Life changes in the blink of an eye. No words have ever rung truer in my life than after a conference at the school with my son’s teaching staff, and a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at our doctor’s office. One consultation led to a melt-down and a re-evaluation of everything I knew.
The barrier I tangoed with was one I knew nothing about. I was going to need to learn quickly how ADHD was affecting my son’s day-to-day life. It’s time to roll with the punches, but can I?
Here I am writing a new chapter in my book of life. Everything I knew until now was going to change. ADHD does not just affect the person who is diagnosed; it isn’t just a diagnosis, it affects my son at home, school, and socially. This is my emotional journey navigating through my son’s ADHD.
OVERVIEW OF ADHD
Allow me to provide a little overview on what ADHD is. ADHD is short for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder which is a chronic condition which includes symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
I had no idea what was going on, but I did see a child who had plummeting grades and consistently seemed disorganized. So different from the person that I knew. Often as parents we assume the worst, and again, my thoughts should have been ‘innocent till proven guilty.’
What I need to do now is forgive myself for trying to be a parent too much and pushing on him so hard. In order to purge how badly I feel, I am hoping that I reach other parents struggling with the same issues and hopefully light a candle light down a path to help you.
There’s nothing more frustrating than talking to a wall and the battle with unknown ADHD is just that. Read more of my journey.
MY EMOTIONAL JOURNEY NAVIGATING THROUGH ADHD
We have a fun-loving son, who always smiles, constantly chats, who does well in school, but was exhibiting behaviors that we later learned are typical of ADHD.
Repeated patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity were all just the norm for our son, but little did we know that his typical behaviors were interfering with his functioning and development.
We mistook his continual chatter for the norm, chalking it up to ‘he’s really talkative to the point of exhausting.’ His inattention was proven over and over again when asked to complete a chore and yet the task was never completed.
I assumed he was being a typical boy at his age. For example, I would get extremely upset finding baskets of wet laundry sitting waiting for the dryer, rather than placed in the dryer, and then I would just complete the task.
Impulsive interruptions to things I would say would be terribly derailing to a conversation and met with punishment for being disrespectful because I was working against the forces of an unseen blockade and did not know any different.
At hockey practice I would watch my child standing on the blue line listening to the coach, squirming, continuing to move around, unable to stand still. Knowing his passion for the sport I found this unbelievable as I figured he would want to learn more.
However, his attention span was definitely not available. Like I said, we were unaware of my son’s ADHD, so I had no idea that the behaviors I had accepted for years were related to his ADHD.
My son who does well in school was suddenly exhibiting some strange behaviors. We would later learn that his ability to concentrate was invaluable and doable in elementary school because the classes were not nearly as rigorous as middle school.
Teachers, well one in-particular felt he was not behaving properly. I will give you a hint right now, THAT teacher and I had words in front of the vice principal and principal, as he had done something so ignorant to a CHILD that I called him out. No need for teachers to take out frustration on child. Trust me, this TEACHER will never do this again, and he apologized.
Since I have spent a lot of time in school (teaching Spanish), I know how upsetting it can be when a child who normally produces suddenly changes direction in attitude. However, to me, it was always an indicator either something at home was wrong or at school.
Never would a single out a child in a classroom, say some awful things and hope to embarrass. Now this teacher’s world was rocked and I assure you he will NEVER make an assumption again. Let’s continue our story.
MIDDLE SCHOOL TRANSITION
As a parent I took corrective action, to make the difference. You know I was not going to let this just happen. We knew he was capable of so much better, yet it was not happening in his day-to-day life production.
For forgetting homework, I made him prep his bag the night before. For studying, I kept him under my thumb at the center island in the kitchen as I prepared dinner. I believed that if I could watch him do the work, he would be more accountable.
As a resulting punishment for both faltering grades and not doing homework privileges were stripped, so I took away PlayStation and his iPad.
Epic Parenting Fail
Despite taking away privileges, there was no difference with his schoolwork. I was missing something. Again, what was happening with my son became an emotional journey, navigating through ADHD, because I had no idea some of his behaviors could be associated with ADHD. I felt like I parented wrong and I felt awful once he was diagnosed.
TEACHER PANEL MEETING
I met with my son’s teachers one morning, and we all openly and honestly communicated about my son. Everyone loves his fun-going, positive, upbeat personality, and they complimented me on how well-mannered and respectful he was, but his overactive ‘blabbing’ was not something they loved, as it served as a distraction.
Excuses for missing homework were not accepted and, in fact, the teachers said he simply had it in his bag and did not turn it in. His lack of focus in the classroom was leading to the inability to complete assignments.
He was missing critical information, as he asked for a bathroom pass at the most crucial moments. Offers to meet with him in the morning went unrevealed as he never told me, nor had the teachers communicated, so I had no way to know.
THE MOMENT EVERYTHING CHANGED
Towards the end of our meeting, everything came together. After all the discussions about what we had been facing, the counselor of 20+ years suggested we visit and discuss with our doctor. The teachers were wise, a strong advisory board,and pointed me in the proper direction. I agreed a professional evaluation was needed.
Was my son diagnosed with ADHD by a trained healthcare professional? Yes. Since receiving his diagnosis and treatment plan, he was able to better manage his ADHD. Unfortunately medicine is involved because, due to necessity.
The first meds were not helpful and they created a very different human being. After close monitoring, my doctor switched the medicine. We learned that large doses and small doses make a difference but opposite of how medicine normally works.
In fact a big person may need less where a smaller person may need more. It’s about how the body uses it, not height or weight. Very different from any other medicine we have ever used. Again, we worked with our doctor very closely month after month, with visits and calls. Once we found the formula that best worked, we were off to the races.
It took about 6 weeks and suddenly his world (and mine were turning around). He doesn’t make as many excuses about why he hasn’t done his homework and he’s been able to contribute more to discussions in the classroom. Sometimes his teachers email me and let me know he’s doing well and they’re very proud of him!
We learned from our doctor that there is now a more advanced awareness of ADHD and how to manage the needs of individual patients. While there is no cure for ADHD, there are multiple treatment options. You need to work with your medical provider and call if you notice radical changes in behavior for the worse.
While we listened to our school professionals, only a trained healthcare provider can diagnose ADHD. There are many ways to manage your ADHD symptoms including behavioral interventions, counseling, and/or medication.
Trust me we have tried all of them, to get the best possible help to keep him on a path that works for his case. Everyone is different so you need to spend the time sorting it all out. It’s not a one size fits all, and there are different extremes.
Don’t just settle for how things are, get the help you need. We monitor his grades and all of the little things that used to make it so difficult, and when I see a change we discuss it with our doctor.
Living With ADHD
If you think this is not real, then you are thinking wrong. There is help and while you may not want medications to treat, you will see a difference.