Wednesday, April 17, 2013

ADHD: My Son’s Story Part 1 of 3(Elementary and Teen)

John splashing in mud puddles.
I remember the day we discovered that our oldest son had ADHD.  He was in the first semester of second grade.  I felt like someone had pulled the rug out from under me.  It was devastating to hear, but a relief to know that there was a name to something that we had no idea how to deal with.  I still remember calling the hotline to Focus On The Family just hours after we found out.  Thank goodness for this ministry.  They recommended several books that they had published as well as offered to pray with me.  I voraciously read the books and tried to implement as many of the ideas as I could.  I slowly discovered that I had to be the expert on ADHD as well as the expert on my son.  I cannot tell you the countless times that other adults who were given charge of our son, called a meeting with us to let us know that things were not going well and they needed help.  Until the diagnosis, I just thought I was a horrible mom.  After the diagnosis, I felt like I could help them understand ADHD and explain what we were doing at home.  But the biggest thing was to show them that we supported them and what they were trying to accomplish with our son.  We also chose the route of counseling and medication. 
John giving his California Mission presentation.
Our son was almost off the charts ADHD.   We began strict schedules at home with positive  behavior systems.  I even made a “Morning Tape” for school mornings where I recorded my voice saying, “Good morning.  It is time to get up and get dressed”  After a five minute wait you would here, “Now it is time to go downstairs and eat breakfast”  The tape continued until it told him to wait outside for the bus.  We used the tape for about three years until it fell apart.  We began experimenting with medications until we found the right one and the best dosage.  At first it was very difficult for me.  When a medication dosage was too high, I almost cried as I saw how lethargic he became.  I hated the medicine.   However, as we finally came to the right one, we saw our son begin to blossom socially.  At second grade, he finally started having friends who wanted to invite him over!!!  His ADHD never affected his learning, but it did affect him socially and emotionally.
Winning an award for an essay he wrote.
 He finally had a “brake” in his brain to think about what he should be saying and how he should be moving his body. His classmates deeply appreciated the difference. The new behavior strategies and medication did help with many issues, but he still had trouble with fears, sleeping at night, being impulsive, and being socially awkward at times.  Part of these things are just him and his very unusual personality.  He is a unique person.  If you ever meet him, you would never forget him.  And some of it is issues that he will continue to face the rest of his life.  ADHD is a lifelong disability,  but many are able to compensate for its effects in their daily life over time.  Now that he is almost 18, it is amazing to see what he has accomplished.  I remember how much trepidation my husband and I had about him driving, but our fears have been unfounded.   He’ll be starting his senior year next year.  I am so proud of him and how he has faced his challenges head on. 
Being John! 

John dressed up for his Athletics Awards ceremony.

If you have a child that has been diagnosed with a disability, what has it been like for you?  How have your lives changed? 

1 comment:

  1. GREAT post Deb. That’s all very funny on one hand as I once thought that ADHD was a term for parents who didn’t know how to raise their kids. Then God have us the poster child for ADHD. When you see the divine side of things . . . then that’s another story. I’ve often told John himself that he is like a Nuclear Power reactor. He’s got enough energy to put everyone else under the table and can outlast anyone. That is a ton of God given energy that can be used to good. Then I’ve noted to John that like a real Nuclear reactor, there has to be things in place like coolant rods to keep the thing from exploding. So that is why we’ve developed strategies to help keep focus. I truly believe that God designed John for great things and that he is indeed uniquely created. I hope Deb’s post can be an encouragement to other mom’s and dad’s out there. John is indeed a future leader in the making.