ADHD/ADD – Oh, it’s just poor parenting/lack of discipline/kids being kids, right??
I swear. If I hear it one more time, I’m gonna lose my mind!!
No! It is not *ANY* of these things!! I will be the first to admit, I used to be in the camp that thought it might be. But let’s just say that my life and opinions have changed in the last five years.
ADHD is real. It is physiologic, psychological, behavioral, cognitive – it is all of these things.
From the Brookhaven Study
Having ADHD is like having all the channels of the television turned on at the same time and trying to listen to the details of the news on channel 5. It doesn’t mean you’re bad, trying to misbehave, disrespectful, a daydreamer, a failure – it means that your brain functions differently than other people. And that’s ok.
ADHD isn’t the complete loss of dreams for your child that many people think it is or can be. Just because your child has the label of ADHD doesn’t mean that they have a label of “behavior problem” or “you don’t want this kid in class.” My experience with being a mom of twin daughters with ADHD (and one with SPD) has been enlightening, at the least. Are they a little more difficult to parent? Absolutely. Are they a challenge? Most definitely. But their quirks are what make them THEM and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Well, maybe to make their lives a little easier, but I think they’re going to be just fine. They are both sweet, loving, super-smart girls and really WANT to do their best! Sometimes, it just takes a little more for them to.
Their diagnoses came not long before I became divorced. Addyson was diagnosed before Avery, and I fought the “label” tooth and nail. I tried every home remedy to fight the symptoms of ADHD – up to and including sending my child to school with a can of Mountain Dew to chug on the bus on the way … WHY??? Because the way the ADHD brain works is in essence, quite the opposite of the non-ADHD brain… what would stimulate the crap out of a non-ADHD brain at age 5 works to calm and focus the ADHD one. The morning I called Addyson’s teacher to let her know that I had sent her to school with a Mountain Dew is a moment I’ll never forget; the sound of sheer TERROR in her voice was priceless!! (She was an AMAZING teacher with Addyson and it was a really wonderful year, despite the millions of appointments, tests and the introduction of “real medications.”)
ADHD is often just part of a child’s “diagnosis.” Many kids with ADHD also have other disorders such as ODD (oppositional defiance disorder), SPD (sensory processing disorder), or others. Impulsiveness is, in my opinion, the hardest part of ADHD. My twins are good kids – they really are – but sometimes, they just can’t *NOT* do whatever it is they aren’t supposed to. They just can’t. No amount of discipline will change that. Redirection and hovering have been the two “tried and true” methods that have worked in my home.
I think that the most important part of a child with ADHD’s life is consistency. And that’s a tough thing in my house. Being a single mom in nursing school (READ: hours upon hours of studying, class and clinicals) and depending on others for help in raising my kids (their dad certainly isn’t going to do it), it can lead to lots of inconsistency in their lives. But we’re trying. This summer, it’s going to be different than most. I’m not working right now, so that will mean I can be home and attentive and CONSISTENT with them. I’m really really hoping that it will help! We have lots of fun things planned for the summer (church camp, sewing camp, a day program through the girls’ behavioral therapy group and lots and lots of playtime) and for once, I’m actually looking forward to summer instead of trying to hurry it on by.
If you suspect your child may have ADHD, there are several signs you can look for:
Children who have symptoms of inattention may:
- Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another
- Have difficulty focusing on one thing
- Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless they are doing something enjoyable
- Have difficulty focusing attention on organizing and completing a task or learning something new
- Have trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, often losing things (e.g., pencils, toys, assignments) needed to complete tasks or activities
- Not seem to listen when spoken to
- Daydream, become easily confused, and move slowly
- Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others
- Struggle to follow instructions.
Children who have symptoms of hyperactivity may:
- Fidget and squirm in their seats
- Talk nonstop
- Dash around, touching or playing with anything and everything in sight
- Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, and story time
- Be constantly in motion
- Have difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities.
Children who have symptoms of impulsivity may:
- Be very impatient
- Blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences
- Have difficulty waiting for things they want or waiting their turns in games
- Often interrupt conversations or others’ activities.
(List taken from here)
Medication is not always the first line of treatment. My girls also see a behavioral therapist and have since 2011. They currently see a school-based therapist who sees them during the school day and it has worked out wonderfully. I know lots of people have reservations about mixing psychotherapy and school – but as I see it, the therapist is right there in the thick of things at the school, day in and day out – she is able to be right there if something arises during the day. She is able to work with the teacher in a way I can’t, simply because I am in school myself, or I’m just not hanging out at my kids’ elementary school, day in and day out. I do my best to not be a helicopter parent because I want my kids to grow up learning to fight their own battles and being self-sufficient as much as possible. It isn’t just to help mold them into self-sufficient adults, but it’s to help them gain self-esteem and confidence in directing their own lives – even at the age of 10 1/2!
There is no “one-size fits all” treatment for ADHD, but it is amazing how much medication and therapy has helped my girls. Instead of having constant meltdowns and tantrums (not “kid-behavior” related, but ADHD related), they are able to work through things and our home life is so much more pleasant. We have far less yelling, are able to do far more as a family and it makes everything in life just a little sweeter.
If you or your family are dealing with a child who may have ADHD/ADD, please get help. Talking to your child’s pediatrician can get the ball rolling with a simple test called the “Hawthorne” test, which is a behavior survey filled out by parents & teachers. Please don’t wait until your child hates school to get help. You wouldn’t not treat your child for diabetes – why not treat their pscyho-social problems as well? (Just a PSA from someone who has been there )
Love these two crazy kiddos :)