HELLO! MY NAME IS: Eve, Part 2: Infanthood

In my first post in this series, I promised to introduce you to Eve. I’ll do so, but first, a little background:A few months back, a marketing company conducted online surveys on two ADHD-related social media venues that are popular with parents of kids with ADHD. One was a Facebook page; the other was this blog, “a mom’s view of ADHD.” The surveys were designed to find out what the parents who frequent these sites are looking for. The answer came through loud and clear: “We want to feel like we’re not alone in dealing with ADHD.” Sound familiar, parents?

The upcoming book, Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories (to which several of the ADHD mommas, and dad Frank South contributed) is also dedicated to providing what parents say they want most: to know that they’re not alone in their special-needs parenting journeys. In the book, 35 parents of “Easy to Love” (ETL) kids share their triumphs, their mistakes, and their inner-most feelings; from the strength of their love, to the darker feelings that it’s hard to admit to having.

“Easy to Love but Hard to Raise” children are those with ADHD or other conditions that take the already difficult job of being a parent and add to the challenge.

Each of our parent-authors’ individual stories is a unique and personal gift to parent-readers. Those essays, alone, would have created a valuable book for parents. But, a completely unexpected “bonus” gift arose as the essays were merged into a collection. When the essays are read collectively certain patterns emerge; of feelings this brand of parent tends to experience throughout the various stages of parenting; from when we first imagine ourselves as parents, to when our children become adults. Together, these commonalities paint a fascinating portrait; an archetype, really, of Everyparent of an Easy to Love but… child; or Eve for short. In this series of posts, I’ll take you through Eve’s parenting experience, from her son Eli’s infancy, through his young adulthood.

Stage: Infancy

“The experience of parenting this child is nothing like I thought it would be.”

Here’s an excerpt from the Introduction to the book, Easy to Love but Hard to Raise.

“Like so many girls and young women, Eve has a fantasy of parenthood, formed during childhood play, and reinforced through years of romantic musings. Finally, it’s her turn to live the fantasy. Her son Eli is born (or adopted). Eve’s a mother!

Before long Eve is confused. Although she loves him, the experience of parenting this child is nothing like she thought it would be. Eli’s differences begin at birth. He’s colicky, impossible to console, overly sensitive to light and sound, and even to his parents’ touch. It seems as if he never sleeps. Eve thinks she must be doing something wrong, or her baby wouldn’t be so unhappy. She is always physically and emotionally exhausted. She privately mourns the loss of her long-held fantasy-motherhood.”

Many of our parent-authors described their ETL child’s infancy in just this way. Over and over they were told by their pediatricians that their babies were just “colicky.” Often, this was the first of many times that their parenting instincts (that something real and serious was going on) were discounted, causing them to begin to question their parenting abilities. In reality, it is likely that these babies, who were later discovered to have mental health conditions, were suffering from Sensory Processing Disorder, a condition that is commonly comorbid with ADHD and disorders on the autism spectrum.

Dr. Lucy Jane Miller, a top expert in Sensory Processing Disorder, founder and director of the STAR (Sensory Therapies And Research) Center, generously shared her knowledge for the book, saying, “If only I could get funding for a ‘fussy baby’ clinic! What is colic? What is a ‘fussy baby’ or a ‘difficult child?’ I think these likely are children with Sensory Processing Disorder….We…see many infants and toddlers, and the children who come to us at later ages invariably have in their histories early indicators of difficulties with processing sensation.” Dr. Miller says data shows that 40% of children with ADHD also have sensory processing challenges.

Kirk Martin, founder of CelebrateCalm.com, also served as an expert for the book. Martin says, “Most kids [with SPD] are never diagnosed, and some don’t have a full-blown diagnosable case; nevertheless, they struggle with sensory issues that cause issues in the classroom and at home. 85% of children with AD/HD who came to our camps [Martin, a behavioral therapist, hosted camps for challenging kids in his home] were affected by sensory issues of one kind or another. And I believe that anxiety and sensory issues cause more distractions and disruptions in the classroom than any other issue.”

Of course, Eve (and the parents she represents) doesn’t know that her child may have sensory processing issues at that time. She has no way of knowing that she is beginning a long, hard, special needs parenting journey.

Stay tuned…in the next post in this ongoing series Eve struggles to parent a challenging toddler.

In May 2011, I introduced Eve to attendees at the annual conference of the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health through a poster presentation. As part of the presentation I listed 23 quotes from Eve, and for each quote, asked parent-attendees to put an M & M in a cup labeled either “Agree” or “Disagree” to indicate if the quote matched their special needs parenting experience.

27 of 27 parents indicated that they agreed with the quote:

“The experience of parenting this child is nothing like I thought it would be.”

 

Do you agree or disagree with the statement: “Parenting this child is nothing like I thought it would be.”? Share your story!

 

Kay Marner is the co-editor of the book “Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories.” Marner is a frequent contributor to ADDitude magazine, and writes an ADHD parenting blog, “My Picture-Perfect Family,” for ADDitudeMag.com.

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Related posts:

adhd sensory integration, caregiver stress, CO-MORBIDITIES, co-morbids, comorbid conditions, General ADHD, Kay Marner, sensory processing ·

About the author

Kay Marner is the co-editor of the book "Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories." Marner is a frequent contributor to ADDitude magazine, and writes an ADHD parenting blog, "My Picture-Perfect Family," for ADDitudeMag.com.

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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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