Sunday, September 25, 2011

Parenting and ADHD


I have had so much on my mind. I start to write a post and then delete it and walk away. I dont know where to begin or what to say. So I guess I will just blurt it out!!!

Brian and I are the parents of a child with ADHD.

He was diagnosed with ADHD back in January. Truth be told, we have always known or at least I have. So I was not shocked when we got the diagnosis. And what a common diagnosis it is.

Does anything We have always been Owens parents and always will be. We have never known anything different.

As he gets older the struggles change and honestly get harder. As a parent we never want to see our kids struggle. We never want them to have a hard time at anything. And a child with ADHD does struggle. They have a hard time sitting still, paying attention, and unfortunately are constantly being reprimanded for their hyper and sometimes irrational behavior.

What does that do to a young child? It makes them feel like they cant do anything right, it makes them feel like they are not good enough and it takes away their confidence bit by bit.

In society today kids/people are expected to act a certain way or as I like to call it "fitting in the box". When they don't fit in the box they are told they are wrong. When in fact they are perfect just the way they are.

Owen fits in his own little box and its a perfect box.

There are plenty of daily struggles. It is not easy parenting a child with ADHD. Our biggest struggle and concern is how to help Owen be successful in school. How do we help him to focus and retain information.

For Owen its not that easy. He is such a smart boy. When he is sitting in a classroom full of other kids and has a task to finish its nearly impossible. Instead of seeing what is in front of him he sees and hears everything around him. Its like static in his brain. I am sure if a pin dropped two classrooms away he would hear it.

Our struggle as parents was how do we help him. We spent the year making changes in his diet, working with his teacher to come up with techniques that would help him. Nothing worked. He fell behind in reading and was getting frustrated. Homework was just as hard. We came home, sat down and spent forever doing it. He just couldn't focus. I sat here with him just as frustrated.

After another trip to the doctor in the summer we spoke with him and agreed that the best thing for Owen would be to try medication for school. I cringed in January when that came up. I refused it and said we would try other things. When nothing worked we started to rethink our decision.

The hardest thing about deciding to medicate your seven year old is the guilt that comes with that. It is such a taboo subject. There are so many people out there that flat out refuse and guess what, I used to be one of them. I always said no to medication and that there had to be another way. Well I was not in the situation I am in now and really had no clue what I was talking about.

If you look at the previous paragraph you will see that every other word is "I". Its all about how I feel and what I think. Truth be told, this is not about me, its not happening to me, its not me that has the problem. It is about Owen and helping him.

Together, Brian and I decided to take ourselves out of it and make it about him. Its not about us and what we feel, its about Owen and what he needs. We decided to try the meds out to see if they work. There is a misconception with ADHD medication. Many people think that it is something you take and it stays in your system which is what we thought. That is not true. You either take it or you don't and when its wears off its out of your system.

My train of thought was if your child had a heart condition you would give them medication. If they had allergies you would give them shots. Well what if they have ADHD? Its not as though he is sick but in a way he is. His brain doesn't work like it should. Why is it so taboo to give medicine to a child that needs it?

I have spent  many nights loosing sleep and many days crying over our decision to medicate him. We went back and fourth for months. Brian was for it, I was against it. I was for it and he was against it. I worried what giving such a young child chemicals for his brain would do. I worried about everything under the sun. I had anxiety, I had doubts but what it came down to is that he needs it. Its not about me its about him.

I am so lucky that I had friends to talk to about my concerns. Many of them being parents of Owens friends. Some with children who have ADD or ADHD. They helped me through my doubts. My family did nothing but support my decision and were standing by to help in any way they could. Support is key when dealing with something unknown and scary.

We gave him his medication for a week during the summer just to make sure he would not have any adverse reactions. I wanted to monitor him to see how he would feel. All went well. He felt fine. We made a choice to only medicate him for school. No summer, weekends or holidays. No days off from school.

We have been Owens parents for seven years with out medication and do not need it to parent him. I guess that is why it is so taboo. Some parents give it to their children to make parenting easier. We are doing this strictly for school and school only.

The result, when school started he did amazing. He noticed a difference immediately. Homework, gets done quickly and easily. Granted it is only 1st grade review but still. Its better than it used to be. He told me that he doesn't have a hard time following directions and getting his work done.

I talked to his teacher and told him our situation and how new this is to us. He will work with us to make sure we are all on the same page. In speaking with his teacher from last year she said she sees such a huge difference in him just in the lunch room.

Kids with ADHD have a very hard time when there is a lot going on around them. When there is a lot of action and excitement they get so over stimulated and cant handle it. The lunch room was a perfect example of that. Its loud, chaotic, and pure over stimulation. He always had a hard time remaining calm enough to sit and eat. He wont usually eat when there is a lot going on around him. At birthday parties, family parties, functions...he doesn't eat. He cant focus long enough to sit and eat a meal. Even at dinner time he gets up three or four times.

I don't want him to think that he needs his medication to do good in school so on the weekends we read, draw and do other things with out the meds just to prove to him that he can be successful with out it.

The hyperactivity is still there and will always be there. That is Owen. I wouldn't change it for the world. The meds don't take that away. It strictly removes that static so he can focus on what is in front of him. His little brain is less chaotic.

How do we deal with the hyperactivity? The same way you would with any hyper boy. We keep him active. He plays outside and RUNS all the time.

All of this has been on my mind for so long. I wanted to share but didn't want my boy labeled as the boy with ADHD. We kept it sort of quiet for a while. Only telling family and friends.

The I realized, this is nothing to hide. There is nothing wrong with sharing this with others and our decision in how to treat him. I stand behind our choice and our boy. We support him and encourage him to be who he is and never change. I will love him no matter what he does in life and will only coach him along to make sure he gets through it all unharmed.

In a previous post I spoke about parenting and how hard it can be at times. How you have to roll with the punches and are constantly changing your views as you go. I never want to judge others for the way they parent and hope in return no one would judge me. I know there are those out there that do look down on others for certain things they do but I know in my heart that we are doing the best thing as parents for our children. We love them and support them. We teach them and help them grow. That is the best we can do. We are here for them no matter what.

I am not going to say that parenting a child with ADHD is not very hard at times. It is extremely difficult and requires a lot of patience. In all honesty, my patience wears thin often and I have to remind myself to calm down and take a step back. Every day is a new day. And as I tell Owen when he asks if he had a bad day, no day is a bad day there are only bad moments. If you have a bad moment breathe, and move on to the next. For so long we got caught up on good days bad days. 

Not anymore. We have good days everyday...well, that is a lie. Not everyday is a good day but I wake up every morning and try to have a good day. That doesn't always happen but I will continue to try to make it happen.



Fall is in the air...yeah right. Its hot, and muggy. I feel like I live in FL. Its almost October. I want cold mornings, sunny cool afternoons, and cold evenings. I want to put away all of the summer clothes . I want to burn my Pumpkin Spice candle, bake pumpkin breads, make french onion soup in the crock pot and take walks in the neighborhood so I can hear the leaves crunch under my feet. Go away Indian summer!

I have been so busy the past few weeks. School has started, bake sales are being organized and homework is getting done. Thank god I dont work. Well I do work I just dont get paid for it.

I started watching my friends daughter a few weeks ago. Her name is Kennedy, she is a beautiful two year old girl (pictures coming). Shane loves having her here. They are buddies. We go to the library once a week. It has been really great having her here.

Well off to play with my kids, Shaney just woke up. He is not feeling well so I need to go wipe boogies.

Have a great day!!!


Kim Billerman said...

You are great parents!! I applaud you for telling your story, there is nothing to be ashamed of at all. In fact, we can all learn from this. We all need to learn patience no matter what the situation is. If there is ever anything I can do to help in any way, just let me know. I love you guys and miss you too!! Aunt Kim

JoJoHarv said...

*wiping tears* You guys made the best decision for your child. Every child, every parent, every situation is different and I'm so happy that this is working for your family ESPECIALLY for Owen!!! Keep us updated!!! *hugs*

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