I trust that this letter finds you well. I hope you have had a relaxing summer holiday and are feeling relaxed and replenished after a busy year. I look forward to meeting you and getting to know you over the coming school year.
I hope that we will work well together. The way I see it; my child’s successful education depends on teamwork, with you and I understanding and supporting each other.
I want to start by expressing the gratitude that I have for your dedication and devotion to being a teacher. I am in awe of the work you put in; those restrictions placed on you, and those long hours required to do your job. I know that finishing work for the day is not the 3:15 pm I once imagined. After attending to you and your family’s own needs – dinner, chores, and time to connect, you still have to sit down and plan tomorrow’s lessons, mark your pupils’ work, and reply to parents’ emails. The list goes on. You probably even had to work over the summer holidays too; labeling books, and doing much more to prepare for this school year.
My child will be joining you this year,
He/she has a diagnosis of ADHD.
They may or may not be medicated.
He/she is not defined by their diagnosis, they are themselves an individual person like you and me, but with their diagnosis brings some slight differences I think you should know about.
Perhaps you have taught pupils with ADHD before or someone in your family shares the same diagnosis. If so, I am sure you know lots about ADHD already. Hopefully your school supports extra Special Education training for staff
I hope that teaching my child this year will be fun and rewarding for you. He/she really is a sensitive, caring, energetic, and passionate child. I hope he/she will make you smile with their quick wit and sense of humor.
He/she does fidget a lot. They may scribble or play with pens while listening to you to help them. For your own reassurance, check that they are listening but please don’t assume that they are not and take that pen/item from them. I can provide a few unobtrusive fidgets to use in the classroom.
My child doesn’t want to zone out when you talk, but if you notice that they are; I find a little break helps. Ask them to either fetch you something, get a quick drink from the water fountain or my child’s favorite; some jumping jacks somewhere private.
This little burst of activity really helps reset and refresh his/her brain.
My child is a chatterbox. Be assured he/she will butt in when you talk or forget to put their hand up. He/she doesn’t mean to be rude but may worry about forgetting the answer and keen to impress you with their knowledge and questions.
He/she isn’t great at taking turns when playing with classmates or friends. They don’t mean to be a bossy-boots. A bit of gentle prompting about give and take, or encouraging a change of game works well at home. I am working a lot with him/her at the moment about friendships, sharing, and being respectful.
He/she can be forgetful, disorganized, and appear unmotivated to start tasks.
He/she just doesn’t know where to start and so needs some gentle encouragement and perhaps help to initiate or better organize their task. I find that I have to really break tasks down for them into small steps and provide lots of repetition. Executive functioning and working memory are the culprits.
He/she has suggested to me that they would like to discuss with you a “prompt” that you can both agree on to help them know when it’s time to start work. Something gentle and friendly, please. You see they are afraid that you may say something that will embarrass them or draw attention to them.
My child really wants to work hard for you this coming year. He/she has talked excitedly about you all summer; what you might be like, whether you wear glasses, and what golden time treats you may give the class as a reward.
Sometimes he/she just doesn’t have that ability to wait for a later reward. It may be a bad day for paying attention, for being more hyperactive, or he/she may have slept poorly or is feeling nauseous from their medication. But hopefully, you can learn to detect a bad day from a good day, reward the good days, and be understanding of the bad.
Be assured that we both want what’s best for your class and my son/daughter to ensure a successful and happy new school year.
See you very soon,
A parent of a child with ADHD ❤️
This is an open letter written by Nochola Parody to articulate the thoughts and worries a parent of an ADHD child may feel when their child starts school. Nicola is an ADHD and Learning Disabilities advocate who hosts the Facebook page, Heidi and Me: Our Neurodiversity Journey.
The letter had an incredible response. ❤️ It was shared by 23 SEN/ADHD and relevant charities and advocacy pages in Europe and got as far as Canada and the USA.
More importantly, it was read and shared by many parents of other neurodiverse children. ❤️
Heidi and Nicola’s photo found on Facebook (Heidi and Me )
Recently I saw a post on Facebook from a frazzled mother begging for someone to tell her that her ADHD child would grow up to be a productive, well-adjusted adult. I have ADHD. I also have 2 boys with ADHD, so I figured I would share a little insight to help all of the moms out there pulling their hair out.
Before I get started with practical tips to help you out, I want to reassure you, your child will be okay. Having ADHD as a child is miserable, but having ADHD as an adult can actually be an asset. As long as you learn to manage the energy and focus the energy on the good, you will be great.
As a child, you need to sit still and focus through hours of school, and then you come home and have to sit still through hours of homework and then sit through dinner. This is a recipe for disaster for someone with ADHD. We need to MOVE. We need breaks in our focus and we need to answer at least a few of the random questions running through our heads. Young children do not understand how to verbalize this, and they understand even less how to manage it. This makes for frustrated teachers, frustrated parents, and frustrated children.
As an adult, your responsibilities are entirely different. You need to be able to wear many hats, to switch focus many times a day, and to run around for most of the day. Adults need to be able to get our work done, take care of children, keep the house in some semblance of order and make our spouse a priority. Somewhere in there we also have to stuff in exercise and taking care of ourselves. For some people with ADHD, this is an environment they thrive in.
Most of my adult life I have had at least 2 jobs. Right now I have a full-time job as a railroad signalman. I write this blog. I just finished one book and plan on having a riding lesson journal and a mystery novel out by the end of the year. I participate in one large mastermind group, one small mastermind and the ladies circle at my church. Many people say “how do you get it all done?!?!” Honestly, the answer is ADHD. I have excess energy, the ability to switch focus quickly and I have learned how to manage my brain for maximum effectiveness. (Well most of the time anyway!)
My children have different degrees of ADHD. Between the three of us, we have come up with some pretty good ways to manage our ADHD. We are becoming productive members of society and students with 4.0 averages. In full disclosure, it took me until I was 35 and back at college. Thankfully my children figured out good strategies by their high school years.
The Homework Battle
“Sit there until it is done!” my dad bellowed at me again. I stared down at the page. In 4 hours I had barely been able to finish 4 problems. Guess I will be here all night, I thought with a sigh. Then my brain went back to planning the layout of the barn I would build when I grew up.
Some of the things that have helped one or all of us.
Get some exercise first. Sports, hiking, running, playing tag and pillow fights can all be used to burn off some energy before asking your child to concentrate.
Break it up. Either by time or number of problems. Something like complete these 15 math problems correctly and then you get 10 minutes of play. If your kids are young (under 12) PLAY! Make it fun. Put your socks on and see who can slide the farthest across the hardwoods, have a dance party or have a mini Top Chef challenge. Do this for a week and the homework gets done, and you all sleep better.
Be Okay with Movement. My youngest and I are pacers. If we are on the phone, we are usually pacing in circles in the house somewhere. This drives my husband crazy but living in a house full of people with ADHD he has learned to accept it. Accepting that movement is a natural part of your child’s personality will keep everyone happier.
Answer the Questions. Occasionally our brain gets stuck, we have heard some strange question or seen something that piqued our interest, and we can not get it out of our heads. Help your child by teaching them to research. Books, Google, and libraries are all wonderful resources to someone with ADHD.
Give them a small notebook. If they are old enough to write, give them a small notebook. Tell them if they start to lose focus, write down the new topic that has invaded their brain in the notebook so they can come back to it later. Sometimes just that few minutes to take a few notes on the new topic can refocus them.
The Bedtime Battle
Similar to the homework battle, the bedtime battle can be attributed to too much energy and a brain that is still whirring like crazy. Some days they go to bed like angels, some days the demon invades. I was a demon on more days than I would care to admit and bedtime can still be a tough thing for me and my boys. We don’t always have the answers but here are some of the things that help us.
Hot tea or hot chocolate. Both help to promote relaxation.
Brain Dumps. Grab a journal and dump every thought that comes into your head for 15 minutes.
PJs right before bed. Putting on PJs on right before bed gives the body a physical signal that it is time to go to bed. This one will take a little while to work, but it will help. So no hanging out in PJs unless it is time to go to bed.
Reading before bed. Reading can be a great way to relax your child’s brain. If your child can’t read yet, read to them, if they are learning you read a page and let your child read a page.
Create a short routine. Remember kids with ADHD have trouble focusing, so a routine can help, but only if you keep it short.
Weighted Blankets. This one is a new one to me but it explains why my favorite blanket is a very heavy hand crocheted blanket. There is some good research on this one so even though it isn’t something I have tried; I thought I should include it.
Give Yourself and Your Child Grace
I am not going to lie, even if you find some great ways to help your child, there are still going to be days you want to pull your hair out. On the bad days, give yourself and your child a little grace. No child will be perfect every day. No parent will be perfect every day. Give yourself a break, do the best you can and everyone will survive.
A Blessing and a Curse
ADHD has been both a blessing and a curse in my life. It allows me to switch my focus between many things and gives me plenty of energy to get it all done. I will never have a desk job, I will never sit through a movie without doing something else at the same time but I have learned to embrace the good and accept the bad.
The one question I get asked more than any other is “How do you get so much done?” The answer: I have ADHD and I know how to use it.
If you have found some things to help your child manage their ADHD please leave them in the comments to help all the other moms out there facing similar issues.
About the author: Michele Cook wears a lot of different hats in her everyday life. She is a Christian, a wife, a mom an author, and a communications specialist for an administrative company. Her journey has not always been easy. She uses that experience to help you find your way out of the darkness and into the light – to inspire you to be the best you can be and to love yourself.
In the car this morning, my son Jasper, who has ADHD, said to me, “Mum, do you think I have a bleak future ahead?”
I took a deep breath, pushed my emotions aside and said this to my boy, “Honey you have the brightest, shiniest future ahead. Just because you don’t do school that well does not mean you’re going to have a bad time for the rest of your life. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.”
He then asked, “How do you know?”
I answered, “Because I was a lot like you at school. I found classes so boring. I couldn’t understand what the teacher was saying. I never got A’s and was always in trouble. I even hated art class! Because I couldn’t learn art the way they taught it to me!”
Jas listened, a surprised look on his face. I continued while I had his attention.
“As soon as I left school I didn’t look back. I went to TAFE (Australia’s Vocational and Training Schools) and did a course in hospitality. TAFE was so fun, so much better than school, and there I met my best friend Tam who I moved to Sydney with. We worked in restaurants and met people from all over the world, danced with new friends on beaches in Bondi at moonlight and became inspired to see more of the world. I saved up enough money and left Australia and went traveling through Asia on my own! Imagine that! I was 19!!! Tam went to Israel and Egypt. We met up in London, worked, partied and traveled more countries together.
I came home and became a chef. I started my own catering business, I ran restaurants.
I learned to paint and had 2 near sellout exhibitions with friends. I hated art at school but loved learning by painting with friends and looking through art books for inspiration.
I’ve opened shops, gone into fashion design, imported from Morocco and lived in Bali.
And my biggest achievement, I created you and your little brother!
I have my ADHD to thank for most of that and not once have I ever looked back and thought about school.”
Jas asked, “How come you have your ADHD to thank?”
I responded, “I just know because I do life differently to others that are considered ‘normal’. My impulsivity leads me into new adventures. I learn kinesthetically and have a creative brain. I think outside of the box – just like you do. All of this, plus a large amount of excitable energy, has helped me be who I am today, even though I didn’t fit into the school system.
So to answer your question – you have a very bright future ahead, full of fun and adventure. No matter if you go college, TAFE, get a trade or a degree, or take some time out to go travelling. Life is one big adventure and you just have to find things you enjoy doing along the way, get good at those things, try new things, give everything and anything a go and you’ll be absolutely ok! Doesn’t that sound exciting?”
Jasper agreed, and said, “I definitely want to go traveling mum!” And I said, “You will for sure, just find work that helps you to travel!”
And I could see him thinking about his shiny future ahead, and I had a feeling that he had a feeling, everything is going to be ok.
About the author: Freya Cheffers lives in Cowaramup, Western Australia. She writes about her family and ADHD on her Facebook page, Never a Dull Moment – Life with ADHD. I follow her posts with interest.
1. ADHD people are Hilarious!Ourconversations are never dull. Our sense of humor comes from a wicked way of looking at the world. We don’t have much of a filter on our thoughts and often blurt out the first thing that pops into our mind, usually completely inappropriate and making those around us laugh out loud.
2. Weget over things quickly. If you’re arguing with one of us don’t bother trying to win the argument, just walk away and guaranteed we’ll see something shiny and forget what we were arguing about in the first place.
3. We’re loyal friends and will defend our friends till the end of the earth and fight against injustice brought to them in any way.
4. Weare very forgiving. That’s because we do the dumbest shit of all. It’s very easy to forgive when you’re not perfect.
5. We are sooo much fun to party with! It’s almost guaranteed that the first person on the dance floor or up on a table at a party has a bit of ADHD in them! ‘Where DOES she get her ENERGY from?’
6. We are spontaneous risk takers and tend to throw ourselves into things others wouldn’t dream of doing. Once that thought pops into the mind to do that thing there is no stopping that ADHD person from doing that very un-thought out and dangerous thing. (Unless something else shiny catches our eye.)
7. Wework really well under pressure! A lot of chefs have ADHD. – Not many people can cope that well with cooking 150 meals in a night while supervisors scream at you to hurry up.
8. We can hyper focus on things that we enjoy. (Much to other’s bemusement when we can’t snap out of a project we are fully immersed in.) We can move mountains with our hyper-focus superpowers!
9. We have creative brains and think outside of the box! So many people with ADHD are musicians, artists, poets, actors, writers, chefs and very successful entrepreneurs who simply cannot work for other people. You won’t find many ADHD people sitting still all day at a desk unless they are hyper-focusing on programming computers.
10. We LOVE LOVE! ADHD people overflow with love. Our hearts are as big as a lion. Our hugs are deep and intense. We are very affectionate and will do anything for our loved ones – give them gifts of flowers, chocolates, money, even sharing cars and our own house. They all mean the same to us. We’re not great at holding back our affections and if you don’t have ADHD and end up with an ADHD lover – enjoy the wild ride!
About the author: Freya Cheffers lives in Cowaramup, Western Australia. She has a Facebook page where she writes about her family and ADHD. She and her son share the diagnosis. I recommend following her. Find Never a Dull Moment – Life with ADHD here.
(Image courtesy of ambro /FreeDigitalPhoto.com) Modified on Canva.com
We have a blended family. I have 2 children; my husband has 2 children.
We love each other’s children as if they were our own. We wipe tears, we do homework, we send to rooms, we talk; and we watch our children with their day-to-day struggles and wish we could make it better, just like their “real” mom/dad does. We may each be step-parents to each other’s children, but each of us is there for these kids. They are all treated the same and are all loved the same.
it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted. That’s because I concentrated all my energy towards a very special little boy who needs a lot of love right now.
The kiddo I’m writing about is my husband’s youngest child. He is a bright, funny, sweet, adventurous little boy, who is in the 2ndgrade. From the first time I met him, I knew he wasn’t like most boys. He was loud, he moved around a lot, he was distracted easily. I have a background in early childhood education, and I knew deep down that he had ADHD.
He would say things like “I just can’t slow my brains down”, “I can’t stop moving”, “I just don’t get it”; even after reading the same homework question 5 times in a row.
This was 2 years ago.
About a year and a half later, his current teacher suggested that he may have ADHD. I watched his dad vehemently deny that claim. But deep down, I knew it was true.
The rest of the evening, I listened to his dad tell me stories of his own childhood, how he was just like his son, and that even today, he still has moments where he “just can’t slow his brain down”. So, knowing how his son must feel, he decided to make an appointment.
When he broke the news to him about getting help for the way he feels at school, this kiddo was excited. Because he understood he had no friends because something made him different. He never got the right answer when he was called upon in class because he was just so excited, he blurted out the first thing that came to mind. He couldn’t read his own handwriting because he was in such a rush to complete the assignment.
You would think that there would be a happy ending here, but unfortunately, the story continues.
The struggle to find an effective medicine for his ADHD is proving to be difficult. But it is even more difficult when the very same teacher who championed for an ADHD diagnoses, seems to have dropped the ball. She may not realize she has, but that’s how we feel.
When your ADHD child is in school, you need to have a detailed report from the teacher, regarding the child’s behavior. A report of “Your child just wouldn’t listen today” is very broad. Why weren’t they listening? What activity were you trying to do? What subject was he working on? How much stimuli was around him at that time? What were you requesting of him?
Those are very important factors that must be included in a behavior report.
Accurate reporting makes all the difference. This kiddo’s doctor cannot prescribe treatment for a child who “just won’t listen”. If that were the case, most children would be diagnosed with ADHD!
I take this kiddo to his med appointments, and communicate with his doctor, because our kiddo’s “real” parents are at their jobs, making money to support their families. They trust that I am going to communicate with the school and the doctor while keeping this child’s best interests in mind. (Which I do. Who wouldn’t?)
However, when it comes to his teacher, she refuses to communicate. She refuses to listen to any advice our doctor suggests and refuses to correctly complete the behavior reports. This is her classroom, and gosh golly darn it, she’s going to run it her way, and she knows what’s best. In our opinion, she wants a zombie who will fall asleep from being over-medicated. But we don’t want to lose our boy’s personality, and neither does our doctor!
This kiddo needs help. He can’t do this on his own, and the battle is twice as difficult when there is little support from the school.
Remember, you, as well as his/her “real” parents, are the only educational advocates your child has. And believe me, the more you all work together for your child, the more it is going to benefit them. If your child’s school chooses to ignore your voice because you’re merely the step-parent, remind them that under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), that you, as the step-parent, DO have the right to advocate for your child’s education. FERPA defines the term “parent” as “a natural parent, a guardian, or an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or a guardian.”
We have reached out to other teachers for advice and have questioned why our child has not been referred to our school’s special education program. We have had several non-productive conferences with the teacher and one conference with the principal, which we thought was productive, but unfortunately, had no effect. Our next step is to go to the Superintendent of our school district, to get some answers, insight, or assistance.
In the meantime, I sincerely hope you find a treatment plan that works for your child. Here are a few tips that we use at home, that we have discovered along the way:
Those with ADHD need structure and routine.
They need to know what is coming next because they do not transition well. It’s hard to calm down from an exciting activity and expect to do quiet work.
At home, we have a routine, and we stick to it. The kids come in, they sit down and talk while we go through assignment notebooks, we figure out what their homework is, we then give them their papers, and while we fix dinner they complete their homework. We eat, then we play for a bit, and then we wind down and pick up toys, then we get PJs, take a shower, watch a few cartoons, and we go to bed.
They need encouragement and praise.
Many children with ADHD have low self-esteem, due to the lack of friendships, stemming from their inability to understand that their behavior is taken as disrespectful or hurtful to others. In children with ADHD, the area of the brain that controls impulsive behavior is under-developed for their age.
Every time we see something accomplished, we offer genuine praise. When we see a behavior that could be interpreted as disrespectful or hurtful, we let him know, and why. It’s the only way he’s going to come to understand.
They need social guidance.
Children with ADHD often seek to be the center of attention, mostly because they think that the “cooler” they are, the more friends they will have, they don’t understand the difference between positive and negative attention. In their minds, they think “Hey, all eyes are on me, I’m pretty darn cool!”
We try to explain the type of attention we are giving at that certain moment. If he has just smacked his step-brother to get his Hot Wheel and has been pulled aside for discipline; obviously that’s negative attention. We try to focus on what his feelings are during the discipline process. On the flip side, if he has just read a book to his step-brother, on his own, we praise him, and again, try to focus on what his feelings are at that moment. Positive attention feels good; negative attention feels bad.
They need a reward system in place to help jump-start their motivation.
Some days are better than others. But when they see that the goal IS attainable, and progress has been made, chances are, with a little encouragement, they will find the motivation to complete the task and receive that reward.
At home, we have different days that certain tasks get taken care of (Remember that schedule?) If we can complete a certain number of tasks successfully, we earn a treat or a trip to eat, we get to choose our dinner, etc.
They need instructions to be broken down, step by step.
As our kiddo says his “brain doesn’t slow down”. This leads to forgetting the steps to whatever task he was given. Tasks that require 2 or more steps, need to be broken down into smaller chunks. Once they complete a couple of steps, given them a couple more.
At home, we can’t say “Go pick out your clothes for tomorrow, grab some PJs, come in and take a shower, then come watch some TV.” Inevitably, he ends up in his room playing with the toys he picked up earlier. Actuality, it goes something like this: “Go pick out your clothes for tomorrow and grab some PJs.” 99% of the time, he returns for further instruction. And once he does that, we continue with “Get in the shower, and when you’re done, come join us.”
They need to be brought into reality.
When I say this, what I mean is that before you explain instructions, you need to grab their attention. Begin by stating their name. We follow that with “look at my eyes”, because we know at that moment, we have his attention.
When we have something very important to say or discuss, we always start out by saying his name and asking him to look at our eyes. If I see he’s really struggling, I ask him to take a deep breath and let it out. I then tell him what I need to say and have him repeat it. If it’s a discussion, it goes so much smoother if I start the conversation out that way, and continue with, “Tell me what’s going on with ________________.”
They need to keep moving.
Offer a balance ball to sit on or a tall chair where they can swing their legs. Continuous movement can help stop them from fidgeting with erasers, or picking at the paper they are trying to write spelling words on and help them focus on the task at hand.
It sounds counter-intuitive. But it works. If our kiddo is doing something with his legs, he rarely fidgets with his pencil, or picks at the paper, or taps his fingers.
I sincerely hope these tips help you manage your child’s ADHD. And if you are in the same boat as us, I hear you and I understand your frustrations. There will be a light at the end of the tunnel. We just have to travel a little longer before we get there.
About the author: Ann Doyle of the blog Small Town Wife and her husband have 4 children who range from 18-months up to 17-years. She writes about living in Kansas and offers a wide range of tips for running a house, saving money, parenting and DIY projects. We can look forward to more articles on ADHD and how it affects their family.
(Photo courtesy of Vlado/FreeDigitalPhoto.net) Modified on Canva.com
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ADHD kids need structure. Music and rhythm could help.
While it is an alternative treatment method, music therapy offers many benefits for children with ADHD. Even if your child is not musically inclined, they can still incorporate stimulatory sound into their lives to help them focus more on everyday tasks. Here’s why music therapy may be able to help your child, and how they can use it to live a successful, happy life.
Music, for so many people, affords the opportunity to express themselves and communicate with others. Thus, it comes as no surprise that it can also help build social skills and even reduce anxiety. Studying music theory, for example, can teach listening skills, patience and the ability to pick up on cues.
Not only does music get one’s brain moving, but it also helps with physical coordination as well. Everyday Health notes that “Several small studies have found that rhythmic exercises improved attention, motor control, and academic skills in children with ADHD.” For many kids with ADHD, there is simply too much going on at once that they can’t tune out. However, a little background music may be able to help drown out everything else and allowing them to concentrate. According to ADDitude Magazine, “Music is rhythm, rhythm is structure, and structure is soothing to an ADHD brain struggling to regulate itself to stay on a linear path.” Simply tapping along can be calming to the mind.
You’ll find music can easily be incorporated everyday life. Together you and your child should make playlists tailored to specific moods and time periods within the day. More upbeat and inspiring tunes may help during a morning, commute or exercise, while softer sounds could be enjoyed before bedtime and during seemingly mundane activities like homework or chores. Consider even asking their teacher if he or she will allow your child to wear headphones during certain times of the school day so they can sing or tap along as they please. It could result in them being more productive at school.
Give your child the opportunity to collect musicthrough multiple platforms such as digital, CDs, or vinyl records. Push them to attend concerts, dance or even perform. Because music exercises the brain just like a muscle, learning how to develop an interest in different genres can help them improve at school.
If your child expresses an interest in learning how to play an instrument, these tips may help. When it comes to buying instruments, there may be used ones available that are easier on the budget. If their school has a band program, you can ask if they can purchase or rent instruments. Also, look within your community for private lessons or ask the school’s band director for recommendations so they can further cultivate their skill set. There is a multitude of online videos, lessons, and workbooks they can utilize that will help them learn to play as well.
It’s important that your child picks the right instrument for them so they stick with it out of passion, rather than seeing it as a chore they have to complete. Before you make a decision, consider the quality of the instrument, your child’s playing style, budget, and intended use.
If they’re quieter and prefer alone time, perhaps select a gentler instrument that allows them to practice or perform by themselves like the clarinet or saxophone.
Percussion and more complicated instruments such as a trumpet are best utilized in an orchestra or band-like atmosphere. This could be a way they bond with others and challenge themselves to contribute in a group setting. Either way, they should set aside a small amount of time each day to practice in order to fully reap the benefits of playing and keep a solid routine.
Mary trains educators and parents on ADHD, emotional challenges, and classroom management practices. An internationally recognized expert on ADHD, she is the author of four books, including the bestseller, Maybe You Know My Kid (3rd edition), Maybe you Know my Teen, the original CHADD Educators Manual, and 20 Questions to Ask If Your Child has ADHD.
“Think of this book as facts with personality. Answers are written in an easy-to-read, conversational style from a parent who’s been there”. Organized into four easily manageable categories:• General/Medical Information • Social/Emotional Well-being • Home Issues • School Issues. ($10 on Kindle – $13 for paperback)
Based on conversations I have had with other moms, we all have moments where we wonder if we have done something wrong. Have the Gods cursed us? Are we bad mothers?
When my son screams at me in public or verbally threatens his kindergarten teacher I want to sink into the floor. I envy the moms whose children come out of school beaming, holding up their prizes for an entire day of good behavior.
Not that my son never gets a prize, he does, but every single day I am sweating, waiting for the phone call.
I write all the time about how abnormal I am. I have no explanation for why I want my son to be something I am not. But I am starting to think my feelings are not uncommon.
My son has Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD. Life in my house can be a little…..errrr challenging.
It is totally normal and acceptable to have mixed feelings about your child’s diagnosis.
HOW TO ACCEPT YOUR CHILD’S DIAGNOSIS
ENJOY YOUR CHILD
In the past, my son has had some emotional regulation issues. I have run around town to play therapists and occupational therapists and one cognitive behavioral therapist. Each time we went through a bad spell, we came out of it and I thought that I had it under control.
In my own way, I was arrogant for believing that having lived through ADHD I could handle it in my own son. As it turns out he does have ADHD. But he also has Asperger’s Syndrome, a type of high functioning autism that does not affect speech.
E likes the same things all 6 year-olds like. But he cannot transition at all. Not from one activity to another, and not from one environment to another. And if his daily schedule is altered in any way he is highly likely to have a meltdown.
When I say meltdown, that means anything from crying and covering his ears, to telling his teacher that he will, “Hulk smash the building.” He is that unpredictable.
E is also incredibly funny. Within the last week I have discussed all of the following:
Where “meat” comes from = dead animals
Black holes in space
The fact that my son swears he is never moving out of my house
Meditation, mindfulness….and, “why does that lady keep talking?”
When you get a diagnosis for your child you will go through a process. Here are some ideas to get you through the tough times.
TAKE PERSONAL TIME
I have not been alone in 6 years. Literally. My son was attached to me like an appendage for most of his life.
If there is one piece of advice I can give it is to take time for yourself.
This year we didn’t have a dog-sitter for Easter so I stayed by myself in my house over the holiday weekend. It was glorious. No interruptions. Just quiet time.
And I was fine. I can exist separate from my child with Asperger’s Syndrome and my husband.
My life is so consumed with taking care of others that I often forget how to take care of myself. Now I know that I can. I can be alone with my thoughts and it is ok.
For at least 2 years I suspected my son has some kind of sensory processing or pragmatic disorder. Nobody really believed me, but I always knew. A mom just knows.
To date, I have yet to cry over my son’s diagnosis. Maybe because I spent so much time crying before?
Having an answer is somewhat comforting. With the diagnosis, I can make plans. I can enroll him in social skills classes, and schedule occupational therapy.
There is a forward motion to what I am doing.
But there is sadness. Will he ever be the boy I KNOW he could be? Will he make friends?
Let yourself cry if that is what you need. Hopefully, I will get there. Right now I feel like I don’t even have time to feel sorry for myself.
I have cried enough for all of us.
VISION FOR THE FUTURE
Like every other parent, I want the very best for my child. I want him to achieve… everything.
I have this vision of a handsome young man traveling abroad his junior year of high school. The same young man goes off to college and leaves me. I can literally feel the potential in my son.
I can feel it, but my son is too young to see the world through my crystal ball.
We have had issues at every single child care provider we have tried. Daycare directors have told me my child is “unmanageable.” There have been countless notes home from preschool teachers.
I have cried for days. I have cried rivers over my son. Every meltdown, every incident report chips away at my “vision” of who my son is.
But this is the thing – I know that he is more than his behavior.
It is my expectations that are being shot down. My hopes and dreams.
It is ok to grieve the death of your own expectations. Always keep the end goal in mind.
MAKE THE TOUGH DECISIONS
I live in one of the best public school districts in the country. I have shared with them my son’s recent diagnosis. We are working on a 504 plan.
It’s complicated because my son has an above-average IQ, but marked social skills deficits.
I am fearful of the labels that are often assigned in public schools. The labels, though necessary, tend to be life-long. I do not want to go to IEP meetings for my son. I do not want to get phone calls and emails from the school.
But as the mom, it is my job to make the tough decisions. Talking to teachers and administrators is part of my job. I got this. So do you.
THE FEAR IS REAL
I worked for a time with older students in a special education setting, I loved my time there but what I saw was not encouraging. I witnessed bright kids who were going through a tough time being thrown together with emotionally disturbed kids.
My students believed they could not and would not achieve. They had given up on school and even worse, on themselves.
In order for my son to be successful in any school he is going to need support. Private schools are sometimes unable to offer the types of supports that a kid like mine needs. I would like to think that I can provide enough support outside of school that he can live up to his potential.
I am scared and I am sad. But I know I am not alone.
To all of the moms out there dealing with an Autism diagnosis; I hear you. I feel you.
It is totally normal to question everything. It is also ok to just sit and cry. Sometimes this feels like a life sentence.
Every single expectation and hope goes down the toilet when you hear the words, “autism spectrum.”
But it’s ok. Your mixed feelings are ok. A diagnosis gives you the chance to learn and grow and provide the resources your child needs.
I feel you, I hear you. And I am right there with you.
Now I want to know: How do you accept your child’s diagnosis?
About the author: Elizabeth Lewis is a freelance writer, wife, mother, and self-appointed CEO of her home. Liz founded A Dose of Healthy Distraction, a website and a private Facebook group (Link works) to provide a realistic yet positive face to living with ADHD. She also runs the ADHD Coaching Corner, a low-cost online support and coaching group.
ADHD overwhelm is real. To survive, we think we must tackle the most visible of our symptoms, the disorganization, forgetfulness, and unfinished tasks first. But it helps to start at the beginning with basic self-care. Many of us neglect basic needs for supporting ourselves physically and mentally. We don’t even realize that they may be part of the problem and increase impairment from ADHD symptoms. Yet, a poor diet, disturbed sleep, a lack of exercise, and not taking time for breaks are common problems for children and adults with ADHD. We don’t make time to rejuvenate, to refresh our mind and bodies.
ADHD isn’t easy, but if you take it step by step, you CAN get a handle on it. Our natural inclination is to rush in and try “Fix” everything at once, but we have a lifetime of poor habits and emotional fallout to deal with first.
We MUST Eat, Sleep, Move, and Rest, but so often these don’t make it onto our daily to-do list. (If we even have such a list.) But ignoring these needs exacts a heavy toll on out physical and mental health. In The Best Advice Ever, Katherine McGaver addresses this topic. “If you have ADHD,” she writes, “you need to be in your best possible shape every day to manage this powerful, free-spirited brain.” “Because if you don’t manage an ADHD brain, it will manage you. For people who have ADHD, proper eating, exercise, and sleep are mandatory. They provide the energy, strength, clarity, and staying power that is needed hour by hour, day by day, every day, to stay in charge.”
At work, home and in school, we still struggle with getting things done. So often we focus on what we HAVEN’T done and don’t reward ourselves for those things that we HAVE accomplished. Rest, Self-Expression and Connection are perfect ways to be refreshed and get ready to tackle the day again. To help keep balance in your life, see this article, Self-care Activities you Actually Have Time For by Meagan of Page Flutter. She also created a Printable of Self-care and rewards to help you create balance in your life.
Of course what’s probably driving you crazy is your messy house or desk at work. You don’t have to ignore these but approach them gradually. Start with Simple Steps to Staying Organized, an article with a Free Printable from Andrea Dekker. By taking them one step at a time, each task takes just a minute or two. If you attend to them every day, big jobs become manageable.
I’m lucky to have two lovely articles on dealing with ADHD in the family. Keeping our relationships vital, loving, and supportive can make all the difference for yourself and other family members.
The first is On ADHD: Parent to Parent. It’s an overview of three articles that offer down-to-earth and practical approaches that honor your child’s individuality while acknowledging the very real challenges in your family life.
Duane and Linda Walker
We also have How I Fixed my ADHD Husband. Coach Linda Walker writes, “I think of us as a family with ADHD. We could only solve this problem working together, and so this was as much my journey as theirs.”
“I realized that I wasn’t the only one suffering in the family. I know Duane had it worse than me – he was living it 24/7. “
But IS ADHD REALLY 24/7? Dr. Charles Parker maintains that it is NOT. He claims that ADHD is situational. It only shows sometimes in certain contexts. As he says, “One of the hallmarks of ADHD is cognitive abundance, not a cognitive deficiency.” Too many thoughts mean too many choices and too many options to handle well. According to Dr. Parker, “ADHD symptoms flourish when there are too many variables, a lack of structure and an absence of focus.”
“Limiting the variables within a defined platform is the answer to getting things done.” Being interested in the process, involved with the outcome, or working to a deadline also helps. Watch Dr. Parker’s video ADHD Medication Rule 2- Reality Denied.
My symptoms disappear when I’m working on Pinterest or Facebook. Those social sites are tailor-made for my natural inclinations collecting and sharing information with the aim of encouraging people to get help for ADHD. Writing about ADHD is a different animal that requires strategic thinking to make it possible. When I’m struggling with a task like getting out this newsletter, I make it more manageable by breaking it down, defining its scope, and getting inspired or making it a challenge. I call it “putting a box around it.” I love to share the “treasures” I’ve found but I have way too much information! This time I limited myself to three outside sources, 2 articles from my website and a video or two. They had to be personal favorites, cover basic information, be encouraging and easy to understand. I set a July 1st deadline and committed to working on it every day for at least fifteen minutes. I also participated in a Body-doubling session with my coaching group to keep me on track for the final push. This gave me both a time-limit AND provided accountability.
Finally, I have something for the kids to watch – a 2-minute clip that brings research interviews with children to (animated) life. ADHD: What it’s Like to Have ADHD Find the film ADHD and Me, the research results, and more short clips on ADHD Voices. It’s about time we asked Kids how they experience ADHD in their lives.
Don’t forget, for solid information on ADHD and the many ways it impacts lives, check out Laurie Dupar’s FREE “Succeed with ADHD Telesummit, “ July 17th to the 24th – 20 one-half hour presentations with 24 hours to listen to replays. http://succeedwithadhdtelesummit.com/Sign up now.
By Joan Jager – Founder of ADD freeSources
ADHD Life – “Image courtesy of Simon Howden at FreeDigitalPhotos.net”
Welcome. Thanks for inviting me into your inbox. I’m new to having more than a few subscribers, so please bear with me as I try to figure out what you might be most interested in.
If you’re the parent of a child with ADHD, I have a collection of online articles, websites, activities, and videos that your kids might like. It’s been popular in Parent groups on Facebook this week. See my Kids ADHD Page – Things to read, do and watch.
I like Why I Chose to Medicate my Child by Dianne Dempster about how a family that eats organic and prefers holistic treatments for illness came to the decision to try ADHD medication for their son. “I knew that I could always have my son stop taking the medication; but, if he never tried it, I wouldn’t really know if it would help him or not…Ultimately everything comes back to my son.” If you’re considering a stopping medication over the summer break, ADDitude magazine has an article weighing the pros and cons of medication holidays.
For myself, as an adult with bipolar disorder and ADHD, one of my biggest challenges with the greatest reward has been coming to believe and trust in myself. “For many of us, with ADHD or not, there’s an underlying feeling of not being good enough, wanting to be better, wanting to be in better shape or better at things.” Unconditional Acceptance of Yourself by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits addresses that pain, helping to repair that feeling of being unworthy.
Getting the word out on feeling better about having ADHD, Kari Hogan of ADDing to the Mayhem shared 16 Steps to Better Self-Esteem with ADHD that details many non-medical treatments that will improve your daily functioning and make you feel more confident in yourself and more in control of your life.. (These ideas work for kids and teens as well.)
“Your first step is STRUCTURE.
By creating structure, each day, you’re giving yourself a reason to wake up and get out of bed!
The second step echoes the first step. Set up a daily to-do list. This will give you a sense of accomplishment (it gives you a reason to be proud of yourself).
Step 3. FOCUS on your good qualities…”
I have the feeling that this is just TOO much information but hope you will find something that meets your needs.