When my son was born we marveled at how perfect he was. He had a full head of dark hair and not a wrinkle on him. He was such a happy baby. It didn’t matter who was holding him, he was content. He was a good eater and sleeper too. This all changed when he turned about 2 years old. He wouldn’t nap. He was super hyper. We were afraid to take him to our friends homes for fear something would get broken. Not on purpose, he wasn’t a naughty child, he just bounced off the walls with energy and accidents would happen.
When he started kindergarten we had our first parent teacher conference. This was our first child, and we were excited for this milestone. When we entered the room, we were met not with one teacher, but with all his teachers plus the school councilor. They bombarded us with all the negative behaviors he was having at school. Not once did they say something positive. And my sweet little boy was right there listening to this. I couldn’t help but feel bad for him and started to cry right there in the conference. Needless to say, after that year we left that district for a much better one for the rest of his schooling.
We made an appointment for him to be evaluated for ADHD in the middle of kindergarten. Where sure enough, he was diagnosed. Again I cried for my sweet little boy. I felt like we failed him as parents giving him bad genes or something. But then I pulled myself up and decided I was going to be his biggest advocate. I was going to learn everything I could about ADHD and help him the best I could. I was not going to let him go through another school year like he did in kindergarten.
We started him on medications. I will say it took almost the whole school year before we found the right med and dosage for him. Some of them made him like a zombie. Some didn’t help at all. When he started first grade at the new school district I was determined to start it on a positive note. I put together a packet for all his teachers with a letter from me describing what they could expect to see from him during the day. I also put a list of ADHD resources for teachers, tips for teaching a child with ADHD and a poem that I to this day have hanging on my fridge.
We were very lucky and he had an amazing teachers that year who went above and beyond to make it a great year for him. Actually, second and third grade were the same. We had an amazing teacher who really took a shine to our son. She even suggested I get an IEP for him and not to waiver in my insistence on one. So at the beginning of fourth grade he started with his IEP. We put together a team of teachers, school psychologist, school councilor, principal, as well as others. We had come so far from that first conference in kindergarten. I as a parent had also learned so much.
I wanted my son to know as much as he could about ADHD and not be ashamed of it. I wanted him to know how special he was. He was such a smart boy. In third grade, they were learning about something in health class and the subject of ADHD came up. The teacher told me he raised his hand and told his whole class he had ADHD and proudly explained all about it and answered questions from his peers. Talk about a proud mama moment.
When my son was in fourth grade, I was approached by his psychiatrist to see if I would want to co-run an ADHD support group in conjunction with C.H.A.D.D. I was honored. We held monthly meetings where quite a few parents and caregivers would come to support each other and the children in their lives. We had speakers come, different resources to had out. I was so proud to be apart of something like that.
Raising a child with ADHD I’m not going to lie, it was rough at times. Many times. Getting him to get his homework done was a nightly battle where we would both end up in tears some nights. His dad a I would tag team in and out to help him when one got frustrated. As he got older, the homework got harder.
The Teenage Years
As a teenager we ran into even scarier obstacles like him learning to drive and wanting to go hang out with friends. I was terrified of him driving. First of all, he failed his first test, he was my first child and he had ADHD and was very inattentive. So this worried me quite a bit. For the first month of driving, I made him stay within a few miles of our home just so he could get more comfortable with it.
My son is an adult now. Looking back I would say there were more positive times than not. He is funny, loving, helpful, responsible, hardworking, and I couldn’t be more proud of the man he turned into. My advice for parents with littles who have just been diagnosed would be take it a day at a time. Start every day with a clean slate. Look for the good in your child and celebrate that often. Teach your child about ADHD so they can be their own advocate along with you.
Happy ADHD Awareness Month.
My ADHD Child by Tracy Nicolaus
He’s bouncin’ off walls, a super ball gone insane. He runs through your world like an off-rail freight train. Interruptions are constant, tantrums galore, when it’s time to do homework, he’s gone, out the door. The drama is constant, oh his foot fell asleep, he moans and he wails, the theatrics run deep. School is a nightmare, the teachers are lost, if they only could see he is worth the cost. He is brighter than most, as most kids are, and with patience and love I know he will go far. But what I must take from well meaning friends, don’t let him do that, oh these rules that he bends. You’re not a good parent, your child’s really rude, his temper’s outrageous, he has hands in his food. He hears this and wonders, just what’s wrong with me? I tell him, you’re special, you have ADHD. Now ADHD is a gift from above, it teaches us grown-ups how to strengthen our love. It helps to teach your teachers no two kids are the same. You have awesome energy that could bring you great fame. You don’t need much sleep, you never wear down, you’re silly and funny, when you act like a clown. You’ve felt lots of pain from what people have said, but you pray for those people when you go to bed. So you try every day to make a fresh start, for God gifted you with an extra big heart. As I look at my child, he sees through my soul, my heart feels like busting as I realize my goal. I know this boy like no one else could, he’s a blessing to me, he’s strong and he’s good. So I’ll love him and guide him through the worst of the worst, and he’ll make a great man (if I don’t kill him first). I’m kidding of course ’cause I know what’s to be, when I look in his eyes, I see a reflection of me.