Tag Archives: School Year

Consider A Medication Vacation For Your Child

Summer’s here and the time is right for taking a vacation.

Whether it be a (and I can’t believe I’m about to use this word) stay cation at home or a vacation somewhere less-than exotic, most of us look forward to a few days off work so we can relax and enjoy ourselves.

But what about your ADHD child? Most school-age ADHD children take some form of medication to help them alleviate the symptoms of distraction or hyperactivity. These medications allow those taking them to sit still and think straight for long enough that they can actually learn something  in the classroom and during homework.

ADHD medication, whether it be stimulant-based or otherwise, is designed to do one thing: alter behavior. The medication is supposed to allow the child to behave in a more situationally correct manner and it achieves this by suppressing natural behaviors.

Taken out of context, that probably sounds like a horrible idea. It’s only when we begin considering that the natural behaviors are counter productive and disruptive both socially and academically that we understand changing the natural order is, in this case, a good thing.

However, change does not come without a cost. Consider the child who doesn’t take her medication one morning. More often than not, she will come home from school in a foul mood, cross and angry with the world. This is because her brain no longer has its expected pharmaceutical buffer supporting her cognitive processes.

It’s jagged and jarring and can make life difficult for both the ADHD child and anyone around him.

And yet, here I am suggesting that you might want to consider taking your child off her medications during the summer. While I might still be considered an idiot by some, I’m on the right track with this idea.

I will say, as a sort of fair warning, the pediatrician our young dudes still see does not believe in medication vacation for summer as a matter of course. However, there are certain circumstances under which she will give her go ahead.

You might consider a medication vacation as a way of assessing whether your child can do without medication for good. Because children are growing, the effect medication has on them will change over time. It could be that your child would do better on a different medication or no medication at all.

The only way to figure that out is to stop the current medication. ADHD isn’t something you age out of. However, some folks with the disorder can find ways to circumvent the disorder so they won’t need the medication.

A lot of that has to do with maturity. When younger, most kids don’t have the mental discipline necessary to do what needs to be done to help them overcome the hardships imposed by ADHD.

You might also want to consider a medication vacation if your child has been suffering from side effects, such as a loss of appetite. Within days, you’ll discover that most kids will begin eating more once they no longer are taking their medication. This could help them catch up on their necessary weight gain.

If you do give your little dudette a medication vacation, understand that it’s not on a whim. It’s a good idea to assess the success or failure of the vacation as summer winds to a close.

It could be that impulse-control issues without medication made it a difficult time. Or you might notice that your child is exhibiting more defiance when off the medications. Regardless, it’s a good idea to sit down with your child, your partner and the child’s doctor to discuss what you learned during the vacation.

This information can be invaluable as you begin to plan for the school year ahead.

The main thing I want you dudes to take away from this is that you should never stand pat when it comes to your child’s health and welfare. They’re growing and changing all the time, which means your approach must be constantly evaluated to see if it can be changed or should stay the same.

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The Handwriting On The Wall

The future of school looks a lot like a computer keyboard. . . but maybe it shouldn’t.

Right now, young dudes and dudettes in elementary school, middle school and high school mostly take notes by hand. Every parent knows the nightmare of not getting the right color composition book and having to rush back to Walmart with a sniffling child and rooting in vain amongst the dregs of the school supplies, knowing the color won’t be there and school starts tomorrow and why won’t he just be quiet and for the love of peter just take the green one because it really doesn’t make a difference.

*ahem* Yeah, I might have some issues there. Moving on.

So, most notes are taken with pencil and paper in grades k-12, but that might not last for long. And that could be a problem as life goes on.

While college students still take some notes with pen and paper, I’m seeing more and more computers or tablets on college student desks as they take notes to the clicking of keys and not the clicking of a ball-point pen. And that technophilia is moving down into the primary school years as well.

The future is wall-to-wall computers and our schools are changing to accommodate that. According to some recent research, that could be a big mistake.

Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write that matters — but how.

“When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated,” said Stanislas Dehaene, a psychologist at the Collège de France in Paris. “There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain.

Which we will discuss tomorrow when I come back with a bit more about the whole handwriting versus typing debate.

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The Brightening Quiet

Sons of the South savor snowfall.

And alliteration? Absolutely!

Okay, enough of that.

Here in Charlotte, we received a small taste of the snow storm that’s been causing havoc in the midwest, the Pacific Northwest and all over the country, basically.

It’s causing havoc here, of course, but mostly because we see a snowflake and we freak the freak out. Seriously.

But enough of the whining.

No, seriously. Why are you all laughing so loudly?

Fine, whatever.

Anyway.

Walking Buzz, The Garbage Disposal That Walks Like A Dog, last night after the first day of snowfall, I found myself feeling amazingly peaceful and happy.

Yes, it was an odd occurrence. And I traced it to the environment.

I was bundled up like I was three and my mom was about to send me outside in the cold by myself for the first time. I could barely bend my elbows I was so layered. (Look, I was born and raised in the South and this is as far north as I’ve ever lived. Sue me.)

Anyway, that wasn’t it. It wasn’t the cold. It was, I came to realize, the snow.

I’d always thought it was a cliché, not based in fact, that snowfall quiets everything down once its settled. But, by golly, it’s certainly true here.

We walked in the night and couldn’t hear anything but the sound of dog tags jangling together as Buzz, The Garbage Disposal That Walks Like A Dog, continued to bite the snow, freak out, levitate while doing a 360-degree spin, land, repeat.

Eventually, he tired out and we were back to only walking. The sound of my boots squelching in the snow. . . That was the loudest sound of the evening.

Add that to the level of light in the dark and it was a magical evening.

The level of the light is my malformed and horrifyingly clumsy way of talking about the high albedo of snow-covered ground and trees. The white snow reflects back so much more light than does the ground or tree branches.

Because it’s able to reflect more light, it looks like the night is that much brighter, as if there were two light sources. As above, so below. If you will.

Even after the sun set, I could see the gray clouds, hovering above the white-draped tree branches, white over brown, arching across the new-fallen snow covering the hibernating grass in the fields.

It was a beautiful sight.

My wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Getting Cabin Fever Already, today asked me why I’m always so excited about snow. She’s not. This is the second week in a month where she’s only able to work less than three days because of the snow. Which means we’re going to have less money in the weeks ahead.

But still I love the snow. I guess it’s because I never stopped being a young dude, even deep down in my withered, blackened, cynical wasteland of a heart. Yeah, we’ll have to pay for the snow days later in the school year, but seeing that snow, experiencing the brand-new sensations in its immediate aftermath. . . It’s worth it.

I’m glad I live here in the South where snowfall is a rarity. That way, I won’t get used to it. It will remain special, something to celebrate.

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