Friday, December 31, 2010

"Yeah Right, You Didn't Do It"

Rapscallion, scoundrel, whippersnapper, hooligan - labels generally reserved for boys who are up to no good. They have established for themselves a reputation. My ADHD boy is fast, sneaky and naughty. I don't deny the charges. Honestly, I may have used one or two of those titles over the years as well. Unfortunately, everything that gets broken or is missing gets slammed on THEM. I'm learning to ask some questions before assuming Bobby has done the crime.

This morning I was driving him across town to hang out with a mentor-buddy for a few hours. I gave him my infamous "You behave, or else" speech. Out of the blue he began to tell me about  a time back several years when he went to a friend's house for an hour or two after school. I had heard this story before so was sorta zoning out when he came to some details I hadn't heard before. He told me how they were missing a game boy and were certain HE had taken it. (Not sure where they thought he had it. Pockets were empty.) But what he now remembers that I didn't know before was that he was sent to the couch in time out while not one, but both parents stood in front of him demanding he fess up. He recalls telling them over and over how he didn't have it and them not believing him.

I do remember the parent calling me to report all the drama of older child screaming through the house that my son had taken this thing. I promised if I got anything out of him I'm call. A few days later they let us know the game boy was found. Surprise - my son wasn't guilty.

Bobby was upset TODAY about this old story. I explained how they told me long ago it wasn't his fault and what he said hit me hard: "Mom, they never apologized to me." OUCH. He was right and I learned more lessons on this ADHD roller-coaster:
1) These kids have deep feelings.
2) They get blamed a lot for things they didn't do.
3) They should be heard.
4) He's not the only one who makes mistakes. (Great opportunity for me to teach him that everyone makes mistakes. Not just him!)
5) He can learn to forgive as well.

Here's to less blame & more forgiveness.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christian Comedian Jeff Allen On ADHD

Hilarious! Sometimes ya just need to laugh. This ADHD road is intense and I'm becoming more and more aware of the need to stand back and see things from a different perspective. (Generally not when my son's awake.) My husband and I stumbled upon Jeff Allen's ADHD clips on YouTube. Jeff's material is ingenius & so much fun to watch.

He talks about taking one of his sons to kindergarten on the first day of school. The teacher said what most teachers say when they meet the parents for the first time. "We're going to have a great year!" He and his wife left laughing while planning to get an answering machine and not answering their phone between 9 and 3 for the rest of their lives. He then went on to tell about another day when the teacher called the house because his son was so out of control. Jeff said "Just let him out the back door. He'll come back when he's tired. That's what we do....." These are just a couple of the highlights. The YouTube version is wonderful!

When we were done watching we knew there are other people who truly understand. There are quite a few coping strategies for me....counselling, reading & the support of family and friends. But I think humor might be right up there near the top of that list! Awww, I'm laughing again!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The 5 Gifts of ADHD - (taken from Lara Honos-Webb's book)

Couldn't wait to FINALLY get this book primarily because of it's positive angle! "The Gift of ADHD," by Lara Honos-Webb, Ph.D, will be at the top of my stack for a while. I can already tell I'm going to like it. She has a private practice in the San Francisco Bay area and has written several books. This particular book is available from: Barnes & Noble Book Store

Here are the "5 gifts of ADHD," according to Dr. Honos-Webb:
(I need to just take these in for a bit.)
1) creativity
2) attunement to nature
3) interpersonal intuition
4) energetic enthusiasm
5) emotional sensitivity
First off, I have to admit that if you told me a year ago that my son's ADHD was a "gift" I would have said, "If you think this is a gift, you come raise this kid!" But WOW! I can only imagine what this thinking would do for the self-esteem of ADHD kids everywhere, if the adults around them began looking at their issues in a different way. I must add that in no way do I desire to make light of the negative affects of ADHD in our kids and homes. These are real. I have for the past year however, for my own health and my son's, needed to take a hard look at ways to embrace his particular differences.
Here's the common generalization of ADHD kids:
1) Outspoken
2) Headstrong
3) Spun out of control
4) Destructive
5) Inattentive at school

Better go read this book........still pondering how to get this into the hands of every educator and discouraged parent out there!! Hmmm....  Here's to figuring out how to tap those COOL attributes of my tornado-boy!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

All Things In Perspective

I wish things were easier in our home on a day-to-day basis. It would be so nice if Bobby listened & worked with us without so much resistance. I sure wish he wouldn't say things without thinking, especially in front of other people! Days would be easier if we weren't needing to be ahead of him continually. But as I look forward to 2011, I want to put things in perspective:

* We are dealing with something challenging but I'm thankful my son is healthy and not dealing with a terminal illness.
* He can see, hear, walk & talk. (Sometimes it would be nice if he walked and talked more slowly, but I'm putting things in perspective here!)
* He has 2 older sisters, brother & brother-in-law who all care deeply about him and watch out for his good.
* My husband and I have each other. I can't imagine doing this alone!
* Awareness of ADHD treatment & compassion is on the rise.
* Our son has healthy interests in life that occupy more and more of his time. Reading, History, Legos, Fishing.

It's all about perspective. My circumstances aren't changing any time soon. My focus could be on the negative, gloomy side or I can be a positive-thinking mom, shining the spotlight on the good stuff about this son I love so much! I want to choose the latter. (I'll forget all this positive-thinking stuff, I'm sure, but for today, I'm ok.)

30 Ideas for Teaching Children with AD/HD - by Leah Davies

Here is a website with list of 30 ideas for teachers, to assist them in working with ADHD children:  There are 100 more complimentary teacher/counselor articles, parenting handouts, and children's activities located there. (Thanks for this information, Leah Davies!)


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Insane Amounts of Arguing!

The battle lines are drawn as I take my position opposite my strong-willed 4th grader. In his mind I swear he pictures me as a speck on the carpet while he towers yards above me, all buff and tough. When he asks a question, I'd better have the "right" answer (his of course) or I'm going to have to stand my ground & prepare to battle to the finish. Well, that's what he thinks. He hasn't caught on to this yet but I went down this "Battle Strong-Will" path long before he ever did & he's met his match! This is kid #4 and I've learned to "pick my battles" but this is a kid who'll argue it's hot outside if it's snowing and 20 below zero. Relentless. I don't think most of his battles are anything worth arguing, but no matter - roll up your sleeves 'cuz he's gonna show you a thing or two.

It's frankly, driving me nuts. Picture it. I walk away pulling my hair out from my head insisting "you're making me crazy!!!" And, I think he believes me. 

What do you do with a kid who argues non-stop? Well, from what I've read, heard and experienced, oppositional-defiance is pretty common with ADHD kids. Here are some strategies I use:

1) Things I want done I state firmly, without asking his opinion. "Please set the table in 10 minutes" not "Could you set the table?"
2) When he asks for something, I don't immediately answer. I tell him I'm thinking about it. The COOL thing about this one is ADHD kids forget things and move on to something else, forgetting they had something to argue about! (I could put MONEY on this one!)
3) If  When he rudely addresses me with an argument I require he restate it in a different way, or go sit and think about another method. A nasty attitude gets him nothing.
4) I remain calm before dealing with his arguments. I couldn't do this with the first few kids!
5) Kids argue. They see it modeled (grin) and they copy. We have to teach them the proper way to have a voice.

Teaching them it's ok to have a voice but to use it properly, well, that takes time, strategic instruction & patience. I'm working on all three.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Project June Bug," by Jackie Minniti

I'm a mom on a mission and reading everything I can get my hands on regarding ADHD. I started my quest with titles like "The AD/HD Parenting Handbook," by Colleen Alexander-Roberts & other such exceptional books filled with helpful suggestions & tools for parents & teachers.

Today however, I read an inspiring, "can't-put-it-down" novel. "Project June Bug" is the first novel I have read in a long time that not only sucked me in and entertained me, but enlightened & inspired me as well. Exceptional writing and a deeply moving book. Really a must for every teacher & parent who works with AD/HD kids.

I went to Jackie Minniti's blog and found this description of her book: "Take an intimate peek behind the faculty room door and an unforgettable journey into the world of ADHD."  Check out her blog:  Jackie Minniti's Blog

I'd love to loan this to everyone who would read it. If you don't get anything done at home, you'll finish it in a day!! (A big thanks to my older kids home from college - for watching their little brother so I could read!)  This book is available through Amazon:  Click HERE

Monday, December 20, 2010

That "Bad Word," MEDICATION

If you've got an ADHD child racing up and down the halls walls of your home, you KNOW what I'm talking about. While medication has gone from almost totally taboo to half-accepted in recent years, the subject brings with it a firestorm of information and advice. I recall well-meaning folk insisting I not medicate Bobby when I hadn't even brought up the subject of meds. (Which confirms it was obvious he needed something!)

The choice to put our child on a medicine that would help calm his nerves & fill in those neuron gaps, causing him to be more successful in school and life in general, came after several years of watching him suffer. Contrary to possible opinions it did not come as a result of us being lazy & selfishly wanting our lives to be easier.  We really thought this whole thing out for a very long time. We read tons & counselled with professionals. We became educated on the side-effects both short & long-term. I teach first grade and realized as a teacher & parent that my child was higher on the ADHD radar than most children I had ever dealt with. We had no choice but to give our son a tool that would help him be successful. We chose Strattera for the first 2 years and now he's on a low dose of Adderall. Do I like that he is medicated? I wish he didn't need to be but if he was Diabetic I would also wish he didn't have to take insulin.

My final thought on ADHD medication is that the decision is up to parents. Nobody but the parents & their physicians fully understand what living with this disorder is like. We are qualified to make the choice & we're the ones who love them the most. Period.

Children Should Be Seen AND Heard

If there was one phrase I hated from my childhood era, it was "Children should be seen and not heard." Whatever!? (To quote from present-day lingo.)  I've got a boy in my house that we can't take our eyes OR our ears off of. If we do, we're mopping up, re-assembling or asking "why'd you do this?" We don't have the luxury of curling up with a good book while he plays wherever he wants. We try to know where he is at all times. (Right now he's being watched by an older cousin who keeps an eagle-eye on him.)  We have to be able to hear him, whether he's chattering to himself, humming a tune or playing crash-cars complete with all the right sounds. He's fairly used to hearing "Where are you going?" when he heads out of the living room/kitchen area of our home. It's a household phrase!

Bobby has a lot to say & needs to be heard in this respect as well. Listening to a boy who talks non-stop, rambling from one random topic to another, isn't always easy but it's our life right now & whether easy or not, we'll buck up and do it. I believe children should be seen and heard. It boils down to one thing. Is there anything more meaningful in our lives?

"Home Alone" And The Bloody Nose

"Pause the movie!" The blood seemed to be pouring out of Bobby's nose as he rushed to the kitchen for a stack of napkins. Last evening we sat to watch yet another fun Christmas movie - "Home Alone." I had serious reservations about allowing my youngest son to watch this movie. The premise ~ Two home burglars making their way through a ritzy Chicago neighborhood while families were on vacation, outwitted by a smart kid who was accidentally left home while his family flew to Paris.

This movie is filled to the brim with slapstick violence inflicted on the "bad guys" by the boy who was left at home. Because our son is quick to memorize story lines and replicate movie scenes, we've intentionally left this one off the "must watch" list each Christmas.  Action movies affect most kids but like everything else, the effects are intensified with ADHD kids! 

"Home Alone" wasn't even over and our boys were wrestling in the recliner when "something" happened. Neither boy recalls exactly what they were doing, (of course not) but Bobby grabbed his face, dashing to the kitchen in pain. Blood was dripping on the floor. Took 30 minutes to end that bloody nose I swear was triggered by watching a "fun" holiday movie. Tonight's movie will be calmer. I'm looking for the 1969 "Frosty the Snowman" right now!

Monday, December 13, 2010

ADD & Loving It - Online Video full of Hope & Comedy!

Click for video:
ADD And Loving It

"The film that started it all, ADD & Loving It?! starring comedian and actor Patrick McKenna. Watch as Patrick gets his own diagnosis and learns from top experts about Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. This ground-breaking documentary is a blend of humour, hope, and science that dispels common myths about ADD/ADHD." Taken from website

I've heard all good things about this video. So far I've just seen the beginning but I'll update when I finish it. Looking forward to seeing some upbeat "stuff" on this run-away freight-train disorder!!

When I find new information that helps me, I can't wait to share it - ENJOY!

Fantastic Website: "A.D.D. Resource Center" Check it out!

I'm pretty excited about this website Dr. Marlow passed along to me this week. Check it out! It's full of great information for everyone associated with kids or adults with ADD or ADHD.

A.D.D. Resource Center
Proven Practical Programs and Services For Dealing With ADD & ADHD


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Teen Mentors - A God-Send

Very recently I heard teenagers going to bat for my son. I was thrilled to hear a different "tune" about Bobby. These two young people clearly want to help him feel accepted & as a mom, my heart is warmed. Most young kids look up to the teens around  them and if the teens are positive role-models, WOW!  Bobby has created for himself a reputation. He started out with destructiveness & insubordination, moving in the past few months into pranks & mouthiness. He is a busy guy, but unfortunately now he's blamed for more things that go wrong than are truly his fault.  Bobby has some good friends but there are other kids who can easily & regularly turn the focus off themselves and quickly on to him! They can also more-slyly, suggest trouble that he will oftentimes eagerly jump into while they disappear from the "action." There are many times when he takes the blame for things he either had little or nothing to do with. These are the things that hurt me as a mom but today I'm feeling pretty thankful for 2 teens who are speaking up for Bobby and showing him kindness. 

It's funny because he just said this week that one of them was really "cool." Yesterday while in the car, out of nowhere came, "Mom, _______ and _________ are so nice. I think they're watching out for me." Who TOLD him? I don't think anyone did - he felt it!

I'm encouraged knowing that a couple of young people Bobby looks up to, believe in him, look past his non-stop talking and mischievousness,  to the neat kid he is.  I hope they know how much this means to him as well as his mom. And maybe some day, Bobby will pay it back. Maybe he'll remember feeling unsuccessful & sad and he will offer a caring hand to younger kids who feel this same way.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mom & Dad - Divorce?

We both work & come home like anyone else....ready for some down-time. Then, after 3 minutes it's right back at it. Laundry, pets, dinner, organization for the next day. Pretty average American family. The list of evening responsibilities for parents is long but it's particularly draining when raising a child you can't ever take your eyes off and have to deliberate with continually. I wouldn't want to do this as a single we probably won't divorce. (I suppose that's not the best reason to stay married.) Raising such a challenging child keeps us focusing on negative things so much of the time it can & does really bring us down. We are forced to discuss frustrating issues often & we find ourselves battling back and forth to be sure we're doing the best thing.  Bobby's bedtime is early for a 10 year old. 8:00pm every school night. The quiet doesn't start immediately 'cuz the average kiddo escapes the  bedroom at least 2 or 3 times before really settling down & we all know Bobby's wilder than average. Once he nuzzles into his 6 blankets, the house does a little shift on it's foundation. All is calm again as peace settles over the entire home. Whew. This is exhausting. No wonder the latest statistics are saying 30% of the parents who are raising ADHD kids, divorce before the child is 8. It's not the child's fault. No study wants to promote that thinking. But with so much frustration and pain, parents don't have the extra time needed to nurture their marriage, plus it's rare when the parents are both on the same page. We're giving it our best shot but it's not easy at all.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Highly Recommend Blake Taylor's Book, "ADHD & Me..."

I've almost finished Blake Taylor's book,  "ADHD & Me - What I Learned From Lighting Fires At The Dinner Table."  It's the first book on ADHD I've heard of, written by a teen. Absolutely fantastic point of view. I particularly appreciate the detailed organizational tools Blake shares that help him be successful in day-to-day life. Author Blake Taylor is currently attending the University of California, Berkeley, and if he's in his 20's even, it's just barely.  As I read his true stories I see my son doing the same things & I imagine those around him sometimes responding positively but sadly, some reacting the same way some adults responded to Blake. (Wonder what they think now when they read his book?)

What an accomplishment Blake Taylor has made writing this insightful book. I'm certain his parents are proud of his contribution to the study of the subject of ADHD. There are dozens of wonderful books written from the professional point-of-view, based on science and research, but this one has a special angle - well-worth the read. I'm sure enjoying it!

*New Harbinger Pubns; 1 edition (February 2, 2008)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How Painful Can 15 Minutes of Homework Be?

Found this cartoon tonight & love it! As both parent & teacher, I have nothing against a small amount of homework. I know that we teachers want to connect the school to the home. I also "get" that we want kids taking Reading from the classroom to the living room and learning to enjoy great books outside school hours. Reinforcing at home the new Math & Writing skills learned in school is paramount to any good education program. (I also know that lots of the homework, including my son's, is due primarily to lack of completion during school hours--because he's occupied his time making paper clip chains & drawing  on scraps of paper.) But my son can turn an easy homework assignment upside down within 30 seconds & he isn't required to do ANYTHING close to what this cartoon portrays! (You'd think he was though by the moaning, groaning, sighing & various ailments he develops during our evening homework sessions!) And, even though I dutifully comply, I don't think I like homework either. It's over for another evening. The dust is beginning to settle and the troops are resting quietly in legoland, far from the site of the horrid experience. I really can't wait to do it again tomorrow.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


From the time I first laid eyes on my baby, I've been in love. As an infant he was calm & full of smiles. Our entire family was smitten by Bobby's big brown eyes and adorable brown curls. He was a "Gerber baby" and we knew the future was bright. It didn't take too many years to realize that all was not going to be smiles & perfection however. Our 4th baby, beautiful as he was & is, bounced to a faster beat. Every naughty "phase" we'd ever heard of, Bobby went through. He grew into a challenging & defiant ball of energy, few could keep up with. Between the 5 of us, (3 older siblings, Dad and Mom) we divided the work load, and it was manageable. 

Then, one by one, the older children headed off to college, marriage & new beginnings, leaving us behind with our busy guy. In some ways, as he got older, we saw maturity and improvement, but in other ways we were still in over our heads. Curious by nature,  he took apart more household and outdoor "stuff" than we could keep up with. He loved spray paint, hammers & saws. He thrived on dumping shampoo, lotion and gel containers on the carpet. And, before one jumps to the conclusion we slept as this all took place...we have to remember his lightning speed. One second he was playing quietly right in the room with us and the next second he had something apart on the floor in another room. Each episode blurrs into another today, but the overwhelming feelings of failing as a parent smothered me just after Bobby turned nine.

Just before Christmas one year ago he wasn't doing anything particularly awful but I had reached a point of despair dealing with his constant impulsivity & hyperactivity. I was depleated. We were in a public setting with friends and as Bobby darted away from my side, randomly grabbing things around the room. I suddenly felt like I was going to be sick & the room began spinning. He was talking about everything and nothing & didn't stand still more than 5 seconds before darting off to something else. I didn't have the coping skills I needed for this. Not wanting anyone to see my tears I took his hand firmly and left for the car. As we drove I cried and he sat quietly. As we drove I dialed directory assistance and got the number for a well-respected family friend, Dr. Marlow, PhD. I knew he had the tools but didn't think before this point, that I needed them. I left a message hoping with all my heart I could get some help before I had one more crisis to face.

As I neared the door to Dr. Marlow's office, for my first visit, the thoughts were swirling in my head. "I just wimped out." "He's going to think I'm crazy." "I can quit after this first visit!" Was I ever wrong. I knew after the first 30 minutes I had come to the right office and the tools I needed WERE THERE. It took months for me to believe I was not a "bad" parent and that my son was not a "bad" child. We were both doing what we could with the tools we had & that was about to change. My time was not wasted & for this I'm extremely thankful.

The path to a healthy self-esteem is not short or easy. My doctor guided me through many steps, including getting healthier myself. I began to exercise again, eat more healthfully & in time, my smile returned.

I know that my experience is not isolated. ADHD is misunderstood & extremely difficult & painful to deal with. Bobby isn't easy to raise nor are the thousands of other "Bobby's" in the world! I'm choosing now to look at it differently & blogging is just one more step. If I laugh, the days are shorter. Thank you Dr. Marlow,  for assessing my needs & sharing with me just the right tools and I thank God for strength to go the next 10 years, one day at a time.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Head On Spin Cycle!

I'm guessing my son's head runs on the spin cycle much of the time but WOW, when I look at all the treatments possible for ADHD kids, I'm in over my head:
* Stimulant, Non-Stimulant,  Anti-psychotic & Antidepressant Drugs
* Behavior Therapy
* Megavitamin Therapy
* Bio Feedback
* EEG Neurofeedback combined with Cognitive Therapy
* Diet Adjustments (Sugar, Additives, Wheat, Dairy....)
* Natural Remedies such as Magnesium & Omega-3 Supplements
* Structured Daily Schedule
* Rigorous Daily Exercise

Good grief!! Where to begin? Well, a couple good doctors for starters and read up on everything, weighing pros & cons while looking at the specific needs of individual child. I'm pretty sure now that a structured daily schedule, balanced diet & good daily exercise program are all necessary no matter which other course of action we choose! These ADHD kids don't all have the same prevailing issues so effective treatments vary. It's all so overwhelming but fascinating as well.

For Mom's sanity (if that's possible):  Good amount of sleep every night, Calgon, exercise & a very good sense of humor!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

ADHD Kids Are Fun!

Ok, the truth really is, ADHD kids are challenging, distracted & unfocused. I just can't settle there though. These kids have such a hard time learning in a "sit still, listen & shut up" environment. They really do! They squirm, wiggle & jump out of their seats without warning. Oftentimes their motivation to accomplish tasks wanes. But they are some really cool kids. I look back over my teaching & substituting years with a big smile as I think of those little characters, struggling unsuccessfully  to conform to the "norm" but winning my heart in spite of it.

Frustration often prevails for teachers of ADHD kids. Trying to match a tailored "plan" to each child often seems impossible but with the right combination of adults cheering on the child & seeking their success over anything else....exciting results are produced!

I want the same thing for my boy. I want those who influence his life to be filled with praises for the things he DOES do right (yeah, I know you have to look hard some days).  I don't want his head hanging down because he "blew it again" or "FAILED" at something.

We've come a long way in beginning to overcome racial, religious & a multitude of other prejudices. In my opinion, this is one that has a longggg way to go. Too many kids feel they are a disappointment to their parents, families & teachers. They think they are "bad." Hmmm, I wonder where they're getting this message? My heart aches to see ADHD kids feel accepted, loved & valued. Not just my kiddo. If WE think they are bad kids who just WON'T listen, (because we don't believe it's a proven neurological disorder) we send this message straight to them. We need to educate ourselves beyond the causes & treatment of ADHD & figure out how to undo the harm we've caused them by our unsupportive words & general lack of understanding.

I Understand "Bored"

Having grown up always feeling there wasn't quite enough "happening" around me, I do believe I understand my son's need to be busy. When I was young, there were many times we arrived at home from several back-to-back activities or errands, with parents ready to collapse. Sure, the day was full. I agreed with that, but WHAT were we going to do with our empty evening? Fortunately for my parents, my frenzy of activity did not include destructiveness....just a persistent nagging, "What can we do now?" 

It's probably a good thing that we're high-energy parents....since our 4th child has an endless supply to keep up with.  Though not "young" by any standard now, his dad & I can keep moving with him for quite a bit, playing indoors & out. We all love animals and we love to hang out with those critters! Table games are a hit around here & we do have some favorites. Decided to try puzzles (generally boring for us hyper folk) but we're finding those are even enjoyable in small doses. Winter's coming so the evenings will be longer. Ok, "Rocket-Boy," let the games begin!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Perpetual Motion

Forever moving, bouncing, bopping,
jumping, swinging, rocking, hopping.

Never slowing,
always going. Constantly in motion.

Stubborn & obstreperous,
reckless & rambunctious.

Beloved, treasured, darling,
Precious beyond describing...

This is my little boy.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Right Those Wrongs, Son!

Restitution - big word but simple meaning. Pay your debt. Make it right. Part of the discipline we use in our crazy household. If you download on someone else's phone or computer, pay back that download fee. Mom or Dad help him figure out what he can do for work to earn the money and then give it back. A carefully written letter accompanies that money.

Our son always asks why kids who take things from him or do something mean to him don't have to write a letter to HIM, but this past finally happened. He brought home a full-page letter of apology from a child who hurt him that day. Restitution in reverse!

This process sure looks ideal on paper but what a huge nightmare at the end of an exhausting day when we're trying to push through the home chores & dinner. Parenting isn't easy. In fact, it's horribly draining. My hope is that if I stick with this and hang in there, someday I'm going to be glad I did. Hope so! I think it's about time for bed. I'm going to need my energy...tomorrow!

You're Exceptional! (Self-Esteem Building)

Quite challenging is the job of building self-esteem in a child I'm constantly correcting and redirecting! How do I convey the essential message that my son is precious and valuable to me? I have to remind myself there are LOTS of ways to let him know I value him. Because he gets into more trouble than not it seems, I have to squeeze in those positive affirmations as often as possible every day. "You're amazing!" and "You know That? - Wow, Bud, you're so smart!"  He's always been fairly cuddly on his terms so I made a conscious decision when he was younger, to give him pats, high-fives, hugs & kisses (those may fade soon as we approach the teen years) whenever he was near me. Kids whose self-esteem bottoms-out, turn to drugs & other illicit behavior for companionship & validation. I love this boy with all my heart and the idea of us heading down that path worries me.  Whatever I can do on a DAILY basis, to let him know he is unconditionally loved and valued, I try to do.

His special interests change rapidly & don't hold his attention long but when he shows interest in something, we "jump on it." Wanna cook? Let's go! Puzzles? I'll do one WITH you. You like "Calvin & Hobbes?" We check out 2 from the library! Favorite game? T.V.'s off - I'm here to play it. High energy kids need equally high-energy parents. These kids take more time than most but I'm really praying and hoping the time I give him pays off one day! Maybe it's paying off even now!

ADHD Resources

The following book list is recommended by Dr. Douglas Marlow, Ph.D, a licensed Clinical Psychologist in the state of Oregon (and the doctor who helped the most last winter, when I felt I was at the bottom of my resources & strength.)

* The ADHD Parenting Handbook,  by Colleen Alexander-Roberts
* Healing ADD,  by Thom Hartman
* The Survival Guide for Kids with ADHD,  by John F. Taylor
* Driven to Distraction, (more for adults) by Ed Hallowell
* Taking Charge of ADHD, by Russel Barkly

More Great Books:

"ADHD And Me: What I Learned From Lighting Fires At The Dinner Table," by Blake Taylor, New Harbinger Publishers, 2008. (This author is currently in college & writes from a "kid's perspective - I'll update when I finish. Looks to be excellent!)

"Project June Bug," by Jackie Minniti, iUniverse Inc., 2008 (I have just ordered this after reading RAVE reviews online. --I'll update after reading!)

"Cory Stories," by Jeanne Kraus, 2005 Magination Press
This fun paperback book is especially written for kids with tips for parents included. The author has 20 years experience in the classroom and this book was inspired by one of her sons.

I hope if someone has another exceptional ADHD resource to recommend, they'll mention it here. Thank you.

"Mom, I Didn't Get Invited"

Boy, this one's tough for me. The pain goes deep in my heart. Many times he's come home without an invitation.  How do I explain to my son that not every parent or home is equipped to deal with the tornado that he is? That kids don't want someone at their party who will open their gifts ahead of them. Or a child who will destroy their toys? Yes, I've sat him down a few times and explained that parties take a lot of energy and parents don't want to have a visitor tearing through their home and things. It's only fair that he knows the truth as he gets older. We discuss what kind of behavior he should have when he does get invited. But mostly, I tell him parties cost a lot of money & nowadays parents usually just allow a couple kids to the party. (That was hard for him to understand the times he thought all the other cubbies had invitations.)  Usually parenting an ADHD child is frustrating and just plain exhausting. At times like this's particularly sad.

Can't You THINK First? (Sorry, this one's longer than normal!)

The majority of us have problems at one time or another, thinking before we speak or act. Slowing down enough to process the results of what we say and do would help us avoid oh so many messes.  ADHD kids deal with this minute-by-minute but they're clueless they're "dealing" with it because they generally do not think it through and process results. Hense the term "impulsive" is one of the top symptoms of ADHD.

I'm in the middle of a pretty deep study on the disorder. Get this. Apparently,  true ADHD children are not just acting out of control because they're really bad kids with inattentive parents. And, apparently not every child who is active is a true ADHD child. What is true however, is that ADHD is a neurological disorder. Their brains look different then those of children who toe-the-line & listen when spoken to. WOW!!

I've learned some fascinating stuff ~ kids can have different levels of neurotransmitters, depending on which kind of ADHD they have (more inattention or more impulsivity), which change their behavior. In particular, ADHD people have a variation on the transporter genes for the neurotransmitters. Yikes, big words that basically tell me their brain is wired differently.  So, if I think that I'm going to change his behavior by just telling him to do something. I'm stupid. Do I quit guiding him with rules, quit following through with consequences & give up on a day-to-day routine? Not on my life! I'm no doctor but from what I've been reading and told by my Psychologist, Dr. Marlow, it seems that I need to carry on with those to develop some new "grooves" in his brain. Wow! The brain is an amazing thing. Meds....hmm, lots of debate out there. Most kids are active. Kids who are just active but don't have the official ADHD label, don't need ADHD meds. Too many kids are labeled ADHD and on meds. These are facts.  However, if I had kidney or heart disease, would I see a doctor for the proper medicines?

I understand that medication is not the "cure-all" for ADHD.  Parents of ADHD kids have a hard battle to fight. We need to roll up our sleeves and get busy. What I know (but don't always do) is that I should be tough without being MEAN. I can be consistent without belittling him (ie "What kind of stupid thing did you do?") I can have strong guidelines but add in lots of fun stuff for high-energy boys! And.....last but not least, I can remember that as his mom I am the one person who can love him for the exceptional kid he is. I can build his self-esteem & hope that my parenting mistakes will be forgotten with tons of positive replacements!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Entrepreneurs - Tough To Raise?

I've been reading about entrepreneurs & celebrities who admit to having ADHD.  Actor Jim Carrey  soared to the top of my suspicions long ago  & Ty Pennington of "Extreme Makeover, Home Edition" in  more recent years, just proved to me that energy, if channeled correctly, could go far to bless others. I remind myself that they are successful because of that out-of-control energy level & out-of-the-box thinking that are synonymous with ADHD.  Were these celebrities & entrepreneurs tough to raise? I don't know but I'm guessing their mothers' blogs would have looked something like mine or just maybe crazier!

The following excerpt is from Psychology Today, "7 Habits of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs with ADHD," written by  Shane K. Perrault, PhD who is the Coach and Psychologist at Entrepreneurs with ADHD:

"Believe it or Not, people with ADHD are 300% more likely to start their own business (see The Davinci Method, by Garret Loporto), and many business leaders have ADHD. To name a few accomplished business people with ADHD:
  • Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Airlines.
  • John T. Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems.
  • Ingvar Kamprad, Swedish founder and chairman of IKEA stores
  • David Neeleman, founder and CEO of Jet Blue Airways.
  • Paul Orfalea, the founder of Kinkos.
  • Charles Schwab, the founder, chairperson, and CEO of the Charles Schwab Corporation, the largest brokerage firm in the U.S."
I've decided this is exciting - It's tough raising my future CEO but I'm really getting excited about what's ahead!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Two Goals!

Ecstatic!! That's exactly how I felt last evening when my son scored not one, but TWO of his first soccer goals. It was the second to the last game of the season & after 3 years of soccer, he finally scored! As he dashed out of the car, heading for the warm-up session I whispered quickly, "Hey Buddy, let's try for a goal."  "No, Mom. I don't think so," was his quick reply. This season he was scared to try because he was embarrassed if he missed. But tonight was different. Somehow, in the last 15 minutes, he decided to go for it and rushed toward the ball as it neared the center of the goal. With a swift kick the goal was HIS! That's all it took. He was bitten by the taste of victory and he stuck to that ball till the end of the game. In the last few minutes he attempted several goals before landing his 2nd goal of the game. The whistle blew. This game was over. Now he would be known for more than just lightning-speed running across the field ~ he would be known for scoring points for his team. The smile on his face lasted well into the night. His first real lesson on persistence will stay with him forever!

From that first year of soccer when those 7 year olds ran circles around the ball on the field, often swarming like bees toward the wrong goal, every game has been a thrill. Seeing the progress that practice & persistence affords has been just as much the joy of the journey as these two goals tonight. "Lord, help me to look at every step with my son as progress, no matter how difficult at times, this journey may be."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How Sweet, His First "Prank"

Who laughs at these things? Only every person I've told them to!  I needed to get to work early one morning this week. Early is a huge stretch since "on time" is nearly impossible.  Set the alarm a tad earlier just to be sure. Everything was in order for a great start. That is, until I awoke to a brighter-than-normal bedroom the next morning! Interestingly, the clock cord was unplugged. My fears were confirmed when I saw the kitchen clock - 7:11 am!!  Mystery solved within 2 seconds. "SON?" His quick "I didn't do it," sealed my assumption to which I responded for the millionth time in his life...."WHY did you do this?" He hung his head and said he wanted to see what it was like to pull a prank."  I now had exactly 15 minutes to be showered & ready to go.  This was what he coined his "first prank" which really makes no sense because he's pulled pranks every day since he was 18 months-he just didn't have a WORD for it!   I guess I'll laugh now.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

He Hates Scratchy Tags

Most of his life he's been troubled by textures. "No scratchy clothes!"  If I miss a tag and it hits his neck just right, he could go into orbit trying to remove it. Shirts better have a soft feel to them or he could short circuit. Nothing too tight around the waist (not too loose either). But the biggest issue of all has been with socks. I gave up years ago trying to find a brand he would wear right side out. All socks are scratchy on the inside and feel very soft on the outside. None of our first 3 children even knew this. I've searched the stores for expensive, cheap, name brand, store brand & came to this conclusion....all socks need to be worn inside out so their soft side rests against his sensitive skin.  Fortunately  friends have quit saying "your socks are inside out."  This isn't a battle worth fighting.  Fabric issues are common with ADHD kids. I'm wondering if he'll wear his socks inside out when he's an adult....guess I'll have to wait and see!

Fishing, Sushi & Roadtrips

Thank God for finding 3 things that hold the interest of my son! He can focus while engaged in any of these things:
  • Fishing - Taking apart his and Dad's gear, dumping bait & losing his tackle box are things of the past. Now my boy can fish for....get this, 6-8 hours straight. Baffles friends (and us). Needless to say, we take him fishing as often as we can.
  • Sushi - Stumbled upon this one quite by accident but he routinely gets out the rice cooker & seaweed and prepares to enjoy making his favorite snack! No time to slice these rolls. He eats them like hot dogs!
  • Roadtrips - Often ADHD kids are a disaster to seat belt into the car. With a gps, binoculars and books, our wild child turns into an extraordinary traveler. (More difficult to do when gas prices are high!)
Regrettably, we can't just fish & eat sushi but hey, I'm thankful for small diversions!

Cell Phones And Downloads

Ugh! The very thing that I've come to love the convenience of has become a nightmare in my son's hands! Wish I could say it's only happened once. The thing I'm learning about ADHD is that it's often paired with brilliance. Not always good. Once in church (yep, right up there in the front too) our son's father sat with him in a gospel quartet concert. I suppose Dad thought he was listening due to the fact that he was sitting still in the pew. Unfortunately Mr. Download himself eyed a lonely cell phone, begging to be used. This was shortly after these handy telephones became equipped with the deadly ability to "go online" and download games! $9.95 later our son was discovered. He made "restitution" with owner of the phone - oh, that was NOT his father's phone. Sure he learned his lesson by making restitution, we took our eyes off of him a few weeks later while friends visited. I realized he had disappeared and found him upstairs with a phone that wasn't any of ours. That one was $30. He had to work to earn the money & pay back this phone owner. Plus, he wrote a letter of apology. Between those two instances there was another small one - paid back as well. I love my friends but glad they're telling me they password protect downloading now, from their phones. (And the wise person in the back says, "they shouldn't have to...well, back in my day a good spanking cured all.) I wish the wise ones knew how different today is!

Supportive Friends & Family

Need to say no more, but I will! A huge thank you to the family members and special friends who look on with love. They know I have my hands full. They don't have to tell me! They know I am tired. Some days are longer than others.The phone rings and caller reports a misdeed of my boy. I thank them kindly (inwardly aching) and move on. Family & friends engage my son in conversation even when his eyes dart around, searching for something to get into. They listen to me laugh and listen when I cry. This road is hard. I'm the parent of an ADHD boy who is often out of control but I have family and friends who not only don't tell me when I'm making mistakes, they tell me I'm doing a good job. To those who have ever said to me, "Charlotte, you are a good mom." (You know who you are.) THANK YOU! I appreciate the encouragement.

Enduring Gradeschool

We think the gradeschool years (K-5) should be fun-filled, carefree years. Learning set in a fun atmosphere, mixed with some Art & Music....nothing gets better than this! Not for the ADHD child.
School involves:
  • Listening attentively
  • Being quite
  • Recalling information
  • Following directions
There's nothing here that comes easily (or at all) for the ADHD child and mine is no exception. What gets us through this phase? I do not know yet. I'm not "through" it and have to admit, not really enjoying it. We parents of ADHD kids are in this together. I try to back the teacher(s), and be in communication with them (that's easy - they have my number in speed dial). Each evening as needed,  we talk about that day's issues briefly & then try to create FUN evening that he can end his day with! I want my boy's last experiences of every day, to be happy experiences if possible. No matter what, I love him!

FEAR In Public

I have some fairly normal fears:
* Heights
* The dark
But nothing surpasses the fear I've had of venturing out into public with my "wild child." The saying "You can dress 'em up but not take 'em out" applies. For years I've struggled with the tantrums, running off and largest issue of all: his embarrassing public statements. "Mom, look at that man. He's so FAT!" "Why does she smell like that?" and "What's that on his face?" all within hearing distance of the person. Good son has learned to not say these things.  All's not yet perfect. He has no problem  arguing to the bitter end in front of cashiers & interrupting when someone we meet stops to chat. He's a smart kid. Waiting til I'm reading labels on packages, he bolts to another section of the store. Recently I was paged from Jewelry because he had used his money to buy something and was a few cents short on cash. (Yes, I knew he had run. I was looking for him at the time!)Too old to put in the cart any more and living in an age where leashes are no longer acceptable, I leave him at home while shopping or pay the consequences & the bill at the stores!

Lock And Key?

Determination is a "key" attribute in my son! If he needs or wants something, he will get it. Hence, we found ourselves installing a keyed lock on one storage room in our home & purchasing a small safe for such things we value & can't replace easily. Sadly, the "hunter" found the BB gun in the storage room, using that forbidden key. For about 1 hour he had the time of his young life with that BB gun...and the BB gun moved away shortly thereafter. Consequences: BB gun is gone. Then, he found the instructions to the safe. Hmm, really smart parents leave those lying around, huh? And what 10 year old reads the fine print (combination) on instructions? Our boy! So glad we can outwit this kid. Yikes! We're a little rough around the edges but we're learning.


Mom, the Sleuth.

Sometimes I throw up my hands. "I don't care. I don't want to know what he just got into. I'm tired!" Then "Detective Mom" rises up and the search is on. "Where is the new box of ice-cream bars?" I search the regular hot spots...bathroom drawers (all of them), bedroom closet, under his pillow. Nope. Nothing. Then I look in the bathroom garbage can. A smile crosses my face. It shouldn't. There are 12 wrappers and sticks in that garbage can but I breathe a sign of contentment. I'm not immediately concerned for my son's health. My son has put garbage WHERE IT GOES! Those wrappers are in the garbage can and I'm thrilled. This rarely happens. Then the other Mom kicks in. The "you're going to pay for this mom" rises up and seeks out culprit. He "only had one" but admits defeat when wrappers are produced by angry mother.  Restitution is critical with all kids, and with no exception....adhd ones! He will pay for the ice cream and has no dessert for several days. Because he would do this again I won't buy any more for a while! Mom learns lesson. Child probably doesn't.

Discipline That Works?

For an ADHD kiddo, is there any discipline that REALLY "works?"  Contemporary solutions such as time outs provide me with 5-20 minutes of knowing where my little guy is. That's about it. It goes like this: "Hey, sit in this chair and think about what you've done." He sits, clearly not even remembering what he did. He sits straight for 10 seconds and then the chair magically turns into a trapeze. Dangling & twisting in every position but "sitting still" he talks throughout the time out. When the timer "beeps" I'm thrilled to send him back to play, positive he has no intentions of changing the behavior that sent him there.  But, we do the time. We hope that somehow, the consistency will deepen a good groove in his brain and someday he'll remember the appropriate behavior on his own.

WHAT Were You Thinking? (My 1st Blog)

I recall the moment I began to realize that parenting this cute boy wasn't going to be easy. It was a busy afternoon in my home office. Our adorable & talkative, then three year old was playing on the floor nearby.  When I noticed the loud crashing sounds of toy cars had stopped, it was too late... I bolted through the house calling his name. As I rounded the corner into the kitchen the drops of red and blue food coloring were dotting my newly-installed, white linoleum. He was standing on the kitchen counter, eyeing his nearly empty bottles. "Isn't this cool, Mommy?" he questioned, his eyes not leaving his masterpiece. In that first moment I recall KNOWING this was just the "beginning." I gasped in horro,r but that was long ago and so many crazy experiences have sinced topped that first one! Many family and friends have encouraged me to put these "funny" (to them!) stories into a book.  Then the idea of blogging came to me. This is my beginning. I'm hoping that writing helps me cope with the rapid rocket, often destructive tornado that is my precious boy. If our experiences encourage someone else, that's a bonus.