Tag 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.

How Do You Answer These Questions

I had yet another downer of an ending post drafted before I deleted it all. Instead I put to you these questions I had last night from Doodicus:

"I hate school. Why do I have to go?"

"What difference does it make if I get Fs and Ds instead of As and Bs?"

Please, don’t respond with "So you can go to a good college and get a great job!" because if we’re already struggling beyond words to get him through the fifth grade, you can bet the farm he has absolutely no desire at this point and time to look forward to another four years of higher education if we’re even able to get through these next seven. "A great college…" is no incentive here.

Also? The flute lessons are absolutely off the table, but you may have already figured that out.

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.

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.

If I Had Known Then What I Know Now

You know that feeling of queasiness that makes you breathe just a little deeper and slower while you squeeze your eyes shut and tell yourself over and over again, “I will NOT throw up. I will NOT throw up.”? Of course, you do throw up and after wiping the snot from your nose and the tears from your eyes, you actually feel just a tad better?

Well that was how things were up to that last post with IT being the puking.

I feel better, but only just a tad.

I was friended recently by the woman of the husband/wife team who we gave the baptism classes when Aitch was a newborn. I remember how grateful I was when at each class Aitch would want to nurse so I would get to escape with her while my husband listened to the blah-blah-sacrements-blah-blah-blah. I will call this woman, Britt.

She’s also a fellow parent from Doodicus’s school, but while we are “meh” about the whole religion thing, she is a hand-to-God pious, righteous woman. We would seem to be complete opposites spiritually. She’s also perky and cute and has a nanny and one could easily assume she’s a trophy wife. But each time we’ve run into each other, we can’t seem to stop talking. About whatever! The kids being assholes. Husbands being assholes. Ourselves being assholes. There’s this dark side to her that I’m sure I can develop, given time.

I explain that so you can understand why I accepted her friend request on Facebook.

She sent me a message the other day and wants the link to my blog. She’s been the only person I’ve known in real life that I’m friends with on Facebook that has asked. I don’t make it a secret that I have one, I just don’t publish it on FB (if you see it, it’s because of my settings). In short, I told her I wasn’t ready to share this site with her but I didn’t send her the link to my old blog. I figured if she could get past the first 100 times I wrote shit, fuck or damn, then I knew she’d have potential.

Before I sent the link, I thought I’d read through the first few pages of posts, something I haven’t done in a long time, just to make sure it didn’t link back here somehow. Now I suppose if she dug through the comments she’d eventually find this blog, but if she’s going to go through that much torture, well then she deserves to find this pile of crap.

Anyway, I found a post that referred to some of the troubles we were having with Doodicus when he was still X Boy, still an only child, still undiagnosed with ADHD and I wanted to kick my own ass. Like this one (password protected but remember what this is still, right? think of a model plane…) or crap, this one; posts where I had exclaimed, “What’s wrong with my little boyyyyyyy???!!” and now I think to myself, “Well, duh, Woman. How could you not see that he has ADHD?”

It was a bumpy stroll down Memory Lane.

I know there’s been a couple of you who are facing some difficult decisions about what’s the best way to evaluate your child and figuring out what’s “normal”. You know what? There’s no Normal; no Standard your child should meet . You have to go with your gut. Not your heart. Your heart will throw you under a fucking bus. Go with your gut, because you have nothing to lose by being diligent. If I hadn’t swallowed a bit of pride, I could have lost everything.

Followed by the Lows

I hate to follow-up a series of posts about the Happiest Place On Earth with a post that could very well be one of my unhappiest, but honestly, I predict there will be even more unhappy.

Doodicus saw a child psychologist a couple of weeks after our return from Disney World. I’ll have to go back a couple of weeks before that to explain how we got there.

After the meeting with his teachers and principal in November, it didn’t seem as if any of their proposals to help improve the situation at school were implemented, including assigning him a “buddy” to make sure assignments were written and homework brought home. That being said, the things seem to hit an even keel. In other words, it didn’t get worst, but it didn’t get any better.

Then I got a call from his teacher: Doodicus got into a classmate’s backpack and took some candy without permission. I was very upset and called the district school’s psychologist, the one who had evaluated Doodicus to figuratively cry on his shoulder and to plead on Doodicus’s behalf, “He’s not a bad kid. I don’t know why this is happening, and I want him to get help.”

Melodramatic much?

I don’t take my son’s snooping through a kid’s backpack and taking candy lightly. At all. Personally, I don’t see it any differently than stealing something from a store, or even out of a stranger’s house. In fact, after I picked Doodicus up from school that day, I drove him by the police station and told him the next time, we’ll go straight to the station and he won’t be coming home with me. He’s only ten, you might say? I would have been way more lenient if he had been four, five, maybe even six, but not ten.

So I am back to worrying that I’m not doing enough to make sure Doodicus can succeed not only in school, but in life generally. I hate feeling like there’s some doubt as to whether his behaviors are a result of ADHD or to lenient parenting. I decided to be proactive and schedule this appointment with the pediatric psychologist. I was hoping we would go in, spend some time talking, review his history, and be told to go home and keep doing what we had been doing – we’re doing great!

We are not.

Approximately half way through the hour-session, I brought up the fact we were discussing moving him to a different school next fall. When I looked over at Doodicus, his face was red and there were tears in his eyes. I stopped, stunned. The doctor, Dr. Ashley, asked Doodicus why he was upset. No response. We let him breathe through the moment and calm down and at that time he admitted he not only was scared to go to a new school and leave the friends he knew, he was scared of how the teachers will continue to treat him if he stays. But the scariest moment came when Dr. Ashley asked if Doodicus if he had ever thought about hurting himself. I can recall that Doodicus has been so upset in the past over a punishment that he wished he hadn’t been born, so it came as a punch to the heart when he confirmed he has more recently thought about self-harm.

My initial concerns for making the appointment – the lack of organization, the oppositional behavior – they are now nothing. This anxiety Doodicus is feeling is not uncommon for children with ADHD and Dr. Ashley mentioned it may or may not be related to the medication, but these emotions are priority. Obviously. It was surreal to be told by his doctor to make sure we remove any instruments he may mention in crisis, because while being ten is old enough to know better about getting into other people’s things, it’s way too fucking young to be so anxious and considering that there’s an extreme solution. I won’t even say the word. I can’t.

ADHD Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry

Doodicus, who is now 10, was diagnosed with ADHD when he was six. One of the most prominent symptoms of ADHD is impulse control.

Lacking impulse control means he has problems thinking clearly through the consequences to his actions, that he does… well, impulsively.

For his birthday, we gave him a Nintendo 3DS. Some may think it’s an elaborate gift, but electronic games are life-savers for us when we have to sit for somewhere for an extended period of time (two- three-hour car drives; dinner with in-laws; doctor appointments, etc.) because it’s the only thing that can keep him quietly distracted. For everyone involved, something like this gaming system can keep our sanity levels on an even keel. If you have an ADD or ADHD child, you know what I’m saying is true.

He’s been begging us to allow him to bring it to show to his friends at the daycare. I have repeatedly stood my ground and said no. In the past, he has actually snuck things to daycare and either lost them or had them damaged, so as far as I’m concerned, he’s not allowed to bring anything electronic with him to share.

However, this week, which he is off from school for winter vacation, he asked over and over again if he could bring his 3DS to show his friends before everyone was back in school. Tuesday night I finally caved with only one seemingly easy condition he would have to meet: exceptional behavior for two days straight. That meant no whining, no complaining, no crying, no fits of rages, no poor housekeeping, no arguing. His BEST behavior is what I was asking for.

And then I found out that of the four 3DS games he has received since his birthday, he had already “lost” two (I actually had one in my possession that I had found left carelessly on the floor a couple of days before). An additional condition was announced. He’d have to find the remaining game cartridge. You’d think I’d asked for the moon with the wailing and gnashing of teeth, albeit in a much more subdued manner considering our FIRST condition. As an incentive, Sparring Partner told him if he found the cartridge today (Wednesday), he could bring it as soon as Thursday to show his friends. With this new fire lit under his ass, Doodicus produced the “lost” cartridge within 10 minutes (it was under the couch).

Finally! With our reluctant blessings, he set aside what he was bringing to daycare tomorrow (Thursday) and got ready for bed. That’s when everything turned sour. I can’t say what he had done, but it was a breach of the housekeeping rules we have and it was something he had done already this morning; no more than 12 hours after my original condition of being on his BEST behavior for 48 hours. Eight of those twelve were spent asleep. So basically within an hour of waking up, he had blown it and then tried to hide it.

The deal of bringing his 3DS to daycare was completely off the table for both Thursday and/or Friday. In other words, we were back to square one and my original rule: no electronics to daycare.

We tried to explain how inability to show responsibility and consideration for the rules of our home is what blew it for him, but instead of listening and learning, all he could do was pound his head into his pillow and demand we give him a DIFFERENT punishment – an alternative. Not a word of apology or remorse was said. Why? Let’s look back at that whole impulse control thing. Normally, we avoid doing something wrong because we are able to think through the consequences to our actions. Doodicus does not…wait, no: He is INCAPABLE of thinking this way. He performs an action without a moment to consider the consequences. This then means that he feels no need to apologize or feel bad about his actions because in his head he’s done nothing wrong (if he thought he had or was going to do something wrong, he probably wouldn’t do it. Make sense?). Instead he just considers us cruel, unfair, and more and more commonly expressed in fits of rage, that we hate him.

The impulse control issues is probably one of the hardest things we deal with when it comes to the ADHD. It contributes to 90% of the day-to-day issues. When my husband is blowing his stack over something Doodicus has done, I have to remind him over and over again that our son just doesn’t have that edit button; that filter in his brain.

This all happened within an hour of me writing this out. In fact, I can hear Doodicus in his room muttering to himself in anger and disappointment (not with himself, but with us). Tomorrow we’ll have to be on high-alert for smuggled items in pockets, socks, shoes, underwear, coat, all of which he’s done before. Tomorrow I will hope that he’s learned something from all of this. And tomorrow I will worry that he may never.