Saturday, November 7, 2009

Time for a Tune Up

After a whirl win day on Friday filled with doctor and therapists appointments, we are a bit closer to some answers with Gabriel's behavior.

First of all, the pediatrician is not convinced Gabriel needs the diagnosis of ADHD; yes he shows symptoms, yes there is a definite correlation between Spina bifida, hydrocephalus, and ADHD BUT he's also a five and a half year old boy going into a social setting like no other for the first time.

Then we went to see Mr. Brian (PT) to see if his braces were fitting alright (they are perfect and so is all of his tone, etc) and to discuss some of his struggles in the classroom physically. Brian suggested a neuropsychology visit to see exactly what was going on, especially concerning the ADHD/Spina Bifida link. We're were supposed to see a neuropsych before kinder, actually, but the one we saw years ago moved to a different hospital/network so we weren't able to get in touch with her.

THEN we saw Miss B, one of Gabe's favorite people in the whole wide world; his occupational therapist. She agreed with the neuropsych eval, so we'll be setting that up next week. Apparently the NP they referred us to is *the* best of the best. She's (Miss B) also going to start seeing him every other week to work on some body awareness issues. She said it's very common for a child like Gabe to not really understand where his body is in relation to the world around him, which makes total sense. For God's sake he didn't even know he had feet for the first year or so of his life. We're going to be starting a program called "How Does Your Engine Run" which is a way for him to learn how to regulate his "engine" or well being when it comes to impulse control and sensory seeking.

Now back to the "tune up" issue. Our pediatrician who has known our family since about a month before we had Gabriel and we trust completely has suggested some family counseling. Every time I've said that to people, they've immediately turned up their nose at the idea and made it sound like Geo and I are completely off of our nut for even ENTERTAINING the idea of getting a little bit of intervention.

Look here, ye scoffers of the Witkowski Clan seeking a bit of outside intervention. Until you've been in our shoes, I would ask you to not judge. Why does the word "counseling" have such a negative connotation? There's absolutely NOTHING wrong with seeking some outside support when you're looking for an outside opinion. There's nothing wrong with saying "ok, what we're doing is not working, so let's see if someone else has a suggestion we didn't think of"

In the last six years, we've dealt with a lot. Gabriel's diagnosis, for one, a nicu stay, two major surgeries in sixteen days. Crippling medical debt and countless specialists. THEN when Gabriel was ten months old, Geo's brother was killed and it shifted our family dynamic completely. Not only were we dealing with having a child with a disability, but we were also dealing with losing a dear member of our family. My father suffered a rather debilitating stroke in Gabriel's first year of life. My pregnancy with SarahAnne was incredibly stressful, I lost my teaching job, we moved to a new home and now we've moved yet again. All the while trying to deal with juggling medical appointments that are often and hour and a half to three hours away (hello Children's Memorial!! ha ha) Through all of this, George and I have been balancing our marriage, among other things. We have so many balls in the air, it was nice to finally hear someone say "Go see this counselor and see if s/he can help you juggle these balls a bit easier"

Even when nothing is wrong with your car, you get regular checks and tune ups, why would your family be any different?

The next few months are going to be hectic and stressful, but like we always do, we'll pull through thanks to the support of friends and family whom we are so so grateful for.


erin said...

Sam has seen an OT in the past for an eval and a follow up appt. She didn't recommend continuing therapy but unless we didn't see improvement (she gave us tips from the How Your Engine Runs program). He was diagnosed as borderline Sensory Processing Disorder but technically is in that gray area that is defined as developmental immaturity. It was a stressful time for us more because the schools were not cooperating and did keep throwing out the ADHD possibility...I really think the director we were working with just wanted him drugged! Anyway, it was happening at a time when he was in a new setting and we had moved, he was back in a daycare/school setting after coming from in-home care since he was 16 mos. old...many transitions in his little world. We stepped back, had many "conversations" and that's when we made the decision to let the kid breathe for this past summer. We hired a sitter at our house, worked on helping him regulate his sensory seeking and reactions and enrolled in a preschool this year at a shorter day with fewer students. While the two daycares that had such problems with his sensory quirks did not do one thing to adjust their classrooms or provide him a quiet place to decompress should he need to calm himself, this school has been 100% cooperative and genuinely seems to care about his success. I only wish they taught past preschool! I'm really proud of you guys for getting on the same page and accepting family therapy...I think our "conversations" would have been a little easier and we would have gotten things accomplished a little faster with a third party involved. Good luck! Keep us posted on the progress!

Mrs. Addison said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with counseling at all. I think people perceive it as having to talk about how you're "crazy" or something but that's totally not what it is. As long as you are happy with your counselor and feel comfortable talking to them, I say go for it! I think everybody could use a good counseling session every now and again - if for nothing else, then to get your thoughts & feelings out to a kind of "sounding board." You guys have DEFINITELY been through a lot and I am always in awe of how you keep it all together!


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