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Thursday, May 19, 2011

My child and ADHD

Well. I promised I would write about Jared and his kindergarten years and I have finally gotten around to it. I am not sure why it has taken me this long. Maybe it was too painful to look back over the mistakes we made. Whatever the reasons I am finally writing about it.
Jared started kindergarten in the fall of 2006. It was not long into the school year that problems started to arise. We were constantly getting notes home and having conferences to discuss Jared's distract ability issues. He was put on a behaviour chart (I emphatically HATE those now) and she would tally how many reminders he had each day for each task. Jared got so stressed he started having meltdowns. He also started showing OCD tendencies. His socks had to fit just so at the toe. His clothes couldn't fit or feel the wrong way. He was coming home and falling asleep at 4:00. We would have wars just to get him to do his homework. Especially the coloring. He hated the coloring.
It was during this whole thing that I would cry at night all the time. We thought he should be behaving a certain way (reinforced by the
teacher that he should be behaving a certain way). We could not understand why he could not sit still like the other kids, or do his work like the other kids. We tried Dr. Phil's advice about taking things away that the kids like in order to get the behavior we wanted. SO wrong! It got to the point that all Jared had in his room was his bed and dresser. And he still would not do the work in school. Everyone in the house was miserable and it was a pretty dark time for us. What was especially hard was having no support system. My dad lived close by but he was a guy. My mom lived in Florida which was a world away. I was not close to my sister-in-laws so I could not turn to them. I felt isolated. I felt that no one understood us. I was desperate for answers to help my son. Those answers came in the form of books.
My mom had done research and sent me two books that completely changed my life. The first one was, The Highly Sensitive Child. This opened my eyes so much to how Jared is. That yes, when I make scrambled eggs he cannot stand the smell. And clothes bothered him if they did not fit right. That was the first book I read that gave me an inkling that my child might not be like the others. I stopped fighting him on certain issues because I realized that he had no control over it. Mornings went smoother when I helped him get his socks just right instead of yelling at him to hurry up and put the damn shoes on because how could sock seams really bother a child?

Then my mom sent me another book. Setting limits with your strong willed child. Let me tell you I cried when I read this book. FINALLY! Someone who understood our child! Alleluia! The author said we were not bad parents. Which is what I felt like. I felt like I was failing our son. We were constantly yelling at Jared and he would get upset and it was a nightmare. I was a failure of a mom. After all, how hard is it to parent a small child? So when the author said we were doing the best we could with the tools we had, which were not the right tools for dealing with strong willed children I was elated! That book taught us so much and I am eternally grateful and would recommend this book for anyone dealing with these issues. The book gave us concrete ways to deal with our son and to understand our son.
Anyway, we started to realize we were putting Jared in situation where he was set up to fail. For instance, if you put a plate of cookies on the table and told Jared not to eat one, he would try to sneak one. Not because he was being purposefully disobedient. But because that is how he learns. He learns by doing and consequences. Talking, lecturing, threatening. Those do not work with him. The only thing that he responds to is direct consequenses. 
We also learned that Jared will always push the boundaries. He will always test to make sure the line is still there. We learned about do overs. When Jared would react to something in way we did not think was appropriate, he got to do it over again, with no yelling, lecturing or looks. Which he loved. This taught him many times the right way to act to a situation. We completely changed the way we dealt with Jared and an amazing transformation happened. We were happy again. Not to say that we lived happily ever after. There will always be issues with Jared and school. I have accepted that. But for that year we finished on a better note than when we started. Jared got his room back, we stopped punishing him for not doing work at school, we parented a different way that worked and I realized that Jared will never like school. It will never be the experience for Jared that it was for me. I loved school. Jared does not.
We also started supplements that seemed to work. Fish oil in particular. Meditation and yoga seemed to help him too. It is always a work in progress when it comes to Jared. But we understand that the attributes that make raising him difficult at times, will also be fantastic attributes in an adult. I would not trade a single minute of what we have gone through. Jared has taught me so much and has made me grow in ways I never would have thought possible. He is turning into a kid who cares so much about others and wants to help the world. Those caring qualities are amazing and sincere. I could go on and on about all the wonderful qualities my son has. Those qualities would not be there if he were made any other way. Those qualities are going to make him and amazing young man with a strength to rival Thor.
I just have to put this in here too. We recently watched a documentary on PBS, called ADD and loving it. I recommend this to everyone. It really is amazing how ADD minds work. This is only the trailer and while it seems to talk about medication a lot, in the video it does not. Great for understanding those with ADD!

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