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