Empathy


I am that mom who has all the patience in the world. I am that person who has empathy and compassion for understanding people, but even more so, children. I am that person that always gives a person a second chance. So why didn’t I understand my son? Nothing was making sense. There was no rhyme or reason to my sons’ behavior. I consider myself an educated person who is also a teacher. So why on earth couldn’t I figure this out! Well, I’ll tell you why…I wasn’t educated in ADHD. You see, I am finding in life that until you personally experience something, you can’t possibly know how it feels, no matter how much empathy one can have. However, it has become my purpose, my passion, to make people understand this misunderstood neurological disorder. Here’s my story.

My son is unpredictable: good and bad. He amazes me with his agility in sports, yet he has a midline issue (read The Writing Is On The Wall to learn more about that) and receives Occupational Therapy to help correct it. However, I feel that this “disability” is his gift. He can hit a baseball like no other six-year-old boy  and he can drive a golf ball 150 yards with no effort. He rode his bicycle with no training wheels at the age of three and was driving a battery operated toy jeep at four years old like he had a license. He can come ever so close to you and miss you by a fraction of an inch (knowingly). He loves to swim. He loves to fish with his Daddy, and is considered, “A Natural.” This is his gift. He sees and feels things differently. This is what I will foster in the years to come; I can only imagine what he will do with his agility. So this is the good, unpredictable observations I’ve see in my son.

And as far as the bad, well, you never know when that would come. Until we started medication (Intuniv), the slightest transition or upset in his schedule would disrupt the entire household. I found myself being ruled by his behavior in an effort to not cause a scene. And I don’t mean a typical tantrum, I mean a full-blown meltdown with screaming and yelling and kicking and hitting that would last for half an hour, or more sometimes. The kind that you don’t even remember why he had the unpredictable behavior in the first place! Our lives were turned upside down in an instant and this would happen more than just once a day. Picture six or seven of them. Remember that patience I said I had? Well, it was disappearing, fast. Nothing I said or did mattered. I tried behavior charts, positive reinforcements, etc. It was his way or no way.

I began researching sensory disorders. My son was experiencing many signs of sensory dysfunction. It all made sense! He was seeking that need to approach life by running, jumping, banging, etc. in an effort to fulfill his needs. He never “heard” me call his name. He never seemed to listen. He was often distracted by outside noises. In fact, at 6 months old, he’d hear an airplane fly over-head while in his highchair, with the windows closed and point to the ceiling. This continued on for years later, he heard EVERYTHING! This led me to bring my son to an audiologist for auditory processing testing…. I thought, this is it! Much to my dismay, they could not properly evaluate him. He could not sit still long enough in the booth. Once he was “released” from the booth, he ran back and forth non-stop (after several verbal and non-verbal ques from myself and the Dr.). I looked at the audiologist and she said to me, “We do a test for ADHD. Have you ever considered that may be an issue?” Honestly, at that point, I did, but I was mad at her at the same time for suggesting it. I was so flustered, but managed to make an appointment for the evaluation while my son continued to run back and forth throughout the office, touching EVERYTHING in his path. Nothing could stop him. So off we went into the car, the hum of the car and the buckle of a seat belt calmed him completely, it always did.

We were in an area where I could get some shopping done and he needed new running shoes (funny, right? now I know why). So I brought him to a Sporting Goods store to get him fit and purchase new sneakers. You see, they have an indoor track at this store, and my son ran it for an hour until I could finally catch him. I could hardly keep track of him during checkout and my heart was pounding out of my patient little chest and I was sweating as if it were a hot day in July. It was March and freezing out. I was sweating and out of breath as I buckled that boy back up in the car and dialed my Pediatrician’s phone number and made an appointment to discuss ADHD. It was a long hour and 15-minute car ride home as I had time to think that all of this was beginning to make sense to me. The developmental gap and cliché, “Boys Will Be Boys” was starting to close in. After a few Dr. appointments, much crying, and research, our Pediatrician and my husband agreed, our boy has ADHD. During our visit, my son jumped off the examination table and onto the scale without a thought. Even the doctor (who owns the practice for 20+ years) said, “I’ve only seen one other child who was this hyper and impulsive.” I was completely annoyed with this comment, partially because I knew it was true, yet completely relieved that I wasn’t crazy and the doctor understood my pain. We were NOT leaving the office without a prescription. Our lives changed that day. We have our baby back.

Every one of our stories is unique. I share this story with you because I want to bring awareness to the stigma of ADHD. It’s not about bad parenting, it’s not about a child purposefully misbehaving, it’s not about something you did wrong, it’s about understanding ADHD and bringing awareness to the lives your child touches. If I could give one piece of advice to a parent of an ADHD child, I suggest that you read, read, read! There is a wealth of information on the Internet and in books that will help give you a better understanding of what ADHD is. We (ADHD Mommas) are part of this education. The better you understand ADHD, the better you will be at coping with it as parents. YOU are your child’s number one advocate!

This journey may not be what we expected, but it makes us stronger, more understanding and possibly even better than we were before. So hang in there! You CAN do it!! And I look forward to doing it together with you!

Melissa Johnston

Melissa Johnston is a wife, mother of two and an elementary school teacher in NY. Her elementary-aged son is diagnosed with ADHD.

Melissa is passionate about helping parents and educators understand the meaning of ADHD. As a teacher, she believes it is vital that children who are diagnosed with ADHD are taught to their learning style. In order to do so, she believes children’s needs need to be met in the classroom setting, along with other accommodations that provide support with this neurological disorder (ie. Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech and Language, Counseling, and Behavior Therapy).

Related posts:

attention/focus, celebrating gifts, diagnosis, General ADHD, Melissa Johnston, occupational therapy, parenting/FAMILY ·

About the author

Melissa Johnston is a wife, mother of two and an elementary school teacher in NY. Her elementary-aged son is diagnosed with ADHD. Melissa is passionate about helping parents and educators understand the meaning of ADHD. As a teacher, she believes it is vital that children who are diagnosed with ADHD are taught to their learning style. In order to do so, she believes children's needs need to be met in the classroom setting, along with other accommodations that provide support with this neurological disorder (ie. Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech and Language, Counseling, and Behavior Therapy).

5 Comments

  1. Melissa,
    I have been following Penny's blog for 3 months.. now.. My son is 5 and I began to cry reading your story… It's where I am now.. I knew my son had adhd when he was 2 1/2 he was not dianosed until last month…He has been put on intutiv… I would like to privately ask you a few questions about your son.. and this medicine… My son is on a small dose and it's still his way or now way.. When I gave him 2 mg.. by dr.'s orders he fell asleep at school daily….He is my love my life.. and he is hard to parent but easy to love but he is turning our world upside down… and I need someone to talk to.. Penny and I have spoken and she is a huge wealth of knowledge.. I hope you have a little time for me…eatmywords40@yahoo.com
    http://hyperfocusmom.blogspot.com

    Reply
  2. The “boys will be boys” gets us everytime. Yes, they will be boys. No, it doesn't mean you should ignore hyperactivity or impulsivity.

    I remember accutely how long we put off medication and even the label “ADHD” because of the stigma — both that children with ADHD are bad and that ADHD itself doesn't exist.

    I hope your story touches other parents struggling with this issue.

    Reply
  3. “Boys will be boys”…I've heard it so many times.

    Thanks so very much for sharing. I just began to follow this blog and I can really relate to your story. I look forward to reading more! We are in that place where that gap is closing… Thanks!

    Reply
  4. Reading your story is like reading my own with Luke too. Many times I've left a retail drenched in sweat when I shouldn't have been. Everything takes longer to accomplish when your child is pinging off the walls too! Oh, and I totally thought Luke had sensory integration disorder after reading everything I could get my hands on. I even questioned the behavioral MD when he told me ADHD and said, “couldn't it be just sensory processing?” He said, “no.” Probably not my finest moment.

    Anyhow, so very glad to have you here sharing your ADHD momma experiences but also enlightening us on how to help our ADHDers in the classroom.

    Reply
  5. Thank you for your replies! I'd be happy to answer any questions Nf1andprek-whisper.
    We actually have a sign hanging up in Gavin's room that says “Boys Will Be Boys.” Yes..they will be and for us even more 😉

    Reply

Leave a Comment

The "ADHD Mommas" are not medical or mental health professionals, nor an ADHD coach. Any opinions shared here are just that, opinions. I, and the other "ADHD Mommas," are sharing our experiences with our own ADHD children. Please do not re-post or publish any content or photos without a link back to {a mom's view of ADHD}. Have the courtesy to give credit where credit is due. Copyright protected. All rights reserved.

Powered by WordPress | Customized by KW Design