Today we met with Jacob's therapist. I don't know if I should really call her that, but it simplifies things, you know? She's actually a social worker. She's met with Jacob five or six times, and she wanted to meet with us to discuss some next steps and get an update from our perspective. We told her about some of the things we've been experiencing most recently, and she eventually shared with us her thoughts.
So...she suggested we get him evaluated by the school district. While she suspects there is some ADHD going on, but she doesn't want to say that definitively because there may be some other mental health issues happening as well. Some of the things that she's been hearing make her unsure. She's spoken with the school counselor about his distraction level at school. The counselor shared that sometimes he just stares off into space or seems like he's in his own little world. We mentioned that for a while he was telling us that his brain told him to do something bad, though that has trailed off a bit. However, more recently he either apologizes for something he didn't actually do (like hit us, despite being two feet away) or says that he "almost" did something (like choke at dinner, which he clearly did not). We don't know if his brain is just too full, or if he's hearing voices or envisioning himself doing things. So while ADHD may be part of his issues, there may be more happening there. The evaluation through the district should give us more insight.
I think what shocked us more than anything was that she referred to it as "severe" ADHD. We figured it might be minor ADHD (along with more, perhaps), but the "severe" adjective was something that we weren't prepared for. There's no telling what treatments might be down the road, or what services he might need from the district, but we'll do whatever we can to get him help...even consider medication. I fear all of the ups and downs that could go along with finding the right medicine and dose, but if we can find something that helps him, it'll all be worth it.
The wild card, of course, is the gluten-free diet. Maybe it will do nothing, but maybe it will make all the difference. We've heard plenty of stories about how it's helped people, but maybe it won't make as big of a difference as we hope. Maybe his issues are more significant than that. But right now we need to start with that and see how it goes. I'm also trying to eliminate as many artificial colors from his diet as possible, starting with his vitamins and toothpaste. I think it'll be easier with the gluten-free diet since so much of that is "natural" anyway. I'm not crazy-vigilant about it, but I'm definitely keeping an eye out.
We might never know why all of this is happening to him, but we're going to do everything we can to help him. We can blame ourselves all we want--Craig wonders about a medication he was taking when we conceived, I wonder if there was something I did while pregnant, and we both wonder about past discipline decisions--but at this point we can't change how we got here. We can only do everything in our power to help Jacob emerge from it a better person, and try to help Carter to avoid it, if possible. It absolutely breaks our hearts to see him going through all of this, and to see how it's impacting every aspect of his life. His relationship with us, his ability to learn at school, his friendships...everything is affected. I just hope we can help him soon enough to prevent permanent damage.
In the meantime we just have to be patient and hope for the best. We have lots of people praying for us, and we're sending up plenty of our own, as well. For now, that's all we can do. One week left before a new beginning...