ADHD- Part 1
Having a child with ADHD is a difficult journey. From the time you get that official diagnosis, your whole world changes. Now, don’t get me wrong, in the grand scheme of things, a child with ADHD is quite tame in comparison to the myriad of other disabilities/diseases that are out there. However, I won’t downplay it anymore than that, because living with a loved one who has ADHD/ADD/ADHD with Oppositional Defiance Disorder or whatever other sidebar that gets tacked on to the diagnosis is extremely hard. Most children are not just solely ADHD, there typically is some other component that goes along with it, some have a Learning Disability with it, some may also suffer from some sort of depression or anxiety. Be sure that your doctor is thorough with you and answers all of your questions. I also want to take this time to make sure that you don’t just settle for your doctor telling you that your child needs to be medicated. Do your research and do it thoroughly. Putting your child on medication is NOT something you decide to do over the span of one office visit with your doctor.
I have two boys who have been diagnosed with ADHD and both were diagnosed at roughly the same age (about 7 years old). My oldest was officially diagnosed as having ADHD w/ODD (oppositional defiance disorder), however, I believe he has since outgrew the ODD, and quite frankly, this was never an issue for us. I would gander to say that he is probably ADHD/with a general anxiety disorder. We are in the process of trying to figure out if and when to treat the anxiety component of it as it seems as if it may be getting worse as he is getting older. My youngest was diagnosed just ADHD, this guy is the one I would say is definitely dealing a with some ODD issues.
When you are dealt with a hand of cards such as ours, you go through a range of emotions. When my oldest was a little boy, there was really nothing he could do wrong. He was an only child for about 3 years and I really had nothing to compare him to, so of course I had no real red flags at that juncture. I thought I was doing everything right, I breastfed him extensively and pumped my milk when he was in childcare, I co-slept and fed him mostly fresh food ( not jar food) when I could. I never let him *cry it out* for any reason and I wore him in a sling more times than I did not.
The time came when he entered a pre-school situation and I began to receive some subtle cues from his teachers about how he really did not respect other people’s personal space (what? he’s 4 years old for Christ sake!) and that he had a lack of focus (again, he’s 4 years old!). I never really thought hard about this, but more and more I’d get complaints on his behavior and honestly, some of it began leaking over into our home life too. I began to see subtle things such as him not respecting people’s personal space in terms of always needing to touch someone, whether while talking to them or walking past them and he was always very quick to push or shove someone (and believe me when I say none of this was ever in a mean way, it was just a way that he used to express himself) to gain their attention.
Once he entered Kindergarten, the rest of his behaviors began to come out, the not paying attention to details, fidgeting, not listening (again, there is that fine line with what is normal age appropriate behavior and what is above and beyond). His Kindergarten teacher and myself developed a cue where when I picked up him at the end of the day, she would give me a thumbs up or a thumbs down for what kind of day he had. It worked rather well and we knew when a conference would be needed based on our system. She was a lovely and wonderful teacher. It was not until he hit 1st grade that we knew it was time to test him and I thank his 1st grade teacher for being so incredibly supportive and understanding through that whole process. It was very hard for my husband and myself. I fought the system tooth and nail. “There is NOTHING wrong with MY child, he is just strong-willed!”
I mean I looked at him every day, that little red-head of his and those little freckles and chubby cheeks. He was truly beautiful in every way and I loved him no matter what. I will NOT conform him to what people thinks he should be, perhaps people need to make adjustments in what they think should be normal and acceptable!
We got the diagnosis and it of course was ADHD, I knew it deep down truth be told. I just didn’t have the heart to say it out loud and I surely did not want him labeled that. At this point he was beginning to suffer academic wise in class and we would have been incredibly selfish to try to allow him to continue on that path. It was not fair to him and it became very clear that he needed the extra support. The conversation then turned to medication. That..THAT I had a hard time coming to grips with. My child? On medication? Have you all gone mad??!! I WILL NOT put him on medication just so that it makes EVERYONE else feel better! I will NOT put him on medication just so that it makes it easier on YOU. My heart was aching and my stomach was churning. This sweet little boy that God has given me, why? How could God leave us to make such a decision? How can I come to terms with giving our child a pill every day so that he acts *normal* and can function *normal*..to what SOCIETY deems *normal*??!!
We fought about it.I fought myself about it. I fought anyone who would listen about it. Then I had to take a step back, a huge step back and look at this little boy in front of me and think that maybe, just maybe it might make HIM happier at the end of the day. I surely know he did NOT like behaving the way he did. There were many days where he would ask me “Why am I like this?” , “Why was I born this way?” How do you look your child in the face and give him an answer that would make him feel better? I’ll tell you how..you tell them that no matter what, NO MATTER WHAT, you will always love them, and that they were born special; Special in every way imaginable, and that God picks a very special set of parents that are capable of loving them regardless of the road that lies ahead. That they will never let them fall or feel alone, that they will be their biggest advocate and they will always be their soft place to land. That they will be an instrument in teaching others about patience and loving without boundaries, and what it truly means to live by the seat of your pants. Some of us can learn a lesson from a child who has ADHD..things are not always about getting things done precisely right or in the time frame you think they should and its okay to act wild and silly sometimes! To live without having to think about what is going to happen next! Children with ADHD are free spirits, don’t ever try to tame them..you will destroy who they are. Learn to live with them and accept them and love them for who they are and for what they may teach you. They are creative and talented and awesome story tellers! They have energy that surpasses all else! They laugh like there is no tomorrow and love as if you were the most important person in their world.
more to come later..