With all the marathon mania around here lately, I've had a hard time sitting down and writing about anything else. But there is plenty of other stuff going on, and our continuing efforts to work on and improve Gabe's behavior are in the forefront.
Scott and I went to see a psychologist a few weeks ago, and while I did find the visit to be helpful, and we probably are going to schedule more appointments, I was a little disappointed to find that she was very pro-medication. Disappointed, and a little annoyed at first, but not surprised.
But I also wasn't swayed in my very firm belief that it's not something we're going to consider at this point. Luckily Scott and I are in agreement on this.
She gave us her whole medication spiel, but also followed it up with a lot of very useful and helpful information about various techniques we can use in lieu of medication, and told us that if we decide we want to continue to work with her, she'd love to have us come in for more appointments, where she can go into much more specific detail about some of the behavior modification programs and how to implement them.
One of the key points we took away from the appointment - this isn't just about Gabe. It's about our entire family, because his behavior affects all of us. It affects me and Scott's relationship, and our relationship with Dante, and our relationship with Carmine, and Gabe's relationship with everyone.
I think we already knew that, but didn't consciously think about it. Much of our time and attention is often directed toward Gabe - supervising, monitoring, controlling, reprimanding, speculating on whether or not we're handling the situation correctly... And that, obviously, is time and attention that we can't give to the other boys.
This, I suspect, contributes greatly to Dante's propensity to do everything with incredible enthusiasm and at ridiculously loud volumes. I think some of that is just his personality - he is his father's son : ) - but some of it is also his way of saying "hey, look at me, I'm here, too!"
The bottom line is that when one child diverts attention from the others on a regular basis, it shifts the family dynamic.
And there's no denying that we also sometimes experience extreme frustration with Gabe's behavior, which leaves us very litte patience for Dante and Carmine's shenanigans.
I'm not saying any of this to place blame on Gabe. It's far from his fault. This is who he is, and it's up to us to help him find ways to cope with the challenges he faces, so that he doesn't require so much attention from us, and the dynamic can be a bit more balanced.
It just so happens that some friends recently started using a system called Accountable Kids, and I had considered it when they mentioned it, but never got around to ordering and committing to it.
But after that visit, and after reading a little more about it, it really seemed like a great solution for us, so I went ahead and placed an order.
It arrived last week, and I've spent a few days familiarizing myself with it, and getting the materials ready, and we set it all up for the boys tonight. It seems like a great way to keep them on track without constantly nagging them, and it also seems tailor-made for kids with ADHD, who need nearly constant reinforcement and rewards.
Time will tell if it works well for us, but I have high hopes. We've tried other behavior charts and various methods of rewards, but haven't found any one that we stuck with consistently - and that lack of consistency does not do any of us any favors.
So we'll put this plan into place, and get as much information as we can from the psychologist, and keep working at this.
The other key point we took away from the appointment was this - if we choose not to use medication, we need to be prepared to be 'on' 24/7. Yes, this is part and parcel of parenting in general, but with a child who has ADHD, you have to be even more 'on,' and more aware, and more diligent.
And you have to be prepared to keep at it forever. There's no cure for ADHD, and you don't outgrow it. Like I said, this is who Gabe is.
BUT, it's only one part of who he is. He's also a sweet, funny, silly, smart, and amazing little boy, and we're responsible for teaching him to make the most of his life and be the best he can be.
It's a tall order, and some days I don't feel like I'm up to the challenge, but I'll definitely do everything in my power to make sure I succeed.