adhd child

He was a fertility baby.  We yearned for this child for so many years and with such intensity that the prayers that were uttered and those that stayed in our hearts were immeasurable. When our pregnancy was confirmed, we celebrated quietly, cautiously, amongst family but with deep emotion, anticipation and gratitude.

And he was perfect. Beautiful. Flawless. After the first 24 hours when he barely cried, my husband turned to my Mother-in-law and said “he’s so well behaved – he’s barely whimpered”.  My Mother-in-law chuckled knowingly and said, “Wait,  he’ll do his share of crying”. Who knew we were going to become experienced in raising an ADHD child?
As a mother of five, I now know  better: His colic was not “normal”. It was ferocious.  But we didn’t know that, we were “first timers”. We tried “everything” and nothing helped. For four months he did not simply cry.  He hissed. We were exhausted.  We argued. He was so utterly miserable and so were we.
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He learned to sit, stand and crawl early. Physically, he was extraordinarily advanced. One evening when he was seven or eight months old he crawled up and down our hallway over and over again.  At first, proud parents, we cheered alongside him.  After another thirty minutes, we were puzzled and then worried.  He had so much energy, he did not seem able to “turn off”.
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Preschool was a blur of frenzied movement.  While the other children participated in circle time or played happily at the sand table or kitchen, our son would run circles, flitting from one activity area to the next.  He loved other children, wanted social connection but could not obtain it. He hugged children “too hard”. He bumped and jostled other kids, scaring them and ultimately alienating them.
Birthday parties were painful.  In those moments his differences were so clear. What we came to know in raisingin ADHD child were scenarios like this: While the other four year olds squealed in delight as the dressed up Barney came in to sing “I love you”, our child would cover his ears and cry, ultimately needing to leave the room as the sensory overload was too great.  He simply hated birthday parties – we stopped insisting he go.
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An outing to the park was an exercise in self-controlled emotion.  If the park was empty and we had the Jungle Gym to ourselves, our son soared.  He jumped, swung an danced from activity to activity.  If other children were at the park, I held my breath because too often it ended up in  dragging my son home after he threw sand in a child’s eyes or pushed them off the slide too aggressively. Other parents eyed my son and I suspiciously.  What kind of parent was I to let my child behave “that” way? This can be a constant tension of raising an ADHD child.
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Sometimes, my young son would gaze  into my eyes beseechingly.  My heart  –  always filled to the brim, was fit to burst.    How could I help my child? We knew something was wrong.  We turned first to our pediatrician and described his behavior. We were told we were being over reactive. We read books, we argued about parenting tactics.  Mom was too soft.  Dad was too strict. Mom was a pushover.  Dad was too harsh.
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The Preschool Principal sat me down to tell me that my son needed to be assessed.  Something was wrong. . We didn’t deny it.  It hurt so much to be told by someone else.  Yet I was so relieved.
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Appointments were set-up.  Tests were conducted. He was five and “too young” to be properly diagnosed.  It could be in the spectrum of Autism. It was possibly something called Attention Deficit Disorder. “Come back when he’s seven”. Terrified, we were still determined to become experts in these terms.
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We changed his diet.  No sugar, no wheat, no dairy.  We changed our parenting strategies – although we still pointed fingers at each other.  Dad was too authoritarian. Mom did not follow through. We created a behavior modification program. It helped – a little.
Our son craved friends.  He tried so hard to learn social nuances and yet he couldn’t “get it”.
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FINALLY. After impulsively cutting another child’s hair “for no reason” while sitting in his grade 1 class, we decided we couldn’t wait any longer.  More appointments. Assessments. Tests. He was diagnosed with  ADHD.  We created a new behavior modification program, modified his diet, worked with his teachers, worked with his siblings, worked on ourselves. His “behavior” persisted. He began taking Ritalin. Mom and Dad continued to argue about parenting tactics.
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Ritalin made a difference. His enormous intensity dissipated.  He was less impulsive. He made eye contact.  The medication made him nauseous. The medication lasted for 5 hour intervals. We were constantly juggling the perfect time for him to take his medication.  He began concentrating in school.  He began making friends.  Could we “up” the dose?  His growth was effected.  In grade 2  he was the tallest boy in his class.  By grade 7 he was the shortest.
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He had friends.  Not the popular boys, definitely the socially awkward kids, but he had friends and we were overjoyed, so was he.  His marks were improving.  We were so cautious. Could we breathe a sigh of relief?
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He turned fourteen.  The medicine was really making him sick.  He had no appetite.  We changed medications countless times.  We changed dosages countless times.
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He had enough.  No more medication. He wouldn’t budge.
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He grew a foot. But he also fought with his teachers. He wasn’t making friends.  He was on the computer “all the time”. He didn’t listen.  He was hanging out with the wrong crowd.  Mom and dad were extremely worried and felt “helpless”.
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Sometimes when the house was calm and it was just the two of us, I would gaze into my son’s eyes and my heart would fill with a rush of motherly love.  Sometimes I think he recognized it.  Sometimes he didn’t care. I wondered if this was just regular teenage behavior, or if this was still part of raising an ADHD child.
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He is now entering adulthood.
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He’s learning about self-control. He needs a schedule.  He needs to eat properly.  He needs a constant physical outlet or he “undoes”.   He is now considering taking new medication.  He is becoming self-motivated.
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Twenty years ago the term ADHD was not a  household word.  Today it is.  We – Mom and Dad, have learned to reach out not only to the experts for medical advice but to parents who have “been there before us” in order to gain knowledge and support. I have learned to embrace and celebrate my son and his ADHD. I have also come to  recognize the fear, panic, confusion and embarrassment in  parents new to ADHD. I believe they can have a different experience.
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I believe it is all about SHARING.
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ADHDNotebook.com was borne out of a personal experience. It’s not meant “just” as a resource for parents of ADHD kids –  it’s a place to turn to build friendships, gain support and get advice from ADHD parents, ADHD adults and teens. It’s a place to get the best and most up-to-date information  from experts in the field of ADHD.   It’s a place to express personal experiences and to share  personal success in a non-judgemental atmosphere.
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And my son? He’s maturing.
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So are we.
DOWN PILLS SIGN
© Radu Razvan Gheorghe | Dreamstime.com