There’s  A Pill For That

This Blog is a little bit of a vent. I hate the fact that when faced with a problem the go to solution for the medical community is adding a pill. Yes, I know that is what they do, but that is not the only solution. I do not consider my stance as a contradiction to my behavior with regard to medicating my children. I do believe ADHD is a true medical condition and it is appropriately treated with medications. That being said, I also believe there are effective non-medicinal alternatives that can work for many people. Where I have a problem is when we start medicating the side effects of the medication they are already taking.

Let me explain where my frustration begins. I took my son to the doctor for a standard medication appointment. During the appointment the doctor inquired about irritability in the afternoon. I indicated, he is very irritable when the medication wears off. The doctor then said she would prescribe X medication which could help with this irritability. We were dealing with a lot of issues and although I was familiar with the medication I am very hesitant to add to my son’s already lengthy medication needs. He is asthmatic, ADHD, and other concerns. We are dealing with a lot. A little shocked an unable to clearly articulate my concerns I accepted the prescription and it was filled. As I thought about it for a few days I decided not to start it. The reason for this is my mommy senses (like Spidey senses) says this is a bad idea, and I have learned over the years to trust those mommy senses more than I trust just about anything else, when it comes to my kids.

Let me be clear I do not think this particular doctor is trying to drug my child into submission. I honestly think she is trying to be helpful. The issues is, we have different philosophies when it comes to how to address these issues. My perspective is dealing with the irritability comes with the territory when my child is taking the stimulant medication. Every medication has risk and side effects. I am looking at this from the perspective of what is the cost/benefit ratio for my kid if I add this new medicine. Benefit, I potentially reduce the side effects of the medication he is already taking. Costs, I risk additional (possibly worse) side effects, I risk potential adverse drug interactions because he takes several medications, I add a medication when he is already resistant to taking medicine, and lastly I am not comfortable with him taking it. I am sure a physician could give me very good explanations for the first three costs I listed, but the last and most important can only be dismissed by me. That one benefit is not enough for me to overlook my uneasiness about the new medication.

I guess the question remains if the side effect is enough to be notable; what am I going to do about it? The answer is I am going to do the same thing I have done in the last five years. I am going to make sure he eats a good breakfast and snack at home, has a break before starting homework, encourage him to go outside an walk, run, or ride his bike, and I remind him that even if he feels cruddy he is in control and responsible for his behavior. ADHD does not absolve a child from responsibility. If anything, it puts a greater responsibility for them to consciously exert self-control whenever possible.

 

How do you deal with medication side effects with your kids?

 

Black ADHD Mom

ADHD, Transitions and New Beginnings

This year all three of my kids will be in school. I have a 7th grader, 6th grader, and a Pre-Ker. All of my kids are making some type of transition this year. My 7th grader turns 13 in September. She is moving from childhood to teen years and I am not sure I am ready. My 6th grader is starting middle school and my Pre-Ker is going to school for the first time ever.   Oh and for the first time in 4 ½ years I do not have a child on my hip.

My 4 year old had a rough first week. His behavior was fine, but he missed me. He was really weepy and out of sorts. I see the conflict, he loves playing, but he misses being able to crawl in my lap for comfort when he is uncertain. If this were my first go round I might feel like I need to hover and maybe I would wonder if he is ready. As an experienced mom I drop off and go. I know he is ready and it is fear of the unknown and new things that creates his stress, but I know his teacher. She taught my older two. She has known me for 9 years and I know for a fact he is in great hands. I know he will be loved and cared for by the school’s teachers, staff and administration.   His discomfort is temporary. As I start this journey it occurs to me how important it is to allow our kids experience discomfort and even a reasonable amount of fear. Uncertainty is part of life. Trying new things and overcoming fear and anxiety is integral to success.

I find when dealing with my ADHD kids it is really easy to try to unnecessarily ease transitions. Yes, there is a need to make sure that transitions are particularly smooth for kids with learning differences, but they also need to stumble like any other kid. There is a sense of accomplishment and resilience when you overcome obstacles on your own. It is healthy to know when to ask for help, but is just as healthy to know if no one helps you can make it. There is also a selfish reason to help a little too much. When a kid with ADHD or other challenges gets too frustrated you may be looking at some type of meltdown or shutdown. It may not come in the form of a temper tantrum on the floor but they get quite creative as they get older. My daughter, for example, decided to take a school work vacation last year. If you have not gotten to middle school as a parent yet, or if your kids are up and grown and you do not remember, they strongly encourage parents to take a step back and let the kids sink or swim. I stepped back, she sank like a rock. Well maybe not a rock, more like a boat taking on water. It was slow, but she was on her way to the bottom. I talked to her homeroom teacher and we had a meeting with all of the teachers, and my daughter. They took the time to explain to her their concerns and discussed solutions. Her work improved greatly. She took ownership of her work and steadily improved through the rest of the year. If you are wondering, she was overwhelmed and too proud to ask me or her teachers for help. The meeting helped her to understand the teachers expected her to need help and asking was a good thing. They explained it was part of the learning process, and it worked.

I think having the kids learn how to take ownership of their specific needs and ask for help is an integral part of parenting in general, but particularly important for kids who have learning differences. The school started bringing my daughter in on her accommodation meetings at the end of last year. She can voice how she feels about the different accommodations being offered and the teachers can ask her questions about what she needs. We had a new school year meeting with all of her teachers, my daughter and myself. I sat pretty much silent as they addressed her directly and explained what she was entitled to and why they were offering what they were offering. She did not talk much, but this is a great way for her to learn how to advocate for herself.   One of my biggest fears is for her to go away to college and not advocate for what she needs. Starting the process of teaching her how to advocate now eases those fears.

Last, but not least my middle child. I saved him for last because he is often the main subject of my blogs since he has the most of challenges. He was dreading starting middle school. Much of the dread is gone. I am excited for him to start middle school. They do several things differently that I think will work great for him. Middle schoolers use surfaces for all of their work. My son does much better using electronic mediums instead of pin and paper. They take tests online and many of the books they use are electronic. I think this transition will help him a lot. Also, they change classes every 45 minutes so he does not have time to get too bored, before he is off to the next class. Learning is also much more hands on. There is less lecture and more application with a project based focus. I asked him what his favorite class was and he said science. I was confused for a minute and then I remembered their science is lab based. He will get to see many of the scientific concepts he is studying in action. He is such a visual learner that is right up his ally.

 

Overall, I am excited about all the transitions and new beginnings we are facing this year. I think this year has the potential to be phenomenal. I hope my kids enjoy every minute of it.

 

 

BLACK ADHD MOM

 

 

 

What the Black Mom of Different kids needs, but will not ask for.

In case you are unaware there is this phenomenon called the “Strong Black Woman”. I am sure many of our non-black counter parts may not have a full understanding of what that means. Let me break it down for you. It is not the loud, ratchet/ghetto, overbearing personality the media makes us out to be. Being a strong Black woman is so much more subtle than that. It is bearing everyone’s pain around you without letting on it is killing you inside. It is making sure every I is dotted and every t is crossed. It is making sure your kids, your spouse and maybe parents or siblings are cared for long before you think of yourself. It is bearing the disdain and disrespect of the media and other racial groups while still attempting to maintain whatever dignity you can muster. Being a strong Black woman means suppressing your pain, anger, and needs so your family can prosper. As a result a chip develops for many of us. We develop an edge, not because we do not want to be softer, but because we cannot afford to be. We are literally the foundation of our families. We often make sure the bills are paid, the house is clean, the kids are cared for, and everything else in the house is handled. In addition many of us work whether married or single. It also means we are in many ways resilient and unyielding. We are often times hardworking and driven to do the best we can for our families without regard to our personal needs. This is what being a strong black woman is in my opinion and honestly it is killing many of us. This cultural norm leads to a serious problem, we often will refuse to ask for assistance when needed. Many times we feel obligated to bear the brunt of the stress of caring for our kids alone, because  you don’t talk about these things. Many of us feel guilty for crying, or taking a break. I want to give some insight on how you can help the mom that will not ask for help.

 

Give her a call. If you know a mom who is in the trenches taking care of a child/children with learning differences or other disabilities, odds are she will not have time to call you. Reach out to her. See if she can get away for coffee and if not just talk on the phone. Let her vent, without judgment. There are many times all moms have many non-politically correct thoughts and they just need to get them out. If you are not the type of person who can do this and keep the conversation to yourself, please just disregard this and keep the family in your prayers. The last thing a family needs is to have to deal with rumors and gossip about them.

Offer to provide respite care. Offer to watch the kids so her and hubby can go out to dinner or if she is a single mom so mom can catch a movie. If you do not feel comfortable being left alone show up and let her take a bath in peace while you entertain the kids. Yes, this sounds very much like what you would do for a new mother. Think about it this way, in some ways the constant attention of the new born stage does not completely go away with a special needs kid.

Keep inviting mom out. If she only accepts one out of ten times you have given her some time to just have fun. Understand that finding care for kids with any type of special need is difficult and stressful. Don’t assume she is saying no because she does not want to go. She may not be able to go.

Reassure her. This one has a high risk of coming off sappy or insincere so be careful. That being said, too often moms of kids with any type of special need spend way too much time criticizing themselves. The best way to reassure her is to note changes in the child. If you see an ADHD child sitting for longer periods of time, or in better control, or recover from a fit faster mention how well they seem to be doing. Do not say “I don’t how you do it? It would drive me crazy!” This gives more of a feeling like they are raising the spawn of the devil not a child with ADHD or some other problem. Granted, I have been guilty of that error with other issues so do not worry if you have done it, just don’t do it again.

Lastly, unless you personally have a child you are raising or have raised with ADHD or some other problem PLEASE refrain from giving unsolicited advice. Frankly, even if you have parented an ADHD kid or a child with some other problem just don’t. I do realize the irony of me writing a Blog and saying that. The difference is no one has to click on the Blog the info is out there if you want it, but in person  to be polite someone will listen to your advice. That being said feel free to commensurate and exchange ideas with fellow parents, you may learn something new. If you do not have kids at all please, please, please do not pull the “my cousins, husbands, grandfather had a kid with…..” Unless you raised that kid you have not a clue. Yes, I am guilty of providing unsolicited advice, but I try not to.

Even the most stoic and resilient among us need a break and support. Do not hesitate to reach out and lend a hand. If you don’t know what they may need, ask. If they say nothing then ask at a later date. If you are unsure about how to interact with the child so you can assist with childcare educate yourself. Most parents can give you good resources to learn and will greatly appreciate your effort. No matter how much or little you can do make sure they know you are there to help, even if they are not asking for it. If for whatever reason you cannot do any of this, prayers and good thoughts are always appreciated. If you are a parent of an ADHD child or a child with other challenges what types of things would help you?

MY KID AND SPORTS

 

I have said before that I think physical activity helps a lot with self-control. It is not a magic pill, but it does help. It also helps those kids that do not sleep well to sleep better. However, there are kids that resist strongly. My middle child is one of those. Ironically, he needs it the most. He had been doing wrestling off and on, but nothing consistent. He ran track a few years ago, but resisted going back. He rides his bike, but that is dependent upon the weather. Last year I decided I would not take no for an answer and I signed him for up for indoor track. He resisted practices, but it was no longer an option. I knew he needed to do this. He continued in track through the summer season.   He lost every race this year, but he kept going to meets without resistance. When I talked to him, I focused on wanting to see him run his personal best. I talked to him about working hard, improving and running his own race. This year track gave me an avenue to talk about not comparing to others, but working to improve himself. He ran the 100, 400, and did the shot put. Although he didn’t win one race, I think he learned a lot about working hard.

With the little recreational wrestling he has done before I knew he really liked wresting. We had not signed him up for a club team, because it was hard to find one that he could join at his age. In June he did a wrestling camp. His coach specifically asked if he was going to join the team and said he had an affinity for the sport. The coach also took one look at my youngest, who is 4, and asked us to sign him up too. So 2 to 3 days a week both boys go to wrestling practice. Both of my sons love wrestling. They look forward to wrestling, but the middle child has also developed a love for track. He asked last week to skip wrestling practice and go back to track, because he had not been to track practice in a while.  His track competition season was over so I had not pushed going to practice to allow him to get involved in wrestling. His wrestling coach is already talking about developing him to the point of winning college scholarship. He starts 6th grade in the fall. I am not relying on that, but it was great to hear someone talk about the talent they see in him. It was even better to watch the smile on his face as others complimented his ability to pick-up the sport.

My middle child is not social. He will be the first to tell you one of the reasons he does not like participating in different things is he has to deal with people. If I let him stay home he would, but what good does that do for him? He cannot develop social skills in the house, and he needs a positive outlet for his energy. I have heard parents say, “I cannot get my kid to do sports activities”. I had to approach it from the stand point that doing these activities is as crucial to my child’s development as going to school. How many of us would allow our child to refuse to go to school? We would not. Consistent physical activity for humans is essential for our mental and physical health. We must put as much importance on our kids eating right, moving often, and sleeping well as we do homework and learning reading, writing and math. I realize physical activity does not need to come through organized sports, but organized sports can provide a safe place for different kids to hone much needed social skills as well as get a good workout.

I encourage parents to find an activity and don’t take no for an answer. If your child is old enough explain the importance and let them help you choose the activity. Lay out the rules up front. One of my rules is once I pay you finish the season. If your child is artistic consider dance. I don’t care if they have two left feet, dance will eventually change that to a right and a left and they will develop great posture and core strength. This does not have to be ballet, it can be interpretive dance, African dance, clogging, tap, lyrical, jazz…. you get the point. Research different things with them if they are old enough, but don’t let participation be an option. If they love riding bikes, look for a cycling team. There are kid teams for most sports. Keep trying different things until you land on something they want to do. Keep talking to them. Unlike my son, my daughter landed on gymnastics early. She loves it and will be competing in the fall. This is a great physical outlet for her, and it also works on her ability to set personal goals. Even with her love of the sport she sets goals, but does not always put in the work to achieve them. I spend a lot of time with her talking about goals and setting a realistic plan to achieve them.

I know there parents saying, “you just don’t understand, this will be a fight everyday.” Yes, I do understand, because I fought that fight. I am still fighting it with my son on days his schedule is messed up. I have dealt with intense meltdowns, being told he refuses to go, and just an overall sense of stress related to getting there. All of this may tell you he should not continue to run, but when he actually gets to practice he participates fully and loves it. He just hates going. This will not work for every kid, but it is worth a try.

I will end with this, at his last track meet I asked my son if he wanted to continue to run the 400m dash. He seriously struggled in the race. I asked if he would rather run the 200m dash. He thought for a second and asked if I thought he could do it. I said yes, if he works hard he can definitely improve his time. He said he wants to continue to run the 400m dash. This made me happy for a two reasons. First he is, by default, agreeing to run next season, and second he is taking on a challenge to improve on something that is difficult for him. This is the resilience I want him to learn by playing sports. Also, I have watched him build positive social connections with the kids on his track team. All things that mean far more than actually winning a race.

You Want To Use Alternative Treatments, but You Don’t Know Where to Start

There are a lot of parents who are rightfully hesitant about using prescription medications on their young child. I understand that, because I don’t particularly like it myself. Many of these parents look to more holistic approaches. This can range from using supplements to give your child a break from the meds, which we do, or using them as a method of completely managing your child’s concerns. This also includes specific diets, using essential oils, meditation and many other ideas.

As I have said before we do use medication, but we also use supplements. If you do an internet search about ADHD you will find many, many suggestions about which supplements are effective to help treat the disorder. If you search long enough a few consistently pop up, they are Omega 3, B vitamins, Magnesium and Zinc. If you do a search for sleep problems, which are common with kids with ADHD, you find melatonin which has saved many an ADHD parent some sleepless nights. There are more, but these are the ones that come up the most. It would seem to be a simple process give the kids the supplement and no need for meds, but as you have learned by following this blog nothing when dealing with mental health and learning differences is simple. If you are going to choose this road there are a few things to consider.

  1. This can be expensive.
  2. It takes time to work so you must be patient.
  3. You must be prepared to be painfully consistent with the supplements.

If those three things do not deter you then the first thing you should do is talk to your child’s treating physician regarding the use of supplements. It is safer if the doctor is on board. If you are just choosing a Psychiatrist try to find one that supports supplementation. They do exist. The doctor can give some guidance, but you are also going to need to do research on your own. I have books on how to naturally treat disease, I have done many internet searches, and I have read books specifically for managing ADHD including one for treating ADHD without medication.

I want to take a moment to talk about safety. Many people look at a supplement and assume because it is “natural” it cannot hurt. Well a rattlesnake is natural, but its bite will kill you. (Extreme I know, but you get the point) As you start taking the time to learn about this you will find, some of these supplements do not play well together or with others ie prescription meds. This is why it is important all treating physicians are aware of everything you are giving your child. You don’t want to deal with an adverse reaction unnecessarily. Additionally, like any other substance there is a risk of allergy.

What if the doctor is not on board with helping with the supplementation? There are many parents that do this without a doctor’s assistance successfully, but do not hide that you are giving them to your child from the physician. If the physician is truly against it, you may want to find a more supportive physician.

It is also important you know what a supplement is supposed to do. It will help you decide if that is a supplement you want to try.  I give my kids magnesium. It has a calming effect on them. That in conjunction with some physical activity can make my day easier. It is not enough to get them through a stressful day of school, but it is enough to get through homework or a Saturday cleaning the house. This saves me from having to give my kids a booster dose of the stimulant medication or stimulants on the weekend.

Let’s say you have done your research. The doctor is on board. You know what supplements you want to try and you have set a weekend start date. The day arrives you proudly wake up that morning to give your child this wonderful alternative to the medication and your kid gags on the supplement, refuses to take it, or has an all-out meltdown. So here is where the rubber meets the road per se and this is also where this gets expensive. I intentionally failed to mention before this many supplements are disgusting. I would suggest before you give your child anything taste it, smell it, and look at it first. If it makes you gag odds are it will make your kid gag.  Also, if your child has issues with sensory processing, texture and taste may be an issue which may further hinder your goals. You may go through a lot of trial and error and a lot of wasted supplement just to get to something they will take consistently, without world war three erupting to make it happen. Then you have wait and see if it works. If it doesn’t work you start over.

If the thought of giving your child a supplement still unsettles you look into making smoothies or juicing to treat ADHD as well. I have a few smoothie and juicing books and many have recipes to help with ADHD. They include fruits, vegetables, and seeds rich in the previously mentioned nutrients. That does not work for us, because my kids do not like smoothies or fresh juice, but I did try it.

I have seen information about parents having some success with a gluten free diet for their ADHD kid. We cannot do that, because many of the gluten free products are nut based and my middle child has a peanut/treenut allergy. However, if it is an option for you it may be worth looking into.

In addition to everything else aroma therapy is an effective and relatively safe way to help with ADHD. There are many oils that help with sleep and even concentration. Lavender oil in a warm bath can do wonders to help relax a tense child. I have also put it in an oil burner to scent the room before bed.

The last and best natural treatment for ADHD is…………EXERCISE EXERCISE EXERCISE. I have eluded to it before, but physical activity is the single most effective natural treatment of ADHD I have ever seen. When my kids come home from track or gymnastics you would think they took a second dose of their ADHD medication. They are calm and easier to deal with. When they are not going to practice they can take bike rides, and walks and maybe even jumping jacks and push-ups in the house if they cannot get out. Physical activity along with a balanced healthy diet will make a difference.

There are so many methods I have not tried and I have not listed here. I hope this can give you a jumping off point for you to learn about supplements and other alternative treatments that may work in your home.

 

Black ADHD Mom

Why Isn’t Anything Working?

I want to share a story with you. My son’s 4th grade year was hell on wheels. It was so bad the sound of the phone ringing made my heart race and if I saw the number of the school pop up my heart sank. I would answer the phone and instead of hello I wanted to say “what’s wrong”. My son lived under the table and remained in a state of I hate the world mode. We were on the brink of my son getting put out of this school. It took a lot of commitment on my part to keep him in school and to get him on the right track. We worked hard and by the end of the year he was doing better. Then we hit 5th grade and it was like I had a different child. I kept waiting for the phone to ring with a problem and it didn’t. No, the year has not been perfect. We have had some stumbles, but nothing like previous years. In early February I received a call from the guidance counselor. She tells me my son walked to the back of the class while working on a lesson and the teacher called her to get him. The guidance counselor pulled him from class to the library. She said she was allowing him to sit for a minute and she would try to talk to him, but she just wanted me to know what was going on. The counselor called again maybe 10 minutes later and indicated my son was working on his work with no problem. The counselor said she talked to my son and asked what was wrong. He indicated he became overwhelmed and needed to take a break from the work, but was ready to start working again. This is a huge success for him. He used the coping skills he was taught. We have spent the last 5 years teaching him if he gets overwhelmed he must go to the designated place in the class to calm down; he needs to let the teacher or another responsible adult know the problem if asked, and recover as fast as possible so he can get back on track with his day. He did all of this and was able to return to his class within a reasonable time with the designated assignment completed.

All of the work, setbacks, bad days, temper tantrums, feelings of helplessness, advocating, and even blood sweat and tears culminated into this one incident which showed me I am on the right track. I know we will still have bad days, but now we have far more good than bad. We have far more success stories than disappointments.

I guess the million dollar question is “What got us to this point?” I don’t think it is one thing. I think every kid requires a different formula. This kid’s formula seems to be prayer+ supportive parents + therapy+ the right meds+ supportive school + maturity + time = progress. My daughter’s is different from her brother’s. I will talk about her progress next time.

It is so easy to get discouraged. In the beginning the bad days far outweigh the good. Many days you are doing a lot of running. Whether it is back and forth to school, different therapists, or doctors you are constantly running. With all this running your mindset in the beginning is this will help, but month one and two go by and there is little improvement. Then year one and two go by and you see new problems crop up to address. It feels like you are playing a constant game of whack-a-mole. It is not fun. It is exhausting and many days discouraging. One day you look up and everything has slowed down. You are no longer running 5 days a week to various therapist, schools, and doctors but only one or two. The calls from the school are rare if at all and your evenings, are far less eventful. Then it occurs to you all the running and hard work are working. I want to point out I said “are working” not “have worked”. It is important to remember this is not a once it is better you can stop interventions situation. It is not only your responsibility to get your child on the right track, but to help keep him or her there. Eventually, you hope to get them to a point where any assistance they receive is minimal and they are able to lead generally normal healthy lives. Think about driving a car on the highway. Once you merge into the lane you wish to stay in you don’t straighten the wheel and let go. The whole time you are driving you make minor corrections to keep the car in its lane. The same is true when dealing with learning differences and disabilities you have to help your child stay in their lane. There may come a time when more drastic changes need to be made, but if you have a good team helping you those are not so scary to deal with. This is a process of assessing and re-assessing. We all have our days where we feel like we cannot handle one more setback. If you are in the midst of this process with me, know the work we are putting in for our kids is not in vain. We are giving them the tools to be successful adults.

 

Black ADHD Mom

 

PS: I want to add I realize that my kids are overall healthy kids. They are of normal intelligence. They are verbal, and capable of tending to their day to day needs on an age appropriate level. Not all parents are able to say that. That being said, every child will have successes. Celebrate them. Each child makes progress in their own way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

OH DANG!!! THEY SAID MY CHILD HAS ADHD

Now What?!

If you are reading this you probably have a child/children diagnosed with ADHD or some other concern. You may be a veteran Mom or Dad to this world or you may be brand new. Either way you are welcome. In this Blog I am sharing some of my trial by fire experience entering into this world, and my suggestions about how it could have been done better.

My middle son was diagnosed with ADHD first. I wish I could say I did all the things I have suggested in my Blog to begin with, but I didn’t. Trial and error teaches a lot, but it also results in a lot of mistakes. My son’s ADHD diagnosis was by chance. He was not being tested for that specifically, we were testing for his academic ability. Through the test he was so distracted, energetic, and inattentive the ADHD diagnosis came along with the other test results. I was not surprised by the diagnosis of ADHD, but I also felt at a loss. I had the advantage of my son being in play therapy to help with sensory problems and overall behavioral concerns, but I honestly did not know what to do. The therapist was helpful, but I did not know what questions to ask to take full advantage of her assistance. I was walking in completely new territory and I had no idea how to navigate it. Getting the diagnosis is a relief on one hand and a punch in the gut on the other. No one wants to be told there is something wrong with their kid. So what did I do? I stumbled blindly. I was kindly guided by teachers, therapists, the guidance counselor, physicians, and the principle through the beginning of a very hard journey. Once I got over being overwhelmed, the intellectual in me kicked in and I started buying book after book. I started searching the web. I started teaching myself about my kid’s disorder. I recognized the symptoms of ADHD in my oldest as well, but we delayed testing to make sure it was not a developmental delay. I am still comfortable with that decision. It was right for her. She was not diagnosed until the end of her 2nd grade year.

By the time my son was in 4th grade I thought we were going fairly well. He was having some trouble at the end of his third grade year, but he made a lot of improvements from the beginning of the year. I did not realize things would get much worse before they got better. Although, I think I handled the first few years of school as well as I could there are some things I would do differently. If I were given the option of changing only one thing I would choose to ask more questions about what it meant for my child to be ADHD. I had questions, but I don’t think they were very good ones. Instead of asking questions I took on the mantle of teaching myself about the disorder, which is important and I encourage any parent or person newly diagnosed to do the same. The problem with only relying on you is you begin to isolate yourself. You don’t reach out to other parents and professionals to get the support you NEED to be the best parent for your child. Yes, you NEED the support. It is not ancillary or icing on the cake. Support is a big deal. There are parents who do not have that, I have been there, and it is hard. It weighs on you like a ton of bricks. You need support so you can be a healthy happy parent and able to give 100% to your child. Hindsight is 20/20 so I know there are things I could have done better in the beginning. There are many things I can do better now. ( I am working on those.) The following are some questions I wish I asked when I received the diagnosis and took notes when I was given the answers. This would have made my own research easier and more directed and would have help to reduce my overall anxiety level when dealing with this.

  1. What type of ADHD does my kid have? This makes a big difference. The types in general are called inattentive type, hyperactive type, and combination type. Have the diagnosing therapist explain the types and what they mean. Knowing which type of ADHD your child has will effect what support he or she needs to have in place to help them succeed. My two diagnosed kids are two different types and require different interventions at times.
  2. What does this mean for my kid’s development? I am going to warn you the therapist may start with that is a really broad question and there are a lot of possibilities. Ask them to give you the cliff notes version and based upon the assessment of your kid what are the most likely challenges they would expect.
  3. What can I do at home to help my child with this? You may need to change how you function at home. ADHD kids need more structure than average and they need clear guidelines.
  4. What are the approaches to treatment and what in the therapist opinion is the best approach? Many parents already have some idea how they feel about medication and/or therapy. I would suggest throwing all you have heard aside, listen and learn about it. If you are still pro or con to the medication or therapy I understand, but make that a well informed decision.

If you ask these questions in the initial meeting you will probably be overwhelmed with information. It is OK to be overwhelmed. Go home and talk to your fellow parent about it. If you do not have a fellow parent get someone with a listening ear, a closed mouth (no gossips), and capable of helping you work out the problem. It is OK to be mad, sad, relieved or whatever else you may feel. It is not OK to do nothing.

These questions are not exhaustive. If you are reading this, but dealing with a different disorder I am sure they can be changed to apply. Bottom line to this is start building a positive relationship with as many people as possible who are involved with caring for your child. Educate yourself about what is going so you can educate your child and others. Don’t let others make you feel like you are doing too much. Every time you lay a brick to serve as support for your child you are reinforcing his or her foundation, and you will see the results. I am interested to learn what you would do differently and why when dealing with your child’s ADHD or other developmental disorders?

Black ADHD MOM