Category Archives: ADHD

November 6 – Yes, we actually pay someone for this advice.

After two years of seeing the psychologist, Dr. Rita, there were a few key points that were hammered (gently) into our heads. Arguing with Doodicus is pointless. Of course, logically any one knows this, but we are talking about illogical arguments. The other day Dood told me that he was running out of loose leaf tablet paper that he uses for his math assignments. I took one of the dozen tablets we had left-over from last year and starting tearing out pages along the perforations. The resulting shitfit was spectacular. He told me that his teacher wouldn’t let him use it because the paper wasn’t the same. These are the illogical statements that for whatever reason, Sparring Partner and I would try to address, first calmly and then with ever-increasing frustration and anger. It was the type of confrontation that Dr. Rita has worked with us to avoid. Instead we are to agree with Doodicus: yes, the paper IS different, and please let us know if she refuses to accept your work because of it.

“His brain is stuck,” per Dr. Rita. Dood will take a thought and zero in and obsesses over it, which is compounded by his anxiety. Dr. Rita once very wisely said, “You can’t use logic to win an illogical argument.”

More recently, we were reminded of the old chestnut, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” This is in regard to how much time Doodicus spends on video games, which has been quite a bit lately because he hasn’t had to bring as much homework home, and he hasn’t shown any interest in extracurricular activities. As it was explained yesterday, hungry kids aren’t as particular about what they eat as long as they get to eat; thirsty kids aren’t as particular about what they drink as long as they get a drink; bored kids aren’t as particular about how long they get to use their video games as long as they get to play.

It’s easy to sit back and think, “Well, duh!” when things are calm and quiet and you’re in the eye of a storm, but when you’ve been sucked into the edge of a storm by an 11-year-old who seems to be a magnet for conflict, then it’s a major exercise of restraint.

We have to learn to not to get sucked into an argument. We don’t have to prove we’re smarter. Even when we’re likely not.

November 5 – Progress

Too tired to do much more than announce that due to Doodicus’s progress and maturation, after this afternoon’s counseling session, we will go from scheduling once every four to six weeks to once every eight weeks, if not less frequent than that unless the need arises.

Touch wood.

Tomorrow

Things have been not so good lately, but each time I sit down to draft it out, 600 words later I have deleted it and closed the window. One of my friends from Facebook posted on one of my wall updates how I never seem to be happy, and frankly, the words stung with their accuracy. I have not been happy.

It’s not because there is a sense of “buyer’s remorse” over our moving Doodicus from a private school to a public in the hopes he would have access to more…more what? Yeah, well, that’s hard to explain. And the remark about Buyer’s Remorse came from the psychologist, not from Sparring Partner, myself or Dood, but it kinda sums things up nicely.

It’s not because Sparring Partner’s dad is slipping slowly away in a too-small nursing home room. The giant man whose presence in any room could not simply be ignored – not just because of his size – but because his distinct Bostonian voice could drown any cacophony of Midwesterners, has become an almost empty, cancer-riddled shell. Or that my mom’s Alzheimer’s is progressing in what seems like light-speed ever since Aitch started going to school and we see her less frequently. Talking with her about how the kids are adjusting to school, or the home projects, or just little stories about day-to-day happenings is like trying to write on a chalkboard in the middle of a rain shower.

My unhappiness is not because my son had a crisis that shook us all to our very quick; that incurred a standing appointment with the behavioral health department every other week, that made me ache to go back in time and tell him a thousand more times a day that we love him more than anything. I should have hugged him more even though he always wiggled or turned away. Especially when he wiggled and turned away.

It is that culmination of emotional weight and stress and a feeling your life is spinning wildly off course even though there was never a course to begin with to follow. I know it will slow down enough so I can catch my balance. Yesterdays always seem much simpler, and certainly less of a burden. They are the days that no longer have long lists of things to-do and the things un-done. They are just simply the days that were. Tomorrows are hard because they are filled with expectations, anticipations, dread and worry.

I am hoping just for better tomorrows. Maybe even happier.

Contrary

The transition from a private Catholic school system to a public school has neither been as bad as I had imagined or as good. I would be delusional to think that this would have gone picture perfect, but I would be a pessimist if I thought it was going to be rough.

The week before school started, I sent an email to his homeroom teacher introducing Doodicus. It wasn’t a formal 504 Plan with a list of accomadations, but it wasn’t a hey! my kid is perfect! you shouldn’t have any problems! kind of letter, either.

I recently decided that instead of him keeping a devoted notebook for each and every subject, which was not only the teacher’s preference but Sparring Partner’s as well (and one we tried first), he is to keep all of his subjects’ notes on divided ruled paper in what we refer to as The Case. I bought a set of 8 dividers that have pockets on both sides (Avery brand and they are AWESOME), which I labeled in order of his class schedule, and then put in several sheets of ruled paper with the reinformed sides for note-taking.

While the down-side to this system will be that when the teachers want the kids to turn in their notes, he will have to open the D-rings and hand over the loose papers instead of a notebook, AND that if he loses the binder he loses everything (which nearly makes me nauseous just thinkintg about it), the disadvantages to the other system (one notebook to each subject) are not as easy for me to accept. He was bringing home the wrong note-book to use to study tests or not bringing them home at all, or if he did bring them home the night before a test, he had nothing written in them and by then it was too late. The other issue I discovered is that while each notebook was labeled with the subject, all of them that I brought home after my meeting with his teachers last night had notes in them from at least two different subjects. His notes consisted of a few words at the top of the page and the rest a series of doodles. Then a couple blank pages, more doodles, then a page with a definition or two written on them and usually from a different class. There’s no way they would ever be effective for studying. Sorry, but I tried it their way, it’s time to try mine.

After the meeting with his teachers yesterday, which I initiated, I cleaned out Dood’s desk. Chaotic doesn’t even begin to describe what I encountered. Aside from the mess, we found three pieces of homework that were due today so I brought them home. When I showed Dood, he went into a full-on meltdown, yelling how he never gets any free time. He can’t seem to understand that if he gave himself less "free-time" at school (not using the study hall periods or the after school access to the study center effectively) then he would have more time at home to do what he wants.

Last night was also suppose to be the parent’s meeting with the music store to talk about the band, orchestra and rentals, which Dood really wanted to go to as he is interested in learning to play the flute. The meeting was at 6:00 and it was nearly that time, an hour after we arrived home, that he had finally stopped yelling at me and got to work. There was no way I was going to be able to take him to the meeting, have supper, and still get homework done by bedtime. I never said a word about the meeting until after he was done for the night (not done with homework, mind you, but it was bedtime), at which time we had to break the news that we just couldn’t add band to our schedule.

He of course broke down into a fresh wave of tears, this time in grief instead of rage, and I felt like an absolute shit for taking that away from him. We could only promise him that we would consider the option next year, but that just made me feel worse to know that he would have to wait a whole year to try something he wanted to do now. I tried to make him understand that it wasn’t a punishment, but that we just don’t want to have these fights every night over what needs to be done first before he can just chill out with a video game, or watch TV, or play with his sister. Getting him to practice an instrument was just another battle I personally do not feel up to taking when I am so battered from the ones now. That’s probably why I still so badly want to say yes, because the reason I’m saying no feels entirely selfish.

Make Your Next Anxiety-Filled Meal a Manwich Meal

Doodicus races radio control cars on the weekends with his dad through an RC club. He’s been doing so for at least five years. While he likes the actual driving, he leaves the pit work up to his dad as he prefers to pass the time on the park’s playground equipment or riding his bike on the walking path. Sparring Partner in turn makes sure to replace the shocks, charge the battery, change the tires, etc., on the car based on how he reads the track or Dood’s driving performance.

A couple weekends ago, they raced on a ridiculously hot day (in my opinion, they should have cancelled, that’s how hot it was). They couldn’t keep the dirt track wet enough as the 100+ temperatures just instantly sucked the moisture out of it no matter how heavily they watered between races. They eventually gave up watering, which meant the track became supper hard and supper slick.

Now for a little racing blah-de-blah stuff that actually does end up relevant, so bear with me: If you’ve ever watched a car race, whether it’s something like NASCAR or Formula One, you may have noticed that instead of having “nubby” or treaded tires, they are completely smooth. The reason is simple: the smoother the tire’s face, the more contact it has with the track’s smooth surface; the more contact, the more control. Now let’s look at Rally Racing or Off Road Racing. Those tires have exaggerated treads, studs or “knobs” to provide grip on an uneven and unstable surface.

Back to RC racing: the exact same principals apply except it’s scaled down considerably. They normally race studded tires because it’s a dirt tract, but on this particular day, the track couldn’t be kept in the condition they would have preferred in the time they were allowed. And to make a long story short, Sparring Partner changed Dood’s tires from studded to slicks. However, because Dood wasn’t use to the handling of the slicks, he accused SP of sabotaging his car so he wouldn’t do as well.

Doodicus went into a tirade of tears and yelling and there was absolutely no way we could get him to understand that SP was only to help him out. Even when we asked, “Why would we want you to do poorly?” he could not get beyond the idea – the IRRATIONAL thought – that his dad’s actions were not to help him.

Now hang with me, because I’ve got a similar story that revolves around Sloppy Joe’s.

Doodicus is a terrible eater. Fruits and vegetables haven’t passed his lips voluntarily in years. “Weird” foods are off limits, i.e. casseroles or crock pot meals. He prefers plain, unadorned food: steaks, pork chops, the occasional hot dog (but it must be XYZ brand in html color #CC3333).. Sometimes he’ll even eat a hamburger or a *gasp* taco! It’s exasperating. Once he confessed to liking Sloppy Joes at daycare, so I happily bought a couple cans of Manwich. I personally love Sloppy Joes. They’re easy to make and easy to use for left-overs. The first couple of times, they were a hit. Then one ill-fated night, he took a couple bites and suddenly clutched at his throat in a melodramatic way, “There’s onions in here!” He refused to eat them from that point on. By the way, there were no onions.

Fine, whatever, kid. Everyone else in the house likes them, so the other night it was on the menu (hahaha! we don’t have a “menu”! Our meals are based on what’s in the pantry and my mood du juor.). Sparring Partner thought he could help diffuse what battle there was sure to come by actually reading the ingredients from the can to Doodicus to prove that there were no onions involved.

That seemed to have worked as he sat down with the rest of us and dug in, taking first one, then two and then a third! bite of his Sloppy Joe. And then IT happened: “Mom! You put onions in here!” “No, I didn’t.” “Yes, you did! I bit into one. I can FEEL it!” The exchange devolved into yet another teary tantrum, complete with dramatic gagging and threats to throw up. He even went so far as to say the company who made the mix were putting onions into it and not listing it on the ingredients.

At our appointment with Dr. Rita yesterday, somehow this story came up. He looked at Doodicus and asked him calmly about why he didn’t like the sandwich. “I know I think there’s onions in it!”

Back up and read that again: I know I THINK there’s onions in it!

This is an Irrational Response.

“Uh…duh,” you might be saying, but get this: whenever you try to rationalize with someone who definitely holds irrational thoughts, you keep that irrationality alive in them. If Dood was rational during that race, he would have eventually responded to our explanation for the change in his tires with, “Oh. I didn’t know that there are different tires to help me when track conditions change.” A rational child who might have exclaimed, “You snuck onions into my Sloppy Joe!” would have quickly realized that some rogue Manwich employee was not going around throwing bits of onions into the mix before it was canned.

However, trying to rationalize with Dood means he must try harder to believe his irrational thoughts are true, which leads to us trying harder to rationalize with him and the vicious vortex of suck becomes ever deeper and broader and encompassing.

When Dr. Rita explained that to me, I literally gave myself a face-palm. WE are maintaining the irrational thoughts Dood has every day! “This is a different brand of bacon! It tastes funny!” “No, Dood. See, it’s in the same packaging as the last time.” “You are just taking out the new bacon and putting it into the old package!” “Of course we’re not doing that! Why would we?” “To get me to eat it! It’s not the same!” and wouldn’t YOU want to convince – to rationalize – with him that you are not trying to pull one over on him?

Instead? When he brings up an irrational thought (You’re trying to make me lose! You’re putting onions in the sandwich! You’re buying the wrong kind of bacon!”, we are simply to respond, “No, we’re not. It’s time to race (or eat),” and that’s it. If he persists, which Dood WILL do, we are to respond: “You already know the answer.” or “I’m not going to answer that,” and what should eventually happen is he’ll realize the world will not end if he does end up eating an onion, or coming in last at his race, or getting dropped off on the west side of the school as opposed to the east (another irrational argument that has recently come up).

If you don’t have a child who suffers from anxiety or other challenging behavioral issues, this post probably won’t make sense to you. But, oh, if you do, I hope you had a Lightbulb Moment as enlightening as I did. And I have Manwich to thank for it.

The Other Half Needs an Ass-Kicking

I have to vent or I’ll not be responsible for bludgeoning my husband with this laptop…

If you have a child with ADHD, you know that sleep is an anomaly. They DON’T sleep well, especially when on any kind of drug regimen. While Doodicus heads to bed at 9:00 p.m., it’s not unusual to find him still awake by 10:00 p.m. And then he’ll be awake by 5:00 a.m. It’s not all the time, I’m just saying it’s not unusual. AND I GET THAT. It’s just how his brain functions.

Tonight, after Sparring Partner tucked Dood in, SP sat down next to me and told me he was talking to Dood and the Olympians getting up at 3 – 4:00 in the morning, every morning, just to train. Dood told him that sometimes he wakes up then, too. SP then said, “You need to tell your body to go back to sleep!”

I listened to this slack-jawed. “That just tells me you haven’t got a clue how his ADHD affects him. You aren’t listening to me. You aren’t listening to him. You don’t read the articles I send you about ADHD. You. Don’t. Get. It!

…so I’m sitting here steaming, watching the Olympics.

He then asks, “What do you think the temperature of the pool water is?”

I shrugged, disinterested.

He immediately flips open the iPad to google it.

He doesn’t want to use the resources available to him to understand how ADHD affects not just Doodicus, but our whole family dynamic, but he’ll look up the fucking temperature of the fucking pool water!

Don’t be surprised by tomorrow’s headlines, “Ritual Killing? Man Found in Quiet Nebraska Rural Community Strangled by USB Cable: iPad Duct-Taped to Genitals”.

P.S. By the time I finished writing this, I’m not as furious. Just fuming.

Handling an Explosive ADHD Child…the response from the Psychologist

I sent a photo of the picture Doodicus drew to Dr. Rita. Below is his response. Thank you all for your previous comments, because you each touched upon a point that the doctor echoed in his email:

I appreciate the note—I am glad you told me about this. It can be terribly scary for parents, and terribly difficult to know how to proceed.

First, I should say that this is not an uncommon before [sic?] for kids. As far as risk assessment goes, the behaviors you described do not indicate a significant degree of risk (for instance, he is not discussing means of hurting himself that he has access to, he is not acting on these statements, etc). Many kids make these kinds of statement and draw these kinds of pictures without appreciating the implications. This behavior is especially common among kids with ADHD, because a certain degree of emotional dysregulation goes along with the hyperactive and inattentive symptoms.

In terms of management, I would recommend several interventions:

1) Convey to [Dood] that these statements are serious, and will be handled as such. They are powerful words, and not to be taken lightly.

2) Identify the emotions [Dood] is experiencing in relation to these thoughts. He will have difficulty with this, so will need help. For instance, what he is really saying is that he is frustrated, angry, sad that he is not getting what he wants, etc.

3) Emphasize your concern and love for [Dood], and the reaction you have to him making these statements (this has a duel benefit, both modeling appropriate emotional expression and explicitly stating how much you care about him). Let him know that you are worried and scared, regardless of whether he meant it or not. He said it, and you believe what he says, and so you are scared, worried, etc.

4) Consider a natural and logical consequence, such as restricting access to the sources of the imagery he used. For example, where does [Dood] see bombs and missiles? If that is in video games, letting [Dood] know that you are really worried about him and want to keep him safe. Taking a break from those images might help. (the logic on this one will likely be transparent to you, essentially, saying these things will result in losing video games. However, were [Dood] older and his threats more serious, i.e., I am going to drive my car into something or take all the pills in the cabinet, we would talk about doing the same thing—restricting access to means and methods. Limiting contact to imagery is a downward extension, with the added benefit of introducing a cost to these kinds of statements.

5) Normalize the feelings. Letting [Dood] know that he can be angry, sad, frustrated, desperate, uncomfortable, lonely, etc., and these are perfectly fine feelings to share with mom and dad. You can hear that he is having those feelings. Of course, it will not change bedtime, shower location, or other environmental matters, but it is important to you that he shares these emotions and you can help him manage them.

6) I know this is a tall order, but try to take as much steam/pressure/heat out of the situation from the beginning. If you see him getting agitated, or feel yourself getting agitated, it is time to take a break. This is especially difficult in urgent situations, but also especially important. You, and potentially [Dood], will already be somewhat upset because you have to move quickly, so the fire is already stoked. You don’t want to add to it. He might say something inappropriate or loud or disrespectful. Wait to discuss consequences until you have the time, energy, calm head to implement it.