Roger, 11, 5th grade, ADHD, R/O dx of Bipolar & Aspergers
Vincent, 4, Pre-School…R/O dx of ADHD
Angelique, 5, Pre-K~Spectrum Disorder, Mild CP, Hypotonia
I am a working mom of three special needs kids. I have been married for 10 years to my plumber husband. I met my husband when I was 15 and he 17, high school sweethearts, and have been together ever since (14 years now!). I was raised mostly by a single mother, and my maternal grandparents after my mother left my abusive father. I honor her and look up to what she over came as well in her life.
I have a unique situation where I have special needs kids AND work as a Child & Family Psychotherapist! I am a therapist in the school district my son is in (which is a small rural community, adding even more of an unusual and, at times, uncomfortable twist). I too have recently been diagnosed with ADHD and Bipolar disorder after struggling for the first 29 years of my life! Through having this diagnosis, I was still able to achieve a Masters Degree with GPA higher than 3.7, although I can’t say that was the case in Elementry-High School, barely scraping by to graduate! I have an insider’s perspecitve personally, professionally and as a parent… at times its my world! But, having “been there done that,” I also know the brighter side of the ADHD child/parent/person/professional and that not all of it is doom and gloom (but there are days…oh there are days!).
What are your ADHD child’s strengths/gifts/talents? Weaknesses? Obsessions?
My eldest LOVES sports. He is in football, soccer, wrestling, basketball, was in Little League but decided this year that wasn’t his thing, swimming, 4-H, Math and Spell Bowl, Student Council, ROCK. He has had trouble with losing and gets frustrated easily if he doesn’t think something is fair. He is a very black and white thinker and wants to be perfect.
We use 1, 2, 3 Magic, timeouts, sensory deprivation, CTB, Behavioral Therapy/Modification, and watch their diet as best we can! (Which is hard considering the boys sneak food and my eldest has been known to binge eat when no one is watching…on carbs of course).
Learn as much as you can about the disorder and find a good doctor/psych/therapist! Work with the schools and try to befriend the teachers, principal, etc. Understand that this is a MEDICAL CONDITION/DISORDER and treat it as such. The behaviors are SYMPTOMS of the illness and most likely are not what the child is wanting/choosing to do.
Very much the above about educating people that the brain is an ORGAN just like the pancreases or heart. That “mental illness” is a disease, just as the other organs of the body can become diseased and need to be treated. We wouldn’t punish a child who has diabetes and became symptomatic from it, just as we should not “punish” a child who is having symptomatic behaviors from their brain chemicals malfunctioning.
We are not medicating yet as we had a horrible experience with it earlier. We are now looking into it again after my wonderful, life-changing experience when a doctor put me on the right “cocktail.”
Yes. He has a behavior plan which has helped accommodate him when he is having symptoms: decrease sensory stimulation, go to another classroom to cool off, etc. He has two male mentors who are coaches that he looks up to. More time on tests, goes to a quiet room to test, a chance to be reminded about things are also part of his accommodations.