We were the closest family possible. Our world was turned upside down on 05/03/09 when my best friend, the person I love most next only to our children, my sister Trina was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. Her body gave out on her on 01/09/10 but she will ALWAYS be a part of our daily life and will continue to be in my posts. I started my blog to chronicle our daughter's international adoption from Guatemala and have continued to use it as a journal.

What you will find is my family trying to adapt to our new lives that were handed to us.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


This post is not a flowery, poetic post. It's a flat out, facts and my opinions only post.

Valentina was diagnosed with ADD this week.

I have suspected that she had it for about a year. I asked her teachers last year if she had any problems concentrating at school because she sure does at home. They brushed it off as simply Kindergarten age behavior. Ok fine. Great. I was placated and figured she was just not applying herself. Then first grade started and she began to struggle in school and with homework at home. There was one evening where it took me a full hour to make her do her homework. It was exhausting because there was a lot of screaming, kicking, tears (on her side, I kept mine in check but inside I was sobbing with frustration also) and flat out denial. When Valentina learned that I meant business she finally did her homework and it took her all of about 10 minutes. This is just one example out of a hundred.

I have a great relationship with both of the kids' teachers and I especially love Valentina's because Asa had her too and we just really clicked. Because I try to keep a good relationship and open communication with their teachers, I only have one parent/teacher conference a year at the beginning. After that they just tell me what is going on whenever I see them and there is no need to sit me down and review anything.

Last month I got a notice from Valentina's teacher that we needed a conference.

I knew it was going to be related to her lack of concentration and I was right. I was there talking to her teacher for about an hour (our time allotted was only 15 minutes). Towards the end of our conversation she said "you know, I wouldn't say this to any other parent but she might have ADD." I wanted to cry right then and there because I "knew" without "knowing" that the teacher was right.

This started the ball rolling and here we are now, several doctor appointments later, lots of tears later, lots of working with Valentina at home trying to get her to concentrate better later, and a LOT of research later and she has been officially diagnosed.

I don't want this to come off as a terrible thing. I know it isn't.

It's not cancer.

It's not a brain injury.

It's not life or death.

It's pretty minor in the grand scheme of life.

That said, it has been exhausting.

Our main thing was deciding whether or not to medicate.

I abhor the thought of my 7 year old having to take mind altering medication. I've been very grateful and thankful to talk to several friends who are walking down this very path and they have been very open and honest about their decisions.

After talking to our doctor, who knows all about this firsthand, his son is ADD and his wife is a special ed teacher so I'm very thankful for him, we have made the choice to not medicate at this time. Our game plan is to work with her at home and pretty much reteach her everything in a visual and tactile way since that is her learning style. We will also be enrolling her into private behavior and tutoring counseling. She will have to be pulled out of school for a few hours in order to do this but both the doctor and Valentina's teacher agree it is well worth it. Again, I'm very fortunate to have the support of our doctor and teacher. We can't get this started soon enough as Valentina is having more and more problems in school. Our plan is to get her through this school year while having her in counseling and doing therapy at home and then in the fall sit down with the doctor and talk medications. I just hope to make it through the school year before having to put her on meds.

So that is it.

Again, I cannot stress enough that I know this is minor compared to 90% of other "problems". I just never wanted my child to have a learning disability. I never wanted her to have to struggle so much in school. I never wanted there to be such a difference between my kids' academic lives. Asa recently underwent testing for the accelerated and highly gifted program and Valentina is almost the exact opposite. She IS smart, she DOES learn, she just struggles with it. A lot. But man, the girl has street smarts and she can learn.

So that is what has been going on with us, along with a bunch of other boring and stressful things on top of this. This is yet another time I'm not re-reading, grammar checking or verifying the spelling, I'm just posting.

One last time I want to say that I know this isn't the end of the world, this isn't horrible, this isn't even close to being something detrimental.

The worst thing about all of this?

I really miss my sister and wish I could talk to her about this and bounce ideas back and forth with her.

I miss her so much.


Jen said...

Oh Cameo, I'm so sorry for all you've been going through, and will continue to go through! It's so much harder too when you've already gone through something, isn't it? It just makes it feel that much more. I so wish Sissy was here for you too!!

I feel for you so much. But most of all, and once again, I so admire you as a family. Always pulling together and doing anything and everything in the name of love.

I could not believe my eyes when I read about your doctor. It's like the sun, moon, stars and everything in between were lined up for that perfect match to have happened.

I did have a couple questions though - because you weren't quite clear - are you saying this is the end of the world? Like it's the most horrible, detrimental thing that could happen? Just wondering ; )

I love you, and I so love Valentina. Of course I will be thinking of you guys, but what's new.

Anonymous said...

Just a wonder- have you had her vision checked? Our daughter was born in Guatemala as well and after some difficulty during her kindergarten and first grade year we took her in for a develpmental vision screening {not an eye exam} and it turns out her eyes don't work together! This means she is constantly overwhelmed and cannot focus on anything. She has been in therapy for 7 months and the improvements in concentration and skills are huge! The doctor said it is very common with children from Guatemalan decent, so I thought I'd pass it on incase it may help. Our doctor also said that vision issues are often diagnosed as ADD, ADHD, or dyslexia.
Good luck!

Cameo said...

Hi, thanks for your comment. We had her in for a comprehensive visual exam, what is the difference? I was hoping it was that also but they said it wasn't. She could use reader glasses if she wants and later on she will need glasses but for now they said her vision is fine. If you could please explain the difference between the exams that would be great! Thanks!

Isa and Kai's mama said...

Your comprehensive exam may have bee sufficient. With Isa, it wasn't, and she got glasses and was sent on her way.
The issues continued, so we went back to the doctor and go a recommendation to see a vision therapist. They did a comprehensive exam as well, but it was much more thorough. They looked at convegence, suppression, 3D vision, binocular, etc. Isa scored low across the board... in some areas she was less than the first percentile and we had had no idea. {parent of the year! sheesh}

This is the link to the clinic we used that lists what they assess for. You can likley find more local results by typing in 'vision therapy' and your city into a search engine {that's how I got started!}.


It may just be that Valentina has ADD or ADHD. But, I feel so fortunate that we found this out that I wanted to share just incase there is a small chance Valentina has the same difficulty.

Vision therapy has been a long haul and lots of money, but has been totally worth it. As a special education teacher, I can attest to the fact that ADD and ADHD meds are often more harmful than helpful, especially when the children are young. Kudos to you for exhausting all other avenues first!

I hope you find some definitve answers either way that can direct you to the best choice Valentina. It's always hard to know which road is the most direct route...

{I thought I responded earlier but it didn't show. If you get two similar comments I apologize}

Cameo said...

To Isas mom, would you mind emailing me? I have some additional questions for you and thNk you might be helpful to me. My email is cameo _ n o rm at c o m ca s t dot net (do the usual thing). Thank yu so much! Cameo