My two daughters started the study in December 2019, when Elliot was 8 and Sydney was 10.
Most of our problems were at home. Elliot was having severe tantrums and outbursts whenever she was told no or asked to do something she didn’t want to do. Our home was in a constant state of tension. I’m a teacher, but I still didn’t know how to parent her. We moved between walking on eggshells to being overly strict. Because of all the tension in our home, Sydney was pulling her eyelashes out. Even with the support of therapists, we weren’t finding solutions.
It was suggested that we have Elliot evaluated. The bottom line is $5000 and it goes up from there, which really put us in a tight spot. My best friend who is a pediatric psych nurse heard about the Healthy Brain Network and suggested we give the Child Mind Institute a call.
Elliot and Sydney were both willing participants in the study. They felt good about contributing to science and we let them keep their stipends as an incentive. They’re both compliant when they’re around other people, so we were able to get multiple parts of the study done in one session, which eliminated trips to the city from our home in Connecticut. We ended up going down three or four times and our experience was easy and painless. You can see what’s involved in participation on the study website. It was so worth the effort. My kids are both waiting for the research to come out so they can read about what they did!
The evaluations confirmed and validated things that I had been thinking were going on. Elliot was diagnosed with ADHD, with some mood disorder and oppositional defiant disorder and Sydney was diagnosed with anxiety.
I took Elliot’s evaluation to her school and they gave her a 504 plan, which includes accommodations such as preferential seating in the classroom and repeated directions when needed. Even though she wasn’t displaying the behaviors as much at school, many of her frustrations would start there and then she’d explode when she got home. It’s a tool I can share with teachers year to year, so they can be mindful. I also took the evaluation to Elliot’s pediatrician, and she started a prescription for ADHD which has made a big difference. Now that things are better at home, Sydney has settled. The kids are not static and there’s a lot of moving parts, like the pandemic and approaching young adulthood. We still have tough days, but relative to where we started it’s a world of difference.
It was a gift to be able to access this service. We would have put pennies together to make things happen if we had to, but financially this was such a gift. It’s frustrating that mental health can be so hard to access. I shared the Healthy Brain Network with my friends and the social workers at my school. It’s such a wonderful program because it’s providing something that’s just not accessible to the general population. Discover the benefits of participation for your family.