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?

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

School is Starting Soon. STRESSED!!!!!

A fellow Blogger, a teaching parent, posted a Blog regarding building a good parent/teacher relationship. I appreciated this a lot, because many times the beginning of the year is that awkward getting to know you period. It is really hard to build a relationship with a teacher when you are dealing with the growing pains of your kid’s adjustment to his or her class. The most important quality I have developed is patience with the process, and it is a process. With that I think teachers need to understand that not all teachers are as well meaning. I think parents need to understand not every teacher is out to get your child. Body language, tone of voice and volume all communicate just as much your words. If a parent is tired and overwhelmed tell the teacher, so they know you are not a disinterested parent. If a teacher is at a loss tell the parent, so you can work together to find a solution. I have found the best parent/teacher relationships I have had included open communication and mutual respect. I have linked the Blog below. It is very informative and does a better job than I can to explain how to interact with each other.

http://ateachingparent.com/2015/07/16/2%c2%a2-worth-how-teachers-can-build-positive-parent-teacher-relationships-survey-results-2/

Why I love my, oops, my kid’s therapist

I have said in previous post I do not believe medication is the only technique to manage ADHD, frankly I secretly hate it, but for my kids it is a necessary evil until their brains catch up. One of the things we do to help my son is play therapy. Huh!? Yeah, play therapy. Therapy through play. My son goes to a great one, who can see who he is. She has more positive than negative to tell me, and she helps me see him. What? You mean I need help seeing who my child really is. Yes, I do. Sometimes I am so caught up in the emotions of the week, month, or school year I don’t see the person my little boy is. He is sweet, loving, caring, and adoring of me. She also helps me with my daughter too. Giving me slight guidance when I mention concerns or frustrations dealing with ADHD and puberty. Can you say fun?!!! NOT!!!!!!!! Yeah, that’s old and so am I, get over it. My daughter is sweet and loving too, but way more confrontational.

My son’s therapist meets with him once a week and helps him process his week. The good, the bad, the ugly. She helps him develop social skills, and to process how to better deal with challenges he faced during the week. She also helps him set goals in therapy. I don’t know what his current goals are now, but I know she guides him through them.

She also meets with me before his therapy regularly  to get my perspective and give me hers. This second set of eyes on his development is invaluable. I get an experts understanding of my child’s disorders, from a woman who is a mother and get this, is also Black. I know to the world that may seem small, but there are some cultural norms and beliefs I just don’t have to explain. While explaining them may be fine it just saves time and energy. This therapist is a good fit for my son and for me. If you are struggling with helping your child manage his or her ADHD or any other developmental disorder, play therapy may be worth a try.

What kinds of things do you do to help your child manage with ADHD?

THAT SENSORY THING

In my last Blog I mentioned sensory processing disorder. So what is it? As it was explained to me and from what I have read, it means my kid or kids do not process the information their senses are telling them in the same way other people do. Basically, it is the reason a kid may end up in a ball on the floor, because of a sound or the socks don’t fit right. Now, the initial instinct to these seemingly benign triggers is say “get over it”. The kicker is they cannot. Yes, that insane reaction to the seam on the top of the sock is in fact out of their control and yours. So we are left with 3 options. 1. Punish the behavior and continue on hoping that works. 2. Make a valiant attempt to find every trigger and avoid all them, failing miserably. 3. Help our kids learn how to process the world.

To start I have tried all of these, and my personal, non-professional, opinion is the best approach is a combination of all three. Why? The complexity of these types of problems in kids will only lend themselves to a multifaceted or diverse approach. To make things very clear. I am not a professional psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, pediatrician or any other type of person that would help to treat these issues. I am a mom. I am a mom who has taken the time to learn about my kids and what they face. I have also learned a lot about myself in the process.

I would like to give a true picture for all the parents out there of what this looks like in my world. Let’s take an early morning, no ADHD meds yet, we are trying to get out to school and there is one pair of old socks left in the drawer. Child number two grabs them and puts them on, but there is a problem. You see child number two likes his socks almost too tight and these are too loose. Now, average kid’s response is something like “mom these are not comfortable.” Right? Not my kid. I come upstairs to a sound that can only be described as a weak and wounded injured animal. I recognize the sound and so I go to the room prepared for battle. When I get to his room. My child is on the floor, often holding his foot, making his death whine. My response is, “What is wrong?” The next statement is accompanied by violent flailing stating “These socks don’t fit. They are uncomfortable!!!!!!” Followed by more rocking and whaling. My response to this has ranged from entering into a battle royal about putting on the socks laid out (ineffective as hell), to put on the socks you had on yesterday. I don’t care if they are dirty and come downstairs and eat. Now, you would think it would end there but no. See for us this may start a downhill array of over reactions. Once he becomes aware of one problem the others seem to become more pronounced. Here is why I made it a point to note no meds. He is better able to control the reaction when we suppress the impulsivity. So, it may be an issue. He may make some injured animal sounds, but the fall out is so much less. I can better reason with him on medication. This is one minor example of how this causes problems. His sensory sensitivity is auditory and touch. I have not noticed too much in the way of texture of food and such, but it would not surprise me. So how do I deal with it? Well I have tried all three approaches individually and we are using all three together.

Punishment – punishing behavior a child is not conscious of is completely useless, however you can make them aware of the problem and provide them with the correct reactions. Once they are conscious of it, you can then set boundaries and necessary disciplinary procedures. The best way to make them aware is through Occupational Therapy, maybe Play Therapy, and maturity.

Avoidance – whenever possible do this, often times this is not possible. So the issue with the socks, I can avoid that. I just make sure he has socks that fit his feet. I don’t like loose socks either so I understand it is uncomfortable. With noise at school he has noise cancelling headphones (Shooting ear protection works perfectly and is often cheaper). Unfortunately, every trigger is not avoidable.

Coping – at the end of the day, the only thing that is going to have a long term effect are coping skills. Occupational therapy does wonders for the actual processing issue. Play therapy helps them to better identify the emotions around the experience. When they have the necessary vocabulary, they can better help you understand what is happening. Understanding, will help you better cope with the problem.

Not every kid with ADHD, Autism, ODD or any other learning difference or disability will have Sensory Processing Disorder, and not ever kid with Sensory Process Disorder will have any of the above, but from what I have read this generally does accompany another problem. So be vigilant. It is manageable. You are not the only parent who has dealt with it or who will deal with it and you can survive it and your family can thrive with it.

Black ADHD Mom

Counting Blessings

My first few posts have been about the stresses related to dealing with a learning difference. However, what I have not said is I feel really blessed. My life could be so much more difficult. There are parents who are reading this dealing with Autism, ODD, and a host of other things I may have never heard about. I realize there are parents that would trade for my troubles in a minute, because there are medications and treatment that have a significant benefit on ADHD. Not all kid’s behavior problems or learning disabilities are able to be addressed as effectively. I know this, because my middle child does have a few extra concerns. The most difficult to deal with is sensory integration disorder or sensory processing disorder. I have heard both terms. That is for another Blog. Right now I want to address my top ten blessings.

  1. I know how to pray and have faith in God’s will for my life.
  2. I have children to love.
  3. My children can tell me they love me.
  4. My children laugh with me.
  5. My children are of normal intelligence.
  6. My children are at a school that encourages and supports them, and me.
  7. My husband helps.
  8. My children are generally happy.
  9. My kids can learn to be self-sufficient.
  10. My kids are loving good people, who care about others.

The last thing I want to say is I refer to ADHD, because that is what I know. I know there are parents out there dealing with more serious concerns or with less of a support system. I am writing this so we can virtually support each other. This Blog is for any parent who knows the blessings and stressors of dealing with have a Different kid. I have no question our kids will grow to be productive and successful adults, we just have to get them there. What are your blessings?

Black ADHD Mom