messy. crazy. amazing. joyful.

We're not all officially ADHD. Dad's unofficial. Our ten-year-old twins have ADHD. Our seven-year old wants to have it because everyone is always talking about it. Our three year old has ADHD--just because she's three. And me, Mom, I think it's contagious. Who can remain untouched in a house where shoes seem to be lost every morning, instructions are routinely thrown aside, and fights erupt over which continent capybaras come from?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Focalin, Suspension, Help from the School District

New medication for both kids, so I’ve gotta keep track. It’s sort of unexpected that we changed medication. We have tried the kids on several things, and I felt that they were using what worked best. But then a little catalyst of change came up. In December, Luke was suspended for three days for hitting another boy in his class.

Got that call from the principal, “Mrs. Larson. There’s been an incident with Luke.” The first time I got that call, I was in tears. The second, I was really stressed. The third I just sighed and rolled my eyes. Kind of an "Oh boy, what now?" But it turned out to be worse than an eye roller.

So I met with the principal about the incident and got a lot more info. The kid had teased Luke and tattled on him. Luke had hit him--but he's no boxer. I worry more about his bark than his bite. It seemed that this meeting was really a "we don't know what to do with your kid" meeting. I realized that things were not going as well as I thought at school. Luke has a tracker that his teacher signs and sends home, and he was earning rewards almost every day. He did have some problems with other kids that the teacher had told me about, but things were definitely worse than I perceived. 

My husband and I met with the principal and vice principal again the next day. Things just seemed to get worse. They brought up the option of putting Luke in a Learning Center, which essentially means a smaller classroom for kids with behavior problems at a different school. We were shocked to hear that. DH about lost his mind and brought a law suit after that meeting.

The next day Luke, my husband, and I went to one meeting with the district “Safe Schools” administrator and another with the case management team. The people at the district were very understanding and helpful and reassuring that they wanted to help Luke and not kick him to the curb. But we did get the idea that they had gone a little overboard with Luke's suspension. They termed it an “assault.” And Luke had to sign a general behavior contract that I’d say is usually reserved for tough high school kids. It mentioned arson, theft, vandalism… Luke started to read it and said, “What’s sexting?” The administrator pushed the paper right up to Luke’s chest and said, “Just sign the bottom here.” Luke cuddled a stuffed dog in one hand and signed with the other.

So we were at one of those points of desperation where we felt like we’d do anything to help Luke and make the situation at school better. I asked our pediatrician Dr. Dave about trying different meds, and he suggested Focalin. We had tried it several years ago and decided against it since it made Luke sleepy but thought we’d try again with a super low dose. So we switched both Luke and Izzy and started with a very low 5 mg dose for Luke and 10 mg for Izzy. Izzy obviously needed more, and we gradually increased her dose to 20 mg. We then tried her on 27 mg of Concerta, which is also a methylphenidate, but she seemed to get a little over-the-top crazy on that. So we are sticking with 20 mg Focalin for both of them. I think it might be working better than the Vyvanse. But since this is all so subjective and mixed in with the emotions of a desperate mother and father, it is hard to know. We are also trying to figure out if they need a little short-acting, after-school dose.

More details to come on help from the school district, an in-class aid, school psychologist and special ed teacher changes, and finding an outside psychologist.

A great message for moms who are trying their best.


  1. I feel your concern and Luke sounds very much like my Logan. Logan has been on Ritalin, Focalin and now Vyvanse. He did well on the Focalin but his body started to metabolize it too quickly. Stay strong! We too thought things were going better for Logan, but I think 5th grade is a hard year. He has been getting into trouble more as he is sticking up for himself. The kids have started to label him and he feels they look at him differently. It has been hard enough, but now we have to add this on top of everything else.

    1. It's hard to get the balance right between teaching them to stick up for themselves and teaching them to get along. We are working on social skills with a new psychologist and I think that is helping.

  2. Children who are known to have ADHD usually have the signs of inattentiveness, hyperactivity, impulsivity, or incorrect conduct. A kid who has ADHD usually has difficulties in concentrating on a certain process as well as in concluding them.