Wednesday, September 17, 2008

From the bottom of my heart...

Thank you for your comments. All of you. I tend to be a very private person and it was really hard for me to press publish yesterday. The outpouring of love and support I felt as I read your comments was exactly what I needed. Tuesdays are our treatment days and they seem to be the hardest day for me.

The treatment we have chosen to try out is called neurofeedback (there is some controversy on this treatment, but we did our research and read the pros and cons, and decided that it was a better alternative to drugs.) In a simple explanation of the treatment, it works like this. Madeline's attentiveness and impulsiveness were first tested (TOVA), and then based on those results, a neurofeedback treatment was recommended. Her brainwaves were mapped on one visit, which meant that electrodes were placed all around on her head and her brainwaves were monitored as she watched a movie (Open Season.) Then on her next visit, the therapy began. Again, she was watching the movie with sensors on her head and one on her forehead. As she watches the movie, she is asked to focus and pay attention to the movie. When she begins to lose focus, the movie pauses. In order for the movie to begin again, she must refocus her brain and pay attention.

I found it fascinating to learn about this process. In effect, this will (hopefully) teach her to control her brain function and keep focused. The first treatment was very frustrating to her because the movie paused over and over and over, and she expressed frustration because she said that she felt like she was focusing on the movie. I explained to her that although she feels like she is paying attention, her brain is actually wandering away from the movie, and when this happens, she has lost focus. It was a huge realization to me that this is precisely what is happening at school as well.

Many many times she comes home with homework that she has no idea how to complete because she has lost focus at school and wasn't paying attention when the teacher was giving instruction. She isn't a problem child, and teachers don't have to get after her to stop being disruptive. It would be easy for her to slip through the cracks because she is seemingly normal. But in reality her disorder makes it very hard for her to succeed in the typical school setting.

We are hopeful that this therapy will help her learn to stay focused. I appreciate so much your comments and suggestions and support. I thought today I would answer a few of them specifically.

Azucar - You're right, Madeline is awesome...and so are you. Thanks.
Karen - Thanks. Although I understand why some people choose to medicate, I just didn't feel it was the right option for us. Our doctor explained that medicating only masks the problem and we wanted to treat the problem directly. Her problem is focusing. We are teaching her how to focus.
Tiffani - Thanks for reminding me that I CAN do hard things. Sometimes I forget.
Alicia - Hopeless and scared is exactly some of the feelings I have had, but finding a treatment has felt really empowering.
Mary Ann - Thank you so much for your advice. I talked to the principal of her school yesterday and he is starting the process of putting her on an IEP which has something to do with the 504 recommendation you spoke of. This is all very new to me, but I am learning. Also, I do not think the food allergy thing is hokey. At all. Her doctor is a naturopath and she was tested for an allergy to wheat and dairy. It runs in our family, but so far, she tested negative to those. But when I meet with him next, I will ask him more questions about those issues.
Sarah - Hearing about Riley's experiences really were helpful. Thank you so much. She is playing volleyball and she really enjoys that and we have been told by so many people that exercise will be a great outlet for her. She will most likely play basketball in the winter and softball in the spring, so she will stay active all school year.
Mom - I am learning now more than ever, that prayer is my lifeline. I am so grateful also to have you, who always provides a listening ear and solid advice. Thank you.
Kristen - Her symptoms have developed over the years and have gradually escalated to where they are now. Although, she's struggled ever since pre-school with certain issues, it has been these middle school years that have been the hardest. Her main issues are: Failing to complete and turn in assignments, being unorganized, having a difficult time completing a list of tasks, lack of motivation, procrastination, argumentative. What takes some children only an hour to complete, will take Madeline MANY hours to complete. Many.

Most of us deal with these issues in our own personal lives, but for a person with ADD, it is to an extreme level. We are only 4 weeks into the school year and already Madeline is failing 2 classes, is close to failing 2 more and has several missing assignments. I feel like she is drowning in the school work. She simply cannot keep up.

I know that we have a long journey ahead of us, and that Madeline will be okay. She will succeed. I have faith that we will find a system that works for her. She thrives when she can be creative and that makes me immensely happy. Creativity is important and she has that down pat. Thanks again for all your support and suggestions.

P.S. I promise that my blog won't become an ADD platform, in fact, tomorrow, I am going to share some favorite new music picks.