Happy Birthday My Gr8 One!

My oldest boy, my second-born turns eight today, February 21st, 2009. You don't hear so much about Christopher as he often flies beneath the radar. He was exactly like his brother when he was his brother's age. He was curious and in to everything. We used to call him "Bad Boy Griffie" because that really was his middle name. Christopher's nickname is Griffie. No his middle name is not Griffin, it's just that when he was born and his sister was just 2 years old she couldn't pronounce his name and every time she did it came out sounding like Griffister. Soon Griffister was shortened to Griff and Griffie and 8 years later those names have stuck.

Christopher has mellowed tremendously with age. Not to say he can't go crazy and wild at the drop of a hat as he is a little boy still, after all. And when my two boys get together, fuggheddaboudit, it's crazy-mayhem and we have to banish them to the play room on the far end of the house! But Christopher is a gem. An amazing child. He is the peacemaker (except when he is trying to beat up his older sister who sent his Hess Truck flying across his room). He is a really easy going child who loves math and loves to build and construct things and more than anything loves to watch TV and play on his wii and Nintendo DS. And his Pokemon cards. He's smarter than I am... and I beg to put that birth order/intelligence statistic to the test... You know, the one that states that the oldest children are the smartest? Because this kid is brilliant. He is a great student and loves a challenge and is always pushing himself. He loves soccer and he loves to play with his friends. This kid, quiet and unassuming, has a heart the size of Texas. He's sensitive and caring and giving. In many ways is like every other 8 year old boy. And in many ways he is very different. In a recent meeting I had with his teacher I was told that he was "a privilege to teach and have in his class." She also told me that the other kids "should feel privileged to have him in their class." He is "caring, courteous and always eager to help." Amazing things for a mother to hear.

In September he was diagnosed with ADD. I'm putting this out there for you all to see. It's not something I hide. It's not something I am embarrassed by. Nor is it something I hide from. And if you ask him, he's pretty open about it as well. We've had our eyes on this for many years already. His preschool teacher first saw some differences. He often was off in a cloud, or fidgeting seeming not to know what was going on in the classroom. At other times he was intensely focused on the task at hand. ADD kids often do this. They hyperfocus. We monitored him through preschool, Kindergarten and 1st grade where his teacher and aide helped to bring him "back into the moment" when needed. I saw a difference last summer. I saw my distracted kid getting a little more distracted. I saw it affect the things he loved. I saw his soccer game slip. A good bit. I started to worry for his safety. With his head in the clouds I worried about him crossing the street and getting mowed down by a car. Now, at 7, I was not about to let him wander anywhere by himself... He was getting harder to deal with. We would have to tell him things over and over and over again. He was getting more distracted and forgetful. My red flags were up.

And then in September I had a meeting with his teachers, from last year as well as current. And it was unanimously agreed-upon that we should seek help. So I went to his pediatrician who had really been expecting us. We filled out the Connors report the preceding year. We all knew he had all the signs off ADD. Now was time to act. When Christopher was in 1st grade he was reading and doing math at a 3rd grade level but everyone worried that he would soon fall far behind. ADD students are neither lazy nor dumb. They simply have a hard time focusing and this often leads to them missing an important feature, which leads to them not understanding the task at hand which leads to frustration and eventually these children give up the will to try. I was not going to let this happen to my child. I had just finished reading a wonderful book written by a young man suffering ADD/ADHD. The book, ADHD and Me, is what motivated me to be proactive about my son's health. I got praised all around by teachers and doctors. I wondered why, since I was doing what any mother would do who wanted the best for her child.

Christopher started a medication called Focalin in September. Medicating children is not always the answer, but with ADD it has made all the difference. I am not at all a drug-pusher, and believe all other therapies should be tried, but when they fail, there is nothing wrong with medicine. Christopher is a different child. He is focused and happy. His soccer game is back on and he rarely has to be told to pay attention in the class room. Ask him and he will tell you. If you suspect something is not right with your child, please seek help. Everyone will be happier in the end. If you have any questions about ADD/ADHD and want to contact me, please do. I am happy to answer any questions you may have. ADD/ADHD is genetic.

Happy Birthday Griffie, I love you and I hope you have the best Birthday ever!!!



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