Over a year ago, my sons teacher told me that she thought jack needed speech therapy. She asked if I would agree to have him assessed by a therapist and see what she said. I knew that the response would be that he needed to go. Jack’s speech wasn’t terribly good and it had been worrying me because although I might ask him to repeat something I didn’t understand, I very much doubted that his 4 year old peers at school would bother to do the same and end up just ignore him. Jacks confidence is of utmost priority to me so I sent him for a few sessions. He really enjoyed them and the therapist was informative, thorough and proactive so we stuck with it for a year.
After a year, she started indicating that his concentration was bad and that she was struggling because of it and just before he had finished the programme, she suggested I go and see a specialist about putting Jack on medication for concentration. This floored me and I know that thousands of mums have been in this situation before so I want to talk about it because I have been from pillar to post on this one and although I have reached my conclusion, I want to explain how I got there.
We all want the very best for our children and when we don’t have the answers, we so often think that people who know a lot about children will. We are so quick to forget that the answers we need could come from the children themselves or at least the people who spend the most time with them. I really felt that talking to the people who knew and love Jack would be a more sensible step than going off to see a specialist right away. If you have been reading this blog you may know one or two things about Jack and you yourself may also be questioning the observation that he may need medication.
Although his family balked at the notion, his teacher confirmed that although he wasn’t disruptive, he was easily distracted and that this could become an issue. This crossroads let me deeper into the investigation and i got lost. Some folk said that it changed a child’s demeanor, others said they wished their parents had put them on it. Some say it completely changed their child’s personality and it was wonderful, others said it changed their child’s personality and it was terrible. Some said the dosage is important, others said medicating a child to fit in with a certain school curriculum is madness. Some said its best to treat early before the problem gets really bad, a 30 year old told me it doesn’t matter because he’s been on medication for 20 years. Back and forth, pillar to post, I found myself falling into parent-trap 101.
Think of a peanut factory. Once all the peanuts have been shelled they go onto this big tray with specially sized holes in it. The tray shakes all the peanuts about and the nice big peanuts for snacking on stay on the tray and the small little ones for baking and flavouring fall through. This is exactly how we need to handle information about bringing up kids. It can come to us from all angles and when the decision gets a bit stressful, so many parents turn to the ‘specialist’. When actually, you need to take a step back, sift through all the information and throw out the crap. Take what’s left and make your decision based on what YOU think with the information at hand.
In this case, everything I had heard from someone who didn’t know jack well, went into a bag for baking and flavoring. The rest I considered and discussed at length with my husband and my mum.
I have decided that my son does not need to go and see a specialist because he is happy at school, he is happy at home, he does not disrupt or get mad easily and is a very gentle considerate soul. When that starts to change, I will reconsider my decision. I am not worried about doing something “sooner rather than later” because that would mean I would be acting on the presumption that he may need medication someday and that is absurd. I know that marks at school mean little in comparison to his happiness and confidence and those things cant be found in test results. I know that i have yet to come across a pill that makes children happy and confident, that comes from attentive, sensible, whole-hearted parenting. I know that if jack needs to be assessed for medication in the future, I will know about it before anyone else does.
As parents we need to be so careful. We need to be careful that we don’t get sucked into the idea that our children need to be perfect in every way. We especially need to be careful not to get so sucked into our own lives and work that we don’t notice when our kids need our attention and help. An interesting closing thought… As the numbers of both parents at work has increased, so, it seems, have the number of children with attention deficit disorders.