Adjusting my daughter’s ADHD meds – at her request

In June of 2015 we started our daughter Lexie on medication for ADHD. At the time, we weren’t even sure she had a problem. Her teacher had shown concern that she couldn’t sit still in class and was having trouble concentrating. The test from her pediatrician had proved inconclusive but she suggested trying medication to see if it would help – and it would give us the answer to the question whether Lexie had ADHD or not.

Jumping to medication may seem like a jump when you don’t have a definite diagnosis but no amount of redirection seemed to help Lexie. We worried about the side effects of the medication and that we would be creating some kind of zombie who shuffled through the day. But we also didn’t want her to continue struggle in school.

adderall-xr-10-mgWe started her on the lowest dose possible but saw little in the way of change. But the next highest dose seemed just about right but we waited until she started the school year to finalize the amount of medication she took. We wanted to see how she did in a school setting verses just being at home in the summer. At our first parent-teacher conference, her teacher said she was doing great. Lexie’s reading had already jumped several levels and she seemed to have no problem paying attention.

Everything progressed well through the school year. The dose seemed the right amount to give Lexie the focus she needed without diminishing her bubbly nature.

Then she started third grade. From the beginning, she began complaining about not being able to focus. She would tell us when her teacher had to redirect her or when she would get in trouble. Comments from the teacher came home echoing the same thing – Lexie wasn’t paying attention in class.

Lexie has never been a fan of taking the medication. She doesn’t like that it sometimes makes her not hungry. She worries that she isn’t her same fun self on the meds. But she also finally has realized the benefits. She too knew that last school year she had less problems.

drugitem_5271When I asked her if she thought the medication wasn’t working properly, she said yes. We talked about how much she has grown in the past year and how medications must change as you get bigger. She suggested that might mean she needed a higher dose. She then thought about it for awhile and even talked about it with her teacher who of course wouldn’t tell her what to do but did ask her questions to help her fully explore her options.

When we went to see the pediatrician, my eight-year-old calmly explained to her rationale for going to a higher dose. The doctor agreed it was a good thing to try so we went up one more level in her medication.

And so far it has been helping. Both Lexie and her teacher say she is more focused in class. So barring a drastic change in her weight at her one-month follow up appointment, it looks like Lexie was correct in asking for an increase in her medication.

Today’s Featured Author – Adam Thielen

Please welcome author Adam Thielen to my blog. His debut novel, Visceral, came out in July. You can find it on Amazon. It is on Kindle Countdown as of today.

Interview

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I actually started writing before I was a teenager.  My first original story put to paper (well digital paper), was written as a Sophomore in high school.  I continued writing short stories through college, but then gave that up to attempt a novel.  It took several tries and over a decade of projects before finishing Visceral.  I don’t really consider myself a writer.  Maybe once I’m successful.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I don’t think I could write without doing some form of planning.  I at least have to write out a list of significant developments.  For Visceral, I wrote a list of events, even a few blurbs to remind myself what I was doing.  For my next project, I will be doing a more formal outline.  It’s no good getting halfway into a book and being unsure where to go next.  That being said, I wasn’t able to stick entirely to my list.  It had to evolve as I wrote what the characters would actually do in the situations presented.

Please tell us about your current release.

Visceral is a straightforward story with a large mix of supernatural and cyberpunk elements.  Most of the focus is on dialogue and action rather than narration or description.  There are four protagonists, each with a kind of specialty.  Circumstances bring them together, and what starts as a somewhat simple job turns into a fight against multiple adversaries.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’m a big fan of cyberpunk, especially in the gaming world.  I also wanted to contribute to vampire fiction something closer to the comic book and movie character “Blade” to counter all the “Edwards”.  Those familiar with role-playing video and tabletop games will see a lot of familiar themes.

How did you come up with the title?

Visceral is how I want the scenes to be conveyed to the reader.  Some are violent, some a bit gory.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I had to do a little information technology research, but that’s been my day job for a long time.  What I really needed to research was the Old West.  I made several errors in my initial draft with how I treated the region depicted around the year 1900.  You get used to a lot of cliches from Westerns, and if you look into the actual history, you find that much of the United States did not fit those molds.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

No.  However, most character traits, expressions, and voice were pieced together from experiences with others.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

Tamra.  She’s black, she’s a woman, and she’s a badass.  But not like a Chuck Norris badass.  She doesn’t shoot the wings off of a fly, or flip kick anyone (sorry), but she’s confident, competent, smart, and willing to do what is needed.

Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?

Confession: I had to Google ‘black moment writing’.  As soon as I read it, I knew what it meant.  It’s sort of a cliché in movies and TV, and I try to avoid using it.   There are times of peril though.  Early in the story, one of the characters calls it quits and it seems like the band is breaking up.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

I’m working on a prequel novella that will feature two of the vampires twenty years prior to the events in Visceral.  It’s going to be more exposition and brooding noir, and a little less action and blood.  I hope after that to write a sequel to Visceral taking place twenty years after it that will be written in a similar style as the world continues to evolve.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

There are scenes where Taq, a powerful mage, enters the Ethereal plane, a place that is much different than the physical world, and it was difficult to describe it in a way that was effective and clear.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

Taq is the mage, and I’m always the mage. I want magical or super powers.  It’s the type of character I always choose when playing a game, and most of my stories feature a magic user of some type.

If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

Foundation’s world created by Isaac Asimov.  Space travel, robots, mental powers, what is not to love?

Book Blurb

visceralWhen the vampire council sends its enforcer Matthias to investigate a suspicious young nightstalker, he discovers that her attempts to turn a human mage have resulted in a deadly fiend.

With time working against him, Matthias seeks help from a talented but reckless young mage and a mysterious neuro with her own agenda. But the more they discover about the fiend, the more they threaten to unearth secrets that the powerful will kill to keep buried.

Enter a world transformed by a great economic collapse into a corporatocracy governed by executives, their boards, and appointed councils. A world where man has learned to exploit the ethereal plane to subjugate the laws of nature. Where vampires have emerged to carve a place within civilization. A world ripe for the taking by those with the right resources.

Visceral is a dark and gritty delve into a cyberpunk world that does not give you a chance to catch your breath. Filled with action, dark satire, and occasional humor, Visceral is a fast-paced urban fantasy taking place in the near future, present day, and even the old west. With a climax both satisfying and appalling, this urban fantasy jaunt will sate your lust for blood.

About the Author

adamAdam Thielen was born and raised in a dusty Kansas town. He started writing at an early age, and would finish his first novel two decades later.  His writing is inspired by movies, television, tabletop games, and video games. He holds a degree in Philosophy and earns a living in the IT field.

You can purchase Visceral on Amazon.

 

WhiteSmoke down 3 weeks, almost had to find a new grammar program

I have written a few times on my blog about using Grammar-checking software. Back in 2012, I found the program WhiteSmoke. It is a cloud-based program that has done a good job of checking grammar for my blog and novels.

At the end of October, I received a notice that my license expired, which is odd since I upgraded two years to a license that doesn’t expire. I tried contacting the company through their support page. No response. I tried e-mail. No response. I called and the phone just rang and rang.

I went to the company’s Facebook page and found out that I was not the only one with this problem. Many customers on their Facebook page reported the same thing. Their life-time license wasn’t working, and they can’t get a hold of anyone in the company by phone, email, Facebook or through the support system.

This went on for almost a month, so I decide the company must no longer exist and began looking for a new grammar-checking program.

Now I know that grammar-checking software is not fool-proof. There is no software out there that will catch every error. Even WhiteSmoke sometimes would suggest things that weren’t correct or at least made no sense. These were typically word choices and not punctuation situations. You do have to review each suggestion to make sure it is correct for what you are writing.

Beyond WhiteSmoke (which was at top pick in 2016 by TopTenReviews.com), the next two most popular programs seem to be Grammerly (number 2 on TopTenReviews) and Ginger (not rated on TopTenReviews). Another site ranks Grammarly as number one – followed by Ginger and WhiteSmoke.

Here is a quick look at the other two.

Grammarly (website

  • It offers a free version but will only give writing suggestions on the paid version.
  • Paid version checks for more errors than free version.
  • More Expensive than WhiteSmoke and Ginger at $139.95 for a year subscription
  • It includes a Plagiarism checker on premium version.
  • No free trial of premium version

Ginger Software (website

  • Works on multiple platforms
  • Free version only analyzes a limited number of words per check and not the whole text.
  • No plagiarism tool
  • Offers two paid versions – basic and premium – The basic version is $61.20 per year.
  • It includes dictionary and translation tools which Grammarly doesn’t.
  • The software will actually read your sentences or the words it suggests be replaced.
  • I found it hard to find anything on the site other than the free version. I figure after you download it, they might “suggest” the upgrade.

Both look like good options, and I was trying to make my decision on which one to go with when all of a sudden I received an email from WhiteSmoke. They reported that their servers had experienced technical difficulties, and they had been working non-stop to fix them. I guess that means they were too busy to update their website (that was still taking orders) or post on their Facebook page or at least have a message on their phone for all of those of us panicking that our program no longer worked.

So as of today, their program is back to working. Now with this last bit of poor customer service, I am not sure I want to recommend them to others, but I am going to continue to use them since I have already bought the non-expiring, free upgrades license from two years ago. But at least now if something does really happen to them, I know I have two other good programs to choose between.

The importance of parent-teacher conferences

As first vice-president of the parent-teacher association (PTA) of my kids’ elementary school, I am in charge of Parent Education. This means I need to find topics that interest the parents of my community and bring them information through speakers, reading material or internet sites.

Every time I do something for the parents in my community, I will do a corresponding post here.

img_5228I did a survey in September and one of the topics that piqued parents’ interest was how to have effective parent-teachers conferences. The flyer we passed out was written by one of our teachers who is on the Texas PTA and gave a speech at the Texas PTA Leadership convention on this topic.

Though this may be too late for anyone’s fall conferences, this information can be used in the Spring or even next year.

parent-connection

  • Like all good conversations, conferences are best when both people talk and listen.
  • Ask to see data about your child’s attendance, grades, behavior, social interactions, and test scores.
  • It is important for you to find out if your child is meeting school expectations and academic standards.
  • This is also a good time for your child’s teacher to learn about what your family home life is like. Does your child have hobbies, chores or other responsibilities?
  • When you tell your teacher about your child’s skills, interests, needs and dreams, the teacher can help your child achieve more.

Now on our flyer we included a section about the electronic grade book that our school district provides so that parents always know their students’ grades. If your school offers something like this, I urge you to sit down with your child and review their scores. Attending a parent-teacher conference should NOT be the first time you know about your child’s grades.

  • You may not always agree with what the teacher recommends. Just because it is recommended does not mean that it has to be done. Be open to ideas and work together.
  • Teachers may see or know a side of your child that you do not always know from home and vice versa.
  • Let this be an open dialogue and a chance to talk.
  • These meetings should be a time to discuss what has been working well and what can be done to help the student thrive to the best of their abilities.

Common Misconceptions

1.) These are not “Gotcha” moments.

2.) This is not a chance to tell your teacher how bad they are.

3.) This is not a chance to tell a parent how bad they are.

The point of a parent-teacher conference is to not only fill the parent in on how well your child is doing but is a way for teachers to find out more information about your child and your child’s family life. It is a time for families and the school to work together for the student’s success because both want the students to thrive, to excel and do their best.