Guest post: Diagnosis: Relief or Despair?

Kim is a stay at home mom to two boys.  She came to parenthood through adoption and was a teacher and school administrator before taking the plunge to stay home full time.   She lives in New Jersey.

busy_boyWe’ve known since the beginning that our son would one day be diagnosed with ADHD. He always seemed harder to corral than other kids his age. As a former teacher I felt that I had a few tricks up my sleeve and I wasn’t afraid to use them. But he required a lot of management and many of my tricks were short lived. They would work for a while but lose their luster quickly. Friends’ and neighbors’ kids would retreat to their playroom and play quietly for what seemed to be hours at a time. But our little guy required constant stimulation and constant attention.

So when it was finally time to take him to a pediatric neurologist for an evaluation, we knew what the likely outcome would be. Immediately, the doctor knew too. When she called me back to review her findings everything was confirmed. Providing the DSM-IV diagnostic code criteria said to me, “To be diagnosed with inattention you must have six of the following. He has all of them.” Okay, no surprise there. She continued, “To be diagnosed with hyperactivity you must have six of the following. He has all of them.” Official diagnosis: ADHD combined, both inattention and hyperactivity. Medication was recommend. We knew it was coming.

Whew! What a relief, right? I’m not crazy after all. I’m not imagining it that he can be more difficult to keep engaged. I’m not a bad parent for having a difficult time managing him. I haven’t failed because he can’t sit through a whole episode of Thomas. There is a legitimate diagnosis and we can help him now that we know for certain. I know my child and I was right. He has ADHD.

And then it settled in. Shit. I was right. He has ADHD. He will likely wrestle with this for the rest of his life. It may likely mean that school is challenging for him. It may even mean that social relationships are difficult for him. Will he be successful? Will he go to college? Can he lead a normal life?

I’ve since found a more balanced outlook. Or I guess I should say that I try again each day to find a more balanced outlook. There are days when I can’t get him to brush his teeth before school without losing my temper because he has to play with every little thing he passes on his way from his bedroom to the bathroom. Or when we’re trying to have a meal at a restaurant and his medication has worn off so he can’t sit still long enough to order the food. I can be especially difficult on playdates when other children are being so “perfect” and my son is literally running laps around them. Or when my husband screams at him out of frustration because they can’t read a bedtime book without my son going on a million tangents.

But then there are the days where his joy and energy lights up a room. There are days when his creativity and problem solving amaze me. Days where his zest and love of life is contagious and he gets me to give up some of my own rigidity. Days where I walk him into his school and the whole room calls out his name happy to see him because he is a genuinely nice and fun person to be around.

And I wouldn’t change him for anything in the world.

 

(image by flickr user  admiretime)

Adrienne Ehlert Bashista is the co-editor of and contributor to Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories, and is also the author of two picture books about Russian adoption. She’s had stories, essays, and articles published in a variety of journals, both print and on-line. She is the owner of DRT Press. She was a school librarian for many years before giving it up to devote more time to the rest of her life. She chronicles her adventures raising her son, recently diagnosed with FASD in her blog, A Square Peg, a Round Hole. She also writes for the blog for Easy to Love but Hard to Raise and her writing/speaking website is adriennebashista.net. She lives in central North Carolina with her husband, two sons, two dogs, 21 chickens, and a lot of bees.

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About the author

Adrienne Ehlert Bashista is the co-editor of and contributor to Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories, and is also the author of two picture books about Russian adoption. She’s had stories, essays, and articles published in a variety of journals, both print and on-line. She is the owner of DRT Press. She was a school librarian for many years before giving it up to devote more time to the rest of her life. She chronicles her adventures raising her son, recently diagnosed with FASD in her blog, A Square Peg, a Round Hole. She also writes for the blog for Easy to Love but Hard to Raise and her writing/speaking website is adriennebashista.net. She lives in central North Carolina with her husband, two sons, two dogs, 21 chickens, and a lot of bees.
  • http://twitter.com/Beth_H_Moore Beth Hawbecker Moore

    OMG, we have been having the most fiercely intense frustrating few days with our boy.  This just set me to tears at my desk.  Thank you.

  • http://dfdancesinlife.wordpress.com/ Dragonfly Diva

    I totally understand your post!  Although I knew little of ADHD prior to my son’s diagnosis, I am a former teacher as well, and the guilt I felt at not being able to find one trick in my bag that would work longer than a week was at times overwhelming.  The diagnosis pointed me in the direction of learning new tricks – albeit ones that still only lasted a week at best.  :)  But that is what ADHD is all about with little ones I think…even bigger ones.  Mine is now 13 and even now our strategies and work arounds for the parts of ADHD that he struggles most with are short lived and require much Mommy energy.  But, then, oh how his zany humor and his grin and his unique take on life lights up the day.  And, as you said, I would not trade any of it.  Thanks for sharing. 

  • Ingrid Jones

    Thank you for your post – I’m not a teacher – but the rest of your story could be me writing about my beautiful son who was diagnosed in 1st grade and is now in 5th.  It’s so important for parents of ADHD kids to know we’re not alone with the struggles and the blessings!  And it’s also so important for our kids to know that too.  We refer to our son’s ADHD as his “super power”…  what comforts me the most some days is the very long list of amazing people throughout history who have (or probably would be been diagnosed) with ADHD.  My son and I looked at that list recently and he was so elated to see the names of artists, historians, inventors, athletes that he knows.  Our kids can accomplish great things and despite some of their challenges they’ve been given amazing gifts.  Your post (and other posts like it) are what help me get through the day to day so that I can be the best Mom I can be and help my amazing kid find his light and shine.  Thanks again for sharing your story – you are shining a light that so many need to see!!!

  • shannon

    Thank you so much for this post. I have been living this life too, though I am a social worker, not a teacher, and my husband is a teacher. The past three years have been a long long process of “waiting for this phase to end”, though fearing it never would. Now, in the past three weeks, I have finally figured out with my head, what I have known in my heart a long time. My son IS diffferent. my son DOES have a reason for his tangents, his 20 minute monologues that hold us all prisoner, for the emotional meltdowns that break my heart and end with “I’m so stupid I hate myself.” and as you say, the half hour process of getting his teeth brushed.  We are waiting for the assessment, but I already know it’s true. Now, I finally understand WHY and can forge ahead with both sadness, and a hope that with the right “tools” and support, his brilliance and charm can outshine his challenges. 

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  • Wendy

    Thank you for being candid and honest. It is so hard at times to parent these kiddos. There are days I want to just run away!
    I’m currently homeschooling my little sizzler, but we hope to send him back to school next year, at least part time. So being home with him all day can be challenging. Many days are fun, some are not.
    My boy is also defiant and has mood disorder. It’s taken a year and a half to get that much of a diagnosis and we’re still not clear. We tried some stimulant meds but the side effects were intolerable (severe anger on one, severe depression on another). We are going to try some other meds but I am nervous. It’s so difficult to watch your child go through the roller coaster of the medication world. There is no magic pill.
    I just try to savor the “good stuff” and love my little guy. He is fun loving, creative and super inquisitive. Everyday is an adventure with him!

  • http://twitter.com/ADHDEFCoach Jonathan Carroll

    As an adult with ADHD and someone that was diagnosed as a child, I can relate to your piece. Well done and thanks for sharing!

    Jonathan Carroll
    http://www.adhdefcoach..com

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  • http://www.facebook.com/rhonda.miller.7798 Rhonda Miller

    I really needed to read this today. Thank you.

  • Mary Beach

    I especially love the image of not being able to sit through a whole episode of Thomas. Great post, great attitude…
    Mary S. Beach
    http://www.growingupgus.com

  • Jules Gee

    This is so my son and how it is! I knew there was something up with him once he started school, everything became hard! He went from being so chilled out/laid back baby/toddler to suddenly argumentative, hard to deal with and seemingly “not as bright” as we knew him to be! He struggled at school in prep and grade 1, I was told “boys are lazy, he’ll pick up” but he hadn’t! We fought EVERY week day when it came it home I felt like if I HAD to deal with this for the next 10-12 years, I’d end up in a nut house! I changed him schools to see if a private school would in fact be better than the state school. It helped, but not totally! He does Jui Jitsu and his dad said about doing another class, when I spoke to his sen-sei, he said he struggled to pick up his moves now, plus he didn’t listen/had poor concentration! I felt like crying but then saw it was across the board (home, school & sports) so saw my GP who referred us to a consultant.

    Long story short, we got a diagnosis a few months ago and he has picked up at school, he is still behind slightly, but getting there! I can see when his medication wears off he’s back to the dramas and very teary if something small doesn’t go his way. He had a sleep over at an old school friends, when telling the mum her reply was “I don’t believe in it!” ie doesn’t believe in the neurological disorder ADHD! OKAAAYYYYYYY….

  • Kathryn Roberts

    I completely relate to this post. Thank you for sharing.
    http://covermeimgoinginblog.blogspot.com.au/

  • http://www.scottadamkaveny.com/ Scott Adam Kaveny

    It’s too bad your kid has ADHD. However, it’s good that you are trying your best to give him the tools he needs to be successful. It is true ADHD people can be creative. Bipolar people can be too. I have ADHD and Bipolar and it almost ruined my life. I have struggled
    in school, went through a divorce, had trouble with money…I was almost homeless for this reason. But how I overcome both was making a daily list and priorities of what needed to get done, controlled my manic/depressive disorders by medication, and most importantly believing that I can do it. Right now, I have kept a job for over 2 years, never struggled with money because I can buy medication now, and living a stable life starting a wonderful internet business. Your son can do it, it just takes sheer willpower and determination on his part, admitting that he has it first, and second doing something about it.

  • Mom

    Thank you for this. You describe my son to perfection. We are starting medication tomorrow and I am scared and irrationally feel like I have failed him in some way. My husband can not take the energy and chaos. Thank you for making me feel normal for one minute!

  • Andrea Nordstrom

    Thank you for a wonderful and “so real” post. As someone diagnosed late (37) I can say that it was a relief for me to finally understand what the heck has been going on with me all these years. I only wished that I had known earlier. I may have beat myself up a lot less than I did. Whether its a relief or curse, your son will absolutely benefit from the opportunity to gain that awareness and understanding much earlier in life.

    That being said… having the personal understanding of ADD does not make it any easier to deal with the challenges of parenting ADDesque kids. Good luck. To us all!!!!

  • Rachel Severns

    Interesting post for me to read. Our daughter was just diagnosed ADHD combined, a week ago. Our experience was similar to yours. We adopted her 3 years ago at age 4 yrs and although no one was willing to talk to us at that young of an age we knew this diagnosis was likely in our future. My question is, how do I inform/explain ADHD to our parents, siblings & close friends? They all love us, support us and only want to be informed in order to be a greater support but I feel I am not equipped enough yet to really know how to offer concise info to loved ones. Any suggestions or resources? Thank you!

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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