8 Things to Know About ADHD

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October is ADHD awareness month. Like Autism, it is kind of mysterious and a little confusing and like Autism, there is a spectrum for the disorder. There are varying degrees to which a child may have it and this can leave doctors, teachers, and parents doubting a diagnosis.

I recently read an article about how Autism can affect children differently depending on whether they are an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert. The same can be true of ADHD as different kids have different personalities and I did read somewhere that many times a child who is an introvert and has ADHD will be misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all.  So, to try to help clear up some of this confusion around this disorder I am going to name 8 things to know about ADHD:

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  1. Lack of Focus: This one is the most confusing. The standard criteria for this is jumping from one task to the next without completing the first task. However, some kids are over focused. This means they can spend hours obsessing over one thing to the point where they won’t do anything else. This includes eating and going to the bathroom. Conner does both of these. He almost never completes a task because he gets so easily distracted. I literally have to stand over him and watch him do the task until it is done. On the other hand, he can spend hours playing Minecraft  and he will forget to go to the bathroom. I have to be vigilant with him on this.
  2. Easily Distracted: As I mentioned, they have a tendency to jump from one task to another, never completing the first task. This can also make them very forgetful. I sometimes have to repeat directions to Conner 4 or 5 times, which can lead to frustration on my part because I hate repeating myself. anigif_enhanced-20224-1407618277-7
  3. Fidgeting: Even when Conner is sitting at his computer playing Minecraft, he can’t sit still. Some part of his body has to be constantly moving, whether it’s his feet, legs, or rocking in his chair. He also has to get up after a while and walk around the house. Climbing on things like couches after you’ve told them a million times not to. The climbing is the fidgeting while doing something inappropriate is the inattention.
  4. Talking Excessively: Conner does this A LOT! Those times when he’s walking around, he is talking someone’s ear off. He has a million different stories and thoughts going on in his little head. He simply can’t contain all of them. It’s like his brain is a non-stop bullet train that can’t slow down for one second so in order for him to release some that he has to talk. This is both Hyperactivity and Impulsivity because he will talk without understanding that I am in the middle of a conversation.
  5. Impatience: Like I said in #4, he can’t wait to talk. Well, he can but it’s really hard for him. When Conner has to wait to talk to me, he will literally pace the room and whisper to himself until I am done.
  6. Interruption: Just like impatience, I can’t read a story to Conner without him interrupting with his own version of the story at least 5 times before the story is finished. I have to constantly remind him to wait until I’m finished.8thingsaboutADHDthink_rockinrandommom
  7. Co-existing Conditions: Did you know that in two thirds of children diagnosed with ADHD also have a co-existing condition? These can be a range of disorders from Sleep disorders to Tourette’s Syndrome to Bi-polar, to Autism. Conner, for example has tics. This is a symptom of Tourette’s and I have brought this up to his pediatrician. Conner was also diagnosed with a mild Anxiety disorder but the symptoms of it have decreased over the years. If you want more information on this you can go CHADD where you can find these and other co-existing conditions.
  8. Lack of Social Cues: Kids with ADHD can function socially pretty well but they do have a tendency to forget certain social cues or be “clueless” when someone they are talking to is bored or not interested in what they are talking about. When Conner was little he would insist that children play what he wanted to play. This sometimes caused other kids to not want to play with him. He does the same with conversations. He doesn’t understand compromise.

I hope this has helped someone out there to better understand ADHD and how it works in our children. While all of these are normal in all children, in kids with ADHD, it is excessive. That’s the thing you have to remember.

Thanks so much for reading!

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Parenting Frustrations: Discipline

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Update: This happened two years ago

So this past weekend my boys spent the night at their grandparents’ house and all was well.  They don’t get to go over there often but when they do, they have fun and that’s great.  What’s not so great is it was Saturday to Sunday and my youngest, Conner, decided to stay up until almost 3am playing on his iPad.  His grandparents are asleep by 11pm and we have a routine with him that he is allowed to play on the iPad for an hour before bed.  His grandparents didn’t know the time frame, which is my fault, and since he didn’t have his melatonin (a natural sleep supplement), well, you get the idea.

These are the Parenting Frustrations!

He slept in on Sunday until almost noon.  Big mistake!  When you have a kid with ADHD, never underestimate the amount of energy they have, not just in their little bodies, but in their heads.  He literally can’t turn off his brain.  Because he slept until noon on Sunday, even giving the melatonin didn’t work.

When he handed the iPad over, as per usual, asked for a glass of water. Of course he can. This is part of his routine and usually, he goes to sleep soon after.  Not this time.

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He tossed and turned for another hour, asking for more water.  “No!”  He tossed and turned until 2am because he didn’t get any more water!  WTF???  He finally fell asleep after his second glass of water but it is now Monday morning and I am trying to figure out how to handle this situation moving forward.

I don’t have a lot of rules for my boys. I was raised in a VERY STRICT home from the time I was 8 years old until I finally moved out at the age of 21. Let’s just say, it wasn’t fun living in that house, so as an adult, I rebelled a little.

So, I am not strict with my boys.  They don’t have many chores and since they are both pretty well behaved (the most I really have to worry about is the occasional back talk and sibling bickering), I don’t push them too hard.  Brush your teeth, rinse off your own dishes, clean up your own trash, shower (Conner fights me on this one), and go to bed on time. I have also recently started asking them to help me take out the trash and help bring the groceries in. That’s the extent of the chores they have and really, they aren’t chores but basic responsibility.

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Conner is also usually good about giving the iPad over then turning over and going to sleep but this one little hiccup in his routine has caused an issue. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was on the weekend. It’s Monday though and now I have to crack down and decide, not so much what to do in this situation as I already know that, but how to handle the situation.

He will get mad and he will call me mean.  He will say he hates his life (this is his favorite thing to say when he’s mad), but I HAVE to change this.  Either I let him stay home, on the fourth day of school, or I make him go to school, which might cause him to have a bad day and thereby I would be handing the problem over to the teachers.

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Then there is the matter of the iPad.  I could ground him from the iPad altogether but he sleeps in his room that he shares with his brother. He will fuss and cry, thereby keeping his brother awake, who has to get up earlier for school.

After much thought and discussing this with his father, here is what I WILL DO:

I am going to wake him up at a decent time this morning.  THERE WILL BE NO SLEEPING UNTIL NOON!

This afternoon I am going to take him to school to pick up his homework.

He is going to do his homework BEFORE playing any video games.

There WILL BE NO ARGUING about taking a shower today.

the iPad will ONLY BE ALLOWED for one hour before bed.

He will put the iPad away or I will take it away!

There will be no ifs, ands, or buts about this!  This may not seem like a real punishment to anyone else but this is how I will show him that there are consequences for his actions.  I am also aware that there are other factors in play here. While I was really angry about it this morning, I have carefully and thoughtfully considered my next move.  This is what parents do after all.

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How do you handle you child’s defiance? I can’t be the only one who does this. Let me know in the comments.

Thanks so much for Reading!

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Doctor Who? My Son’s Favorite Doctor

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My eight year old son is obsessed with Doctor Who! I had heard of this character when I was younger but didn’t pay much attention as anything to do with science fiction was a reason for me to close off my listening ears and walk away.  It’s not that I hated science fiction.  It’s just that I had absolutely no interest in science, period.  While I was a fan of the original Star Trek, starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, George Takei, and basically everyone who was worth watching in a sci-fi show, but I was into fairytales and unicorns.

Fast forward to adulthood, more specifically, creating this little human with a natural knack for all things science and bam!  Pretty soon, I’m finding myself fully submerged in the world of science as I’m trying to explain to a preschooler why the sun shines so bright and how the snow falls (telling him that angels have pillow fights was not sufficient enough for my curious little guy).  I had also attempted to take an astronomy class in college that I dropped because of all the Math involved.  Math and I DO NOT get along.  The class was very interesting though and it was my first exposure to the Big Bang Theory (which, incidentally led me to the show that I adore).

What I also didn’t understand about science until my little guy came into my life was that even though Science is based in fact, science fiction allows for a person’s creativity to flow and expand.  This is why I believe Doctor Who is so fascinating to my baby boy and ultimately, to myself.  As you know, Conner has ADHD and I don’t know how many people know this but people with ADHD are highly creative and it’s this creative intelligence that gives them the tools to tell stories, learn musical instruments, write music, become architects, and use many other creative outlets (not that others can’t learn all of these things).  Science is no different and Doctor Who seems ripe with characters who exhibit characteristics of ADHD (it’s a part of their genius, if you ask me).

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Look at the 10th and 11th doctors, played by David Tennant and Matt Smith.  You watch their minds process information out loud as they try to figure out how to defeat whatever catastrophe is at hand in each episode.  As each idea of theirs plays out and their genius shows through, this is exactly how my son processes information.  I get to watch his ideas come to life as he tells a story.  It constantly changes from one minute to the next and the story therefore, improves as the Doctor’s ideas also improve while he successfully tries to solve a problem.  It’s fascinating to watch the doctor’s genius come alive before your very eyes, as it is just as fascinating to watch my son’s ideas flow and expand right before me.

If you think about it, maybe the doctor has some ADHD going on there. They never seem to rest as their minds are always thinking, always creating and coming up with new ideas.  That’s my son to a T!  You should hear the stories he comes up with and when it comes to the great doctor, he is always expanding on the stories in the show.  He comes up with all sorts of ideas on how destructive the weeping angels would be if they were real.  While he loves all of the characters like the Cyber men, the empty child, and living plastic, Conner’s absolute favorite is the Dalek.

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He LOVES the Dalek!  When his favorite video game, Minecraft, came out with the Doctor Who character pack, one of the first things he did was put a Dalek in the game.  He loves playing as the Dalek too.   The Tardis can even fly in the game.

Keep-Calm-Doctor-Who-HD-WallpaperSpeaking of the Tardis, I went to GameStop yesterday to buy Adam two more of his Skylander traps for his video game so, of course I told Conner to look for something too.  I never buy for one without buying for the other.  After looking through the store once, he found one of his other favorite characters, Goku, from Dragonball Z.  Right as we were about to get to the register, he took one more look around and there it was:  The Tardis Backpack!  We had tried ordering it online with his dad’s GameStop points but they were sold out.  There was only one left so I had to get it.  He was so excited to finally have it that his happiness extended to me.  So now, my boy has his very own Tardis and can’t wait to start the third grade with it!

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Proud to be a Whovian!

 

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Rockin’ it with the Big Storm (The Cat’s name is Tornado!)

So I have been promising to write about Conner’s cat Tornado and I have finally gotten around to doing just that.  I’ve had so many other things that I have wanted to write about that I kept putting this o11349862_10206662415056001_300104560_nne off.  The long title for this post is due to two different titles.  Conner and I had two different ideas for the title of this post so I just put both in.

Anyway, Tornado is a beautiful, solid grey and white male cat who came to us from an unexpected source.  I actually got him from an old client of mine who needed to get rid of all of the kittens she had but Tornado was a sick kitten.  She was worried about taking him to a shelter because of his very bad bowels problems.  I resisted taking him for several weeks for work reasons.  As Tornado got a little bigger, he started to get a little better.  It was during this time that Conner started wanting a pet of his very own.

We already had two pets in the house but the dog had apparently adopted me as his number one human and didn’t want anything to do with Conner.  I think that had a lot to do with Conner’s energy level and the fact that my dog Mikey had bad experiences with small children prior to me adopting him.  Our cat Davey had adopted Adam to be his human.  So, Conner felt left out.  It broke my heart every time he asked me why our pets didn’t like him.   I would always tell him that it wasn’t that they didn’t like him but that animals choose their humans, not the other way around.  It still hurt him though but I couldn’t very well go out and get another animal at that time.  I was trying to NOT get another pet.

While working with my client one day, Tornado came and sat in my lap.  He curled up and slept on me the entire time I was there.  He was so gentle and soft.  He was so calm.  My client had two girls who were less than gentle with the kittens and I had seen him let these little girls carry him everywhere, toss him over their shoulders, and roll around on the ground with him.  He took a lot from these girls so I started thinking, Wow he would be great for Conner.  Conner isn’t as rough but he is very active and wants so badly to cuddle with my pets at home but can’t.  This kitten might just be the perfect pet for my baby boy.  While I tried to resist bringing home another pet, I couldn’t help but think, as this adorable kitten was sleeping in my lap, how great he would be for Conner.  So, I gave in and brought the kitten home that night.  My client was so relieved that he would be going into a home versus a shelter.  No one wanted him because of his health problems and the thought of the local shelter putting him to sleep was unbearable.  I couldn’t let that happen either.  Not after spending an entire hour holding this beautiful ball of fur in my lap.

I couldn’t wait to see the look on my son’s face when I walked in the door with a kitten.  I stopped by the store and picked up a cat dish, some toys, and an extra litter box.  He laid in my lap during the entire ride home.  He was scared and I didn’t have a carrier with me.  It’s not like I had planned on taking a kitten home with me that day.  When I walked in the door, Conner was so surprised and excited.  When I told him the kitten was for him, he screamed out in excitement.  It was a beautiful and thrilling moment.  I saw on my son’s face the pure joy of finally having a pet of his very own.  I told Conner he could name is new kitten and he came up with Tornado.  His reason:  “Because he looks like a tornado mommy.”  I guess that’s as good a reason as any.  I was right about Tornado.  From that day on, Conner carries him around, and cuddles with him while Tornado lets him.  He is such a great cat and his health issues have cleared up too!11774566_10207017402610468_356877_n

 

 

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Rockin’ out with ADHD!

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My baby bear! Conner is a very active and hyper 10 year old boy. He has ADHD. With blonde hair and big blue eyes, he is the spitting image of me. He loves to draw and is very good at building things. He also loves Dinosaurs, Sharks, and Cats. And the stories he tells!  Conner loves Minecraft, Five Nights at Freddy’s, and Dr. Who.  He even got me interested in the show.

Conner, a Capricorn, was born significantly smaller than his big brother but what he lacks in size, he more than makes up for in personality. In fact, we still lovingly tease Conner that he was born with a six pack. I was sick during my pregnancy and had a scheduled c-section because I was worried that I would have the same problems delivering him that I had delivering Adam.

adhd_rockinrandommomSo Conner was born and a month later, we had moved into a new place. We even got a new kitten, who Adam named Davey (and they’re still the best of friends).  While Adam was an early walker but a late talker, Conner was just the opposite. Conner is such a little social butterfly.

As soon as he learned how to talk at just under a year old, he hasn’t stopped. He will talk a stranger’s ears off if I let him but that’s only because, like me, he has a big imagination and a swarm of various and drastically different thoughts all floating around in his head pretty much 24/7.

Conner’s behavioral issues started coming out at around 3 1/2 years old, which, coincidentally was the same time his godfather died. They were very close and even though he was so young, he still gets little flashes of memory here and there about a truly special person.

Conner was also in a great preschool with some amazing early educators who really devoted their time to each child in their care. When his behavior started to go down hill, again, I kept a clear line of communication open with the teachers, they contacted a behavioral specialist to come visit Conner once a week to work with him.

We also had a really hard time potty training Conner. After some occupational therapy and a lot of patience and perseverance on my end and that of his dad, we finally got him potty trained by kindergarten. Poor kid.  Then kindergarten started and talk about a bad pairing with the teacher! Most of the kids didn’t mix well with her but it wasn’t all on her though.

Unfortunately, she was given almost all of the kindergartners who had one problem or another and if she was lucky, she would get a teacher aid in the room for a couple of hours once or twice a week.  So, I can’t put all of the blame on her but kindergarten was definitely a hard year for Conner.

adhd_rockinrandommomIn first grade, he had an excellent teacher! He was so fortunate to get Adam’s first grade teacher so I was familiar with her and her patience with Conner was better than mine. So, despite a few problems here and there, because he had been put on an IEP for his behavior issues and was granted a paraprofessional (that’s a one-on-one aid), Conner got through the first grade. Second grade though, was a whole different ball game.

The beginning of the school year was tough on Conner. It was also when I really started seeing the signs of ADHD. The school had tried to accommodate Conner but with limited resources and a very specific program designed to help children on the Autism spectrum, it was tough. By January we had to transfer him to a different school.

That was a tough choice. It was harder on me than it was on Conner. I had been with the same elementary school for the past seven years as I watched Adam continuously improve under their strong guidance. I knew all of the teachers and the office staff. I was on a first name basis with most of them.

However, the place where Adam thrived, Conner could not. So his dad and I made the difficult decision to transfer him to a different school in a different program. During all of this I had Conner evaluated for ADHD, for which my suspicions were confirmed.

When Conner started his new school, we were all nervous. He completely turned everything around and the second half of his second grade year went off without a hitch (and all of it without the help of ADHD meds)! Conner has thrived at his school and is now going into the fifth grade!

Thanks so much for reading!

 

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