Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sneaky, Smart & Computer Passwords

He's smart but sneaky & he knows just how to get around those locked up computers. It's easy. When the computer owner steps away from their computer (for even 2 minutes) rush over and hit "control panel." From there a sneak can set up what has become notorious around here as the "guest account."
Our boy is smart! Bobby has adhd but this isn't adhd behavior. This is something any smart & sneaky child can accomplish in one unattended minute! This behavior has been punished repeatedly. You would think by now he'd understand that he doesn't get to use computers he hacks. But no, it happens almost every single time we let him "earn" some computer time. Most recently, last evening.
Laptop on in the living room, we were out of the room, getting into costumes for a Christmas drama. Late that evening as I was shutting down my computer I decided to check the control panel. Sure thing. There was a guest account. Our sweet boy had gone to bed without any difficulties (likely pretty jazzed about getting up a few hours later to play "Age of Empires" his favorite game).
Trying to stay a few steps ahead of Bobby is a workout. He's smarter than a whip and just as loaded with naughtiness. We wouldn't want him up all night looking for trouble so we always shout out "the guest account is off" so he doesn't bother getting up later. We also remind him of consequences and that the computer will now be off limits a few more weeks.
We are doing everything we possibly can to provide our son with things to do and time spent together. Hobbies, books, games, family trips and time. This home is loaded with activity. (Not the latest gadgets preteens beg for!) But some days it just doesn't seem like enough for him. Some days it would just be easiest to hand over the psp he wants to move on. But for us....this just isn't the right path. Here's to quality time and making it over another hurdle.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Refusing To Medicate

So, my child is out of control at home, school and all public places. He grabs, bursts & speaks without thinking. This goes on and on day after day, year after year. The voices in my head are shouting, "something needs to change here" but other voices fill the gaps with, "Do you want a drugged-out child?" What does a parent do?

We went down this path for a few years with our boy. They were difficult, miserable years but well-meaning friends/family would suggest he would out-grow this behavior OR he just needed tighter reigning. Of course, they knew best. They took him in the car, to the store, to school, to the dinner table. They meant well. Because they hadn't experienced exactly what we were living, they truly did not understand how challenging this was minute-to-minute. Nobody understood.

We did not blindly bolt for the pharmacy and a drug to change our baby boy. We agonized, sought counsel from many & prayed. Would our boy be safe on a sidewalk? Would he learn in school? Would he make friends? Would he destroy his home? These were the REAL QUESTIONS we asked ourselves for several years, while experiencing this day-to-day trauma. Another question plagued us. If Bobby had Type 1 Diabetes would we put him on medication? If he had any disease, would we seek treatment? Without a doubt.

The above situations molded our thinking and Bobby has been able to function more successfully since. Not a perfect solution but a tremendous change was seen and continues to this day. If I was going down the path again I would probably endure a few years again, just making certain I was doing the best for my boy. But, in the end, I would add medication to his program. No question. Anything less hurts him more in my opinion.

Not Lettin' Our Guard Down Around Here!

Yep, it's wayyy easier than years leading to this one but we can't let down our guard. We're proud of Bobby's growing but not burying our heads in the sand. He's all-boy, filled with wild mischief & a daring nature. Those characteristics make for challenges no matter how much "growing up" he has done. We continue to watch closely, trying to always keep the channels of communication open so that the blind-siding is less frequent.

Years ago we realized Bobby had a fascination with matches, knives & paint. These three items have caused a few problems for our adhd boy so we can't really turn our backs now. ADHD doesn't simply "go-away." The indicators for this disorder may shift & change over the years but they make up the personality of most people who have the diagnosis for the rest of their lives to some degree. Hence, we can celebrate the good changes & maturity we are seeing but our guard remains in place.

Bobby turned our world upside down but we would never trade the joy his sense of interest, adventure & wild-curiosity have given us. We have learned & here we share, hoping other parents will find compassion and understanding.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Easier Days With ADHD

Wasn't it just yesterday that our home was filled with chaos & confusion? Seems that way, but in the past year every week has become easier than the previous one. Few tools & treasures have been torn or broken & nothing is missing. It's positively miraculous. There was a time not that long ago when everything looked very bleak. Bobby's behavior was a challenge not only daily but moment-by-moment. He high-energy boy bent on destruction & nobody could stop him. I looked around and saw few children who matched his naughtiness and I was a broken-hearted mom, seeing no way out of this darkness.
When he was 2 I figured when he turned 3 he'd grow out of some of the terrible behavior, since he'd be out of those infamous "terrible twos." Then I expected change with the 4th birthday, 5th birthday, 6th....and so on. As he approached 9 & 10 I began to believe this was never going to turn around & that we were on a long dark path. No longer was I expecting to see that "better year" ahead. And then we hit 11. Our world began to change. Bobby became more mature & the sunshine poked it's way through those dark storm clouds. There's nothing in me that believes there was a "cure" out there for our boy but rather a collection of contributing factors. Just in case another parent is overwhelmed in adhd-land:
1) Lots of love (though not always patience as this isn't easy to be 100% patient with)
2) Parent/child hobbies done together
3) Outdoor exercise together--sports, hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming
4) Medication adjustments as needed
5) Supportive family and friends who show kindness & love to our boy!
6) 7 months ago- drastic steps taken to reduce and eliminate soda, sugar, processed foods, oils & artificial ingredients from our diet. Adding daily helpings of fresh dark green veggies and lots of other fruits and vegetables. Our whole family does this so there's no feeling of "I can't eat what everyone else gets."
7) Consistency in discipline & routine.

As a teacher, I see an incredible increase in adhd labels today. Do we accept the labels and go no further? Definitely not. We owe it to these high-needs kids to find out what triggers their behavior and what helps it. Combining many interventions will likely see improvements in a good share of these great kids. Bobby will probably always be high-energy but for today we're pretty thrilled that  he's growing in positive ways!

Friday, August 17, 2012

ADHD Kids-- We Gotta Find Their Strengths

We are blessed to be surrounded by family and friends. Most of these people truly see Bobby for his strengths. Some of those go a step further and point out the ways those strengths could be used in his future. On a recent kayaking adventure, Bobby found some hooks, bobbers & used fishing line. While on the bank, a close friend watched over him as he began to patiently work his fingers, untangling the many knots to make his new line useable. Because she knows his background with impulsivity & impatience, she was amazed by his skillful dexterity and commented to him about it. Later she shared this story with me, pointing out how she wasn't certain he really heard her observations. When we were making dinner that evening, Bobby sat at the deck talking about his fun-filled afternoon. He was pretty proud of himself as he told me that Claudia thought he was incredibly adept with his fingers and that line. She told him he had skills that could lead him to possibly being a surgeon one day. I think he was holding his head & shoulders just a bit higher that evening-someone believed in him, had faith in his future. Something our Bobby so desperately needs. Thank you, Claudia. Whether or not Bobby chooses to pursue medicine, remains to be seen but today that doesn't even matter. A strength was identified & everyone needs this-especially adhd kids!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

WHO Is This Kid In Our Home!??

My boy turns 12 in a couple months & for the past 10 years we've known nothing but chaos & confusion. His young years of childhood have probably been a lot of fun for him but they've been absolutely nuts for his father & me. Suddenly though, things have turned around. For the past 6 weeks Bobby has been a completely different child. There are no temper tantrums, nothing destroyed & he is helpful and kind. He's fun to be around. He has been helping daily in our large family garden, seemingly enjoying finding the veggies & uprooting weeds. I haven't a clue if this is the beginning of a new "normal" for us with our 4th child, Bobby. I pray it is.

Why is everything different? Likely the med change we did 6 weeks ago. Was on Adderal but we switched to Ritalin. Adderal was making him angry and combative all the time. Adderal worked fairly well at first but negative affects kicked in months ago & we just endured. Poor kid. He couldn't have felt good.

Other changes.....nutrition. We kicked some things out of our diet! Things like processed foods, all sugar, caffeine, meat & dairy products. We replaced all that crap with literally piles of veggies, fruits, grains, beans and nuts. This change was done almost 5 months ago and Bobby's recent blood work is showing a TOTALLY healthy boy, responding WELL to serious nutrition, eating LOTS & growing much faster than before. YEAH!!

I'm trying to embrace things in life as they come. I have no idea if this heaven-on-earth is going to last long. (We are just a year away from teen years!) But this I know, TODAY is beautiful and no matter what happens, tomorrow will be as well. Bobby, since the day we met you when you were just 11 1/2 weeks old, we have loved you to the moon and back. What a spectacular kid you are!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Switching Meds - Ugh!

Going to keep this one really short but vent a bit to free my cluttered mind & heart. Putting it bluntly, changing meds really stinks! It bothers me tremendously to have my little boy taking a powerful drug every day of his life. We have chosen an extremely healthy lifestyle for our family this year & we love the results. But every single pill saddens my heart. I wish we could completely eliminate this treatment. Maybe someday. The 4 days after quitting Adderal became increasingly awful in our home. Bobby couldn't focus, made worse impulsive decisions & wasn't really enjoyed by anyone. Sad, but true. Not his fault. This is a demon no child deserves. Unfortunately the Ritalin (which he has never taken) doesn't kick in quite as quickly so those withdrawal days were complicated by the lack of medication. No win. Today is better. He is more responsive, more respectful and even-keeled in his disposition so far. The thing is, the medicine DOES help Bobby. He is an off-course missile without it. This is not a case of parents just not wanting any noise or movement in the house OR teacher wanting comotose children in the classroom. Bobby's brain needs the adjustment or he is a danger to himself. I'll keep on this path until after our family road trip. Probably wouldn't be safe for any of us to pull him off meds while spending whole days touring the grand national parks of our country. But when we return I think I may attempt a week of it just to see who my boy really is without medical intervention. It's been 5-6 years of meds so it's time. Oh dear----everything just got quiet. Time to go find Bobby. Where is that boy?!?!!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Impulsive Shock-Talk - So Much Fun!

I'm Mom & I have learned to "pretend" I'm not mortified by what can come out of Bobby's mouth. He is seemingly driven by a need for "shock-factor" when conversing with friends & family, with or without Mom present. I've tried everything- ignoring, calmly & not-so-calmly dealing with it on-the spot and just about any other approach I could come up with. Nothing has worked. Period. He really is driven by this shock-the-crowd approach. I pray he never learns that Howard Stern makes a whole lot of money shocking the crowds.

When a friend begins a sentence with "Bobby was so funny the other day. He said...." my eyes pop and this friend will have to assure me it's a GOOD story before I will listen to the rest. Well, I'm just Mom. I go to bed drained from the drama and dream up ways to approach discipline the next day! Oh yeah!! Today I have a new idea. Maybe it will work. I told Bobby that if I hear any report of his mouth getting out of control, I would happily dole out 100 sentences that very evening. Additionally, the 4 weeks of swimming lessons will increase & I will look for more things to do during the summer (he prefers to hang out at the house). I told him he'd have to curb the impulsivity, THINKING before saying things. True to his SHOCKING form, he replied, "ok Mom" quite respectfully.

Consistency is critical in raising kids-especially the adhd ones. I will have to come thru the very first time I get a report. If I let this slip, I will lose ground. But, no problem. I'm up to the challenge. Parents know exactly why they "forgive" and move beyond those promised sentences....because the punishment will affect them the entire time those sentences are being written. The moans, groans, ripping the paper, losing the pens, pencils, markers, the long bathroom break, taking the temperature because child swears he/she has a fever etc... (if you honestly can't imagine any child of yours doing this, you're probably reading the wrong blog).

Bobby, "We'll love you forever. We'll like you for always. As long as we're living, our baby you'll be."

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Picnic Fisherman

Bobby loves to fish. He can't focus on  much for long but legos, reading & FISHING are the 3 things that grab onto his attention span and S*T*R*E*T*C*H it! We went to a picnic with friends and family this weekend. Not even cookies & potato chips grabbed Bobby's attention. The picnic was at a marina & off he dashed once the car pulled into the parking spot! Did he have his gear with him? Nope-but not to worry, he'd find some cast-off supplies by scavenging the banks of the river. About 20 minutes into his new adventure, he ran to the picnic tables to inform me he had a line but was discouraged he couldn't find a hook. Once I assured him it would take just a bit more looking he seemed convinced and continued on. Within another 15 minutes an overjoyed 11 year old flew up from the river to our site with a small Walleye on his hook. (This was a hook his grandfather informed us, wouldn't even cut through the piece of red ballon he was using for bait!) FISH ON!!! I will never be convinced these ADHD kids aren't smart! They do things with gusto once they find something worth "gusto-ing" about! They are tenacious & it sometimes works FOR them, not just against them. We parents need to find those "hot buttons" that fire them up positively and turn them loose. Goodness knows half the time they're just plain bored. Bobby grabbed a few cookies as he headed for home at the end of the picnic. And the walleye---well, I hear it tasted pretty darn good! Way to go, son! Way to go!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sugar, Sugar! (Not my typical short entry!)

There was a time several years back when we removed all sugar from Bobby's diet. That lasted 2 weeks. We saw absolutely no difference. True, we have seen him spiral out of control after a sugar-filled drink or trip to favorite neighborhood ice-cream stop. But, the day-to-day sugar consumption really never seemed to be a big deal to us. 

Then we took a long look at what we were putting into our mouths. We began to read reputable studies on nutrition and our children's health (& our health). What we have decided as a couple, is we're going to think outside the typical American diet from now on. SUGAR (brown & white) was at the top of our list to eliminate. We aren't focused on Nutritional labels on foods but INGREDIENT labels. This has made a difference for us.

Bobby is still an active, inquisitive, headstrong boy who is heading faster than we'd like to believe, toward his teen years. He doesn't just accept our word without challenge. BUT, he has what once was a rare "calm" about him when he reads, discusses current and historic events and gets involved with chores without being asked. Could he be just "snapping out" of his obnoxious ADHD childishness? I think not. Something changed. We believe it was a combination of things. 

We're paying close attention to his diet now, most importantly, removing all sugar from our home. Huge step. Not everyone can do this. Wait, let's rephrase that. Not everyone would want to take this on. Why not? If I could sit here and think of ONE good thing sugar does for my system, for my son's growing body, developing brain.... I might keep it. But I can't. We simply ate it because it tasted better than everything else and made a wonderful dessert. The only desserts that are good are ice cream, cake, candy and cookies. Right? 

Our journey has taken us down a long path. ADHD has been the ride of our lives & to see nutrition play such a big part in a turn-around, makes writing this blog entry so important. We aren't in the medical profession, but we have exceptional doctors, upstanding in our community, who believe in this course. I can say without a shadow of a doubt, that any ADHD child whose parents choose to really get on a healthy course, will be one blessed child! 

We decided to put as many natural vitamins (vegetables and fruits) into growing a healthy boy. Salads, fresh kale and spinach, lots of fruits, grains & nuts are now part of every single day. Not just a "part" of every day but these foods ARE our new diet. These healthy foods have never been associated with obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and myriads of other life-threatening diseases. That's why we're eating them so much! Bobby is getting enough protein & calories based on the RDA. His growth is in line for boys his age. He is sleeping well. There are no adverse affects of eating healthfully.

Does Bobby ever eat foods with sugar or that are processed? We've chosen to allow those things on occasion when we go out. Not in every meal. That wasn't healthy. We don't go to fast-food restaurants anymore. We don't go out for dinner regularly but when we do go out, Bobby can order whatever he wants. And when we're home, we make sure there are lots of "treats" that he likes! Frozen fruit smoothies, fresh-squeezed juices, delicious mangos and avacados. We haven't "limited" our diet--but broadened it immensely! Here's to raising healthy kids & helping them make good food choices that will truly shape their future!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bobby's Eating WHAT?

Tonight I am stumped. I haven't had "material" to write about for a while now. Not just because I'm a busy teacher & mom, but because Bobby's engine fires my writing and he's been doing just fine. Just fine. I have to say those words again. They haven't been written in a story about my boy thus far. Bear with me through a few lines of back ground and we'll get to Bobby's status today!

So let's go back 7 weeks. I received some news about my heart health. Cholesterol & blood pressure too high. While only about 30 pounds overweight, I have a system filled with stroke & heart-attack potential. My husband and I had a serious heart-to-heart talk the night we read over the medical results together & decided a big change was needed. We would seek to reverse my health problems so I could move forward healthfully for many years. We watched two recommended health documentaries, "Forks Over Knives" and "Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead." We read all about the nutritional value of such a turn-around & knew it could not hurt us.  Immediately we implemented a lot of what we learned. We turned our kitchen upside down, getting rid of meat, caffeine, & ALL processed & packaged foods. We wanted to avoid all fast-food & most restaurants for a while. We bought whole grains & lots of fruits and vegetables. We chose a "plant-based diet." (Let me note right now that Bobby's weight has been closely monitored. He is growing! He eats like a horse now & loves the healthy frozen fruit smoothies we tuck kale & spinach into!)

Roll forward to this week. A short 7 weeks (but almost 2 months) of highly nutritious eating. Bobby takes healthy sack lunches to school that he helps put together (so he'll actually eat them). This week we have seen a complete turn-around in Bobby's behavior. Just about everything about him has changed. He is enjoyable to be with and hasn't gotten into trouble. And the interesting thing is HE SEES IT!  

We still see a kid who is ALL BOY. He argues a bit and makes big messes of everything.  But he is happier, calmer & tonight he sat down and did a Science assignment that hasn't even been assigned, "just because I want to get ahead."  This has NEVER happened before.  I can't predict how this will play out over the coming months and years. I am not a physician so I will NOT suggest a specific diet for any child. But I can say, this is beautiful for Bobby & for all around him. It is our "today" and today is looking very nice! Here's to getting our kids just a big healthier!

Friday, February 10, 2012

ADHD & "Pet Therapy"

We're parents on a mission to raise a busy guy. There's no claim to fame on knowing the ins and outs of all possible courses of therapy. But facts are facts. The more time we spend keeping our guy busy, the better-off everyone is. The busier the day, the better he sleeps that night. We've had a variety of pets over the years:

The fairly usual family pets~ dogs, cats, fish & guinea pigs.
Some farm animals ~ bummer lambs, baby goats, baby chicks & bunnies.
(Right now we've got 2 bummer lambs that were just hours & days old when they were given to us. We bottle feed them every 5 or 6 hours & Bobby LOVES his baby lambs. We'll sell them this summer to cover our costs, basically.)

All the animals have been fun & allowed our kids a chance to learn basic caring skills. This winter Dad & Bobby have spent every bit of their spare time reading up on bee-keeping. They've searched for good deals in equipment & suits to wear. They are set. As soon as winter is over they'll begin this venture. It has been an amazing experience watching as Dad & son bond through a love for something new & exciting!

We aren't kidding anyone. Our son isn't just "busy." He has been diagnosed with a real disability that sometimes wreaks havoc on the child, family & all around them. We have chosen to have Bobby take medication in addition to all of the behavior "plans" we embark upon.  We've found that having pets, for us, definitely IS a successful treatment/therapy. We aren't following a set program developed specifically for ADHD kids by health care professionals. We get to live in the country on a few acres with a couple animal pens & we use what we have to help our youngest child. It works. Sure love you, Bobby. Thanks for keeping us on our toes & out of trouble!
Mom & Dad

Thursday, February 2, 2012

ADDitude Magazine, Spring 2012

Wow!  When I received an email from the editor of ADDitude Magazine, back in October of 2011, I was quite surprised to hear he wanted permission to print one of my blog entries. I knew of the online site but wasn't aware of the paper magazine. After taking a quick look back at the site, I zapped off my reply & the picture of Bobby & myself he wanted for the magazine. Today our copy arrived in the mail! Additude Magazine, Spring 2012, p. 17.  Bobby was shocked to learn he had a pseudonym. He insisted I change it at once to "Ripjaw." Argg. That's my boy! 

16 months ago I was passing through a dark tunnel. Our son's impulsivity & destruction had become simply overwhelming for me to deal with. I wanted more than anything to be a good parent for him & help him. I had no solid resources and sought the help of a trusted Psychologist who began to guide me onto a healthy path. It was at the beginning of that counseling that I searched in vain to find other moms online who could help me understand I wasn't alone. Believe it or not, I couldn't find a single one! (They are there, I've discovered.) I had no familiarity with blogging except for the word & decided to look into it. I chose and began to write.  I wrote and wrote and wrote during those first months. I didn't care if anyone EVER read what I wrote.  It was personally healing & oh so helpful. Now my outlook is much more positive!!

Apparently it wasn't just for me. We are sharing our story with others & I only hope that this journey encourages and lifts up other families. You are not alone.

CAUTION: Don't Go-It Alone With ADHD

Even for the strongest of parents, ADHD is challenging. There's no reason to go through this without help & support.There is SO MUCH support out there today!

Free Resources:
1. Use the Public Library internet for ADHD support websites, forums & blogs. There are many!
2. Public School Special Education Departments  Here you will find professionals who will evaluate your child & select as a team (along with you) interventions specific to his/her needs.
3. Public School Counselor   This person is available to meet either individually or in small groups with your child, helping him/her find appropriate skills for coping with ADHD in a school setting. The kids in the school I work at eagerly look forward to their weekly or monthly sessions! (These are done only with written parental permission.)
4. Family & Friends  While some of these may wish they could charge for their listening services, most will be invaluable to you. Most people have friends to turn to. Not everyone has understanding family. The "old-school" philosophy of parenting deems ADHD as a misdiagnosis for rotten, spoiled behavior. Most families have at least one member who doesn't want to join the support team. Hopefully they don't live next door to you and the occasional family reunion is your only chance for a run-in. If you're blessed with friends AND family who care & show support and love for you and your child count your blessings! (And make sure you're taking time to listen to them when they need an ear too. I need to do better here.)
Family Physician/Child Psychologist:
ADHD kids should be medically evaluated. Doctors are  there to help you and your child.
Books & Magazines:
I have favorites. The plain and simple facts & information books are great and serve a purpose in helping us structure our kids, but I'm really about trying to see the humor in this thing so I've loved books like, "All Dogs Have ADHD," by Kathy Hoopman. Nothing like a good laugh to tame the stress! I've used to find used books. (The right column on my blog lists other favorites.) The magazine subscription we have currently here at home is ADDitude Magazine, which has an online site as well as a yearly subscription of 4 issues. Wonderful collection of helpful tips & information!

If you feel alone in this process, get help. Seek the counsel of a professional & turn this into a positive experience. Please share any resources you don't see listed here. I value all ideas - they're part of the journey I'm on with my son.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bees-Bobby's New Hobby

It comes as no surprise to us that Bobby can turn his attention 100% toward ANYTHING that interests him. He may be a highly-impulsive, overly wild & crazy 11 year old who can't keep his eyes on schoolwork long enough to complete a subject in one sitting, but focusing on his chosen hobbies is no chore to him!

This bee thing all started last summer with an idea gone bad (getting into the neighbors' bee box) but developed after that, through months of discussion and research with his father.  Now they are the proud owners of several boxes, bee suits and several books on bees. Oh yeah, they also have a dilapidated honey extractor that's used for spinning the honey out of the wax stuff. (I really know nothing about this new hobby of theirs.)

Bobby has spent countless hours sifting through the two bee books we got for him & has decided he wants only bee supplies for his next birthday. He doesn't even want the air-soft guns any more! Progress~

Our bee boy has been stung several times so that's not likely going to end his enthusiasm & he LOVES honey so it looks pretty certain that if things go well in the set-up and future operation, our little firecracker just might be on a positive path to his future. We sure hope so. We've had more challenging & painful experiences than we care to look back on so if we're turning a corner now - BRING IT ON!

Bobby, I hope your new venture with Dad is nothing but successful & that we have plenty of honey to eat and share. Who knows, maybe you'll get your wish and sell some! Sure love you, my little beekeeper!