This post is part of a paid sponsorship by Shire Pharmaceuticals. All opinions are my own.
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.
A new book was about to be written on parenting because 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.
Did you know that an estimated 10.5 million adults and 6.4 million children in the U.S. are currently living with ADHD? This means there’s a pretty good chance that it impacts someone you know. ADHD symptoms may occur at home, work, school and/or in social settings. It can be helpful to learn the settings where a person’s ADHD symptoms occur and how to manage the needs of each individual.
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, but 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.
MIDDLE SCHOOL TRANSITION
As a parent I took corrective action, to make the difference.
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.
HUGE 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, after all the discussions about what we had been facing, the counselor of 20+ years and her staff suggested we have him head to our doctor. The teachers were wise, a strong advisory board, pointing me in the proper direction to get him professionally evaluated.
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. 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!
A TREATMENT OPTION
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. One option is medication. There is an extended-release treatment option for patients with ADHD called Mydayis® (mixed salts of a single-entity amphetamine product) which is indicated for the treatment of ADHD in patients 13 years and older. It is important to know that Mydayis is not for children 12 and younger. Remember, Mydayis and other stimulant medicines have a high chance for abuse and dependence. Your doctor should check you or your child for signs of abuse and dependence before and during treatment with Mydayis. It is important to know that Mydayis is a federally controlled substance because it contains amphetamine. You’ll find more important safety info below.
Learn more at mydayis.com/teens if you are looking for more info for your child.
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. Talk with your doctor to determine what option is best for you or your child, as medication is not appropriate for everyone with ADHD. The diagnosis is made utilizing criteria specified in the DSM-5®*. Diagnosis should be based on a complete history and evaluation of the patient. Listen, learn and be active in helping throughout the diagnosis process. The journey towards finding the most appropriate treatment option for them could be a step towards helping better manage their ADHD symptoms.
*DSM-5 is a registered trademark of the American Psychiatry Association.