What’s Really on Their Minds? A Child’s Perspective on Having ADHD

My son, Connor, has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and type 1 diabetes. He was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 5 and with ADHD when he was in 2nd grade. The lines of communication are very open in our household, and I spend a lot of time talking to Connor about his body and why his pancreas doesn’t work and his mind functions a little bit different than his peers. He asks a lot of questions, and we learn together.

One book that we often read together is All Dogs Have ADHD because he can relate to the dogs in the book who share so many of the traits that he has as a child with ADHD. We laugh as we read it together and point out the similarities between him and the silly dogs in the photos and their crazy antics. I constantly point out the positive, unique things about Connor. I praise him for his creative, strategic mind. I encourage him to draw elaborate pictures of fantastical creatures. He distributes black and white photocopies of his drawings to his friends as coloring pages upon their request. I point out how his hyperfocus is cool because he can create sandcastles and Lego structures that far surpass the abilities of most adults that I know. His ability to make new friends and find commonalities is amazing! He is always surrounded by packs of kids who linger on every word and view him as their leader. He creates original fantasy games at recess and after school, and even kids much older than him surround him and want to be part of Connor’s world. He’s a naturally gifted wrestler because of his intense need for sensory input and desire to be the best. He is compassionate and empathetic, especially to others who have disabilities or who are left out. He notices those children and instantly befriends them. He is loving and affectionate towards people and animals. He’s inquisitive. He’s amazing in so many ways, and I thought that he recognized that in himself.

A good friend of his from school came to spend the night this past weekend. I had not realized that his friend also has ADHD until he mentioned that he would have a hard time sleeping without Melatonin. Since Melatonin is also in our arsenal of tools as parents of a child with ADHD (and as his mom too), I casually asked if he has ADHD. He looked at me like I am a magician or a mind-reader. “Yes! I have ADHD. How did you know?”. I told him the Connor also has ADHD, and the look on the boy’s face was golden. He completely lit up to find out that his good buddy has something else in common. He ran into the bedroom where Connor was playing Legos to compare notes about having ADHD. They huddled on the bed to talk about it, and I was touched.

The next morning, I was working on my first Contributor blog for A Mom’s View of ADHD. I thought of the two boys sitting on the bed talking excitedly about the fact that they both have ADHD. What better resource for material for my blog post could I ask for? Why not ask the boys to write about what it’s like to have ADHD? What’s good about it? What’s bad? Draw some pictures about ADHD from their perspective. They were thrilled with this assignment, especially after I agreed to let Connor’s friend stay at our house longer that day. The boys each took a notebook and pencil outside and sat on the curb filling up their pages with words and pictures about having ADHD. I walked outside to check on them and peek at their work. I expected a few negative things and a lot of positives, but what the boys wrote was real and raw. It was not what I had wanted to read as a mother, but it was the truth. Unfiltered and straight from their hearts. There were a smattering of things that they recognized as being positive, but a lot of what they wrote broke my heart. I hadn’t realized how self-aware my son is about his own struggles. I was reminded of that famous line from the movie, A Few Good Men. “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!”.

Would you like to see what the boys wrote? Their illustrations about ADHD? Here’s Connor’s work:

Bad (and good) things about ADHD by Connor

1. uncontrollable

2. getting in trouble easy

3. teased

4. getting bullied

5. embarrassed

6. can’t make up your mind

7. hard to make friends

8. cussing

9. cry a lot

10. hard to take turns

11. angry

12. impatient

13. easily distracted

14. good at sports

15. lots of energy

16. creative

17. fast learner

18. humor

19. making friends

Illustration explanation: I asked Connor about the picture he drew with the boy and his brain with the thought bubble. He said that’s what he’s always thinking about: Nature, War and Creatures.

The picture at the bottom is what he says he feels like all the time. Happy and devilish at the same time. Like a two-headed Ace. He heard me talking about the idea for my blog about the Queen of Spades. I was considering a different title of “The Ace is Wild”. He drew that picture at the bottom as an illustration of himself  as “The Ace is Wild” – a two headed ace from a deck of cards. The eyes rolled off to the side is typical for Connor. He gives that silly smile and eyes off to the side when he’s telling me a goofy story.

Here’s Connor’s friend’s work (no explanation needed because he spells better than my son):

I wonder what is going on in the brain of your child with ADHD? Have you asked him or her to write about it? Draw a picture about it? Do you want to know? You might learn from them. After all, they are the best teachers about their own disorder. I have to remember that I have a lot to learn from my son, even if I am the one who is a Teacher. We have a long road ahead of us, but at least now I know what issues to address and to overcome.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Iowa State University, and I am a certified K-6 teacher in the state of North Carolina. I spend a lot of my free time volunteering for organizations that are close to my heart. My boys are ages 8 and 10. My older son has ADHD and type 1 diabetes. I enjoy talking photographs, hiking and gardening. Those interests led to the start of my Etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/Hickowreaths.

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About the author

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Iowa State University, and I am a certified K-6 teacher in the state of North Carolina. I spend a lot of my free time volunteering for organizations that are close to my heart. My boys are ages 8 and 10. My older son has ADHD and type 1 diabetes. I enjoy talking photographs, hiking and gardening. Those interests led to the start of my Etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/Hickowreaths.
  • Karriegee

    Thanks for sharing Amy!!!! 

    • Amy Coffey

       You are very welcome, Karrie!

  • Chez4real2

    THANK YOU-
    For this insightful view of what our Beautiful kids think and feel about their ADHD!

    • Amy Coffey

      I don’t know why I didn’t think of asking him to do this a long time ago. I wish I had known how he felt this whole time. Oh well! We can only move forward. You’re absolutely right. Our kids are beautiful!

  • http://argonnechronicles.blogspot.com/ Dee (dmd)

    I love your glowing description of your son!  

    • Amy Coffey

      Thanks! I’m sure we all could gush about our kids. I had to refrain from continuing with all the things I love about my son. He is an awesome little guy! We’re working on fixing the pics so you can view a larger image of them. Thanks for noticing that you can’t make them bigger. Good feedback.

  • http://argonnechronicles.blogspot.com/ Dee (dmd)

    One other thing – I can’t click on the pics to get a better view of what they wrote.

    • adhdmomma

      I’m working on that issue. There are some glitches still after moving over to the wordpress platform. Bear with me…

    • Amy Coffey

      I changed the photo size to large to make it easier to view. Does that help?

  • Caroline

    What an interesting exercise. Like you, I’m always trying to point out the good things about my girls, both of whom have ADHD. I wonder if they have a similar view of themselves … guess I need to ask!

    Caroline
    lifeunfocused

    • Amy Coffey

      I’d love to see what your girls come up with, Caroline. Would you be willing to share? Thank you!

  • Jeri

    Thank you Connor and your friend for the insight of your ADHD minds.  We are always wondering what our son is thinking, although he is only 3 1/2 we are learning every day what and how we need to learn to deal, handle, cope, live (not sure what word to use here) with an ADHD child.  The more we learn now, (we feel) the better it will be not only for him but for us as a family as he gets older.

    • Amy Coffey

      That’s great that you are already trying to get inside the mind of your son to empathize and understand. I’m glad my son and his friend’s words and illustrations helped you!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/EFCKWNPMPHTSD5VTIMIJFM7XGU Denise

    That’s really interesting Amy. My son (now 32) was diagnosed with ADD at 8 years old and what I remember him saying is….I can’t shut off my brain….and….I don’t share my feelings with anyone.

    • Amy Coffey

      Connor also says he can’t shut off his brain. I say that too, actually. Connor has always been a child who shares his feelings with me. That might be unusual for a child, especially a boy. I really don’t know, because I only have experience with my son. I’m sure each child is unique. What is your son doing as an adult with ADD? Does he have a successful career? Family? I’m always interested in hearing about our children all grown up. 

  • Ryan

    its a everyday struggle Amy I have had diabetes since 1985 and ADHD Im 33 and my wife has to work everyday with me. Im great when im hyperfoucued at work welding. I can work circles around everybody and take something so repetative and prefect it to go faster than non adders.

  • jasmine

    It feels so much better to hear things from a parent who has a son with both, Thank you

  • Katymiti

    Thanks you for this beautiful insight into the mind of a child with ADHD. My son was diagnosed a few months ago and I’m just beggining to try understand how difficult this condition is for him and how it affects him. This is really helpful, thank you. 

  • Annette

    Wow, i’m going to have to ask my daughter to try this assignment. I wonder what she really thinks of having ADHD. Thanks so much for sharing your sons thoughts and his friends as well.

  • Christy

    After everything I’ve tried to do for my son, I’ve never thought to ask him to do this. This is not only heartbreaking but eye opening. I think over Christmas break I will have he and I sit down and we can both make out a list since I too am ADHD. Maybe if we do this it will help open the lines of communication and we can understand each other more. Thank you for doing this.

  • Wicks25

    Thanks Amy for sharing a little about your son. I have two boys with type 1 diabetes & the youngest also has ADHD. He is turning 6 next month & was diagnosed with diabetes at 10 months of age. I always thought his behavior was directly related to his fluctuating blood sugar levels until he got older & deep down I knew it was something else. He was formally diagnosed with ADHD at age 5. It was hard dealing with the double diagnosis & his behavior is really hard to manage. Like your son, he is creative & loving. He has lots of friends but sometimes says he is stupid. How old is your son? I’m in Australia!

  • dannyray

    this is to amazing. your son seems to be able to control his ADHD(i don’t know him so i could be wrong). People that own big businesses like CEO of companies have ADHD, but they seem to learn how to control it. Now myself i can’t control i have tried for ten years, and i have been that kid that does alright in every class. I’m picked on because my brain thinks ahead of other people. for example my associate bill is talking about a video game that just came out (black ops 2), now in my head i already thought about that game,and everything about it. Then i started to think about another game that is coming out (ghost), so i blurt out that game. everyone will look at me with a dumb expression on their faces. Don’t give him medication like Adderall. i have been taking this medication for about five years, and it really does help, but in studies it shows that as the young adult grows up with Adderall then stops taking it, the brain will not function the same. i have also noticed I’m a person that hides his emotions with laughter when I’m off my medication, but when im on my medication i hide my emotions in a straight face to show that there is nothing wrong. people say that im like a drone when im on my medication. if you end up reading this i would love for you to email me to tell me how you approached your son on the situation. i’m only asking you this because i am going to be a psychologist, and because i want to help my little sister so please email me at drlynn8311@gmail.com.

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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