Buckle Up: We’re Riding The ADHD Rollercoaster

There’s a magical land that parents of children with ADHD are often told about. In that land, children with ADHD outgrow the disorder and become neuro-typical adolescents capable of controlling their impulses, doing what’s asked of them, remembering their tasks, and weighing the consequences of their choices.

And for about a week last month, I thought we’d caught sight of it. Javi was performing well at school, his behavior was good more often than it was bad, he was using reminders and other strategies to be more independent with his school work and time, and I could direct him to complete a task without a resulting argument.

In short, life was good. If I squinted the right way, I could see that magical land just up ahead. I bragged and congratulated and rewarded. I exhaled years of tension and nervous energy.

Can you guess what happened? Surely it’s happened to you, too. Just when you let your guard down and relax into a less always-on-high-alert attitude, the magical land disappears and your family crashes right back into the Wall of ADHD. I may even have a concussion from the impact.

The past few weeks have been packed with arguments, defiance, forgetfulness, overtalking, late-night prowling, impulsivity, meltdowns, tantrums, and phone call after phone call from school. Because ADHD doesn’t affect only the person with the disorder, the entire family has been in a free fall. And that one week is cruel reminder of what life could be like, what life probably is like, for families that aren’t ours.

But there’s always hope. We met with a new ADHD specialist this morning who has scheduled sessions for occupational therapy to help with organizational skills, a physical therapist to help him with controlling his body and finding ways to turn his physicality into an asset, and a psychologist to work with him on anxiety and defiance. We’re also trying a strong dose of medication to coincide with the increased therapy.

I’m not expecting to come into proximity of that magical land any time soon — or ever, really. Both kids are home for winter break/Christmas holidays and have found a way to fight over every single thing they come into contact with and Javi has already cried today about how boring his life is — but there’s help on the horizon.

It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that this feels like the start of my own little Christmas miracle and I’m praying like mad for a completely different New Year.

What issues are you hoping to find resolution for in the New Year? Have you tried a combination of therapies for your child? What worked? What was a waste of time? Anyone else dreading the next week and a half of all-kids-all-the-time?

Kelly Quinones Miller is the mother of an adopted son with ADHD, inattentive type. She works from home as a freelance writer and designer while trying to teach her son the strategies and skills he’ll need to succeed. Kelly blogs about family issues, casual environmentalism, backyard chickens, and more at The Miller Mix.

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adhd behavior problems, ADHD medication, counseling, Kelly Quinones Miller, occupational therapy, organization ·

About the author

Kelly Quinones Miller is the mother of an adopted son with ADHD, inattentive type. She works from home as a freelance writer and designer while trying to teach her son the strategies and skills he'll need to succeed. Kelly blogs about family issues, casual environmentalism, backyard chickens, and more at The Miller Mix.


  1. I hate roller coasters! Never thought I'd live on a perpetual one… comes with the territory though. I can't count how often I've blogged about wishing we could just find an even keel.

    Sounds like you've got a great plan in place. Wondering if you have one health care provider managing all these therapies or if you are coordinating it on your own. I've always dreamed of an ADHD center where all the care you need can be found, and coordinated, there. I wish I had the means to open one. 🙂

    You'll be back on track, I mean on the rails, in no time!

  2. Penny, we have moved practices to a group that specializes in treatment for ADHD. They have an OT, PT, and counselor on staff and can arrange for an SLP as needed. We now have a case worker-type advocate who coordinates for us and works closely with the doc on health/nutrition as well. We're one visit in, but seems like heaven.

  3. @Kelly, That totally sounds like heaven! I am way jealous! The closest we have here is the Pediatric Behavioral Center at the children's hospital outpatient center. We started care there because it was not billed as mental health and the only ADHD care covered by our insurance at the time. But it was not ideal. We just saw a doc about meds. They had in-house OT but it was billed as a hospital visit (and we have a $5,000 deductible per person and then still have to pay 70%). They also had a counselor there but the deductible for mental health was even higher and then we had to pay 50%. With the crappy insurance, we had to basically paying 100% of all therapies because we wouldn't incur enough in an entire year to even satisfy the deductible. Needless to say, we couldn't afford that. Plus, I didn't feel the care level from the doc was adequate — it was impossible to get an appointment w/out at least 3 months notice, he just checked how meds were doing, never really listened to me, and pushed their counselor and OT departments. He insinuated I wasn't doing enough for Luke because he wasn't getting OT and counseling at the time — he never listened to the fact that I couldn't pay for it (and I kept telling him). There never was a natural element, no nutrition component (which we still don't get). I am so jealous. Sometimes I think living in or close to a bigger city would mean better care and more opportunities for Luke. {sigh.}

  4. Stacy says:

    You know, I understand the small periods of time where things with our ADHD child is running smoothly. We just went through a period like that as well. Bailey was minding, not arguing, following instructions, bringing home smiley faces instead of bad behavior reports. Things were nice. And then it all comes flooding back: the arguments, not following directions, crazy jigs that take up my space as well as everyone elses space.

    But in this time of Christmas, I look at Bailey, and I wouldn't trade him for the world. We LOVE his spirit, his drive to answer ALL the questions (even ones not directed at him), the desire to be the best (sometimes to a fault). He is a blessing and I think we all feel that way when our kids are playing quietly and we can gaze on them with unconditional love and enjoy what we have brought into the world.

    Life is hard for everyone in their own way and it's up to us as the parents to do whatever we can to make it easier. Bailey is not on meds and we have started seeing a child psychologist whom he adores. Our visits with the doctor have made him a little better. How, I don't know, but there is a slight change.

    After Christmas at school, normally a switch flips in his head and he seems to “get” what is expected of him until the end of March so hopefully that will be true again this year. Then we have next school year to plan for and how to make it smooth for him.

    Love your kids, no matter how much they torture us with behavior we don't understand. Give them a hug and tell them so (even if they don't want it – boys mostly). They NEED to hear it!!!


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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.

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