Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Grandpa Died & Hell Broke Loose

A teen boy is heartbroken. He was in the small, dark apartment when his grandfather breathed his last breath. He was distracted with the computer but he was fully aware of what was happening. We had only 3 weeks to say our goodbyes after finding out grandpa was so ill. Bobby visited grandpa several times before that sad Saturday evening when he took his last breath. Even that day Bobby had looked over at the couch and said, "Hi grandpa," and grandpa opened one eye, raised his weak hand and waved at Bobby. That would be his last wave. The next week is now a blur of activity. I remained in Seattle to make memorial plans with my sister & Bobby went home with Dad. He was facing deep pain and confusion and his mom wasn't around to help him face it. If we could rewind time we would remove Bobby from that apartment but it's not to be. What happens when you see the pain you've allowed your own child to experience? You learn and grow from it. Bobby understands deeply the pain of death. Death of a special relative. He didn't understand it at the time and withdrew into his own dark world. School, teachers & parents were enemies and nothing brought him to the light. Fairly speaking it was ugly. It became one discipline issue after another and ended with something pretty serious. That issue will not be spelled out here but suffice it to say we as parents had to take serious action & we did. This is where ADHD becomes more related to ODD & teen delinquent behavior. Not thinking, impulsivity etc are all related to behaviors so this is no surprise to any of us. Now what?
Here's what happened. We ran into some friends who said, "How's everything?" At the end of that 30 minute conversation in a local grocery store we were given hope. Our friend had recently retired from her therapist position of 20 years. Jen (pseudonym) was now life-coaching locally & wanted to see what she could do to help our son. A light flickered at the end of a very long tunnel. After session 3, Jen approached us with the idea of genetic testing. This is a well-studied scientific/medical area but still clouded with controversy in some minds. We talked & read up & decided we didn't want to know predispositions to diseases but we did want to attempt to better-understand our boy's brain function.
 We made the appointment with a trusted Psychiatric NP. Skip forward thru a lot of details, paper work, some investment (worth it) & doctor visits. There was a need to be patient and work with the process. I wasn't always patient but I worked with that process.
Six months later our almost 15 year old son is a happy, energetic, cooperative (mostly) young man. He is a teen who has opinions and expresses them. We argue. We argue loudly sometimes but not for long. I do not see the extensive ADHD symptoms Bobby once had. I see the ADD in academically-related areas. However, this summer he built his own computer from mostly used ebay parts! (And he's below grade level still in Math & Writing, mind you.)
My boy is smart. He is going places. An adult friend of ours recently said of Bobby, "this kid is going far in life. There's no question he will do big things!" Love this. Blogging now has turned a corner. Only now am I willing to go back and read blogs from several years ago. It was far too painful. But as we look toward the future it is bright.
I thank Bobby first for working hard for his own success.  I thank my husband for going the journey with me. I particularly thank Jen, Bobby's life coach for gaining his confidence, pulling him out of his dark corners & getting him ready for life! She goes above and beyond. We also thank his Psychiatric NP who opened up a whole new medical world to us that has been worth the journey. Adderall and Ritalin did nothing for our family like this natural treatment has.
Going forward. High School. More to be experienced. More to be learned. Freshman year likely a challenging one but hey, challenges bring growth. We're growing. I love this boy all around the world and to the moon and back. I will always advocate as I always have. Love you, Bobby!

Why No Blogging for 7 Months?

Let's jump right in. Last fall our world fell apart. The journey had never been easy but so many things began to crash around us. It was clear that our focus would not be on Bobby for awhile. To get the ball rolling, his grandpa was suddenly diagnosed with a terminal illness. Within 3 weeks of hearing this news we watched him pass. There will be a separate blog just about that experience. It was a very sad time. Then I was sick for 2 months & couldn't shake my illness.  Our sometimes reckless teen began to respond to the needs in his heart. He was acting out. His actions and words were heartbreaking. We then spent 3 very painful months addressing our son's needs from the inside out. Thankfully, those steps brought relief into our home. More on that later. Just as our world was beginning to feel a bit of calm, my dear friend and co-teacher in 1st grade died in a car accident. She was 39. The darkness that engulfed me for the entire winter immediately smothered my life. Every step was a challenge. We've all felt pain. Recovering from that pain takes time and baby steps. Now that time has begun to heal, I have to share the wonderful news about improvement in our Bobby's 14 (almost 15) year old life! Watch for the next blog post. And thanks for reading. I love this kid to the moon and back...forever!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Charlotte's ODD Web?

The picture of bouncing wildness has shifted in the past year to one of defiance and opposition. Every single (and I truly mean EVERY) request of ours seems to hit a a barricade of willfulness. We are slyly distracted away from the point at hand through a lengthy exchange of words and wills. Our son no longer presents many symptoms of ADHD but strong ODD or rather, Oppositional Defiance Disorder. From what I've read, these behavior labels regularly go hand in hand.

So here's the deal. Just when I feel we've begun to get a hold on the ADHD, it all shifts to a completely new bunch of stuff. I'm not humored by this one bit but that's extreme parenting for you. Should my blog title be Charlotte's ODD Web instead? Or maybe I should leave the title alone so those readers who are dealing with ADHD can transition into this ODD thing with me?

Some days I'm so frustrated with figuring out this behavior and what I can do about it. That's a lie. Most days. I'm sad and overwhelmed. For him. For us. For his teachers. It's hard and painful. He hates being told "no." He's angry at even his shadow. He rarely stays respectful and quiet for longer than 15 minutes unless in front of a screen... Which in our home is rare and earned.

More rules? Stiffer consequences? No privileges? Rewards and incentives? Teen boot camp? Argggg. I just shake my head while I begin another journey. A trek through piles of book titles, methods and blogs. Why didn't I start this a year ago when it all became more intense? Maybe because I was in denial but more likely because I thought it would end like it began.....suddenly.

I love my 14 yr old Bobby. I don't like this path and I probably hate the behavior. It raises my blood pressure, quickens my pulse and takes me through a path of tears. When will our home just be calm and just what is "normal?"  ADHD to ODD - I'm on this journey of labels determined to understand this second one. For myself but even more for him.

I have learned a couple things already... It takes strong strategies to deal with ODD in our parenting. Firmness with love, consistency and a willingness to help these kids become successful at thinking about reasons for doing things and consequences. We can't argue. We state facts. We can NOT get sidetracked by their sly excuses and blaming. These kids need to be trained carefully to engage with and respect adults and kids. Important discussions must be put aside if the child is hostile, but not aside for good. We need to listen and praise successes they make in their growth. I'm learning. I'm reading a lot. More later. Stay tuned......

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Conversations About the Driver's License

Boys and cars. Roads carved from sand and dirt. Hot wheels tracks. Riding on Dad's lap to the mailbox. Steering. "Varoooom" and "beep-beep" through the house and out the back door. The quest for that paper license began at birth. But are our adhd kids ready for this great big responsibility at 15? Every parent surely asks this question.

I started the driving "lessons" with Bobby years ago. Little "teach-to" conversations while we rode together in the car. Talking about safety.  Staying focused and sharp. Pointing out stupid-driver actions that we see and what we could do under those circumstances.

We began telling Bobby maturity and control were needed before he would have even a permit. Maturity and control in other settings-school, town, home. He knows what needs to happen and when he makes good decisions and shows wisdom I do try to point that out to him.

Will these things help Bobby be a better driver? Can't hurt. Impulsive kids struggle so much in all areas of their lives. We parents are struggling to help them.  Bobby likely won't be ready for a permit at 15. I don't see a license right after his 16th birthday. For now we'll stick with the motorcycle in the pasture. He's got a couple more years...Wasn't it just yesterday I bought all those hot wheels?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

"Just A Boy" or ADHD?

He's 13 now. We've been collecting stories of our experience for years and any "one" of those stories could be plucked from the bio of any modern-day American boy. Or any boy, really. The truth is, these stories are our existence. Day-to-day and hour-by-hour. Our boy shoots from the hip, then thinks. This thinking is only present if the outcome of the situation has affected him in any adverse way. Otherwise, there is no time for reflection as the next "event" is already under way. to capture this energy and force into good doesn't happen simply by desire.
Bobby's dad and I talk throughout every single day, of ways we can reach him and work to motivate good. Often our first words are "Is Bobby up?" or "Where is Bobby" and as we fall asleep, if we aren't saying these same words, we are no-doubt thinking them. Because of the intensity of Bobby's behavior in spite of diligent and continual efforts on our part, we have agreed with our physician's diagnosis of ADHD. Yes, Bobby's "just a boy." Just a boy with ADHD.
If I could look into the future I would not see calm at any point in his life, not for the next few decades. As for hyperactivity & misbehavior, I pray that with consistent boundaries, modeling appropriate life behaviors and regular outlets for exercise, our son will grow into a young man who is proud of his place in life and what he accomplishes. In the last 2 weeks Bobby has managed to get into his normal share of trouble in and out of school. We've talked, worked through and resolved numerous infractions, the details of which are unimportant here. It's the stuff we parents go through with our special kids.
Some days I laugh and some days I cry. I never know ahead what's coming. Maybe that's good. But what I do know is one day at a time is best and sometimes I take it all minute-by-minute. Right now he is sleeping. I think. It's quiet anyway.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Think First, Think First, Think First!

Oh my word this can make me crazy! I'm not going to edit this blog entry a bit. Shooting from the hip. This is what it's like to do something without thinking first! Right here. Sigh. I work every moment I'm with Bobby, to teach him how to think before doing things. Look at the angles. Weigh the consequences. Learning to do this would save us many "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?" conversations.
Case in point...the bicycle. The very nice bike. The one he rode down the ditch bank last month. As the sun was setting his tire was getting lower and lower. His decision--just leave the bike there until morning. Run home. Forget to mention to Mom and Dad. After all, he would remember this the next day. Of course he would. I haven't a clue when Bobby remembered to go back and retrieve his bicycle. The details are still in question. But the fact remains, the bike is gone for good.
What sort of discipline for a 13 year old who leaves their bike out without a care in the world? Very easy at our house. If he wants another one, he'll work, save and buy the next one. Bobby has just begun riding in Duathlons. He'll be wanting a bike soon. In the meantime, I'll get back to drilling in the thoughts, "think first, think first, think first!" Some day he'll get it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sneakin' & Lyin'

ADHD doesn't have a corner on lying kids. A real universal issue here and common at one point or another in the life of a child. However, these super-charged & impulsive kids have such a hard time thinking things through that the lying and sneaking around happen almost before they realize what they've done. Then they begin "covering" everything which buries them deeper in the problem. We've seen this catapult into the red-flag zone in recent months and our frustration isn't hidden from our son. We've talked. We've prayed. I've cried. All I want with all my heart is for him to know how much we love and care for him; how much we will do to help him grow in positive ways. We want Bobby to make good choices on his own without any hazardous detours. Tall order but we have hope.

My heart goes through periods of calm but recently I've been overwhelmed by Bobby's sneakiness and lying. He's frustrated with this "in-between" stage called 13. Not a young child and not a young adult. Changes. Hormones. It's crazy around here but there is a whole lot of good stuff going on as well.  My son is smart, witty, handsome, curious and hilarious. He can take things apart--AND put them back together. Everyone loves his smile, especially me. Lots of good stuff here..... We're building up the strengths & trying to break down those weaknesses and one day we'll look back and see it was worth it all.

Bobby has pulled on my heartstrings for 13 years now. In spite of the challenges, I'm in this with determination. Bobby, some day you may read this story of our journey. I never write something I wouldn't want you to see. I write in truth and love. I hope you see that. I love you to the moon and back several times--and that is no lie!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Matching Socks-Why the Fuss?

Bobby spends little of his precious time contemplating details. While recently driving through town I noticed he was wearing one black sock and a white one. "Really?" I quizzed. "How is it that a 13 year old can't pick out 2 socks that match?" Without thinking a second, he replied, "Mom, people won't even see my white sock. They'll be too busy looking at my black one." A child with ADHD generally does not care about details of clothing or details of anything really, for that matter. They are charging through life without a plan or a care in the world. Fitting into the "norm" of society is the furthest thing from their minds and yet we hound them 24/7 to make an effort.

When Bobby was about 3 years old he realized that the outside of his socks was the softest part and he promptly turned the socks inside-out so his skin would be next to that fluffy softness. He is 13 and has to this day never worn a pair of socks right-side-out. I guess socks etiquette really isn't his bag.

This boy marches to the beat of his own drumming band. He's got his own priorities and preferences.  He is impulsive and strong-willed but melts my heart with his mischievous smile & big brown eyes. Love you, Buddy! (To the moon and back!)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Guest Blog by Author Jackie Minniti

Parents and Teachers – Partners in the Process

     It’s been almost thirty years, but I can still remember the “Eureka!” moment when I first learned about ADHD. Dr. Carlo Mellini was speaking to the faculty about a neurobehavioral condition recently identified as Attention Deficit Disorder. I was teaching kindergarten at the time, and every year, I’d notice few kids (usually boys) who seemed bright but were so distractible they had trouble functioning. As Dr. Mellini spoke, I realized that an “attention deficit” was exactly what I was seeing. Even though there was no extensive body of research back then (and no Internet!), from the little I could find, I realized that these students faced unique challenges in the traditional classroom. I also became convinced that there were things teachers could do to help them. I decided to test some ideas while studying for my Master’s degree. The results of my thesis project showed that some simple strategies could help ADHD students improve. Since ADHD currently affects over 9% of school-age children, it’s more important than ever to find ways to work with them. Here are some things parents and teachers can do. 

Don’t take their impulsive behavior personally. Children with ADHD often say or do things without thinking about the consequences. 

Involve your child in activities that will boost self-esteem. Dealing with the problems associated with ADHD can cause feelings of guilt, hopelessness, failure, and depression. Try to identify the child’s strengths or talents, and think of ways to capitalize on them. 

Ask the teacher not to discipline your child by singling him/her out. Students with ADHD tend to be sensitive about their behavior. Calling attention to them can increase their feelings of frustration, and stress can make the behavior worse. 

Suggest that the teacher use a discreet signal to help refocus your child’s attention. Children with ADHD are often unaware that their attention is wandering. A gesture (like a tap on the shoulder or a predetermined “secret sign”) can serve as a reminder to stay on task. Parents can do this too. The discreet signal can eliminate the nagging cycle that often triggers oppositional behavior. It also puts the focus on changing the behavior, not criticizing the child. 

Help your child learn to express feelings more appropriately. Kids with ADHD are often unaware of how their behavior affects others and have difficulty “reading” people. Activities like conflict resolution, modeling or role-playing can help. So can teaching them to use “I” statements (ex. “I get upset when you stare at me” instead of “Quit staring at me!”) 

Ask the teacher to seat your child where distractions are minimized, like the front of the class and away from windows and doors. Provide a distraction-free study area at home, away from the TV, where you can monitor your child’s work. 

Help your child get organized. Suggest that he/she:
-Write down all assignments, and cross them off when finished;
-Clip all completed homework papers together where they’re easily accessible (like the inside front cover of the assignment book) and in the order they’ll be needed;
-Note important due dates, test dates, etc. on a calendar and cross off each day;
-Use different colored folders to separate work into subjects.
- Ask the teacher if he/she would be willing to sign your child’s assignment book each day to verify that all assignments have been copied correctly. Then you can sign the book when you’ve seen the completed work. The assignment book can also serve as a communication link between parent and teacher. If either has any questions or concerns, they can be noted in the assignment book. 

Break down large tasks into smaller components. Kids with ADHD often have trouble managing time and can become overwhelmed if a task seems too complex. Focus on a single part of a task for a limited time (timers can be helpful here); take a break; then go on to the next. Tackle difficult jobs first, and save the easiest ones for last.

While these strategies can help ADHD students, the most important element in the equation is finding an understanding teacher who is willing to work with them and with their parents. This parent-teacher-student partnership is an unbeatable combination for school success.

Jackie has documented some of her classroom experiences in a novel titled Project June Bug, winner of several book awards, including a Mom’s Choice Award for Parenting/Special & Exceptional Needs. Project June Bug is available in paper or e-book from Amazon or any online bookseller. It can also be ordered through your favorite bookstore or Jackie’s website at

Thank you, Jackie, for sharing these great tips for parents & teachers! I value your experience and insight!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Guest Blog by Katherine Ellison

"Katherine Ellison is a Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative journalist, former foreign correspondent, writing consultant, author of five books, and mother of two sons...." (taken from Reading this entry has warmed my heart and put a smile on my face. Kindred spirits we are. Check out this youtube clip:  Thank you for stopping by, Katherine!

From Katherine Ellison: As anyone who has read my ADHD memoir knows, my dear, brilliant, first-born son, referred to as “Buzz,” has caused me lots of aggravation. Along with that, however, has come the silver lining of extraordinary friendships with other mothers in the same boat . We’re like wry war veterans, vying to outdo each other with our stories of blood and gore. No one who hasn’t been in our shoes could possibly understand us like we can. Take Cindy – a nom de mom – whom I met when Buzz was just starting kindergarten. She and I share a diagnosis of adult ADHD , but have been super-organized, through the years, in collecting and trading referrals for therapists, tutors, and, alas, on more than one occasion, lawyers. During crises, like the time her son spent a night in juvenile hall for something that actually wasn’t his fault, or the time my son came home unexpectedly from a planned school trip to Costa Rica, for something that was, we’ve called each other up to eight times a day, usually just to say, “Are you okay?” I read somewhere that when mothers were asked their favorite coping method, the most common answer was “red wine.” For me, it’s often schadenfreude, that admittedly vaguely antisocial sensation of taking a little bit of pleasure in someone else’s misfortune. Moms of difficult kids often generously exert ourselves to offer it to each other. When Buzz got suspended from high school for the second time in a month for talking back to his teachers, my friend Mary (another nom de mom) eagerly shared a story about her son, who had recently been arrested – by a SWAT team – after carrying a pellet gun down a city street. In a world of bumper stickers boasting about honor students, this rare camaraderie, also reflected in the website-turned-movement, “Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid,” is a balm. Jill Bolte Taylor, in her entertaining TED talk about the teenage brain, concludes with the motto she offers parents: “Just keep ‘em alive ‘til 25.” It’s easier said than done, when half the time you want to strangle them yourself. For mothers of difficult kids, the teenage years are of course particularly full of stress and peril, with the light at the end of the tunnel of their living at home sometimes all too faint. What keeps me on my feet is the support from these brave gals who know me better than anyone. We never have to tell each other how much we love our kids; that’s understood. We can also talk about how much we want to kill them without our friends calling the police. Friendship –and of course the capacity to laugh about what in any other context would be major embarrassments – puts it all in perspective, holds us together, and makes up for quite a lot. Katherine Ellison was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 48. She is the author of five books, most recently “Square Peg: My Story and What it Means for Raising Innovators, Visionaries, and Out-of-the-Box Thinkers.” and Healthline - Connect Here

Friday, October 18, 2013

Where Is The Snake?

"Mom, my snake is missing!" There was no doubt in my mind Bobby was telling the truth. Nothing surprises me any more. I hate snakes. All of them. Even if they are harmless little ones." The idea that at any point I may now stumble upon a snake inside my own home, makes me angry beyond belief. I told him only an hour earlier that I wanted his newest pet taken outdoors. We had argued about this because it is getting cold outside and Bobby was concerned for his reptile's safety. I told him he could keep him in the garage where there was some heat. But alas, this conversation is now behind us.
The "Attention Deficit" portion of the ADHD looms in the face of such circumstances. There are lots of kids out there who really can't focus on the details necessary to raising pets. They are so excited about the idea they become caught up in that excitement and any awareness of details such as shutting & locking cages is tossed aside.
Bobby, you're a super-cool kid but really!  This is over the top and Mom isn't very happy about it. I usually save the end of my blog entries for something like "I love you to the moon and back," but tonight I reserve the right to wish that in 20 years when you have a bunch of your own kids, one of them loses a snake in your house. That would be Bobby Jr.  Can't wait to meet him. I'll love him to the moon and back too,  I'm sure!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The 13 Best ADHD Health Blogs of 2013

Thank you, Healthline, for your recent acknowledgement of my ADHD blog! I will admit, I know little about how you make this determination but thank you.

(From The 13 Best ADHD Health Blogs of 2013:

1. The CHADD Leadership Blog
2.'s ADD/ADHD Blog
3. a mom's view of ADHD
4. ADD Moms
5. ADDitude Magazine's ADHD Parenting Blog
6. Charlotte's ADHD Web
7. ADDitude Magazine's ADHD Expert Blog
8. Dr. Stephen Ferrari's Attention Deficit Disorder Blog
9. ADHD Management
10. ADDerworld
11. Totally ADD Blog
12. My ADD/ADHD Blog
13. Mungo’s ADHD

Check out all of these great resources!