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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday Greetings

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanuka, and Seasons Greetings!

This year was a pleasant surprise from previous holiday seasons. My son, who is ADHD/ODD was surprisingly mellow over the beginning of Christmas break. I was told by his school counselor that he was a bit distracted (what child isn't,) and somewhat "grumpy", but that all of the children were excited and restless. My son managed to keep his behavior in check for the most part, and there were no melt-down's or escalating issues with other students. He even managed to finish all his work and is now caught up with the rest of his class, so that when or if report cards are issued, he will receive full marks for this term.

I was also pleased to note that his behavior at home was more controlled than previous years. Yes, he was still excited, and yes the ODD still made its appearance from time to time, but overall his behavior and attitude was well within acceptable limits. We had family visiting with us this year, and some would say that was the reason for his good behavior. I, however, know that guests do not affect positive behavior. It would make no difference if the President was visiting!

My son had only one minor meltdown (so far,) over the holidays, and that was when the dog ate a few of his chocolate coins that he had neglected to pick up off the floor, (after being reminded a few times to do so.) He was most aggrieved and his words were particularly venomous, however the outburst was short lived, and both he and the dog made friends again, his chocolates were replaced and all was well with the world.

To be perfectly honest, his outburst was short lived because we very firmly stopped the tirade, explaining that he had left the chocolates, the dog was doing what dogs do, (I mean, what do you expect from a dog?), and within a few minutes, instigated a reunion between the two. My son was told to apologize and make friends, and the issue was closed with a "group hug" to end the day on a positive note. Generally speaking, this is not the type of parenting that most people would expect, or one that would have any effect on a behavioral issue. However, the outcome was positive - the behavior disappeared, and peace was restored within minutes.

I have used this principal before, but this particular time it worked in minutes...something to think about for the coming year...I will keep you posted!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

First Jobs and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

My son is a paper carrier. I am quite proud of the fact that he is employed. After all he is only fourteen, and just the idea that he wants to work is wonderful. I still find it amazing that he actually wants to work. However, there is a huge difference between wanting to work and actually doing the work!

When he first started, I had to help him several times as he wasn't used to the physical exertion required, and I got very tired of hearing the excuses and complaining that went along with the paper route! However, he did get used to his route and soon he was managing it all by himself. The only issue that kept recurring was getting him started. For weeks I had to remind him that "today  is paper day," and then keep nudging him to get out there and start delivering. After a few months, we finally settled on a delivery time, and that seemed to work out well.

Then we got a call from the newspaper office stating that they had made a mistake, and his route was actually bigger than what he had been told. This sparked a new hurdle. My son decided that he wasn't going to do the other street as the route now took him twice as long to do and the previous complaints came back with a flourish! I suggested that he call his "boss" and tell her that he didn't want to deliver papers any more, but my son admitted that he had become accustomed to the money, and he was actually reluctant to give it up.

Again, it took a few months before he finally settled into a routine, and for the most part, he completes his whole route on his own, with no help from me...unless it is pouring rain. Then I will step in and we load his papers into the van. I drive, he delivers!

So far, my son has been a paper carrier for over a year, and this will be the second Christmas that he is able to buy gifts with his own money!

As today is "paper day", it is time for me to remind him to start early...it gets dark quite early now, and I am doing my best to motivate him to start and finish while there is still daylight! At any rate, I am very pleased that he still has his first job, and that for the most part, he doesn't complain about doing it...
See? There is light at the end of the tunnel...

HubPages Comments, continued

Meet Christina, the mother of an eight year old boy with ADD, a high functioning form of Asperger's and possibly ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder.) These are her words:

My son is 8 years old, has ADD, a high functioning form of Asperger's and I think ODD. He is very intelligent, as handsome as his Daddy (who is the love of my life) and is driving us nuts. As I write this he has been doing homework for almost 4 hours. Last night was an epic 6 1/2, the same amount of time a school day lasts. It's not that he's not capable of doing the work, he manages to do it in school. I have tried everything, and I'm at my wits end. We've done the reward system, which he only managed to turn around on us by flat out refusing to do anything unless he's guaranteed getting his game system which was the reward. We've tried punishment, not allowing any TV time before homework, made sure there are no distractions, sat beside him for hours to help him, explained that if he gets his work done there will be free time to do what he wants. NOTHING works. Yet somehow he manages to do well in school. Though his teachers always talk about his focusing issues, he is performing at grade level, in a mainstream class, is two reading levels above where is expected, gets high scores on all tests, is very good at math, and can recite lessons he's been taught. Every time I walk into the school for whatever reason all I hear is "Hi Nicky!". Teachers who do not even have him in their class know who he is. Children in older grades know who he is and last year there were a group of 6th grade girls he called his "girlfriends". They were quite charmed by him. Apparently he is quite the character in school. I wish I could be a fly on the wall for a day to see it. Well behaved and well mannered I'm always told. It makes me mad and jealous that he can't show us the same respect and courtesy. We, after all, are the ones that do everything for him.
Home is another story. He's putting us through hell. My 19 year old daughter went to live with my Mother at 14 because she couldn't deal with the constant yelling, arguing and stress. It absolutely breaks my heart, as I love her dearly. She lives close by and I do see her quite often, she comes for sleepovers at our home and she and I are quite close. But I wish I had her home. She loves her brother, but gets as frustrated with him as we do. My neighbors put up with a lot as they listen to quite a bit of yelling. One has a son with ADHD so she really understands. Yet it's embarrassing as hell. This is not me. It's not the household I come from where things were quiet, and yelling just wasn't part of the program.
I have come to believe that part of his issues he is VERY much in control of. He's a devil in the morning as we get ready for school which he refers to as a "trap", but as he walks into the school yard I can literally see the transformation. He's good all day and the moment he gets out it begins to change and by the time I am pulling into my driveway it's "hello Mr. Nasty". He knows full well what he's doing. As he gets my husband and I (I am his FAVORITE target-the weakest link I guess) angrier and angrier you can almost see the twinkle in his eye. He enjoys it, which is nuts. We are not pushovers by any means, and don't let him get away with bad behavior because "he can't control it" as I've been told. BS! He likes to push our buttons, it's obvious. Our immediate family "gets it" but when you try to explain it to anyone not living with this they look at you like you have three heads. They see him as charming, witty, intelligent and oh my God do they LOVE to talk to him. "He speaks like an adult, not like a child!" If I had a dollar for every time I've heard this I'd be loaded. The cashiers in my local market are even charmed by him. None of them live with him though.
I am very involved with school and my husband has put him in Little League and Hockey (a perfect sport to release his aggression, but there Nicky acts like a wimp ) and my husband manages and coaches both teams to be involved. He himself is very athletic and the other kids and parents love his style. Nicky could be good in both, he has potential but he loves to give his Daddy a hard time. My husband has enrolled him in these sports teams to help with Nicky's social issues, which are another problem. He has befriended another boy on his hockey team with the same issues and at first we thought "Great, he's made a friend!". Well, two peas in a pod are not always the best thing when dealing with ADD. They drive my husband nuts during practice and games because they do not stop talking. It never ceases to amaze me how much he can talk, and he was delayed with his speech. He talks from the moment he wakes up until he goes to sleep. It's how we know he's fallen asleep, for we no longer hear the talking.
The level of stress is through the roof, and we both feel it taking a toll on our health. We can't ever get a break from him, as no one will take him for a sleepover. Everything we do or don't do is based upon whether Nicky will be happy, well behaved and/or entertained. It ALL revolves around him. I believe that my kids come first, but we have a life too. And that my daughter has sat out on vacations and outings because of the nonsense is so unfair. I don't invite our friends over because at any moment something can erupt, and escalate because he just doesn't know when to stop, and I don't need the added embarrassment. Holidays are pretty much the only time, and he usually makes sure to give me an extra hard time then knowing that I am busy and stressed as it is. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays or any special day he likes to sabotage. If he knows you are not feeling well, he gets extra pleasure out of making you miserable.
I don't get to be a "Mommy" to him. Most of the time I'm angry, arguing, frustrated, annoyed and yelling. His childhood is flying by and it's so sad that things are this way. Once in a while (and I don't know why) he is a "normal" kid for a day. He's sweet, well behaved and I can breath again. It's cruel in a way because it lets me see how things could be. How I wish with all my heart they would be. It's a window to another life possibility, and I try to explain that to him. I try to point out that when he is like that there is no fighting or yelling, and there wouldn't be if he would act like that most of the time. But I think he gets bored with that. He likes the chaos.
We don't want to medicate him. I just don't feel these drugs have been around long enough, and who knows what effects will come to light in 10-20 years. Doctors and pharmaceutical companies just love to dispense a shot or a pill for everything nowadays. His pediatrician agreed that she is no fan of these medications either, and many others I've spoken to feel the same.
What do we do? I feel lost. Reading the other posts here have made me feel slightly better as I know we are not alone. We love our son dearly, and would do anything for him. We both believe he can be very successful someday, he has so much potential. But I also see a lot of trouble if he can't get his instigating and aggressive ways under control. His condition is a blessing in some ways (the intelligence) and a maddening situation in others. All I know is as I drive away from school after dropping him off I can feel the physical change in me. My chest loosens up, I can breathe, my head stops pounding, the stress fades and I can talk without yelling. And the reverse happens at pick-up time, I feel it all increasing because I know what will transpire. And I know homework hell is looming. It's a vicious cycle, and I go to sleep every night praying (sometimes crying) that my son will begin to ease up on some of this.
As more and more children seem to have this (there are about 6 boys in his class and I don't know how his teacher manages) the medical community and the schools need to step up their game. It takes a village to raise a child right? Something somewhere is causing this upswing and I do believe there is a remedy other than sedating them. I try to keep the faith that those questions will be answered, and a "cure" of some sort will be available someday. Til then the gray hairs keep coming faster and faster and my beauty supply store keeps making more money! LOL. 

Comments from my Living With ADHD hub on HubPages

I wrote an article several years ago on HubPages, and I get at least one or two comments a day on it from parents searching for answers, suggestions and support. I have decided to post a few of the comments here, to give them more exposure, and to help other parents who might read a bit of their own story in the words.

Meet, Kristin, a mother of a seven year old boy with ADHD, sensory issues, Anxiety and possibly ODD. These are her words:

Thank you so much for writing all of this, it is so nice to hear that we are not alone. I have a 7 year old, who 1 year ago was diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety, possible ODD, and sensory issues. LIfe with him can be so amazing, and then snap, it goes the other way so quickly. We sat on a wait list for Mental Health for 1 year and have now been going since March. It has been great, but in the same breath his behaviour when we are there is usually not too good, so it is hard for all of us to get anywhere when we are there.
It all started when he was about 2 years old, and after raising one 2 year old already ( he is now 9 and a awesome mellow, laid back boy), I knew that something wan't quite right. He was very hands one, acting out, could never sit still, the whole nine yards. Once he started school (kindergarten), it got worse, he struggled socially, has no idea how to make friends, keep friends etc., was finally designated with H designation which is a behaviour designation through the school, which did get hid a EA in the classroom. He couldn't concentrate on school, had to sit on certain chairs, couldn't fininsh school work, mouthed people off and swears like a trucker! That summer once school was finished we (my husband and I), went to our family doctor and finally got our family doctor to give the ADHD diagnosis and put him on meds (biphentin). We struggled with the Biphentin, it didn't work, kept upping it and then did a top up at 3pm of ritalin, nothing lasted very long for him. He started grade 1 and was doing a bit better, still had his EA, went to reading recovery, had alot of support in the classroom, but still was getting in trouble. Got calls from the principals office on more than a few occasions, he got sent home from throwing rocks at all the cars that were driving past the school. Then towards the end of grade one we finally got in Mental Heath, they changed his meds to conerta, kept having to up it as it would only last till about 2pm, he is now on 54mg of concerta, and is lasting most of the day.
We are still struggling though, he can very abusive, more to me and his brother, than dad (who was in denial for the longest time, but has now come around). He has hit me, punched me, pushed me down the stairs, I have gone to our appts. at mental health with bruises. He also calls us all the names in the book, and heaven for bid we wanted to go out and do anything as a family, because it always gets destroyed by his behaviour.
So far in grade 2, he has been holding it together while at school, until last week when all wheels kind of fell of. He refused to take his meds in the am, warned the teacher and told them to call us if needed. Of course, we got that call, he was being sent home for threatening kids in the class with scissors- wanting to cut their hair, tried pulling down someones pant etc., the school wanted to call family services because of all of this, but didn't once they were properly informed about Connor and his actions on a regular basis. He got everything taken away form him, all his electronics etc., and he didn't care, we could take everything away and leave him with a pillow and blanket and he wouldn't care on bit, it so frustrating.
We have been judged by parents by other parents at the school, his older brother doesn't want to have anything to do with him most of time, and even one set of grandparents until recently thought that we just needed to parent him differently and be more strict!
I feel as a parent that I am always walking on egg shells, waiting for the next one to crack, because I know that it will sooner than later! My husband works night shifts 2 nights out of 6, and that can be really stressful with me, as Connor will push every button on me, refuse to do everything for me, it is his way or the highway. He never falls asleep before 10/10:30 at night, have tried melatonin, and it doesn't do anything for him!
I keep thinking that it sucks, and why did I get a child like this, but then I look in his eyes and my heart just melts, because I think if I am feeling this way, what goes on in his little head, as he always down on himself (lacks self esteem).
Everyday is a challenge, I never know what we are going to wake up to, the prince I know he can be or the devil that comes out so quick!
It is so nice to read everyone's posts and to know that we are not alone!
Thank you all, especially you Enelle for sharing your stories!