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?

Perspective

The emotional turmoil related to having kids with ADHD, or any type of learning difference or disability can take its toll. That being said parenting in general is a hard job and I don’t want to belittle the challenges of parenting a child who may not have a diagnosable disorder. We are all doing our best. So the following is a chart of how the reactions are different when you parent one type of child or the other. The labels are only to distinguish and not a judgment call on the kids. This is all in fun. So please don’t take it too seriously.

SCENARIO AVERAGE DIFFERENT
1 Child becomes angry mumbles and storms off to their room. I don’t know how much attitude I can take from that child. Wow, he handled that well.
2. A child gets a C or D on a report card in a class that was a struggle. I am glad you passed but you need to do better next time. “CLAPS HANDS STOMPS FEET” Thank God you passed. We can go forward from here. ( They might even shed a few tears)
3. Phone call from school Oh no I hope my child is alright. Oh God what has he/she done now?
4. Child is making irritating, minimally disruptive noise at an event. Stop before you disturb someone. Doesn’t even hear it.
5. Excited child tells a completely disconnected story about his/her day. Slow down, I cannot understand you. Follows along perfectly. This is their everyday.
6. Time to leave the house. 2:00pm Get dressed we are going a movie. Time to go. (This may need to be repeated a few times, they are kids.) Make it there on time. 1:00pm. We are going to a 4:00 movie today. Please get dressed. 2:00pm. OK you are showered put on clothes.

3:00 pm. The movies Is 30 minutes away shoes and sock. 3:30 pm We are going to be late. 3:45 walk out the door. No not late the movie actually started at 4:25pm.

7. There is a substitute teacher tomorrow. Nothing they know how to act. “OK your regular teacher is not there tomorrow…….”
8. Drop kid off at school and there is a substitute and you did not know. Once again nothing. Sits by the phone all day dreading the phone call. “Riinnnnng”
9. Party Day at school, cookies, candy, and everything else bad and full of sugar They will crash tonight from a sugar high Sits by the phone all day dreading the phone call. “Riinnnnng”
10. There is a change in schedule for any reason. Nothing. They will be fine. Sits by the phone all day dreading the phone call. “Riinnnnng”

I am not a Helicopter Mom.

Recently, I had the displeasure of hearing someone describe a parent of a special needs kid as a helicopter parent. This was at a continuing education course and the “mom” in question was fictional, but it illustrates a very common perspective. That mom who knows exactly what is going on with the kids. She knows when every activity will happen, and carefully schedules how long the activity will take is the proverbial helicopter mom. They are at the school multiple times a week. They appear overly concerned with where the color of their kid’s food came from, and if it is all natural or red dye #bad. Their kid is gluten free, dairy free, meat free, sugar free, nut free, junk free, and in many other parent’s eyes fun free.

I am not that bad. As a matter of fact for an ADHD mom I am rather relaxed. My middle child has a nut allergy so of course we are nut free. However, we are not gluten free. I do avoid high fructose corn syrup and artificial dyes, because I have noticed it makes matters worse in my house. I must say I am not as strict with that as I should be. We have tried supplements, but they resist after a while. I have done meditation apps, books on self-esteem, so on and so forth. Yet, with all of this I am not a helicopter mom.

I am at the school multiple times a week. I check with teachers regularly, and I could probably be on a first name basis with the principle and assistant principle. Yet, I am not a helicopter mom.

I make sure my kids check in regularly when they play outside and I struggle not to make sure I am outside with the older two every single second, but still I am not a helicopter mommy.

I could go on and on about what I do and that I am not a helicopter parent, but I think you get the point. So as you read this I know you are thinking “This chick is delusional.”

Let me explain why I am not a helicopter mom.

Schedule is important: I swear my kids turn into werepuppies if we are out after 9:00 pm. Does that mean they have to be in bed by 9? No. It means I need to be in the house by 9 or all hell will begin to break loose. So I need to know the details and plan accordingly. I say this, but we do struggle with keeping a consistent schedule. This is always a work in progress for us.

Diet matters: Even a person who has a “normal” way of thinking and functioning can be completely derailed by a poor diet. If you are eating food your body is sensitive to, it will cloud your mind and reduce your efficiency. Now think about a child dealing with those issues on top of being ADHD. As parents we are not called to make our kids think life is easy, but we can avoid making it harder than necessary. That being said, there is nothing wrong with the occasional pizza or hamburger if your kid can handle it. My kids can and so they get that. Some kids cannot. Don’t judge the parent from the outside looking in.

Medication alone is not the answer: we do play therapy, supplements (when effective), meditation apps to help with sleep and relaxation, karate, sports etc. All of these things are ways to help my children learn to self- regulate and focus as they grow to adulthood.

Now why am I a regular fixture at the school? Frankly, I have to be. The school needs to know I am available if needed to address a problem. My kids need to know I will pop up anytime. Honestly, a lot of times it is because I have forgotten to make lunch and I need to drop it off. Yeah, mom is forgetful too. All that being said, it is important to remember, if you can build a team to help your child succeed which includes, teachers, administration, resource teachers, mental health professionals, and you it is the best situation for your child. It is also the best situation for you. You cannot do this alone. Don’t try. Don’t beat yourself up because teaching your kid math is impossible for you. Somebody can teach them, it is your job to find out who.

The final and most compelling reason, in my opinion, I am not a helicopter mom is my motivation. I do what I do because my kids need it, not because I have a fear they will never function without me or that I personally need to address every stumbling block they will face. Right now they need a little more support than average. The way I see it, if I can give more support now, they will be more successful as I pull back later.

Do I believe there is such a thing as a helicopter mom? Yes, I am just not one of them.

By: Black ADHD Mom

I confess.

I am confessing. I am the mom of an ADHD boy, an ADHD girl, and a 3 year old boy which I don’t know yet. Managing these three is a full time job, between med management, extra-curricular activities, and school. God I hate school. Don’t get me wrong. My kids go to a great school. The teacher, administration, and staff do their best to assist in getting them through, but seeing the number to the school pop-up on my phone creates mini panic attacks.

First some background. My daughter is the oldest and your typical chatty Cathy space cadet ADHD girl. She is bright but disorganized and forgetful. She has not quite figured out how to organize her world yet and frankly I am having a hard time teaching her.

My oldest son is your typical combination hyperactivity/inattentive kid. He is also bright but struggles with self-regulation and structure.

My little guy right now is just 3.

So why am I writing this. For now it is just for a few moms I know who are going through this too. We can’t always talk about what we feel and how we feel, but I am hoping reading how I feel will help them when some of those feelings rear their ugly heads. So let’s get some things out of the way. I am a Black woman, and do not feel my kids are just bad, or lazy, or undisciplined. I do not make excuses for my kids, because of the ADHD. What I am trying to master is balancing managing a mental health disorder and raising a reasonable human being. Oh you think that should be easy? The two should go together right? Wrong, you see when working with your kids you have to realize there are some things they do not do naturally. They must be taught, think before you speak and/or before doing something that may kill you. Now for a normal person the first few times you lose a friend, because you were not so sensitive or you damn near break your neck, you process maybe I should not do that again. This does not happen with an ADHD kid. They really think that their reaction or behavior is generally normal. You must teach them otherwise. I know, you’re saying “ I do that anyway with kids.” No you don’t. A lot of lessons of childhood are self-taught. Social interactions, physical limits, self-regulation, and so on are skills you teach yourself through appropriate social interaction. For example a seven year old who lays down on the floor having a temper tantrum, will probably be more deterred by his/her classmates laughing at them than a parent or other adult disciplining. Peer pressure can be positive or negative. However, an ADHD kid who has difficulty with self-regulation could care less what classmates say while the meltdown is occurring . It is all about the impulse and the moment.

Now to the emotions. The following is a list of things I feel at times during this journey. It is not to be depressing, but some of the emotions are bad and some are good.

  1. Love – needs no explanation
  2. Helpless – I had to acknowledge I cannot fix this. This is not fixed by a pill or through some treatment. Medication helps to manage it, but this is something that must be managed just like their allergies and asthma. There is no cure.
  3. Joy – every time my children overcome a challenge, surpass a mile stone, or master something that was difficult I am elated.
  4. Fear – I wonder what will happen when they are not under my close supervision. How will they fair?
  5. Amusement – ADHD kids do and say the craziest things.
  6. Exhaustion – caring for a child/children with ADHD takes motherhood to a whole other level.
  7. Frustration – there is so much to try and so much to do and more often than not what you try and do either does not work or the solution causes bigger problems.
  8. Protective – these are my babies and I will be their best advocate and staunch supporter.
  9. Alone – we don’t always have the emotional support you need through this journey.
  10. Hope – they are getting better.
  11. Impatience – it is hard to always react appropriately.
  12. Patience – sometimes you just have to let it ride.
  13. Anger – there are many reasons I become angry. The big one is when people do not attempt to understand you are not dealing with typical kids. However, if I am confessing I do get angry and with the kids too, because I am human and that is part of dealing with this.

By: Black ADHD Mom