My life as J's mother seems full of contradictions and things that I WILL not do or believe in until I am forced to confront them. It has now been confirmed for definite that J is definitely showing all positive signs of ADHD according to the observations and questionnaires completed by myself and others. He scored so highly in fact that the paediatrician had no hesitation in saying that she would advise me to go down a medication route to see if this would help. I came away with consent forms, the patient information sheet from a box of Ritalin and several books about ADHD including one to use with J which reiterates (as I will) that "ADHD is not an excuse for bad behaviour". I like this phrase very much because J is definitely a child to find an excuse if the need arises - using ADHD as an excuse will NOT be an option.
So to Ritalin, I was always the parent who said (and still do) "not on my child". Talking to others has confiormed this to some degree as everyone has an opinion on Ritalin and I have heard horror stories. I suppose for me the question is not whether or not I elect to give Ritalin a trial for J but more to ask what the paediatrician hopes Ritalin can do positively for J. To this unfortunately there is no clear answer. I am very clear that Ritalin is not a magic pill and even if I do try it then there will need to be other management techniques as well. I have asked if J could have it "just for his days at school" and not take it in the holidays or at weekends and if he could just have a very short trial. In short I am unsure still - the thought that there could be something which might make learning a bit easier for J is very tempting but then again it means adding a powerful stimulant medication to his young body and I baulk at this.
Today there has been a phone call from the paediatrician - I have returned the call and am waiting to hear back from her. Questions are mulling round my head and I am devouring a book called Beyond Ritalin which dispels the myths (both positive and negative) about the drug and also talks of alternative and non medication programmes. The book is fairly old but seems good and readable - it is also very rational and "rational" is what I need more than anything at the moment as I try to make a decision. J's Dad is of the opinion that unless we try it with J we will never know if it can help him, I agree with this but still have my own qualms about it all.
J's behaviour can be challenging at times but on the whole I manage my life around this and he is not generally a problem at home or in school. In school the major problem is his level of concentration and he is not "bouncing off the walls" in the same way that others are with ADHD. He struggles though and things come slowly to him because of his poor attention span - if Ritalin can help this then I would feel wrong in not allowing a trial of it.
I sway one way and then the other and suspect I will make a snap decision following a further conversation with the consultant in the next few days. If I do elect to try it then I will note any effect it has for J. If it doesn't work then at least I can cross it off the list and move on to other ways of helping J manage it.