Gus had an appointment with the Developmental Specialist on Wednesday, which of course through my new found sense of relative equanimity out the window. He seems to think that we should consider trying Gus on ADHD medication in the fall. He'd start with a low dose of Ritalin and see what happens. One thing I'm pretty well convinced of is that I don't want my son on drugs. I've got two major concerns, just about the physical impact of those drugs:
Increased heart rate
My child already has a pretty speedy heart rate; I can't imagine giving him something that would speed it up even more. That seems ludicrous to me. And he's skinny as a rail, despite eating as much as he can get his hands on. He certainly does NOT need to lose his appetite.
These are just the immediate physical problems that I'd worry about. Then there's the long range effects, which I refuse to believe don't exist as the doctor keeps trying to assure me. And do I really want to start a seven-year-old on the road to a drug dependency? I just can't see my way clear to that right now. Also, my husband was put on Ritalin as a kid for a short time; all it did was zonk him out. He didn't focus any better. This suggests to me that Gus might have the same result.
In my panic, I suggested to my husband that maybe we should try gluten free, just to be sure. Why should it be easier to consider drugs than dietary change? He said he'd go along with it, but was clearly not pleased. That night I started thinking, again.
If I look at each of Gus's 'issues' individually, I can trace every one back to myself or my husband. His biggest problem (academically) by far is attention span and difficulty with sustained attention. Both his parents continue to live with that. I don't have ADHD, but I've always had a wandering mind. No one ever thought twice about it because I was a straight-A student. I also talked incessantly in school; Gus talks incessantly all the time. Most of the hyperactivity and attention stuff, not to mention the fine motor skills are things that my husband still struggles with. I've had loads of sensory issues forever, including trouble with noise, cold and physical contact (getting a massage is like torture most times). But for all those difficulties Gus seems to have inherited from us, he's also picked up an incredible memory, a high level of intelligence and a lovely affinity for music (perfect pitch, even though he can't play an instrument or read music). So I'm not trying to make excuses or diminish his successes, just making the point that as far as I'm concerned his weaknesses are genetic, and it's not unreasonable to note that some genetic conditions worsen with each generation.
Does any of this mean that he wasn't effected by mercury? No. I double checked with the specialist and apparently, they DID NOT test for mercury a s I thought. Only lead. And, we realized this morning that last summer, my father-in-law had broken one of those new lightbulbs - the ones with the mercury in them (which I didn't know at the time). Hm...interesting to note. I wonder what they would have found if they DID do the mercury screen after that. The medical field amazes me sometimes. I think I will pursue this, just out of curiosity, but that doesn't mean I'm heading towards chelation - let's be clear on that for now.
I tried an experiment last night. We had taken the kids out for MM's birthday. I tried to steer her towards a Japanese hibachi place, but she was set on a steak house. So I decided to ease up on the dairy ban for a night, just to see what happened. Gus had a cheeseburger and mashed potatoes. By the time we got home, he was very gassy and his use of words slipped. He was still talking, don't get me wrong - the difference was very subtle. But he wasn't being as clear or lucid as I've come to expect. The past two nights, he's been exhausted to the point of tears. The first night he curled up in my lap and clearly told me what was upsetting him. Last night, he did the same thing, but part of what he was trying to tell me came out mumbled and garbled. Even this morning, my husband was trying to talk to him and had to remind him to use his words. Gus was talking like a Pokemon more than using his words. Was this in response to dairy? Maybe, maybe not. But I think I'll stick to casein-free for a while longer because if nothing else, the air in the house will be more breathable without it.