If you are the parent of a special needs or high needs child, you have probably heard the poem about planning a trip to Paris but you got rerouted to Holland instead. While Holland has lots to do and see, it's not quite Paris. So too is raising a child with high needs or special needs. Like every mom I had dreams, hopes, and aspirations for my daughter. She was very bright, charming and creative. She also had a dark side to her that I didn't dare share with many people. When she was 3, her preschool had to hire an aide to help with my daughter. When she was 4 and at another preschool, she bit another child's finger pretty severely. In Kindergarten, she started having a lot of discipline problems both at school and home. Since I am a teacher, I know that parents can request meetings to get their child more help. So I asked for one (In our district they are called Student Intervention Team meetings or SIT meetings for short.) Right before the SIT meeting my husband and I brought our daughter to the school's extended day care in her PJ's because she wouldn't get dressed for us that morning. During the meeting the school psychologist said that since we were having so many problems perhaps it was time to look into family counseling. So we agreed to this. The pastor at our church who oversees the counseling ministry recommended an MFT in a neighboring city. (We still see this therapist almost three years later. She has been a Godsend!)
At our first meeting at this therapist's (tdoc) office, my husband and I filled out paperwork and surveys. One of the surveys we filled out was a rating scale that helped to determine if your child had ADHD or not. Well guess what? Both of our answers resulted in the therapist seeing that our daughter displayed most of the characteristics of a child with severe ADHD. The therapist kindly but firmly told us this along with the fact that we would probably have to medicate her.
Our daughter's pediatrician didn't know what drugs to prescribe but did sign the paperwork that stated that our darling daughter (dd) had ADHD. This was a relief for us because we could now get her accommodations at school. Perhaps the principal would back off a bit and stop suspending our dd. (Yep, my sweet girl was suspended twice in Kindergarten, Never since though. Thank God!)
Over the summer of 2010 our tdoc recommended a psychiatrist (pdoc), a complete battery of psychological testing and couples therapy as well as individual counseling for our dd. The pdoc didn't work out but six months later we eventually found one that we adore. The testing did show that our dd indeed had ADHD with a possible mood disorder. The couple's therapy was great because it gave us someone to talk to that knew what we were going through, who could help us navigate the waters so to speak. Our dd loves visiting Miss R every week because she does play therapy with her. Our dd knows that even though she doesn't always like what Miss R tells her, she speaks out of love.
Right after our dd was diagnosed I went to our local bookstore and thumbed through a book that happened to have one chapter on children with mood disorders. At the end of the chapter it said something like for more information go to The Balanced Mind Foundation on the web. (At that time it was called CABF.org) I went home and got on that site right away. I have been a member ever since. Here is a place where I can share about my dd with other parents who have children like mine.
Stay tuned as I post more about our trip to Holland. For now you may unfasten your seat belts.