Beginning 2nd Grade with ADHD

Friday, September 18, 2015

Let me introduce you to Avery's Mod Owl!! I cut the pieces out for her, but Avery mostly sewed this little guy herself. I am so proud of her in so many ways. When we first started this project, it was a struggle for us to work together, so pulling it out again and watching her enjoy the process was a treat.

As I have mentioned before, Avery was diagnosed with ADHD toward the end of the school year last year. She does not exhibit the hyperactivity behaviors, but most definitely struggles with focus. Her diagnosis included a high IQ, but a slow processing speed. We made the difficult, and somewhat controversial decision, to try medication for the last couple of months of 1st grade to see if she would benefit from them, and she did. I wasn't overwhelmed by it, but her teacher saw a good bit of improvement. I was also very focused on the side affects. They were very strong at first, but then her body regulated.

Over the summer, we decided (under her doctors' direction) to take her off the medication. We kept up with a study schedule at home and tutoring with another teacher. Other than that, it was a pretty normal summer for us. However, I didn't see her engaging in some of the more tedious craft projects she usually enjoyed. About a week before school started, we started the medication again to get her system regulated. Almost immediately I noticed changes. The positive effects were probably there the last time she was on medication, but I was so focused on any side effects she might be having that I didn't notice. Those tedious crafting projects were suddenly what she wanted to do most. I pulled out the perler beads and she made project after project. (Thankfully my iron is usually handy.)

I finally realized that because of the ADHD those projects had become overwhelming for her. An empty pegboard was just as traumatizing as an empty page of math facts. I can't begin to understand or explain how ADHD affects the brain, but this is one area I am beginning to see glimpses as to how it affects Avery. Once order and organization were improved in her mind, she thrived in the creativity she enjoys.

I know this was a long story, and likely way too much information for some, but I just wanted to emphasize that this owl represents a little more to me than just a crafty endeavor.  Avery is thriving in 2nd grade. She came home over the top happy that she aced the spelling pre-test yesterday, so she doesn't have to take the actual test today. On top of that, she had a stack of tests and quizzes with all scores of 95 or 100. I know that doesn't mean everything, but the love of learning and confidence that is building in her is a gift we are so grateful for. Thus far, it has been a short journey with ADHD for us, but maybe this will help someone else to tread these waters.
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