Last week I brought Bud for cognitive testing, and the process was a real eye-opener for me. I learned some things about his cognitive challenges - there are concepts like "except for" and "all of the" that he just doesn't get. (When the tester laid out five toys and said "Hand me everything but the car," Bud cheerfully picked up the car and handed it over.) More than that, though, I got real insight into Bud's attention deficit and genuine inability to focus. As soon as he was faced with a task or question to which he did not have an instant answer, he disengaged. It was impossible to gauge his comprehension or problem-solving ability because he couldn't focus long enough on the matter at hand to even attempt to solve the problem.
It seems to me that there are multiple issues here (or, as the doctor said "Just because your ankle is sprained, doesn't mean you don't have a headache,") and if we want to give Bud a real chance to work on his cognitive challenges, then we need to help him focus long enough to have a fair shot. So, following several years of debating the issue, we've decided to do a trial run with Ritalin.
In some ways, I feel like I'm walking around wearing a scarlet R because there appears to be a real social stigma associated with medicating young children. (Do a google search of "Ritalin" if you don't believe me; my favorite hit was titled "Ritalin is Child Abuse.") At the same time, my husband's ADHD was not diagnosed until he was in his 40's - after a lifetime of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and alcoholism - and medication has made an enormous difference for him. If we can make Bud's road easier than his Dad's was, we have to try.
I'm picking up the prescription this afternoon, and we'll start him on it tomorrow. Here's hoping.