Wednesday, August 15, 2012

ADHD and Education

School starts tomorrow.  Tomorrow!  Where did summer go?  Ryan starts Junior High....oh my goodness....and Alex will be in 5th grade.

Alex is the ADHD child of our family.  Well, he's the only one with formal diagnosis.  If we were taking bets, I'd say he comes by it honestly from my mother's daughter.  But I digress (...of course...).  So I'm looking over some paperwork from tonight's back to school events, and it occurs to me:  I need to write a letter!  I need to explain the dietary restrictions and perhaps provide some guidelines on what works and what doesn't. Our experience thus far is that the teachers don't get a lot of training on how to educate an ADHD child - so it's up to the parents to help them out.  Our experience has also been quite favorable in that area (we are firm believers that we are in a partnership with the school, and we have been very fortunate to have teachers and administrators who care and have the same goals as we have).

So I began crafting the letter.  Four pages later, along with an eight page addendum providing detailed strategies to accomodate specific behaviors, I had what I wanted.  While I was searching the net to find information to include, I came across the below from a website (, and it really struck a chord.  My hope is that if my son writes a letter to me 10 years from now, he says "thank you for figuring it out and teaching me to cope."

What Your Son Wants To Tell You About His ADHD

Dear Mom and Dad:

I have Attention Deficit Disorder. It's something to do with the executive functioning in the brain's frontal lobes. I'm like a factory without a CEO. It feels that way sometimes - like no one's in charge and I'm out of control.

When I was little, I was so hyper you called me "the mother killer." I'm sorry I gave you a hard time, but it wasn't my fault. You took a lot of grief for having a brat, but my ADHD was behind it. I didn't mean to run away, smack other kids, jump in the pool with my clothes on and do all the other stuff I did. Stuff that made you unhappy.

That's why I am writing this. I want you to understand how ADHD feels and why I can't control myself. My ADHD means that I am easily distracted by things. I can sit in a movie like everyone else, but the man crunching popcorn next to me will bother me the entire picture. When I'm in class, I can't concentrate on the teacher because I'm too aware of the kid who's sharpening a pencil or the construction workers outside my class window. I'm no good at concentrating. Everything pulls my attention toward it - even if it's just for a few seconds. It takes a sonic boom to distract you. But EVERY LITTLE THING distracts me.

My ADHD means I'm impulsive. The popcorn man is ruining the movie for me so I may suddenly smack him. I may tell the boy who's sharpening his pencil to stop making so much noise. Then I'm in trouble for hitting the popcorn guy and yelling out loud in class. I'm always in trouble and making you look bad.

My ADHD means my sense of time is no good. Tomorrow may as well be twenty years from now. I don't think long-term. When my teacher says that this homework is due on Friday and Friday's five days away, I don't care. Five days is forever. Then when Friday comes, I'm dead where I stand because I haven't even started doing the work. When someone tells me that drinking will fry your liver twenty years from now, I don't care. I only care about how good that drink tastes in the moment and that it makes me feel less hyper and depressed. I know it's hard for you to understand, because you have day-timers and appointment books and Blackberries. Try to understand that I can't plan ahead - not even two hours from now. I can't even learn to plan ahead unless you teach me how to.

My ADHD means my sense of judgment is not only off, it's missing. Again, no executive function. I've heard of ADHD kids who die in extreme sports or one ADHD kid who jumped in a lake on a dare and ended up in a wheelchair because the water was only two feet deep. You need to know that I'd probably do the same thing. I'll take any dare offered. I don't see the risks involved because I live in the moment. I just think how cool it would be to jump in that lake and have everyone admire me.

I was lost in school by second grade. For one thing, school was always incredibly boring to me. I know my sister loves it, but I don't. For one thing, half the time they give us tasks I don't understand - like "write a term paper." I don't get how to go to the library, look up stuff, and take notes. If they would break it into small steps, I could do it, but they don't. They just say, "Write a term paper." Everyone else understands how to write a term paper or make a pie chart or whatever. I'm not stupid, but I just can't organize things. That's why I really started flunking out in middle school. I can't organize the work from one teacher, much less five teachers.

I wish they would not keep reminding me how high my IQ is and how I'm not applying myself. Most boys with ADHD have language-based learning disorders. We are not slow learners or dumb - -it's just that the words on the page jump around and we have trouble focusing our eyes on that stupid little print. I can't read very fast and I hate writing. I fail because school is all about reading. I know that there are computer programs and high-tech stuff to help ADHD kids, but they don't have them at my school.

I know you hate the kids I go around with, but they are the only ones who like me. The cool smart kids don't like me because I have a wicked mouth and don't know when to shut up. Also I don't get good grades. They're all worried about college and careers and stuff, but I can't think that far ahead. I don't have any goals and I wouldn't know how to set them.

I spend a lot of time playing video games. Like drinking, they calm me down. I get in the zone when I play X-Box because there's so much going on: shooting, characters, colors, quick reactions. The games work as fast as my brain, but when I stop, I get even more irritable. I know I act worse after I've been at them at day. It would be better if I would only be allowed to play them a few hours a day, but I guess you get welcome relief when I'm in that zone.

My favorite shirt says "NO BOUNDARIES." I can be really hostile to any limits you set. But I've heard that kids like me do better with regular hours for stuff. Like you wake up at a certain time, eat breakfast, and know exactly what's happening every hour. I know that would calm me down. That would take away a lot of anxiety I have inside me that everything is out of control. I also know I feel less jumpy when I get more exercise, but I usually don't bother. I just drift from one thing to another.

Sometimes I think no one likes me and that even you guys are sick of me. I know you wish I was more like my sister, Little Miss Perfect. If I give her a hard time, it's because I'm jealous. If you add up all the times she got yelled at since she was born, it would be less than five minutes. For me, I've been yelled at for whole years and lifetimes. I hate the way you yell so much and I really love you guys even if I don't show it. I wish I didn't have ADHD and I'm sorry I give you a hard time. I am trying hard all the time but it feels like I never get any pay-off no matter how hard I try. Trying really hard only moves me toward normal, it does not make me normal.

Well, this is my letter anyway. Maybe you understand ADHD a little better now. I love you.

Your Son

"I saw the angel in the marble, and I carved until I set him free."
 ~ Michelangelo

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Over two years later...

I didn't realize it's been over two years since I did ANYTHING with this blog. Probably the only one reading it right now is me. Since I posted about strep in February many things have happened in life! I'm two years older, my kids are huge. Ryan is almost as tall as I am and is starting junior high next week. Junior High! I about lost it when I went into the school to register him a few days ago.

At this moment, I have two cut up chickens simmering in a stock pot with a bunch of carrots and onions and spices to make some homemade chicken stock. Need to plan ahead for soup season. So back to this blog. I have some catching up to do. I debated deleting it. Facebook and Pinterest have captured my leisure time attention far more than a blog. That and the fact I preside over a women's club in my town, am a Webelos cub scout leader, the wife of the Cub Master, and yes, I still have a full-time-plus job as a manager. Oh, and the whole sports thing has kicked into overdrive already. I thought I had till high school for that. Not so much.

With facebook, I can post snippets of random thoughts without much time investment. But a friend the other day suggested I start a blog after a post that garnered about a zillion comments. You see, our youngest son was diagnosed last year with ADHD, which we have decided NOT to treat with medication. Instead, we have gone the diet changes route. And what a change that has been for our family!

DHA/Omega 3 organic milk (to the tune of $9/gallon)
No gluten. That means no wheat. Ever.
No food dyes. Try finding snack items without Yellow #5 or Red #40 (the most evil one of all)
No additives/chemicals.
No high fructose corn syrup.
A course of vitamins including flaxseed oil, vitamin b complex, zinc, and some others. The child who couldn't swallow a tiny pill the size of baby aspirin now takes a handful of these things twice a day. Do you know how hard it is to find dye-free tylenol for kids???

100% effective? No. 100% stick-to-itiveness (is that even a word??)? No. But it has made a dramatic change in our little guy's world. Without changing HIM.

So I am at a crossroads. Our lives are getting busier every day. The plant where I and my husband work shuts down in October for a 4-6 week refueling and maintenance outage (translation: we work shifts of six 12-hour days per week). And takeout is not an option for supper due to where we live and the diet restrictions above. So homecooking still has to to happen. Do I keep the blog and shift the focus to life in ADHD? Still deciding....

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


If you've never had strep throat, I hope you never get it. I've had it three or four times now. My most recent bout started last Thursday. I was just coming off of a bad cold that took me out the previous weekend, and I was sad that I had to miss my boy's basketball games on that Saturday. But I was feeling rather smug in that I'd kicked it loose in less than a week. But then last Thursday, I woke up with a wee bit of a sore throat - worse than I'd had with my cold the week before. I thought nothing of it and went to work as usual. Got back from my morning meetings and sat down to what I'd hoped would be a very productive day of business planning and what not. But suddenly I couldn't sit still, my whole body ached. I spiked a fever. I couldn't concentrate. So I went home. The closer I got to home, the further it seemed. I jumped into my jammies and crawled into bed.

My first thought: Flu. I did not get a flu shot. I did not get H1N1 vaccination either. Nope, I decided to take my chances. Maybe that was a bad call. Maybe not. Doesn't matter now, though.

As the afternoon wore on, I was sure it WASN'T flu. No, I remember these symptoms, exacerbated by the inability to swallow anything at all. Later that night, fever was higher and lucidity was low. Hubby took me to the ER (only thing open after hours in our little rural county). Sure enough - it was strep. They gave me a shot, wrote me a scrip for some antibiotics, and sent me home. The fact that you can't swallow is one thing, but the all-over, relentless body aches are almost unbearable. Even tylenol and ibuprofen at their max dosages couldn't keep up. But the good news is, the worst part of it only lasts about 24 hours and then it slowly gets better. Any improvement at all is greatly appreciated.

So I've missed work 3 straight fever is finally gone (FINALLY) and I'm feeling a ton better now. Fatigued, but I think I can go back to work tomorrow without any ill effects (no pun intended). Some people don't get hit by strep that hard. Guess I'm lucky that way. But at least it wasn't the flu. 'Cuz I didn't get a flu shot and I wasn't gonna.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

It's snowing gently outside today. It's cold, but we're cozy inside. The boys are playing, Ryan is thrilled because it's Daytona, and the Olympics are on. It's a good day. And the best part - no out of control craziness as a "holiday" - it's just a nice day to spend with my sweeties (all three of them).

I realize it's been two months since I updated my blog...I guess I go in spurts. Since my last update, I have gone back to work. I've been back about six weeks now. Getting used to waking up a lot earlier is probably the hardest part! I enjoyed my three months off, being home when my kids got home from school and sleeping till 0630 - that was luxurious! I actually enjoyed my at-home time more than I thought I would - I didn't climb the walls or pine away for adult conversation; after all, my kids are older now and most the time they amaze me with their insights, ability for abstract thought, and their innocent, fresh viewpoint on things I've taken for granted. I've also found they both have quite a sense of humor and regularly crack me up. I also busied myself volunteering at school and such, not to mention getting all that unpacking from the move done.

It was a blessed three months. I couldn't have asked for more. When my sweet husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I told him I already got it. It's liberating to know that I work because I want to. I'm not forced to (though honestly I've never felt I was "forced" to work). I have a new job now - I'm a manager at the plant where I work. I never thought I'd go that route but sometimes the path lays out for you and you take it. I'm learning the ropes as it's a new area for me, but I'm fortunate to have a very experienced, enthusiastic, and hard working staff.

Life is good and filled with love and blessings. I saw this on another blog I love to follow, and with due credit to Nuclear Mom, here are but a few of the things I love:

My husband
My children
My family
My friends
Soft warm blankets
Smooth jazz music
Hard rock, alternative, classical....ok, music in general
The ballet (Carmina Burana is my favorite)
A cactus silhouette at dusk
Really good, hot coffee
A hot shower
A baby's laugh
Clean laundry
A hardwood floor
The beach at Hanalei Bay and the smell of plumeria
A sleeping child
The smell of the desert after a rain
An encouraging word from my dear friends
Pictures of my past
Dark chocolate
My laptop
Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Latte (a fall tradition)
Harry Connick, Jr. at Christmas
new paper
My 2001, 120000 mile Chevy 'Burb
My enV3 cell phone
My name
The Flat Iron Cafe
Movies with my family
Girls' Night out (when and if it ever happens)
Game night with friends
Playing Tic
Harry Potter, Star wars....classic stuff!
My LL Bean flannel sheets and down comforter
There are lots of things I love. I couldn't possibly list them all - these are just the things I came up with off the top of my head before I decided I can't sit here all day and write!