Friday, October 17, 2008


Monday was an eventful day - ophthalmologist, pediatrician, and teacher conference. Some holiday for me, huh? LOL

Julian's eye appointment went fine. His vision is good enough to pass a driving test, so no glasses needed at this time. Julian seemed pretty disappointed by that, saying he wanted glasses! Silly boy. LOL The ophthalmologist said that at some point, he may indeed need glasses if his vision gets poor enough that he can't do what he needs to do without corrective lenses. But for now, he's good. And the ophthalmologist was great - well worth the drive to Plano.

The pediatrician's visit was draining. Even though I already knew what I was going to hear, it was still a lot to process. I showed Julian's doc the Conner's survey from his teacher, and we talked about what the teacher and counselor had described in terms of the issues he was having at school. She then asked me what I thought, if I believed it, and I had to say yes. I see how he can't sit still. I see how his emotions are up and down, up and down. I see how he can't focus long enough to get his work done without me sitting right there with him, helping him keep himself on track. I see the anger and the opposition. So I had to say yes, I believe it. She said she's known it pretty much since Julian was an infant, but she doesn't bring up the subject until parents broach the subject with her. She asked Julian to sit still and be quiet and not move while she and I talked, and he lasted maybe two minutes before he was moving around, looking under the exam table to see what was there, messing with his hair and his ears - he couldn't do it. His doc said we could do more testing to see if there was anything else going on, and I told her the counselor at school said it's the attention/behavior issues driving the learning difficulties, not the other way around, and his teacher said he's very intelligent and should do well if we can get a grip on the attention/behavior. So we're trying meds - we're starting with 20 mg of Vyvanse. The doc recommended we start it on the weekend, so I can have a day or two to see how he reacts to it before he goes off to school on it, and he needs to take it first thing in the morning with food, preferably protein. (That should be fun, as the only protein Julian wants to eat for breakfast is bacon and eggs, and I can't make bacon and eggs every morning.) We'll take our first dose on Saturday, and we'll see how it goes. Other than the ADHD discussion, there was a checkup - Julian is 3 feet, 10 1/4 inches tall and weighs 56 pounds now. There was also the Flumist nose spray (not much fun), a finger stick to check his hemoglobin (less fun than the Flumist), and the second half of the Hep A shot (took both me and Brian to hold him down, and there was lots of screaming).

That afternoon, I met with his teacher and counselor. The counselor had done an observation of Julian for a 20-minute period when he had a specific task to work on - it wasn't time where it was OK for him to be up and moving around the classroom. The time period was broken down into 30-second intervals, and she observed how often he was off task, playing with objects, out of his seat, etc. During that 20 minutes, he was off task 65% of the time, playing with whatever he could get his hands on (pencils, paper, bits of eraser) 45% of the time, singing to himself 30% of the time, and out of his seat 20% of the time. He was also redirected by the teacher six times, but the counselor said the student teacher was in charge right then and may have gone easy on Julian because she knew the counselor was observing. That kind of inattention can't help but affect his schoolwork. I saw work done by the kids posted on the walls of the classroom, and Julian's handwriting is noticeably worse than most of his classmates - yes, theirs is still clearly kid handwriting, but Julian's is so much less developed and looks so much more strained. I could pick out his work from the little tail on his small a's and his backwards s's. The counselor said handwriting issues are fairly common in kids with ADHD, and that that should improve as his focus improves. She also said that reading is usually tough for ADHD kids, and I said, oh, no, reading is one thing where he seems to be doing well. I told them we're a family of bookworms and reading has always been highly encouraged, and his teacher said he is doing well, by her testing. Julian reads 65 words a minute and comprehends most of what he reads, and he just moved up another level this week, so reading is our best subject at this point. I told them we'd be starting the meds this weekend, and the counselor said she'll do another 20-minute observation before we go back for the follow-up with his pediatrician, so we'd have something to compare the first one to. Overall, it was a good talk, and I think they know now that I'm not blowing off what they say and I am committed to helping Julian get on a good track and do well in school, and I feel like they are, too. So it was a lot to process in one day, but ultimately, it's good to know we're taking steps to help Julian do as well as I know he can. And if we get the ADHD under control, I think he'll do well in school.

Brian went back to work on Wednesday. This eight days on, six off is a challenge. It's like I just get used to him being back, and then he's gone again, and then I just get used to being by myself, and he's back. How families with one spouse on shift for long periods of time manage it, I'll never know. I'm thankful for his job, but boy, the logistics are way less than ideal. He's looking at several options at home, including the museum field, Child Protective Services, and whatever else we think of that might have potential. There haven't been any new teacher openings anywhere, and he hasn't gotten any sub assignments at all. I just hope something works out closer to home when we really need it. And if his work hours end up being cut (which is a possibility if enrollment doesn't go up), I'm telling him to just find something, anything closer to home. When you break down his paycheck by how many hours he's officially on shift, it works out to about $6.00 an hour (which is, I just realized, less than minimum wage). I think retail or warehouse work would pay better. If he ends up working less hours and getting paid less accordingly, it wouldn't be worth the drive out there or the time away from home.

I'm trying to remember, we walk by faith, not by sight. Today, it's a real struggle to keep that faith.

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