Rethinking my Thinking) about my youngest daughter. After much deliberation and discussion, I decided to take her to a psychotherapist for an evaluation. I wanted to see what this professional's opinion would be. After all, when you homeschool it can be hard to tell what is "normal" (even if it seems different ) and what needs attention. I went in with an open mind, and also no sense that anything would be resolved whatsoever. This series of meeting was for evaluation purposes only and wanted to get an outside opinion. I've had many opinions given to me for free - from my parents, my siblings, my in-laws, other homeschoolers, wonderful and supportive folks over at Secular Homeschool, the pediatrician.... but not someone from the mental health and wellness world. So I decided to give it a fair try.
The therapist is a young, pretty woman (which only matters because my daughter responds better to young, pretty women than to "scary" older men) who was very nice, but all business. Which suited me fine because, after all, I'm paying her by the hour. I asked her her opinion on medicating children, and she told me that in most cases it is, in her opinion, a last resort. Over the course of the meetings, it became clear that she is a huge supporter of homeschooling, which makes things easier in general. The evaluation took place over several meetings, involving oral interview with me, thousands of forms and questionnaires, meeting with my daughter and asking questions while playing games, observations, and a perusal of medical records. In the end, she met with me one last time to go over the results and come up with a game plan. That meeting was on Friday.
The results were not all-together shocking, but I felt somewhat surprised nonetheless. The bottom line is that she believes my daughter has the combined type of AD/HD. She also indicated that there may be some sensory processing issues at play, but that because the AD/HD is so strong, and because both AD/HD and sensory processing involve the same part of the brain and brain function, the treatment remains the same. She told me that in her opinion, behavioral therapy would be extremely beneficial to a child like my daughter, but that she doesn't feel it would be helpful to her at all unless she is on medication because the AD/HD is so severe. Basically, she told me that if you were to line up 100 seven-year girls with AD/HD in order from most severe to least severe, my daughter would be second in line. Therefore, she told me that she really isn't willing to start behavioral therapy until my daughter is on a stimulant AD/HD medication and the dosage is worked out because it would be like pouring water through a sieve.
She also added that she does not always feel that medication should be the first line of attack, but that with my daughter it would be virtually impossible for her to learn to modify her behavior because her brain is not developed in that area to allow her filter through her actions, impulses and emotions. She is not making a choice, she simply is. In the therapist's opinion, a stimulant medication would allow my daughter to have that filter in place so that she can learn to make choices and think about consequences.
I asked a lot of questions, we talked for an hour, and I left feeling exhausted. I'm probably leaving out a lot of the meeting, but the key thing that stuck with me is that (1) this therapist believes that my daughter's behavior is in fact quite severe; and (2) she is recommending stimulant medication.
My husband and I decided that, as we almost always do, it's worth getting a second opinion. And I'm definitely not inclined to go forward with medication at this point. Beyond that, I have to accept that her behavior really is that "wild" and I'm going to have to figure out how to deal with it one way or the other.....