When you use the R word ….. and people shit themselves ….

Georgia is definitely one of those children who measure outside of the curve.

Rainbow-unicornsShe is a happy, content, very bright child, intelligent and happy in her own skin.

The issue with a child who is really and well adjusted, but does not quite align herself to the main stream school system and way of thinking is that sooner or later, she is going to start to slip behind.

She will not be able to finish the 10 questions in the 30 seconds allocated.

Not because she is stupid or slow, but just because after question three she thought she saw a unicorn walk by, so has been looking out the window wondering if the forest fairy, will see Smurfette standing there and if she will invite her to tea with a porcupine and a hedgehog.

Clearly this is far more interesting than the next 7 questions about Biff and Chip.

The result is then she is scored 3 out of 10.  The first time she won’t mind, because she is not really that affected by being praised and being top of her class.  But repeat the same exercise 20 times, and when the other children start to call her names because she is slow.  And the teacher eventually starts to sigh in frustration, because she has to remind Georgia for the fifth time to please get her pencil out of her chair bag.

Then that becomes a problem and starts to effect Georgia’s self esteem.

This has really been a very long process with Georgia.  It started when she was in Grade R, and I had her assessed with an OT and a ST.

I used both of them, as they were able to supply tools and methods of working that was a benefit to Georgia.  As time has moved on, the issue regarding her ability to “stay on point” and concentrate has really become an issue.

It is not impacting her work, her self confidence and her sense of self at the moment.

She is bright, content, assured and does well scholastically.

My concern is that next year the work is going to get more, and once her concentration waivers she is going to be left behind.

I have considered changing her to a different school – maybe a Montessori, or another type of school, or looking at home schooling her (I wouldn’t do the home schooling) ….

I have been to an educational psychologist who came well recommended.  She met with the two of us, then did an extensive evaluation with Georgia.

Then met with her teacher, her OT, her ST and scheduled another meeting with me.

To say this process was lengthy and thorough would not hint at it.

In the feedback session, the Educational Psychologist spent a long time explaining how Georgia’s mind worked.

How she was so pre-occupied with what was happening inside her head, and how what happened in the outside world was of such little importance to her.

The key was she is bright, happy, content and quite at peace with where she is in the world.

I don’t think the word “Ritalin” can ever be mentioned without your breath catching in your throat, and your mind going “wait, wait, wait one darn moment!”

When the phrase ADD is bandied around, you start to wonder if you could throw up into the decorative vase, or whether it might be easier to just chew it back.  (I opted for chewing it back)

The decision to medicate (or not to medicate) a happy, bright, content, clever, kind, generous, beautiful child is a difficult one.

I do not think anyone treads lightly when making this decision.

An added challenge is that the word “ritalin” is about as upsetting to most people as using the word ni.gger casually as you ask someone to “pass you the peas”.  Shew, people get really riled up, and starts quoting you all sorts of shit and most of it starts with “my friend” …..

When all the highly emotional words and feelings are put aside, I need to look at what is best for Georgia.

Georgia’s brain fires off too much dopamine and norepinephrine, and the result is that the noise in her head is as loud and as distracting as the noise outside her head.  (If anyone understands that, it is me)

Which makes it really difficult for her to differentiate between the two.

I think it is easier for me to understand that the issue here is a chemical imbalance, or a chemical under or over supply.

Instead of giving her organic rasberries and singing kumba-ja-ma-lord around a camp fire, and monitoring her sugar intake, I have opted to go with the more direct route.

I want to give her the thing that will help her brain to release/absorb the right chemicals in the right quantities.  I do not want to change her.

I do not want her to not be distracted by rainbows and unicorns.  I do want her, when she needs to, to be able to concentrate and be able to apply her mind …. and when she is done, then she can go and play in the land where everyone is blue and three apples high!

We plan to do a 6 month trial, she will be monitored by my Psychiatrist who I have been with for years, and who I think is brilliant – this will be done in conjunction with the educational psychologist, her teacher, us as her parents and her OT teacher.

Not an easy decision to make.  I have opted for the Concerta instead of the Ritalin.

Leave a comment


  1. Sorry it took me so long to comment on this post, I read it a while back while in the car and couldn’t get my ‘smart’ phone to allow it at the time. I’m back, it moved me so. I don’t know if you read my past post on rethinking the use of Ritalin, if you did then you know my stance. And I don’t mean to offend, each parent musk make their own choices and knows their own child best, but just a few weeks ago I saw a Facebook posting of a 14 year old boys Autopsy Report, posted by his father – have you seen it doing the rounds? Cause of death, heart failure brought on by prolonged use of Ritalin. It’s just too scary to contemplate for me and I’m so glad to hear you’re trying different things. Please let us know how Georgia gets on and good luck. My eldest son is 5 and your words about Georgia describe him to a tee – his inside world is far more interesting to him than the outside. He’s currently having tests and assessments, but trying so hard bless him and doing better than he was previously at preschool. BIG school coming up so it feels like the pressure’s on him to ‘conform’ in time. But who says he must conform hey?

  2. This was a very insightful post. I have a daughter named Emily who has struggled in school since the very beginning. Your story about Georgia reminded me so much of Emily in her early years of school. She was very happy dreaming about pink castles and unicorns instead of learning the ABCs, also. She didn’t care about grades then. But now that she is 14, she struggles with being different and making embarrasingly low grades. We have never had her tested, but we are positive that she is ADD. I have always been afraid to put her on drugs, for fear of changing her happy personality. Your story inspires to me face the fear, and look into the issue further. But I admit, I am afraid. You can read more about my teenagers in my blog. I choose to use humor to cope with raising teenagers while working full time. Check it out if you like to laugh until you pee!

  3. Well done on being a Mom and recognizing your child needed help,all too often we bury our heads in the sand and hope the issues go away.
    Good luck with the new meds,do hope they help your child.

  4. I agree with Carmen. The holy than thou’s can bugger off. It’s not about making life easier for the teachers or the parents.

    My 13 year old has been on medication Strattera for …gosh…..nearly five years. As far as I know, Concerta and Strattera are different to Ritalin. I didn’t make the decision lightly as I assumed it would be a bitch to get off (just like anti-depressants are a bitch to get off).

    I had the medication for a few months before I made the decision. No professionals or teachers gave me their opinion. it was an option. In the end, I felt it was cruel for Daina to battle at school. I’ve never really worried about grades as long as she was happy….but she was battling in class.

    Daina’s personality has not changed on Strattera. She is in fact happier than she has ever been (and we are talking teenager here!). All that has changed is that her grades are better and she can focus on school work when she needs to instead of her emotions (she lives in her head but alas not with unicorns).

    Initially, her dose was too high and she was zonked out (nice if I wanted to read a book,but unnaturally quiet and not right), but the dosage was adjusted down.

    As she has got older, her dose is less and less for her weight and it is probable that she will come off next year.

    So Georgia’s meds may not be forever…..

    Good luck !

    • Tania

       /  May 28, 2013

      What a positive & happy story. Good Luck with Daina, Diddy! RM all the best with Georgia!

  5. V

     /  May 27, 2013

    I would be interested to know the name of the educational psychologist that you used, though I doubt my husband will agree to using them. My son is 14 and we had him assessed about 2 years ago by an ed. psych. in Melkbos. One of his recommendations was medication but we have been fighting against that since forever. But I often wonder if we aren’t doing my son an injustice. Maybe we should just give it a try.

    We have moved him to a smaller school which is costing us an arm and a leg and he is still having problems, he is a total daydreamer and doesn’t really care whether he does schoolwork or not. We are always fighting with the school, even the new one, to do more for him as he is extremely bright but nobody seems to be able to teach him.

    Now with the 3 yr old ready to start his schooling career, I really want to do right by him. I certainly don’t want to go down this route again. Sometimes being a parent really sucks!!

  6. Please keep up posted on this one? I’m going through some issues with Luke and will have an assessment done next week. Everyone so far has been “Stay away from Ritalin” and I don’t know which way to go. All the best, I hope it all works out fantastic

  7. Ah yes. I have a feeling we will be ther very soon too – the R or then C word

  8. I was always one of those moms screaming NO to the R word (or the C word as the case may be) but when your child is battling and nothing you do seems to help then you grab onto it and hope and pray that it does work to make life easier for your child!

  9. countesskaz

     /  May 27, 2013

    I thought the R word was Racism, but then I remembered you lived in Cape Town and there aren’t many racists there…

    My little chap is in Grade 2 and the work load is much more than Grade 1. My point is, that they go through so much work, new concepts in Foundation phase and learn skills that fare them the rest of their school careers, that its wise of you to try the direct route, you know, so Georgia absorbs as much as she can and doesn’t fall behind.

    I think that last year I might have judged you using medication, but this year having been exposed to a more “normal” school system and the amount of work they plough through, I’m inclined to think you made the best choice.

    So well done to you. You made a decision using the right channels and did something about it. At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what anyone thinks anyway, it’s not about them…it’s about Georgia.

    • Tania

       /  May 27, 2013

      I have to ask you not to judge on any of the other provinces being more racist. How would you know? Who are you to judge? Every province has it’s own issues and problematic groups of people. Some are more laid back Some are more vocal Some just rather keep quiet. I grew up in Cape Town but have been living in Gauteng for 12 years. Racism is everywhere Countess… it’s whether you choose to be apart of it or not… and not to judge people and places…

  10. Anonymous

     /  May 27, 2013

    It’s certainly not an easy decision to make, I have found myself at these crossroads a few times and have made the same decision you have. We first tried the homeopathic option, which put my child to sleep in the class room before opting for the chemical enhancements via Ritalen, which led us to Concerta. I feel even those who have stood in your shoes and made either the same decision or a different one cannot judge you. Its what works for your child and you that counts. As parents we also made the decision to keep our eldest child back in school in grade 1 since she was not coping. This boosted her confidence and today she is the top performer in her class at high school level. Good luck with your journey.

  11. When I read your heading, I thought the R word was ‘retard’ and I would certainly be one of those people who would shit themselves because it such an offensive term but I couldn’t imagine you actually using that word either. As I continued reading I thought the R word was ‘remedial’ because you were considering different schooling options and that is the kind of schooling we have found best for our son whose mind works differently. That the R word is actually ‘Ritalin’ makes perfect sense. Like with remedial education, everyone has an opinion on Ritalin whether they actually know what it is or when it is useful or not. I think the most important R word should be respect. We should respect each other’s parenting choices because we are simply doing what we think is right for our children. Good for you for knowing your child so well, doing the research and trying to find something that will help her. Respect!

  12. Carmen

     /  May 27, 2013

    the parenting police have been out and about a lot lately, you do what is best for your child. My 6yr old daughter has also been diagnosed with ADD and APD recently, as in the last two weeks, and the question of whether or not to medicate will probably come up sooner rather than later. I will make that decision along with the people who have studied years to be qualified enough to make the recommendation, and not with people whose only qualification is that they happen to have children too. Many people’s first reaction to my daughter’s diagnosis is: I hope you aren’t going to medicate! I will do whatever is best for my child to help her make a success of her life and her school career!

    Good luck to you and Georgia, I hope everything works out!

  13. Tania

     /  May 27, 2013

    Shjoe! All the best for you all. ( b.t.w. Emily absolutely loves the picture of the unicorn )

  1. When you use the ‘r’ word and people shit themselves…..piggy backing off The Reluctant Mom | The Fat Diaries

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