you can get him doing a few times a week that involves being out in nature?

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        • Sarah Meyer

          Again, thank you – I agree that there are so many other options. I need to keep up my vigilance, and as I think about our supposed “backslide” which is what I originally posted about, was directly related to his adjustment back in school after the summer. Is it possible that he’s not the problem, but the school is? Absolutely!

          Diet, vitamins, outdoor exercise/play, I agree with all of those techniques to help him. I even had a thought this morning that his ADHD may not even be an organic problem all on it’s own, but is a symptom of his environment. I’ve certainly got a lot of things to think about!

          Also, for the record, I have tried the medication with him before. They gave him Adderall and it was horrible. He was an emotional wreck, crying inconsolably, mentioning killing himself, hating himself, he wouldn’t eat anything, he lashed out violently, and even had a manic episode that lasted about 6 hours or so. My entirely family (who doesn’t live with him everyday) confirmed that the changes they saw in him were frightening. When I mentioned all of it to the doc he said “up the dosage” WHAT?? We upped his dosage 3 times before I finally said enough is enough. The manic episode occurred at the highest dose… I stopped with the meds, and never looked back.

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        Marlayna Donnelly

        Is this yoga booklet still available?  I wasn’t able to get the link to work.  I may not be seeing all of it though.  We unschool and my daughter has epilepsy.  We do a lot of biofeedback and stretching.  The yoga would be a great addition! Never mind!  I found it. Very excited to get started.

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      Sarah Meyer

      Oh my gosh, great article!! Thanks Mike for pointing me in Bretigne’s direction!

      Thanks for your thoughts too! We’re really doing pretty well the last few weeks.

       

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        Bretigne Shaffer

        That’s great to hear!  And thanks!

        I’d also recommend finding some parent support groups – either online or near you.  I’ve gotten so much from the FaceBook groups for our daughter’s condition: Advice, medical info., other people’s experiences, etc. etc. It can be extremely helpful.

        Good luck!

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