it’s all a tough call

I just received a call from Luke’s teacher. It was 8:10 am when the phone rang, just 10 minutes into the school day and about 30 minutes after I dropped him off. His teacher said he’s hunched over a trash can coughing. She feels like he is trying to throw up to come home. She’s likely right. It’s a tough call though.
Luke did vomit at school this past Monday. He was saying the Pledge of Allegiance and threw up right in the middle of it. I picked him up. It was just 8:15 am. His teacher said he frequently tells her his stomach hurts but he hadn’t complained that morning. He was fine after an hour at home, so I thought it was just something he ate. Later that day, he confessed that he was coughing on purpose because he misses me when he’s at school. {sigh}
You can see why his teacher and I think he’s working us to come home. Actually, I don’t doubt that he has a stomach ache. I think the Concerta is hard on his stomach. I also think it makes for lousy digestion when you binge on food first thing in the morning and then the last couple hours of the day, with little of nothing in between. That’s life for Luke on a stimulant.
I called back to the classroom and his teacher asked me to speak to him. I tried to explain to him that his stomach will feel better in a little while.
He cried and pleaded with me, “No it won’t. I feel like I’m gonna throw up. I’m not gonna feel better. Please…”
Now I am nearly in tears. I am certain his stomach hurts and I am leaving him at school, miserable, because I can’t pick him up and teach him that a stomach ache or throwing up will get him out of school. He would make himself sick every day to come home.
I feel like the worst mom.
Just the worst.
Now I’m {again} questioning medication. Why am I giving him a pill that makes him have continual stomach aches? Especially if he still feels so lousy at school that he’s willing to force himself to vomit not to be there. What in the world is the stimulant for then? I only give it to him for school! We didn’t have any problems before school. I give him medication so he has the opportunity to achieve what his peers can achieve, have friends, and not be in trouble all the time. If he’s still miserable at school, what’s the point?!
I think he has a bully again this year too. Different kid, same pattern of trying to antagonize him with constant picking.
Pick. Pick. Pick. {robbing his self-esteem}
Push. Push. Push.  {until he’s angry}
Take. Take. Take. {all his confidence}
He says he can’t get away from this kid on the playground, no matter how many times he walks away. I’ll be discussing that at our 504 Meeting Monday afternoon. Is it possible the bully is upsetting him so much he is willing to induce vomiting to not be at school?
My heart is aching for him right now.
Really aching. I just want to run into that school, scoop him up in my arms, and hold him tight. Instead, I’m going to make the tough call.

COVER3D_400sq_bestsellAward-Winning Blogger. Freelance Writer. Author. Warrior Mom.
A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom’s view of ADHD}, a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications, and co-founder of the annual Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a weekend away for moms of kids with neurobehavioral disorders. Look for her second book, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, in late 2014. Follow Penny at

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Flickr YouTube 

Related posts:

adhd and school, ADHD medication, classroom accommodations, General ADHD, parenting/FAMILY, Penny Williams, school failure ·

About the author

COVER3D_400sq_bestsellAward-Winning Blogger. Freelance Writer. Author. Warrior Mom. A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom's view of ADHD}, a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications, and co-founder of the annual Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a weekend away for moms of kids with neurobehavioral disorders. Look for her second book, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, in late 2014. Follow Penny at


  1. Anonymous says:

    Does your school offer a nurse's office that he could go lie down in quietly for a bit to see if it subsides? He could get out of the classroom for a while but not out of school? Maybe a nurse or counselor could “talk him down”.

    Your school should be taking the bullying very seriously especially in light of the tragic incidents this past month.

    Praying for you and Luke today…hopefully some answers will come.

    Don't forget: YOU ARE AN AWESOME MOM!

  2. Katina Rice says:

    I sooo understand what you mean! My daughter has ADHD and sometimes I question the medication though I know that she needs it. I am also a pharmacist so I know almost every little side effect–which REALLY does not help matters. I think you did the right thing though. About the bully, girl I don't know. I might be giving sombody's mama a call (LOL) A little come to Jesus meeting never hurt anybody!! Yet, I know kids are supposed to work it out themselves. That being said, the teacher needs to know about it. If it doesn't stop, take it to the parents on the really real!
    Following you guys! Would love to join you ADHD hot mamas!

  3. aww, Penny. That is so hard. You are a great mom, so dont beat yourself up. Its so hard to know what to do sometimes. I have a few thoughts. First, if the meds are upsetting his stomach, can you give him some Pepto to offset that? Or maybe the dr can prescribe some zantac to help with the stomach acids. My daughter was on zantac for years because she was always throwing up. I know, the thought of more meds is enough to make you sick, but we do what we have to. Second, my almost 2 yr old actually makes herself (a few times) throw up when her stomach is upset. She will cough and put her fingers in her mouth until it comes up. Crazy, I know. But recently with a medication she was on she was doing this. Sometimes they just know. Maybe it really is upsetting his stomach that bad. And of course, if his nerves are upset because of a bully, that can upset the stomach too. Maybe its a combination of things. I do think what someone above said is a good idea. Maybe call the school and see if the nurse and/or a counselor can help. Good luck

  4. dmd says:

    That is such a tough place to be in! Do you guys see a therapist of any kind? Sounds like this would be a good topic to discuss with him/her if you do.

    Like Luke, Dylan is very attached to me. If I told him he never had to go to school again and could be with me 24/7, he would be thrilled. On the one hand, it warms your heart that your child loves you that much. On the other, you want them to become independent people who can take care of themselves.

    Good luck!

  5. Penny, I wish we could talk on the phone.. and I know most people are hesitant to talk to strangers.. but I have and will have many of the same things happen to me that happen to Luke with my son.. He has only been in K. for one month. and been in the nurse 3 times.. One time I picked up.. but I told the nurse… He has a bit of anxiety.. sometimes.. about hard work,,, kids.. and he needs to stay.. HEll i had stress at my job and I can't leave work every time I am axious.. I feel Like the worst mom… and that he will think I dont' love him.. and I DO>>> so very much.. but I want him to be the best.. and achieve what I did not and what his peers can…so he is on meds.. and sometimes he has real pain.. I believe every child an adult need one mental health day a month.. to just chill… it's such a hard decision to make… and third and first I heard is so hard… for adhd kids… my son tells the nurse he misses me and his pets.. but I teach him he can miss me and look forward to the weekend and all we will do together…I tried homeschooling him… he was too difficult.. he does better with the teacher… for now..
    It's all hard… I too was on my way to ITaly.. and got off in Holland.. so I am just trying to learn the new language.. and make it>>???? if you want to email me or call me Penny I am here.. I love to talk to real people about ADHD as I feel so alone..

  6. Tessa says:

    Concerta makes me nauseous too 🙁 Poor Luke. Maybe it helps to change the time he takes it to be a bit earlier in the morning so when he's at school it's subsided more? Does he eat right before he takes the meds or at the same time or afterwards? I've been adviced to take them at breakfast when I already have something in my stomach. Though sometimes eating seems to stimulate nausea even more.
    Best thing that helps me is doing something fun and that asks for focus. It takes the attention away from the nausea. Lying down quietly to wait for it to go away is the worst thing for me, I only tend to start moping more and feel sorry for myself, adding to the negativity.
    I think you should work together with him on how he finds he can deal with the nausea best. He will likely face it again and again and again. Teaching and stimulating him in finding good coping strategies that work for him is the best you can do I think.

    When I was a child I went through a period that I'd drink a glass of milk on an empty stomach, this was a guarantee for vomiting. This way I made sure my mom believed me being ill and allowed me to stay home. After an hour I'd be perfectly fine and happy in my room playing or reading books. Being home in your own world is just so much easier, sometimes the 'big world' really is so tiring and unkind.
    He needs school. If only for his diploma's and developing some social skills. He will face bullies his whole life, probably more so then other people. I have met them, and I still encounter them. Having ADHD makes me stand out and people react more strongly to that. Sometimes that's really mean and unfair and stupid (but the other side of the medal is quite the extraordinary connections with people I've made as well!). It's very important he learns to deal with it and not let it undermine his confidence. His confidence won't grow by going home but by facing the challenge laid out for him and conquering it. Better now then 20 years later having to do ten therapy sessions on each schoolyear in the past!

    I think you are a great mom. And I think you and Luke deserve extra special cuddles for going through a tough time.

  7. Oh hun, I hate this……this damned if you do damned if you don't, lesser of two evils choice we always have to make with our kids.

    Alex had the same problem with his meds doing that to his stomach. Alkaseltzer Gold is a MIRACLE. We give it to his with his meds, or shortly after and no more tummy pain. These meds can be very acidic Alka Gold seems to be neutralizing that.

    As to the bully issue – Kim and Kathleen at the Autism Blogs directory just listed a great initiative that some Asperger moms have started on the bullying issue. They are addressing it nationally. Here is the link:

    I know that doesn't help you boy in the moment, but it is a start.

  8. My son has done this sort of thing before and it's a very tough call. Fortunately he's not very sophisticated about it and I can usually tell if he's faking it.
    That said, when LittleJ took Concerta it was really hard on his tummy. Perhaps another med is in order (like you really want to do a med switch during school, I know). Concerta was actually really hard on him overall (he acted either stoned, scared, or was coming down hard) so I might be a little prejudiced.

  9. Javi complained about headaches and tummy aches when on Concerta. But it sounds like Luke may be having some increased anxiety, too — especially if he's dealing with bullying of any kind.

    I second the suggestion that you work with your therapist/counselor on strategies for him. I would also seek out a meeting with the guidance counselor and teacher to put them on red alert.

    Also, we do give Javi his medication much earlier now than we used to. Dad wakes him up at 5am to give the meds, and then lets him snooze until 6:30am. He still eats a good breakfast and is pretty even-keeled by the time he heads out to school.

    Lastly, perhaps you can get him some ginger chews or other little candy that he can suck on when he's feeling nauseous. That might take his mind off his tummy and help him relax. We've been teaching Javi some meditation techniques to help with anxiety and it really helps!

  10. michelle says:

    My heart goes out to you. My son is also on Concerta and he gets headaches occasionally and wants to be picked up from school. Sometimes he comes home and goes right to sleep (very unusual for him!) and sometimes he comes home and is bouncing of the walls and wants to play. I can never tell if all of these headaches are real or if it's his way to get our of school.

    I also have had some reservations about the medication but like you, I want him to have friends and not be in trouble every day. He has also encountered bullies, but he won't volunteer information about it, I have to drag it out of him. I think you nailed it – they pick on him, push until he's angry and he explodes and he feels bad about himself. I haven't yet addressed it with the bully's mom but I think it's time.

    Just know you are not alone!

  11. Mrs. M says:

    Awwwww….talk about pulling at your heart strings. As moms….any parent….we never REALLY know if we're doing the right thing, do we? There's so many sides to every decision…and emotions. It's so hard!!
    The poor little guy…my heart goes out to him…and you.
    We haven't gone the med route yet. It scares the daylights out of me. Right now it's all OT, Psych, Naturopath and Chiropractic care. Who knows what the future will bring as my son is only 5yrs. Time will tell…
    Hang in there….know your interblogging friends are cheering you and your son on.

  12. Ma Martin says:

    Penny, Luke sounds like my son last year (and I'm sure he'll be in the same state by April this year). For Ben, the stomach ache was stress, as was the vomiting. The meds make him nauseous, the stress makes it worse. What's bothering him? You need to peel the layers of the onion back, soon, and find out what the problem is, and work with him and the school to solve it. I know how you feel! Our doctor said it is important for them to learn how to deal with school and people at this age…if they don't the teen years will be tough. He told us to get to the root of problems and solve them collaboratively. And to push the school to do so. We're having an OK year, but I think we've got a good team, so we're hopeful. When my son is stressed, I do baby him…he deserves it. I will let him sleep in a special place like a fort or in the corner of my room on a nap mat, so he can feel safe and loved at least while he is with me. Hang in there!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Wow, my daughter had trouble with Concerta as well. We switched to Focalin. Not covered by insurance (figures!) but side effects are less troublesome. Have you tried any other meds?

    Also, I didn't realize ADHD kids have so much anxiety, but my daughter does too. Is it because she can tell she's out of step with other kids?

  14. Hi Penny – I was reading your post and couldn't help but comment. My son is in first grade and all during Kindergarten he was also doing this. A few things though. Gavin tried concerta for a week. It hurt his stomach, thought he was going to throw up, made him a zombie (on the lowest dose), and came down hard. He is on Adderall XR now and it seems to be doing the trick. So, as others have said, while you may not want to switch meds, Concerta is one that that is a serious side effect. I have heard that Vyvanse is a great one too, my nephew is on it after trying just about everything else. Also, did he go to Pre-K? Sometimes the switch from K4 to Kindergarten is a significant jump. After having so much “play time” at 4 they are suddenly asked to sit and listen to stories and sit at their desk and work independently (I'm a teacher, so it is very hard. If there is bullying going on, you will be the ONLY advocate for him. Don't stop until it stops. If the teacher won't do anything, go to the principal, if he/she won't do anything, keep going up. Change him to a different class or request that the other child be switched. Ask for a parent/teacher conference with BOTH sets of parents. Chances are the other parents aren't aware of what their little “angel” is doing at school and the teacher is not going to say anything. These are all WELL within your rights as a parent. Let the children be in there with both sets of parents, the teacher and principal so THEY know the seriousness of the situation. The other child will likely be scared at that point and your son will know these people are all behind him. The key is to be productive. Don't attack the other child but request that it be known that you are all there to come up with a solution to the problem and that you have done what you can on your end and are asking the other parents for their help. Sorry this is so long. I get really worked up over this kind of stuff and am a HUGE advocate for parent/teacher communication as well as ADHD education.

  15. melissa Johnston says:

    Penny..I just read this after my last post to you on FB. Bullying is serious. It happens way too often. However, meds may be to blame here as well. I know after time on a med that worked so great for Gavin, he became anxious, perseverating on things (OCD like). I wondered if Celexa was still being used too. Sometimes those meds worsen the initial purpose of taking them in the first place. Also, you mentioned about his writing…did the teacher indicate what they were doing in the classroom when this anxiety started? He may be having anxiety about writing. Kids are known to use an escape when they feel anxious. I would have the teacher take record of when his anxiety happens to see if there is a pattern. {xo's} Melissa


Leave a Comment

The "ADHD Mommas" are not medical or mental health professionals, nor an ADHD coach. Any opinions shared here are just that, opinions. I, and the other "ADHD Mommas," are sharing our experiences with our own ADHD children. Please do not re-post or publish any content or photos without a link back to {a mom's view of ADHD}. Have the courtesy to give credit where credit is due. Copyright protected. All rights reserved.

Powered by WordPress | Customized by KW Design