Monkey didn’t watch television, dvds, play with electronic games, etc. before his second birthday. Duhdee and I had elected to follow the APA’s recommendations on the matter and, besides that, after we began receiving EI services there really wasn’t any TIME for such things in Monkey’s day.
After his second birthday we gradually loosened up, he began watching The Backyardigans and then I started letting him watch Red Sox games with me (come on, how could THAT hurt him right? They’ll only break your heart, ha!) Gradually, the things he was allowed to watch expanded to include several PBS, Disney and Nickolodean shows (but NO SPONGEBOB! OK, eventually even Spongebob.) He was allowed to watch TV at times when Duhdee needed a “babysitter” while he showered or prepared dinner*. The Red Sox (and then Patriots and Celtics) games meant that we’d watch a few minutes of TV at bedtime together too. Do you see how far we were sliding off our first-time parent high horse here?
When Monkey was little, before the TV came into play, his favorite activity was to sit and “read” books. He would spend long periods of time flipping through his books, looking at the pictures. He would also bring books to Duhdee and I and ask us to read them. What’s more, he could SIT STILL for an entire book, sometimes multiple readings of a book. He would laugh, point at pictures we asked him to identify and use his signs to describe what we were seeing and reading.
I noticed that Monkey was no longer bringing us books to read. He was no longer able to sit for an entire book, nevermind multiple readings of a book. He preferred to jump on our bed and flip between his channels. He wasn’t even watching one show all the way through…flip, flip, flip. And then his teachers began mentioning the lack of concentration in class, his inability to sit still and pay attention.
So a month ago Duhdee and I decided to make a few changes regarding the TV. Our TV was accessible to Monkey all the time and though he diligently stuck to the approved channels this meant he was watching more TV than we realized. So that remote control now lives out of Monkey’s reach. Then I told Duhdee that I was going cold turkey on TV at bedtime too. Duhdee was convinced this would lead to a rebellion of epic proportions and I was afraid he might be right but I was prepared to just work through it.
To our surprise, Monkey did not protest. He still watches Curious George while Duhdee prepares dinner so he’s not totally deprived, lol. The changes we’re seeing are huge too. Monkey and I now read 3-4 books, sometimes more, at bedtime each night. I let him choose half the books and I pick the other half (this way I am able to introduce new stories and not get stuck on his favorites.) He knows that he has to sit on the bed with me, if he gets down off the bed this means he’s ready to go to bed. It’s not a punishment, it’s just a fact. It was hard at first and he went to bed part way through the first story more than once in the beginning but now he’ll sit with me and read until I tell him it’s time for bed (unless he is super tired and then he’ll put himself to bed, lol.)
I’m just so surprised at how far he’s come in this area in such a short time. He will let me read unfamiliar books to him and not wander off. He will repeat words and sounds we ask him to. Last night he sat for an HOUR while we read books. Considering where we started a month ago, that is HUGE. We’re considering medication as an option for Monkey, there is some concern that he has ADHD…this makes me wonder if we are jumping the gun. He sat down and was engaged for a full hour. What do you think? Does this sound like something a kid with ADHD could do? Should we pull back and look to other options again? I’m really torn on the medication issue…I want what is best for him and I’m not convinced that needs to involve meds already. This is so hard!
*Have I ever mentioned that Duhdee cooks us dinner every night? He rocks 🙂
8 thoughts on “One small change is paying off big time here.”
From what I understand, a child with ADHD can’t focus on something for an extended period of time, even things they enjoy doing. But I’m definitely not trying to be a doctor!
None of our children have ever been on meds. Now that Matt is getting older, I’m considering something for his anxiety, but it will be quite a while before we make that decision. Over the years of working in the schools, I’ve seen too many of the negative side affects of drugs. It’s not that I’m anti-medication, I just think extreme caution is needed when dealing with a young child.
See, that was my understanding as well…so now I’m second guessing everything. He can sit and play games on the computer for 30 minutes at a time, he can play with his trains for 10-15 minutes at a time and he can sit and play with books for a long period of time (up to an hour so far)…so maybe the rest of the time it’s just our failure to engage him that is the problem?
I wouldn’t say that you fail to engage him. I feel very fortunate that we had Chelsey first; she was always there showing the boys “how to play.” Plus, I had a couple of other kids who I took care of. I’m finding it harder with Evan. Although the older ones interact with him, they’re not playing the way a young child would play. He, like Monkey, can look at books for long periods of time; it’s his favorite activity. But to get him to play with his toys, one of us usually has to get him started, and then he only last for usually a few minutes, which I guess isn’t too atypical for a 2 year old. If Evan had his way, we would be going for non-stop walks—with and without the stroller.
We were able to control TV watching when Alex, now 18, was younger but are fighting a losing battle now. He prefers watching TV and DVD’s over any other activity – well apart from eating and we definitely have to keep that in check or he would be in the kitchen grazing all day!!
I have just had to start Alex on meds for anxiety. He was always anxious about certain things like changes in routine but that was short lived and we found ways to manage it. These days the anxiety does not seem to be based on anything in particular, it is just there! I can relate to that myself too and knowing what it can be like was the decider for his meds.
I remember when Matty was about 4 we thought he was exhibiting ADHD. We put him on Ritalin. That was a month long ordeal. We took him off and I’ve been scared to try anything like that ever again. The doc and I chalked it up to just being a growing phase. We’ve treated everything since like it is a phase and just work him through it. So far we have been able to keep him off of drugs. I’m sure one day he may need something like Zoloft but we are willing to try our hardest to only medicate if absolutely necessary.
I think I’m now leaning against medication at this point. I think we need to try a behavioral/reward system of some sort at school first. I’m not sure what that should look like though :-\
We managed both boys with dietary changes, the change we saw in Robson when we tried it was something I wasn’t prepared for; this was pre FXS testing when the paediatrician thought he was ASD and ADHD, if couldn’t sit for more than a few seconds unless it was on his terms (usually drumming on something/anything), he was a ‘trasher’ he could clear a room in under a minute! The Dr gave us a choice, ritalin or a major dietary upheaval. Although we were sceptical about whether the diet change would have any effect I was petrified at the thought of putting him on a drug when we and the doctors didn’t know what the long term effects would be. We went at it head on, gluten free, dairy free and antifungal, the idea being that we could slowly reintroduce things one at a time to see if they had any effect. It was really hard work to start with but within a few weeks we had a different little boy, he no longer trashed and would sit down focused for short periods of time, it also stopped his horrible tummy problems. It was amazing the difference it made so we stuck to it. A year or so later when I’d had Spencer and he was showing all the same delays and behaviours our Dr decided it would be an idea to have blood tests done as if thought there was more to it than ASD/ADHD, if was right and they were both diagnosed with FXS. We’ve come a long way since then, all without meds, we tried bringing some foods back in but they always have an undesireable effect so it looks like the diet is for life; no bad thing as they eat healthily, have masses of veg and salads and aren’t overweight. We are now thinking of using meds for Spencer as he has anxiety issues that are escalating and making him an unhappy bunny 🙁 it’s hard though, the strength of the meds scare me, he’s Still my baby even though he’s now 5′ 6″ tall 😉 anyway, what I suppose I’m trying to say in my long winded way, is that if you have doubts then try alternatives first. You’ll do what’s right for Monkey, you’ve done a fantastic job so far :-)x
Oops, previous comment was me, forgot to put my name :-)x