Special Needapalooza
Let's Talk About Food & Then Let's Also Not

2 Outta 3 & ADHD

Well, that didn't take long.

I sent Ezra's teacher some evaluation forms and surveys on Monday. She filled them out that same day and faxed them directly to our doctor, like, OMG GET THIS KID SOME HELP.

The doctor called within 24 hours and was like, whoa, yeah, that's ADHD and also OMG GET THIS KID SOME HELP. 

Help is on the way

This is the book Noah's therapist read to him after he was formally diagnosed and we made the decision to start medication. I just ordered a copy for Ezra, and yes, we are making the same decision for him.

We were very reluctant and resistant with Noah, and in retrospect we agree that we waited too long. Believe me, we tried just about all of the alternative med-free strategies, multiple therapies, diet changes, you name it. We didn't just throw up our hands and spring for the meds to make our lives easier.

(Well, okay, I did throw out one of those ADHD IS A PACK OF LIES-type book that my MIL gave us after a cursory Google search on the author, revealed her to have close ties to the church and teachings of Scientology. Didn't even recycle it. Not even a little bit sorry.)

And look, some of that stuff really IS helpful. Artificial food colors and flavors, to this day, are more or less banned in our home. Avoiding the super-processed kid-marketed food in general, really has an impact. Vitamin deficiencies definitely can make things worse. Breathing exercises are great, scalp massage is calming, etc. We have a therapeutic swing in the basement, noise-canceling earmuffs, fidgets and chews and weighted blankets. All stuff we've had for years and stuff that Ezra has access to as well. (He's been using the swing and earmuffs a lot lately.)

But it wasn't ever really enough. By the time we decided to try medication, Noah was deeply depressed and anxious and his self-esteem had plummeted. He verbally berated himself at every turn, everything was all his fault, he was stupid and no good, a freak.

What's wrong with me? he'd ask us.

And then that day, after school, those words I will NEVER forget:

There's a war in my brain and the bad guys are winning. 

Noah's ultimate diagnosis ended up being a lot more complex, but after finding the right medicine at a therapeutic dose, it was a revelation. We have our happy, confident boy back. A boy who likes himself and knows he's capable of succeeding at things, even hard things. He understands that his brain is different than other people's, but since when is different a bad thing? We're all different. Different is NBD. 

Over the past couple months, I've noticed a bit of Ezra's light has started to similarly flicker. The way he talks about himself has shifted, the negatives are creeping in. There's frustration and anger and a long list of "I can'ts" and "I'm no good ats." 

Nope. Not gonna let that happen again. Help is on the way, Zah, in every single, possible way we can help you. 



Yes. Really needed this as I'm going through the exact same stuff with #2. And maybe #1, too, now that I think about it. *Sigh* Glad to hear Ezra's getting the help. I'm on ADD meds myself and it makes a big difference. Oh, and thanks for the book info. Might come in handy,


Dude. Making me cry. My wife started ADHD meds at 34, after I insisted she get evaluated. She's been struggling all her life. Things are so much better now, but my heart hurts for the lost time. I've seen remarkable changes. I'm so glad your boys have you.


That's great that you are so on top of things and know how to help him! Bravo. Don't forget that Ezra is different and will respond to and need different things than Noah did -- he is different and it will be different -- but I'm sure you won't forget that!


I have a friend who refused to give her daughter medicine for ADHD as a child. The child struggled all through school. She felt like a failure and certainly underachieved for her level of intelligence. She finally got medicine as an adult and it greatly improved her ability to work. Her mom sees the difference it makes now and rues the decision she made for her child. How different her academic career, and her self-esteem, could have been!

When my son was a child and diagnosed with ADHD, I had friends advise me not to give him the medication. Our doctor said, "If I told you he was diabetic and needed insulin, you'd give it to him. This need for medication is just as valid." I just remember that whenever I get criticized for having given my (now 21 year old) son the medicine.


Making the med decision is a hard one. I tried all the alternatives, too. When I finally decided to medicate, he told me thank you. He said his brain was less noisy and it made the day much easier. That was all the validation I needed!


I'm glad you are getting Ezra help! Wanted to flag that together the tics + handwriting regression + decreased ability to focus could suggest immune system dysfunction as seen in PANS aka PANDAS. Best doctor in the country is in your backyard--Dr. Latimer in DC. Good luck.


We ended up on the same path with our daughter. Meds are a roller coaster in and of themselves, but mostly helpful. We've also banned processed/dyed foods from our home and practice coping methods to deal with frustrations. (We're also really thankful that she has a wonderful teacher who is willing to work with us and sends home the afternoon work that gets neglected when her meds may wear off so she can do it in the evening with me where one on one attention helps her most.) I waited until there was no other alternative before agreeing to start meds, but once we did, we knew it was the right choice. I'm very happy for Noah and hopeful for Ezra's success with it too. I'd always had the fear that using medicine to treat her meant we've failed somewhere with her, but her progress has been amazing in the past year and she's happy with herself so fuck those fears. :-)


I wish I had had medication when I was a kid. It has made a world of difference in my life. There wasn't a lot of awareness of ADD/ADHD back in the 80s, so my ADD wasn't diagnosed until I was in college (and about to fail out because I couldn't just wing it to get through my coursework anymore). Even if I had received a diagnosis early on, my parents would not have medicated me. My mom is a huge believer in restrictive diets, vitamins, supplements, etc., to cure all ills. Thank goodness she wasn't opposed to vaccines back in the day! At any rate, my childhood was pretty painful. Even though I was a quick learner, I couldn't keep my thoughts organized, couldn't focus, couldn't remember to turn things in on time, and lacked motivation to get complex projects done (or started). I felt like a failure, and my parents were at their wits' end. They thought I was doing poorly on purpose just to spite them. We all know better now.


Ezra is so lucky. He's going to fly. You're doing good.

Jessica V.

We are in the midst of the ADHD meds roller coaster right now. My 10 year old son has tried several different ones and hates how they make him feel, so clearly we don't have the right one figured out yet. We go back and forth as to whether or not it is right for him, and it is so hard because I know it can help! (Also - his school is a little anti-meds, which - nope, not your decision!) Anyway - still working to figure out what worlks for him. Fortunately we have one of the best docs in our area on our team.

michelle b

Good job getting your kid the help he needs. Love, the Mama who has her child in behavioral therapy for anxiety, despite my MIL insisting that if we just took her to Sunday school, all her anxiety will just *poof* disappear.

Heather Laura Clarke

You're such a good mom. I hate to think of Ezra being sad or disappointed with himself so I'm very glad to hear things will start to get better for him soon!


What a kind and thoughtful response to your son; you are a model for many of us.


We're at a crossroads right now with our 7 year old son. He could probably benefit from meds. I even filled a script not too long ago. But when it came down to actually giving it to him, we did a 180.

We have struggled through FTT (failure to thrive) to get his weight up to where it is. He's finally on a curve (not the same chart as other 7 year old boys, but still on an upward trend. So yay!)

So obviously, our biggest issue is not wanting to mess with his appetite. If anyone knows if there's a particular type we can ask for that doesn't affect his appetite, please share. Thanks!


Christy - try Straterra.


You're such a good advocate for your boys. I think many people stall and "wait and see" because they're afraid of a diagnosis or a label. But you are getting your boys what they need to thrive. Way to go!


Thank you so much for doing this! I didn't start ADHD meds until I was 30, how I wish I could have started them in elementary school!

Jen S.

Good for you. I hate that meds for ADHD still have such a stigma attached to them. People just assume we are lazy and don't want to deal with our kids. Little do they realize that is very much the opposite. Must of us have tried everything under the sun and once we finally break down and try medication wish we had done it earlier. I finally started medication with my son in 5th grade and it made a world of difference, I can only imagine how much more productive K-4th would have been had he been able to better focus. You are your boys best advocate :)


These little boys are very lucky to have the mama and daddy that they do!!! Cheering for all of you.


Yes. Yay.


Gah! I love your little family.


Thank you. My son is seeing specialists (in the UK) and they are refusing to say officially he has ASD. He's come home from school today with work he could not complete in class, or in two sessions where they stopped him going out to play to complete the work, and complained yet again that he could not concentrate and is constantly 'distracted'. He's trying so hard and getting nowhere. He's struggling and is anxious much of the time. Perhaps it is dawning on me just how much I am ignoring in the hope that he isn't ASD, when all he needs of for me, and the Drs, to man up and make some tougher decisions. I have often thought how similar Ezra and my child are, they even look similar I think, now I need to be more like you. Thank you Amalah.


I'm sure the critique about medication is well-meaning, but you're doing everything that's best for your family. I know none of these decisions is easy. I'm glad Noah is doing so well.


In my former life as a child advocate, I spent a lot of time thinking about and often fighting for restrictions on the use of psychotropic medication when treating children in foster care. I originally wrote a novel here. I'm going to try and edit myself down to a reasonable comment.

You have hit the nail on the head. Psychotropic medications are not a panacea, but neither are they evil.
You are responsibly and thoughtfully employing medication as one tool in an arsenal of tools you have given your sons to address very clearly identified challenges.

If your sons were diabetic (to use the wonderful metaphor above), you'd be making sure they ate a healthy balanced diet, exercised regularly, monitored their blood sugar AND took insulin if they needed it. You are doing great. Your kids are lucky to have you.


I have 2 out of 3 (so far) with ADD as well. My younger daughter isn't medicated yet, but the second she needs it we won't hesitate. I delayed longer than I should have with my older daughter for all the usual reasons, and when she had it for the first time and said "all the extra noise in my head is gone!" I could have kicked myself.


Those kids have the best parents!
You are all in my prayers.

The Other Dawn

We just started down this path for the first time, with our 3rd kid. What was "he has a lot of monkeys" last year was "whoa this kid can't sit in a chair and also he can't read and also he chews rocks" this year. My husband was super resistant to meds, for whatever cockamamie reason, but once the negative self talk and sadness about "trying so hard and still so dumb" started, I pulled the Mom card and we took the train to Medville. And OMG. OH EMMM GEEEEEEE. In just a month, and even as we are still trying to make sure we are dosing the right amount, he has made huge gains in his academics and his self esteem. Now if I can just figure out how to get the little booger to sleep... since his meds wear off RIGHT at bedtime... These little dudes are so lucky to have you as their cheerleader and momma bear.

LD's Mom

Yay, Zah!!!! We all love you and never want your light to grow dim. Hope it works wonders.

Pauline Herr

Noah is old enough to (possibly) enjoy the Joey Pigza books by Jack Gantos. They are about a kid who needs meds for ADHD. There are several in the series. Every child is different, but I thought Noah and, possibly, Ezra might enjoy the books and know they are not the only ones who need a little extra help. You can probably find them in any library (including the school). Gantos is a great writer for kids!


Hang on - ok, I'm back, ordered my house a copy of the book and one other.
Oh my Zah, welcome to our tribe, little buddy. There are lots of wonderful people in it. Hugs to you, little dude.
The analogy I use for my meds is this: I have myopia and astigmatism. If I want to see like everybody else, I put on corrective lenses. I also have ADD. If I want to be able to focus like everyone else, I need to take my meds. I do not make any moral judgements about y eyes, and I refuse to keep making them about my brain. The meds help. ur neurologist doesn't want to put my youngest on them yet - she's 6 and in kindergarten - but she needs them, too. If I can do anything with the knowledge and insight that I have into this condition, it will be to shield them from the crippling self-doubt and recrimination I have lived with my entire life.
Amy, it's worth saying again: both you and Mir have made such a difference in my journey with my ADD girls, from day 1. I wasn't afraid of the diagnosis, or the process - watching the two of you had given me a handle on what I was going to feel/hear/need to do. Truly, I cannot thank you enough for that. Your stories have been a huge gift.


This just filled me with love for your sweet family. All the best to you.


Thank you for understanding that there's a time to try the natural remedies and a time to say 'screw that, this kid needs help stat!'

I was reluctant to medicate my oldest, but my trusted pharmacist (who helped me through my high-risk second pregnancy with lots of blood thinners and allergic reactions to all the things), addressed my reluctance to medicate my older son with a question, would I deny him medication if he were diabetic?

I finally started taking medication for my own ADHD 3 years ago and it has made a HUGE different. I'm unlearning 40 years of bad habits that were my coping strategies.

Something that you may want to encourage the boys to do: make to-do lists. They're wildly important when even with medication, you're a bit distractible. Also, while you want them to become responsible for their own work, I'd suggest having an accommodation for someone write down homework for Zah, to make sure he has the information.


Ringing in here from a Mom of "typical" kids. I learned that term from a Mom with a differently abled child.

I've been reading your blog for 6-7 years now and your journey has been so important to me in learning that it's ok to talk about the hard stuff. It's more than ok, it's important and makes life so much more meaningful. The moment I open up about my kids' issues, which they have in spades even though they they are "typical," I hear it back from everyone else. We all have issues, big issues, small issues, and talking about it makes it better.

I learn from others' experiences, I get tips and tricks and resources. I don't know that I'd be comfortable sharing without reading your blog. Thank you for your honesty and audacity to live life full frontal. Open up, share, commiserate, cry, laugh, move forward. Those have become my best coping mechanisms for life. And I've gotten there in large part thanks to you.

As others have said before me, those boys are lucky to have you advocating for them, listening, watching, trusting your Mom gut. Thank you for teaching us along the way too.

Sue W.

Your boys are so lucky to have you and Jason as parents. All three of them are gonna be perfect (like they weren't already!) because you are giving them the help and the hand up that they need. I am standing and applauding!


Thank you for sharing your stories, your victories AND your mistakes. You guys are kick-ass warrior parents- those kids are as lucky to have you as you are to have them.


Re: his self esteem, I would look and see if there's any chance your school is involved with Eye to Eye. They're a mentoring organization that pairs kids with LD/ADHD with high school or college students with LD/ADHD. I love them. They helped ME (diagnosed in college with ADHD) understand myself and learn to advocate and accept my ADHD. The bottom line is that ADHD is a case of wiring, for the most part. and with that wiring we have some unique challenges (and some clear strengths of mine come from my ADHD too). For a lot of people, meds help. Especially with the self-esteem piece. It's amazing how much kids realize where they struggle and how much that impacts them. it's incredibly frustrating to want to do something and to see that your peers can do it but you can't. And since we know that ADHD isn't due to lack of effort or discipline, I'm glad that meds are an option. They didn't work for me, but I've seen them do great stuff for some of the kiddos I know.


You break my heart. My nephew has these issues and his parents are so pill-phobic they won't treat him.


This is moving and beautiful. Thank you for writing this.


The psychiatrist my son sees wants to medicate my son for adhd. He says my son has adhd, although two full assessments (each 6-8 hours) say he does not. My son has a hard time at school with paying attention. This is because the school does not meet his needs in regards to his asd. He is quiet and calm at home. No sign of adhd. I have received two scripts for adhd meds and have not filled them. I'm going to home school him in grade 7 on. I am not against medications, but I think that some doctors give adhd medications without completing an assessment for adhd other than a 2 page questionnaire from the school.

Absolutely not saying this is what you have done. I have read your blog for many, many years and I can tell you don't jump into things. I just feel that many parents think you MUST medicate and 'poor kid' if the parent chooses not to.


Yay for you and Ezra! I hope that the meds are the right ones for him on the first try!

I have seen ADHD meds do wonders for the students in my class. I have this absolutely fantastic girl in my class that is your textbook case of ADHD and you can definitely tell when she did not take her meds that morning. I can tell, she can tell, and the whole class can tell (They are all very close and open about everything, so the entire class knows she takes ADHD meds and are totally cool with it and love her). However, like some others said, she doesn't like the way the meds make her feel, so she takes just a high enough dose to last during school, and then she's off them in the evenings, weekends and holidays. It works great for her.

In no way related, but I had similar comments regarding medication when my daughter got diagnosed with asthma at 12 months. "I can't believe you're putting her on steroids, why don't you try (dairy-free, gluten-free, ....)" etc. like O_O I think I'll take the side effects over the not breathing... *headdesk*


Along the lines of food: Can you do a post (not a sponsored one, please!) about the foods you feed your kids. What's a typical day for your kids as far as meals/snacks? Are there snacks you make from scratch regularly that satisfy a snack tooth that are low in calories? I find this to be difficult. I find either recipes for "healthy" things include so much specialty store ingredients that I laugh and move on. But even with healthy ingredients, some things are crazy high in sugar, fat, or calories. We keep plenty of whole foods on hand but my kids still want chips and the like. Thanks and good luck with the kids. They're so lucky to have you and Jason in their corners!


💗 for both of you. Meds are an important tool for me and as you say, just part of the toolkit.


Happy for you guys and Ezra! Hope you can find the right med for him quick. We got lucky with Nick and the first one worked great. We've since switched to a longer acting one (concerta) and it works great for him too. We did try one other in between (adderall) and while that works for some, it turned him into a speed talker with no filter. Poor guy talked stream-of-conscious for 8 hours. We only waited till he was at the end of first grade. At that point he wanted to try them, and he was old enough to be able to communicate to us how the meds were making him feel. Communication of feelings was really hard for him before that and I worried he wouldn't be able to tell us if they made him feel bad somehow. But he's been doing great!

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