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 parent...so 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.