Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The big decisions are not always easy ones

Sometimes they are no-brainers. Sometimes you agonize over them for weeks, months, years even.
The move to Texas for us was a no-brainer. It was a big decision, and of course had a big impact on our family. But it didn't take much convincing that it was the best thing for us. We still say it was the best decision we ever made.

Homeschooling was not a decision we came to quickly, or easily. It has been something that we have been going back and forth on for 2 years. It all started when Alec was in 4th grade. I had brought it up the idea to Derek and he wasn't so receptive. He felt like 4th grade was just an "off" year. That the next year things would get better. But they didn't. They got much worse. Alec was "diagnosed" ADD in his 3rd grade year of school. At the time we chose not to go the medication route. We changed his diet. Cut out processed foods, red dye, limited sugar, and started buying organic milk, butter, meats etc. We also limited electronic entertainment including video games, iPod and television. He did great with these changes. 4th grade happened and things went down hill in a big hurry. Against our better judgement he started on medication. Adderall XR was the first. He was on it for a good part of the year, but we switched him when he wouldn't stop loosing weight. Then his doctor prescribed a generic form of Amphetamine. He was on that till about a quarter of the way through 5th grade when we noticed that he wasn't sleeping at night. We would check on him sometimes late at night (11pm - midnight) and he would be wide awake, unable to go to sleep. I had to wake him up at around 6am to get ready for school, so most nights he was getting less than 5 hours of sleep. He was also still having trouble keeping weight on. He is a skinny kid anyway, and no amount of me sneaking protien powders and full fat milk into fruit smoothies helped. It was like someone pressed the pause button on his growing. The doctor suggested we try a non-stimulant so we tried Strattera. His 3rd week on Strattera he started having problems. He came home one day from school saying he wasn't feeling well. That he hadn't been feeling well all day. Upon further questioning he had been sent twice that week to the nurse at school because he was feeling nauseous and dizzy. One of the days he said that he almost fainted during P.E. and spent a while in the nurse's office recovering. Never did the school nurse call me, nor did we get a note home saying that he had seen the nurse. Had he not told us, we would have never known. Immediately we stopped the medication. His grades were already bad, he was still having trouble sleeping, still not gaining weight. The benefits of medication at this point were not out-weighing the risks. Since 4th grade we had hired a tutor to come to the house once a week to help him with his school work. Since he was doing so poorly the school required him to attend tutoring at the school as well. So he would go to tutoring after school 1 day a week and have tutoring one day a week at home. After the first round of TAKS tests the school stopped tutoring. But we still had our private tutor come to the house to help him.

The whole experience over the last 2 years has made me incredibly sad, angry, frustrated, and disappointed.

So, after much research, and countless nights of discussion Derek and I decided to start homeschooling Alec this year. It is going to be a year of re-building and recovery. Re-building his confidence in learning, and just recovering from everything he has been through and what our family has been through.
Really we are looking forward to it. I haven't done anything remotely resembling scrap booking in over a year so I am in the process of selling the majority of my scrap booking supplies (keeping the things that I can use for homeschooling) and fixing up the office/catch-all/former scrap room to a school room. Mostly just getting rid of things and re-organizing. We have told our parents and they are supportive of the endeavor. They have known the struggles we have endured over the last couple years and are happy for the fresh start. At the core, we all want what is best for our boys. We feel this is a step in the right direction.

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