I feel overwhelmed on where to begin with helping my ADHD son. There is so much information out there about ADHD and children, where do I begin? Perhaps with the main impetus which brought me to where I am today. RoadKill made a self harming comment about a NERF gun, at school, due to not knowing how to convey his frustrations. I realized this thing is bigger than we, as RoadKill’s parent’s, can take on alone. I needed help. Help beyond what my husband, kiddo’s dad, or his step-mom can provide. My first thought was to Google. I signed up to meet with the local CHADD chapter (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) and another to meet with another small group of ladies, from a nearby town, with ADHD children. I created my own Facebook group. I also get weekly emails from CHADD with articles that my ADHD brain skims the titles of and saves for a “later” date that will never arrive. Lastly, through his physician, I got the name of a licensed therapist who specializes in attention and behavior problems. RoadKill has had three appointments with this promising therapist since I began writing this entry. So far he has described her as “trustworthy” and “kind”. Perfect.
Have you ever wondered what it is like within the mind of an ADHD person? I’ve read loads of different descriptions from other sufferers, but let’s begin with my own brain.
I’m siting in Ziggi’s, a favorite local coffee shop here in Colorado. There are so many distractions at the moment music, talking, snow, cars, my own thoughts about this blog, my thoughts about everything else going on. The guy in front my me can not be considered cute because he is wearing a man bun so I can not help but stare because it looks so ridiculous gotta grab a bite of my turkey bacon wrap. Have to set an alarm to go pick up RoadKill from a friend’s birthday party. Ten minutes later… oops, Instagram grabbed me for a second. Another bite. Crisp. Still have to set that alarm. Stand By Me is playing through the café speakers. This song reminds me of my first Valentine’s Day dance when I danced with N in 7th grade. I had a super huge crush on him, but was such a wall flower back then that *I* didn’t even realize I existed. I pulled a Pretty in Pink for the dance, and dressed all in pink from my head to my toes. I saw him at our high school reunion and didn’t even recognize him until an hour after leaving the party. I just spent the last 15 minutes figuring out the names I’m going to call my boys in this blog. Began to write some more about the main content when I realize, I never set that alarm to pick up RoadKill and I now have 15 minutes before I have to leave. Where was I? Oh yeah ADHD.
That’s how our brains work, at least that’s mine. One big, tangent train, of a run on sentence. With all of these minute by minute distractions around us, it’s amazing anyone can get anything done, even if they do not have ADHD. I often wonder how the hell do I get anything done during the day. And I’m even on medication.
Where do we start as parents? How do we know if we’re doing the right thing? Glancing at some of the ADHD articles, they talk about getting your toddler into behavior therapy around 3 or 4 in an attempt to prevent putting your child on medication. So now I feel guilty about not putting more effort into looking for help 7 years ago when RoadKill was three. And, duh duh dunnnn, he’s on medication now.(Insert spooky horror movie music) Thanks a lot world! How much more could I have helped him if I only started earlier? I don’t let this get me down for long. I am smart and confident and realize that it’s never too late to begin looking for help and learning new techniques. New studies are coming out all the time. Perhaps these studies weren’t even out when he was three. I move on.
RoadKill is a happy, smiley, bright, adventurous, kind, helpful, thoughtful, exuberant and energetic child who loves learning. But at times he is also emotional, prone to temper tantrums, unfocused, forgetful, and only willingly learns about what only he wants to learn about. Motivating him for school is no easy task. There are a lot of positive reinforcements and rewards granted. What’s great at this age, is that I can take something like a YouTube video about plane disasters or a documentary on WWII, which I would normally let him watch anyway, and use it to my advantage when it comes to helping him get a book report done sans tantrum. Tantrum=no show. Works like a dream. The hard part is, and I’m getting better at it, is not giving in to the tears and puppy dog eyes when the rewards aren’t given because the work isn’t done. We don’t make the inability of getting a video a punishment, we just enforce that the outcome for a reward is up to him and his actions alone.
Lists. Lists are important for these reasons,
- Completion of tasks
- Remembering tasks
- A calm brain
- No Tantrums
Knowing what’s expected of you takes the guess work out of life and thus makes life easier for parents of, and suffers from, ADHD. We currently have a list for morning tasks and his behavior in school. The school behavior list was created, and is implemented by the Dean of Students. We have had only one other list in the past, a list for dinner table manners. One would think, because of the way an ADHD person can act, that they would inherently reject the idea of structure, but in fact, it’s quite the opposite. In my experience, giving the ADHD person a list to follow, a structure to a project, gives their brain the one thing it needs to most. The ability to reign in the chaos and focus.
I’ve only just begun this full blown discovery of treating ADHD through education and behavioral treatment. My main goal is to hopefully have RoadKill know how to focus himself and get off of the medication, but even if that doesn’t happen, at least I’ll be bettering myself to be an even better Mama Bear for my little cub. (He would so be rolling his eyes at that sentiment)