List ADHD child(ren) with ages and school grades:
Luke and Isabelle are twins. They are eight years old, in second grade.
List NON-ADHD child(ren) with ages and school grades:
Wyatt is five, in kindergarten.
Annie is one and a half.
1. Who are you?( Are you a working mom or a Stay At Home Mom? Married? What was your childhood like? Etc.)
I am a stay-at-home mom who does freelance writing and editing when I have time. My husband has ADHD in all the best ways—up for anything, fun, intelligent, flexible. But of course these traits all have an evil inverse, i.e. flexible=unorganized, up for anything=impulsive.
2. Describe your ADHD child using only ONE word:
3. What about your life makes your ADHD story uniquely yours? (i.e., single parent, you are ADHD too, your child has co-morbid conditions, your child is adopted, etc.)
ADHD is a family affair—an extended family affair--for us. Uncles, aunts, grandparents, and cousins deal with it, and yet we all have so much to learn. Some family members are very active, researching and working on various therapies, diets, and interventions. Some just take their medicine and never give it another thought. I have a high information quotient, so I want to know everything I can and exchange info with other people. I want to do everything I can to help my family (including me!).
4. How did your ADHD child come to be diagnosed?
Luke was reading and riding a bike by age three. We thought he’d be the next Einstein or Lance Armstrong. But things blew up in preschool. I went in for a parent-teacher interview, and his teacher was hinting at something, but I didn’t know what. She told me to go to a health food store and get him some supplements to help his behavior because he couldn’t sit still in circle time. Pardon? Then they began listing several problems that they hadn’t brought up until that very moment. I felt ambushed. I left and cried in my car. Luke had cousins who were already taking meds for ADHD, so we started our journey with that in mind.
For years we thought Isabelle’s issues stemmed from having a wild and crazy, dominant, boisterous twin. We put the two in separate classes and activities so she could have time on her own. We scheduled one-on-one time with her to make sure she got ample attention. But she has had a rough school year, and her teacher contacted the school counselor because Izzy’s journal entries were pretty unusual for a kid her age (“There’s nothing in the world that I like.”) I really wish the teacher had mentioned problems earlier—I asked her often how things were going. But anyhow, the counselor felt Izzy was depressed. We thought it might be problems connected to ADHD. We are looking into it now.
5. What are your ADHD child’s strengths/gifts/talents? Weaknesses? Obsessions?
Luke is great at reading, math, and really any academics—when he is interested in it. His vocabulary is advanced, and I sometimes have to hide a chuckle when he throws in a “prefer” or “idiom.” He is an amazing negotiator, and has been out-negotiating me since he was tiny. He is obsessed with computers, video games, and Pokemon. He struggles socially and with controlling his emotions. He loses his lunchbox, jacket, or glasses daily.
Isabelle is a great reader and very creative. She writes and illustrates her own comics about everything from Helen Keller to disco dancing bats. (She really wants a disco ball in her room.) Her clothing choices are very creative, too. She is protective of her little brother and a big help with the baby. Isabelle’s behavior can be unpredictable. She screams a lot, which seems to freak out peers, teachers, and others. She really resists those things that she doesn’t want to do.
6. What sports or extra-curricular activities does your child participate in successfully?
Bike riding and swimming are Luke’s favorites. Luke has done okay in soccer, baseball, and basketball, but he has had outbursts that embarrass me and his dad (probably more than him). We try to keep out of it unless he is getting rough with another child.
Isabelle loves skiing and swimming. She does so much better when we just let her do her thing and don’t butt in too much. She has done dance, gymnastics, softball, and soccer. She did not enjoy soccer. She wants to do dance and softball again, but she is usually making faces in the mirror or picking dandelions.
7. What strategies do you employ to cope with ADHD?
Both Luke and Isabelle are taking medication for ADHD. Luke sees the counselor at school, and Izzy goes to the “Friends” social group at school. We are going to have a neuropsychological assessment for them both next month because I am concerned about anxiety and maybe Asperger’s. Little things like warnings before transitions and reward charts help a lot. We have also been using ideas from the “Let’s Get Fit to Focus” site. http://letsgetfittofocus.com/ Thanks to Penny.
8. If you could give one piece of advice to a parent of an ADHD child just diagnosed, what would it be?
This is definitely something you can deal with, but there is no one magic pill to fix everything. Finding solutions is a journey.
9. What is your favorite book on ADHD?
Driven to Distraction was a great starter for me and my husband. It helped us understand his ADHD as well as the kids’. It focuses on the positive aspects of ADHD, too.
10. If you could have a free 60-second spot on a public broadcast station, what would you share, show, say?
I am not a bad mother!!
11.Does your child take medication to manage their ADHD? Is so, what medication and at what dosage? How does it work for them? What side effects do you see?
Luke takes 2 mg and Isabelle takes 1 mg of Intuniv. It seems to keep them generally more calm. It helps Luke get enough sleep, which was a problem previously. I don’t notice any side effects, but it doesn’t seem to be working as well anymore. I think we are going to increase their doses. Vyvanse and Daytrana did not work for either of them.
12. Does your child attend public school or a special school? Does he or she have an IEP or a 504 Plan? What kind of accommodations do they receive?
The kids attend a public charter Montessori school. I am so happy that we have that option for them as it is a better fit than the regular public school. They don’t have tests, just passing off various skills and knowledge. No homework either, which we all love. Luke has an IEP.
13. What else would you like to share with other parents on this similar journey?
All the medical info is important and helpful, but other people’s experiences are so helpful too. I am finding support and answers through blogs and web sites. We don’t have any kind of support group in our town.
Also, I’ve had to ignore a lot of “advice” and opinions coming from people who don’t really understand ADHD. The stigma attached to ADHD is disappointing, but I try to focus on the positives, count my blessings, and laugh instead of cry.