I am raising an ADHD child. I’m a no stigma type of gal so I feel it best to share my experience. Especially for those of you moms just finding out. Let me first off start by saying what you will read in every blog… this is not your fault, this has zero to do with your parenting, and lastly you WILL get through this. ADHD is a gift that you have to tear through many layers… picture the gag gift that is a box within a box within a box within a box *you get the drift….to get to this magnificent being, your child. The key is you have to get past the “blame game” and move towards a “game plan”. This is a constant work in progress but with LOTS of research, I know how us google moms are *insert eye roll*, you will come out with a trove of information that will help guide you along. Of course its ever changing. It’s constant research and reading. Think of it as “continuing education”. So here is my story/journey … to be continued of course as my son is only 12.
Infancy to preschool:
The one thing absorbed from a nurse in the maternity ward was as follows… “put your baby on a schedule”….. I did just that. Eat, sleep, play same time at a specific time, every day. Routine from the get go. Posted on the fridge as well.. I know. I’ll get further in to detail the importancey of this later.
From the moment I could feel my son I knew he would be lively. Boy was I right! From birth David was very active and an over acheiver. Excelled at tummy time, picked up blocks, extreme fine motor skills 2.0 to say the least. Met all his health milestones in spades. Crawled, rolled, sat up super fast.. in fact he was full on walking at 10 months. Ask anyone. His first word was “light” as in pointing at a lamp… it was the craziest thing EVER. LOL and then momma dadda followed daysssss later. It’s important to note as well that I am a working mom. Full time. Daycare played a major roll in my son’s upbringing just like any working mother. Once David was about 3 several traits stood out very prominently. For one he was very territorial, he could do no wrong. Secondly he would flat out misbehave and had a very difficult time following directions. Overly rambunctious. This was brought up to the pediatrician, however at the preschool level there is no gage and merely chalked up as “the age”. Ok. We move along.. disciplining, time out etc.
Hi ho hi ho! Off to kindergarten we go! When David began kindergarten I took it on to be the class “mom”, why? Honestly? I knew my son would be a handful and it was the least I could do. Yes, I wanted to spend the extra time with him, but understand; this is pre any diagnosis. And the stigma was real in my HEAD. It became very apparent in my own observations, but now to a third party education specialist, that David was struggling. Often he had a very hard time transitioning from one activity to the next, almost as though he would fixate in one activity and be having such a great time he did not want to move on to the next. There were many times when he would have a spat with a classmate that would sorely end with David being sent to the guidance counselor in tears. Academically he did well if it was something he had already mastered. Anything that required extra effort would throroughly frustrate David. Many times those frustrating assignments ended up crumpled and discarded. David did pick up reading very quickly and aced his math and spelling tests. Again if he was prepared, and rest assured I as his mother knew he struggled, so we studied our tails off.
Needless to say kindergarten was a bit rough. My husband and I though looked at it more to the effect that the teacher was young and did not have school age children herself yet. Yada Yada Yada. Because if there was an issue he would not be doing well academically….??? Right?!?!? Meanwhile we enrolled him in T-ball. Dad was one of the coaches. David had fun, however for the “outside of the routine factor”. He had zero interest in the game, paying attention, or following direction. There were occasional moments of clarity and reward. I would not trade those times for nothing. This lasted 3 seasons total as when your child does not follow proper instruction baseball doesn’t really stay fun for anyone, most importantly to the player.
First grade. The beginning of sharpening the tools. Davids first grade teacher was on her 20th year teaching first grade. Definitely a different style teacher than the prior year. She was a lively teacher and allowed David the freedom to move about and granted him many, many mulligans in the discipline department. She saw something in him and wanted us to have him tested for gifted so of course we agreed. He did not meet the mark by literally 5 points. Which was fine because he was already to be grouped with that class due to his high test scores. For us first grade flew and definitely did not sting as much as kindergarten. I solely attribute this to his teacher.
Second grade, I like to say was an awakening. Curriculum became more rigorous, the school began switching children around for each core class based on test scores… this meant David had 3 different teachers AND the “specials/extra” class teachers as well. This became very overwhelming to him. This year was the toughest year to date. Weekly phone calls, placed on a behavior plan, numerous conferences. Punishment after punishment, sleepless night after sleepless night and worry after worry… I spoke with David’s pediatrician and his thoughts were as follows ..”he himself was always misunderstood and in the corner…this is the age and he will grow out of this.” But the truth is David was having a really hard time, and this was affecting him. David’s main ADHD struggle was his impulsivity. Eventually this impulisvity caused David make a huge mistake resulting in major disciplinary action that involved being expelled from the public school after school program.
Since we got little to no direction from the pediatrician I googled ADHD therapy and stumbled across a local psychologist. We began weekly visits. This yielded nothing, honestly. I felt David was way to young to truly vocalize feelings and you can really only say “you understand that was not the correct thing to do, and it’s best if you think a thought through before turning into an action” so many times. However we kept at it for well over 6 months. Locally for us the charter school movement was in full effect. And luckily… (or rather impulsively.. I’ll get into that later), I began exploring switching schools. I went to an open house at the “sister” charter school to learn more about their curriculumn and what separated them from public schools. The administrator praised the fact that they had lower class sizes, and that school lasted an hour longer to insure the kids had recess time… That appealed to me TREMENDOUSLY.. you know because recess was the reason for my son’s impulsiveness.. lol ;0) I’m sure you get where I’m going with this…. And with that the decision was made that we would pull David from public school and he would attend charter.
Third grade. We start charter school. Exciting! The first several weeks went very hectic. I’d like to think it was due to the new school just opening and they were getting their wheels oiled… Soon enough though David settled in to the new school, routine.. and the phone calls would begin. Don’t get me wrong, David had many GREAT days, however the bad days always seemed to overshadow any positives. There were several times that the school could not get David under control, forcing me or dad to have to leave work to go and pick him up. One time I took him back to work with me, and he sat in the corner of my office the remaining day. Zero remorse. And let me address what you are thinking……Trust me. There was no spare the rod in our house. Discipline does exist. However you have to understand when you see your child unabashed by any sort of discipline you know something is wrong. When school ended I was relieved, yet stressed. With the ending of school meant the beginning of summer camp. Reluctantly David has been attending this same school since he was 3, that does bring some weight. It really does.
Please continue reading about our journey here..