Parenting | I’m Ready to Talk About It … ADHD

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I’ve had this topic in the draft folder of my brain for months now. Months! Who would have thought four little letters would cause such an internal debate for me, but they have. Having been a social media mom (aka blogger, twitterholic, facebooker, etc) for over 3 years now, my life hasn’t exactly been a big secret. I’ve been pretty open and honest about the darkest days of my life, the best and worst moments of my marriage, even my own personal struggles with my weight, pregnancy and low self-esteem.

So why has it been so difficult for me talk to talk about ADHD?

Because it involves my child.

Talking about a medical condition may or may not cross the blurry line of what is or isn’t okay to share with the online world. I never want to do or say anything that would hurt my child now or in the future. But at the same time, this is new territory for me. While I can talk to my pediatrician until I’m blue in the face, I don’t get the feeling of support and understanding. Doctors diagnosis, treat and say goodbye. They aren’t a support system. I need more than that!

So I’m going to share (with my son’s permission).

My son was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) this past summer.

For years we’ve known that something was different about our son. He’s always been active, overly sensitive, inattentive and more recently, aggressive. This combination of behaviors got emotionally and physically exhausting for my husband and I (putting it mildly). This summer it all came to a head when our son started acting out violently, unable to control his emotions … or perhaps even unable to understand them. It was at this breaking point for all of us that I started checking Dr. Google (not recommended) for an idea of why he was behaving like this.

Was it something  we did as parents? Not enough attention? Too much attention? The wrong foods? Too much spoiling? I questioned every decision I made as a parent thinking somehow this has to be my fault. After all, I am the person the created his mind and body for nine months followed by years of dealing with my own struggles of being a young, new parent. Somehow this had to be my fault.

After weeks worth of internet searches I came across one answer time and time again. ADHD.

As much as I didn’t want to believe it or even blame his behavior on this mysterious condition, it made sense. He fit into nearly every “symptom” and after a consultation with our pediatrician and his teacher, it was confirmed. And you know what, it was the best decision we ever made. I set aside my mommy guilt and finally realized this is NOT my fault. He began treatment with a low dose medication, which also happens to be emptying our bank account but it’s worth it. We immediately saw improvements in his behavior, his attention span and even the overly emotional crying spells have diminished significantly. The only thing I feel guilty about now is not having him treated sooner. Somehow, mommy guilt always sneaks in.

So here we are, still struggling some days but for the most part, we’re doing okay. My son has become someone we can now have conversations with, take to the store without worrying about melt downs and the best part … his grades have dramatically improved.

My previous C and D student just brought home a report card with 5 A’s, 3 B’s and just one C which oddly comes from a special reading class that he was placed in because of previous year’s issues with reading. Which I find completely odd because this kid reads constantly and books that are far above his grade reading level. I’m going to chalk that one up to a teacher issue.

What I’d love more than anything right now is for other parents of children with ADHD to reach out and share their own experiences.

 

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  1. How brave of you and your son to discuss this on your blog.
    I’m so glad you have found something that has helped him and he is doing so well both at home and at school.
    Always know that we are here for you to support you and your son no matter what your decision on how to treat him.
    HUGGLES!

  2. I so know what you are going through. We have been dealing with it for over 2 or 3 years. We just finally found a medication that seems to do well for him. Although we still have issues with aggression and defiance that I can’t stand. I think he has a touch of ODD along with his ADHD, but we are going for therapy weekly to help with that and it seems to be getting better.

  3. I’m not a parent and I have not dealt with ADHD, but I would like to reach out and extend my hugs to you and your family!

  4. What wonderful news! Don’t beat yourself up about not acting sooner. It is all a journey. Glad things are going well.

  5. Cat I know EXACTLY how you feel. This is what we went through with my own. I too went through the guilt, of what did I do wrong. Then I went through the guilt of giving my son medicine. ADHD has such a bad stigma sometimes in those that do not understand.

    What the “light bulb” moment was for me was when my son would cry that he was sad, and frustrated at school but really couldn’t tell me why. He was anger all the time, and having a hard time in school (this was Kindergarten and 1st grade)

    He is now 14 and is still on the lowest dose of medicine, in fact his doctor just lowered it to help with his appetite. I can’t imagine living my life the way my son (I assume) feels when he is not on the medicine. He is anxious all the time, angry, and gets in trouble because he says the first thing that comes to his mind. He laughs when he should be serious and is very emotional. Imagine living like that constantly.

    Anyway I just wanted to say I totally know how you feel and we have been there and are thankful that we have help. I’m also very lucky that our doctor (the third one was finally the charm) is a great doctor and listens to both mine and my sons concerns.

    Good Luck I hope as time goes on things get easier for the whole family.

  6. My son also has ADHD. I have written about it a bit on my blog, but it is a tough thing to talk about because many people don’t understand it. We use medication, and it has made a huge difference in his life, our lives, and in his relationships at school. For us, it was the best decision, although there has been challenges with side effects as well. Big hugs to you!

  7. cat i have nothing to ad because as of yet im not dealing w/ this, although charlotte has OTHER issues that are driving me batty, but i applaud you for reaching out and sharing your story.

    trisha

  8. You are so brave to be able to open up and start this discussion. So many people don’t want to talk about it or discuss it with others for fear of starting something. Good for you and don’t beat yourself up about it because parenting is a process and sometimes (well, alot) we don’t know how to deal with certain things with our children. That is great that you have talked with his doctor and gotten the proper treatment. You are a great mom.

  9. My son too was diagnosed with ADHD when he was younger. I know the struggles it can bring in a household. Thankfully he’s much better now.

  10. My son is 15 years old and has been diagnosed with ADHD, ODD and bipolar disorder as well. It is truly a struggle and I completely understand what you are going through. There are too many narrow minded people that think kids are over medicated and ADHD is just bad parenting. I fought for several years to keep my son off of meds for ADHD, even changing him to a different school district so I could get a fresh outlook on the situation. I was greatly in denial. Eventually after hearing it from several different teachers, at different schools and a few doctors, I finally agreed to get him treatment. You are doing the right thing, and I wish I would have got a jump on this sooner. It could have preventing him from wasting a few years of his education. My brother in law is an adult with ADHD and is a very successful, highly motivated individual. Not to mention, very wealthy! He also makes a great husband because men with ADHD are NOT lazy! In fact they are always willing to help and feel the need to always be doing something. :) So it can be a good thing for people also. I learned from my son’s doctor that a high percentage of kids who have ADHD begin to show signs of bipolar disorder when they reach puberty. Watch for the symptoms of that, and prepare yourself. Good luck to you and to your son!

  11. DEBBIE STANTON says:

    i dont’ have any experience with ADHD, but appreciate the info in case I do down the road I will remember this… i am glad you followed/acted on getting him help… we as parents, and especially mothers, know when our children need help first. wishing the best for you all and please tell your son how remarkable he is to share his story and it will definately help all of your readers to understand and maybe even help another child.

  12. I totally feel you. Maybe not on the ADHD level, but on a different one. It’s hard when it’s your own child, because as parents we tend to deny and compare our children. We are getting Rowan (almost 4) into some early intervention. He’s not talking and communicating like he should. It’s a stab to me everytime some mom talks about how well her 2 year old is doing and my almost 4 year old isn’t even on that level. I’ve been in denial, but I know he needs some help so we are meeting with a speech pathologist this week.
    I think you are very brave for posting this and know it’s not something you did as a parent. I think the best thing that you can do is acknowledge what’s going on and face the problem head on. Help him through it. I think you are doing a fabulous job Cat!

  13. Bless you! My own children do not have ADHD but I am a teacher and work very closely with many children who have been diagnosed with ADHD. It’s so amazing to watch the transformation in a child once they have their medication regulated and are able to focus on the task at hand. You should be commended for helping to give your child what he needs in order to feel successful in school. Kuddos to you!

  14. I have two boys currently being treated for ADHD. I too have struggled with a lot of mommy guilt over how to best help my boys be successful, happy children.

    My oldest son has always been active, and at times, out of control. He is also very emotional and can lash out when upset. He is also a sweet, thoughtful kid, but that side was NEVER what others saw. They saw the kid who pestered those around him, couldn’t stay in his seat, and acted up in class. They didn’t see the boy who is always thinking of his siblings first, they don’t see any of that because it is completely hidden by his behavior and inability to sit still and focus enough to study and succeed in school.

    Our next son, and middle child has had a different experience. He has had some learning issues from the get go that an inability to focus has made ten times worse.

    I think I will always wonder if I am doing enough, but the decision to medicate is not one of those things I am going to allow myself to question. I see the improvements everyday! I see their lives being just a little easier day by day. These kids who would have been simply labeled trouble makers and NEVER given the chance to succeed 20 years ago, can now take a medication that opens up the world that is already accessible to the rest of their peers.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I think honest posts from parents who have actually lived through ADHD with their children will help to break down the walls of misunderstanding that seem to tower above this issue right now.

  15. Jennifer Marie says:

    That’s a great report card-keep it up! :)

  16. I too have a son who is now 11 and has ADHD, well more ADD because he was never really overly hyper. My son’s behavior issues were more of the aggressive nature. I put off getting him treatment for a long time because I work with kids who are in the foster system and I have seen a huge problem with over medicating children who don’t need to be medicated. I didn’t want to just put my kid on medication without trying every other solution I could find. We had our discipline system and home routine down to a fine tuned machine and my son was still struggling. I finally gave in after my son was expelled from school in 3rd grade for violent behavior. We met with his Pediatrician and had a long evaluation. The pediatrician diagnosed our son with ADD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. We got a prescription for the lowest dose of an ADD medication. It was almost immediately that we saw a change in our son. He was actually pleasant to be around and his school related behavior issues all but disappeared. He has been on the ADD medication for over year now and I feel it was the best move I ever made for my son and our family. I still feel many kids who shouldn’t be medicated are but I also know that some kids like my son and obviously yours, do genuinely need these medications to help them. Thank you for sharing your story, it helps me with the Mommy guilt also.

  17. Thanks for sharing. I’m glad your son’s doing better.

    Have you seen ADDitude Mag? There are lots of articles on parenting ADHD kids, tips, etc.
    http://www.additudemag.com/index.html