Welcome to our Lives

Nice to meet ya!

I am Varmint. My husband is Stu. My children are Paddy and Kit Cat.

Myself, Paddy, and Kit Cat have all been diagnosed with moderate to severe ADHD. Stu is the opposite of ADHD and his full time position as husband and father is attempting to keep us from straying too far from the main path. It is a difficult job, but one he is very good at doing.

On this blog, I will attempt (with the help of the fam) to describe what life is like when you have ADHD. My hope is to help families who find having a child/parent with ADHD a struggle and to give advice on to how to change that struggle to a lifetime of adventure! Because ADHD should never be a battle if you fully understand the potential we have. I also hope to educate others on exactly what ADHD is because it can be complex diagnosis. It is so complex, that the school systems refuse to use the diagnosis in paperwork for IEP’s or 504’s and list the reason for receiving help in school as “other health impairment” because of the complex nature of each individual. But more on that later.

For full disclosure, I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, or any other ‘ist’ out there. I am first and foremost an adult who has lived with ADHD my entire life. I was not diagnosed until I was in my twenties and fought most of my school life to understand why I was so different from everyone else. My children were diagnosed early due to my pushing the issue with doctors. I have studied and researched all I can on ADHD so I can be a good advocate for my children. On this blog, I will share my information with you.

Medication is always a topic of discussion when it comes to this mental disorder and I would like to say upfront that I neither advocate nor oppose medication for children or adults. There are excellent reasons to use it and others to not. As for my family, we are all medicated. Paddy doesn’t really have much of a choice, because without medications his grades and social life drop drastically. Myself and Kit Cat use medications in order to maintain our thought processes. However, all of us are medication free on our days off from school or work in order to give our bodies a break. Medication is not for everyone diagnosed, and there are many alternatives that can help, especially diet, and I’ll go over all of that on this blog.

So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!

Summertime Homework

Summer break is halfway over for us and it has been a great and extremely boring break. Kit Cat has advanced her drawing skills from dragons to creatures of the night. (The latest one resembles a strange spider faced long legged creepy crawly. *shiver*) And Paddy has been working on his CAD software abilities.

And yes, they are also working on the homework assigned to them by their schools.

I completely understand summer homework. I understand the science behind having children keep their mind working so they don’t fall behind in the summer months. However, I wish there was more variety in the choices for summer homework.

Math and reading. Math and reading. Math and reading. Oh…and some more math and reading.

There is so much more to learning than just math and reading. And the assigned reading has very little wiggle room for reading something they want to read. And the math, for Kit Cat, is fractions and all the other math things she hates. Paddy is forced to read books that usually have some sort of political agenda now that he is in high school.

Kit Cat would love to be assigned a science experiment. Something she could really consume herself in. Paddy would be in heaven if he would be assigned something for his CAD program or perhaps even a history research paper. But no. Math and reading. Math and reading.

Kit Cat, for fun, is reading the book “Gone” by Michael Grant. It is 581 pages long and the best way I can describe it is a mixture between Lord of the Flies and Stephen Kings “The Stand”. It is thought provoking. Has multiple characters in a variety of situations that allow the characters to develop and grow. She has to stop reading that book, which she loves, so she can read her two assigned books. Barely over 200 pages with limited action and adventure. She’s bored. She loves heavy sci fi and fantasy and is constantly reading. When we go out to eat she usually has her sketch book or a novel to read. I know she is not the typical teenage girl, and I know many in her class need a ‘grade’ to read something. I just wish the school would have more variety in their reading summer lists.

In order to keep Paddy’s mind active we have him do some small research papers and he gets to pick the topic. He did a great paper on the life of Beethoven and is now working on the Civil War. He is enjoying what he is learning. However, this isn’t what the school has assigned. At least he had to read a classic – 1984. He read it in one day. He went right back to his book on Egyptian Mythology when he was done.

I wish the summer months could be used for the students to pick their own topics for study. I know it is easy for our family considering I work in a school office and have a good portion of the summer months off which makes doing school work with the kids easy. They don’t have to go to summer camps nor do they have to stay home alone. I know this is a luxury many families don’t have.

I just feel like if we gave the kids some control over what they learn over the summer that it wouldn’t be so difficult to have them do it. Allow them to pick what topic they want to learn. Allow them to pick what kind of math they want to practice. If we give them some choices, I don’t think it would be so hard to get them to do it.

Just something to think about. Now, back to making my children put down their over 500 page novel and history books and forcing them to read what is on the ‘list’ that has nothing in it that interests them.

July 4 = Binge Watching

Many ADHD’ers do not do well in large crowds or loud noises. This means the Fourth of July becomes an anxiety fueled nightmare for some of us. For many years I pretended to like fireworks, and the outing to take to see them, because I was usually given the guilt trip if I didn’t go, so I learned that pretending was better.

Only problem was, I would be left for many days afterwards with anxiety ridden nightmares that would leave me unable to be productive. Then, for a few years, I took my kids to see the fireworks because, well, that is what we are supposed to do as parents, right? I learned to stop doing that when I saw the excitement of going turn into sensory overload and glazed over eyes for a few days afterwards. So, avoiding fireworks has become a family tradition now.

Last year, we found ourselves in Pittsburgh and were able to get a hotel room on the 14th floor looking over the water that has a big firework show on the fourth. That was an excellent way to see fireworks! We stayed in the comfort of our hotel room, no large crowds, and were able to see the fireworks with limited sound. It was awesome.

This year, we stayed home in Florida. We were thinking of going to one of the many and wonderful state parks don’t have fireworks, but it was just too hot this year. The heat index was around 110 with humidity levels that made it feel like we should use the adjective of swimming instead of walking. Staying home seemed to be the best option.

Netflix and Hulu binging became are fun for the day. Kit Cat and I watched the entire third season of Stranger Things while Paddy watched Mythbusters. Stu played on his computer – programming probably. It was a great 4th of July day for us! We did have Hamburgers and french fries too.

For families with ADHD children/adults, an alternative activity is usually needed for holidays like the fourth. Never make your families members feel left out because the large crowds and or the loud noises of fireworks are just too much to handle.

Remember, the best way to handle these holidays is to make everyone feel a part of the fun.

**On a side note – please remember that many of our military men and women also have difficulties with this holiday because of the loud noises. I have to admit, I find it difficult to understand why we celebrate our freedom and thank our servicemen in a way that can inflict feelings of war on them.

Rock on, My lovelies. But, just not too loudly.

A Bored ADHD Mind Can Be a Dangerous Thing

Summer is here and it is time for most parents to scramble to find ways to keep their kids from getting too bored. We do what we can to keep up their brains with homework, or summer camp, or VBA, or any number of activities that help them. Some parents find that the various summer activities are a bit too pricey, while others go over board keeping their kids active all summer long. Each family has different opinions on this subject. And none of them are wrong or right. Families have to do what is best for their families and their children.

However, for the ADHD child, things can get a bit difficult. It is advised by many psychiatrist that children go off of their medications in the summer months in order to give their bodies a break. Along with giving their bodies a break, they also have to give their minds a break. The way schools are set up is good for the majority of children, but it is exhausting for the ADHD child. To keep the mind in control for hours on end with limited breaks and not enough movement can take its toll on us mentally. So, summer needs to be a time to rest our minds.

Some kids spend their time playing a vast array of video games. For limited time, these games are very good for the ADHD child, just as they are for the non-ADHD child. It can help with fine motor skills and eye hand coordination. Some games also help with the imagination, allowing the child to set up their own towns and adventures. However, too much gaming can cause extreme mood swings and severe grumpiness.

Of course, there is outside playtime for kids. This is a wonderful time for imaginations to run wild and allow for a lot of physical activities, however, this becoming a rare event as most kids must attend summer camps because both kids work. This leaves the neighborhoods lacking in playmates for the kids who stay home. Not to mention, summer camps are a controlled environment which does little to help the brain of an ADHD child find release from constantly being forced to ‘be good’ in said control environment.

So, how can the child with ADHD relax their brains? My answer is a simple one, but it is not a popular one. Allow them to read the same book multiple times. Allow them to watch and re-watch the TV show of their choice. Limit the hours for the TV, naturally, but if they want to watch the same show for the hundredth time, let them do it. Don’t force them to read new books if they don’t want to (unless they are for the upcoming school year.) I know this sound odd, but hear me out.

Rereading and re-watching the same stories give our brains time to relax. It allows us time to have our brains fly. We don’t have to concentrate on anything, but have something to ground us to reality so we can find our way back home quickly, and without any mental pain. It seems odd to the person who lives life with a brain they can control, but to us, this is freedom. Listening to music is also helpful, however, I have found that having something visual allows better access to get into reality easier.

So, let your child read that book for the eight time. Let them Netflix binge the same TV show for the fifth time. It is our time to relax, and this is an easy way to do it. And don’t worry, we aren’t rotting our brains. We are relaxing in our ten thoughts per second. Letting our brains fly free without the constraints of having to think.

Mental Freedom is for summertime! This is why I love working in a school. I have the mental breaks along with the kids. Kit Cat and I are watching Stranger Things for the third time in anticipation of the new season. Paddy and I are binging the DC television universe which he’s watched countless times. Along with rereading Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven for the… um… I don’t remember how many times, but… best series ever!

I love summertime.

Marvel Mom and DC Son

Yes, I’m a Marvel fan. I have been for several decades when I first got my hands on an X-Men comic book in the 1980’s. I did occasionally dabble in the Catwoman comics, but that was my only DC luxury. I liked the more uplifting stories of Marvel versus the darker realities that is DC.

So, imagine my dismay when my son came to me and told me that DC television was better than anything Marvel had done. Sure, he was just saying that to get under my skin. He loves the Marvel Cinematic Universe as much as I do, however confessed to be watching DC television shows behind my back. He told me that I didn’t need to watch them, and assured me I wasn’t missing anything. But then, he started making noises about me watching DC Legends of Tomorrow that is on the CW. So, recently, we have been binging episodes through Netflix to catch me up. I have to admit, I’m enjoying it.

Sure, the special effects are about as good as Star Trek TNG (aired 1987-1984) and some might be more in comparable to TOS (aired 1966-1969). But, stories aren’t all about special effects, especially science fiction stories. This is something that has been lost for some time on the cinematic X-Men movies. The special effects don’t need to be perfect for a story to be good.

I enjoy the characters in the show. They are not perfect, which is always fun to watch in superhero shows. They fight each other, bicker, and make very bad decisions. Decisions so bad that it may take several episodes to right the wrongs. As a matter of fact, two of the characters in the first season are not hero’s at all. They are criminals that do not like to be considered hero’s. Sometimes it is difficult for them to not to rob someone, which leads to hilarious events.

The plots are sometimes laughable, and in order to enjoy the show you have to allow for an element of stupidity. There are times that the costumes from one edit to another are a bit off and the plot is sometimes questionable, along with some really bad dialogue. However, the characters are just so intriguing to me, I’m hooked.

The premise of the story for the second season is a group of misfits travel through time in order to protect the timeline from time pirates. (The first season was close to this premise, but the group of misfits were the ones messing up the timeline). So, they go into history quite a bit. I love the stories that are in the 1940’s with the women not behaving as they should. Or the Civil War one when the two African American characters see the brutality of slavery. Naturally, the confederate soldiers were zombies in that one, which of course led to some very hysterical moments. They do take liberties, because it is science fiction. But these liberties are fun.

So, if you are a Marvel Sci Fi nut like me, you may want to check out the Legends TV show. It’s fun! And it isn’t too dark like many DC stories are. This show may get me to watch The Flash too, as it is kinda of an extension of that show.

School’s out for Summer!

For most people, summer is here. Kids are running wild, or running wild in a contained environment known as summer camp. Since I work in a school office, my hours get reduced to part time. I plan on utilizing my extra time to, hopefully, finish my second novel. I also hope to get time to take pictures with my new camera that Stu got me for my birthday this year.

Here are some samples:

Have a wonderful summer!

End of School = IEP Meetings

The end of the school year is here, which explains my absence from writing for the past couple weeks. I work in the office of a school and have two children so May is a bit hectic. Then, add on the IEP meetings that happen at the end of the school year and I have no time to breath.

I am writing today to tell you all what happened before my daughter’s IEP meeting this year. Everything seemed to go smoothly, all paperwork seemed to be in order. She goes to a small private school, the same one I work at, so I am able to talk to the teacher’s daily, get one on one with the resource teacher, and also see the county teacher weekly that comes in to see kids that had public school IEP’s to help them and/or see how they are progressing. It is a wonderful program that the state of Florida has for school choice. Kit Cat has been doing very well in the small school setting. She has gone from struggling everyday to gaining confidence and this year she is consistently earning mostly B’s on her report card. The improvement in grades is based on many aspects of her learning experience. The small classroom sizes (there are only 12 students in her math class), the one on one with all the teachers (the teachers are always happy to help outside of the classroom), the resource teachers are wonderful at helping her with organization and homework, and the county teachers have helped her with her writing, reading, and vocabulary. All of this support adds up to above average grades.

This should have been a time to celebrate. We have all worked as a village to help my daughter. Both private school and county educators. Kit Cat is the poster child for why school choice and private and county teachers working together will equal success. However, one person in the county office, who has never even met my daughter, decided that her successes and hard work means her IEP should be pulled away from her. She is successful so therefore she should no longer receive help of any kind in the form of an IEP.

I knew that this was a bullying tactic to remove the help from my daughter. Some teacher’s in Florida do not like school choice and do not like that my daughter was failing horribly in the public school setting and is now flourishing in the private schools – proving the importance of school choice for parents. We moved around a bit, so Kit Cat went to public schools in 3 states and struggled in all public schools – so it isn’t Florida’s public schools, it is how public schools are structured. If Kit Cat was going to continue in private schools, this would not have mattered to me. However, she will be going to a public high school in a year. The private school choices for high school are too expensive and several of the public school choices are too good to pass up in our area. As stated in a previous post, the public schools are good schools and Paddy has gone to them for eleven years. So, its not like a hate public schools. Kit Cat will need that IEP when she goes to 9th grade.

So, this county bully wanted to remove the IEP because Kit Cat was doing well in school. She is not a part of the Committee so I knew she has no say in this. An IEP can only be dismissed if the entire committee – parent included – agrees to it. No one on her committee felt removing the IEP was in Kit Cat’s best interest. So, why was this county bully trying so hard to remove the IEP? Simply put, in the safeguards that the county always sends to parents, there is nothing in it about dismissing the IEP. This bully didn’t know that I knew my parental federal rights on this. I made sure that she was aware that I knew my rights and naturally, she backed down before the IEP meeting. But, all this stress on me and Kit Cat’s teachers was unnecessary. This bully didn’t even know that I had a parental right to put in the IEP that my child is medicated for her ADHD. She wanted that removed. She learned a swift lesson in the fact that parents do have rights and she cannot bully me.

I want to make this clear, that this was only one bully. All the other county teachers and county representatives have been doing their jobs beautifully and have truly worked miracles with my daughter. But one bully could have changed my daughters educational future if I didn’t know my rights.

My lesson to you all – make sure you know your federal parental rights. There are classes you can take on your rights. Parents have far more rights than schools like for you to know about. And federal rights always trump state rights. Federal rights also trump county rights. Know your rights if you have a child in the IEP system. There are also parental advocates too. Look them up. Educate yourself. You are the best advocate for your child.

I Think a Little Thought and Panic

Sometimes psychology is behind the times.  I know it sounds odd because all of us with some form of mental disorder always rely heavily on the findings of psychological studies.  However, there are times when the pro’s just don’t listen to us little people and it takes time for them to understand.  When it comes to something called “Intrusive Thoughts” in the ADHD adult, you will find resistance from some of the pro’s in believing you because “studies” just don’t say it is common for the ADHD adult and other factors are blamed.

However, if you go to forums like Reddit you find that there are so many adults out there that have been diagnosed with ADHD and have symptoms of intrusive thoughts that you just have to wonder why psychology just won’t add ADHD to the list of mental disorders that have this phenomenon.  You can read more on it here, however you will note the lack of acknowledgment that adults with ADHD have it too.

I have talked to many adults with ADHD and this is something that we all seem to have in common.  When I talked to my past therapist or psychologist about it, they seemed to think that it stems from my depression and not my ADHD.  However, I have these thoughts all the time and not always when in my depressive state.  (For openness, I have major depressive disorder with generalized anxiety disorder that have learned to live with after over a decade of talk therapy.)  I can be at one of my happiest times watching my kids play and then BAM – horrible imagery of my kids falling and busting their heads open, along with the ambulance trip and hospital machines… yes, they are that vivid.  So, I just can’t believe it stems from my depression and NOT my ADHD.  My ADHD is with me always, my depression and anxiety come and go and are very well-trained now.

So, what are intrusive thoughts you might be asking?  It is a thought or thoughts that are usually violent, sexual, or blasphemous in nature and are unwanted and appear out of nowhere.  For me, they are very visual and usually violent.  Here is an example in meme form:

Intrusive thoughtSometimes when I am writing my books they appear and I just keep writing (per my therapist instructions) and rereading them can be terrifying.  However, rereading them has helped me to see them when they appear and stop them.  Yes, they get edited out of my stories because if I didn’t they would rival Stephen King in creepiness.  And of course, they have no place in my story.  Not to mention, how would the story continue considering all the characters would die gruesome deaths?  I mean, I write young adult novels, not George R. R. Martin type stories, where such writing is acceptable. But I digress yet again as I so often do here.

Recently, there have been studies showing that ADHD and Intrusive Thoughts are connected, so hopefully the psychological community will start to take notice.  My psychiatrist now does believe that it is from my ADHD, so I know that they are beginning to have open minds on the subject.

So, if you have ADHD and have these kinds of thoughts, know that it is okay for you to have them.  You are not a psychopath because of them.  It is okay to talk about them.  It ispanic-wallpaper-6-743320 okay to learn to deal with them.  I think some of the hesitation from the psychological peeps is because of the unwillingness of adults with ADHD to admit they have them.  It is difficult to talk about.  However, you have to talk about it so you can learn to deal with them and make them not so terrifying.

ADHD is a mental disorder.  It is so much more than just losing attention, interrupting people, and being hyperactive.  There are some very scary aspects to living with ADHD and intrusive thoughts is the scariest part.    Hang in there!

Sugar and the ADHD Mind

Not all sugar is created equal.  It is really that simple.  Especially when it comes to the ADHD mind.  For some reason, our symptoms seem to heighten or lesson depending on our consumption of sugar.  Now, many studies out there have told us emphatically that there is no link between ADHD symptoms being worse when sugar is introduced into the diet.  Yet, so many parents disagree with these scientists that there are hundreds if not thousands of blogs/forums proclaiming otherwise.  You see, the studies, in my humble opinion, are rigged.  They give kids a “sugar” drink to see the results.  It is my belief that they use sugarcane or beet sugar, not refined sugar, in these sugary drinks for these tests.  Several years ago I emailed these companies that do these studies (when I could find that information) and have exhausted myself trying to get the answer of what kind of sugar is used but no company will answer that question.

Let’s first discuss sugar, shall we?  Most people think it is a simple component that we use for baking, is yummy in treats and soda, and all around “bad” for us.  You will hear people discuss how unhealthy sugar is all the time, including on those health websites.  It is pure carb.  It has no nutritional value.  Etc. Etc.

The truth is, sugar is good for us, as long as we keep food chemists out of the equation.  (Sorry food chemists, I do love you, but not in this scenario.)

Let us begin.  There are two types of sugar:

Sugarcane – It is a grass.  Yup.  A grass.  Mills are used to extract the sugar from the stalks creating sugar in its true form.

Sugar beet – the roots of the beet are high in sugar.  With simple refining, sugar is produced.

Those two are the natural states of sugar.  Both are nutritious with Iron, protein Potassium, and calcium to name a few.  If left in these stages they are good for us, however the shelf life isn’t very long, so scientists made ways for it to have a longer shelf life.

Molasses or Black Treacle – This is when the stalks of cane sugar or the roots of the beet are boiled once to concentrate it.  It is also called Cane syrup on ingredient labels.  When cane sugar is boiled for a second time it is called ‘second molasses’ or ‘B molasses’ and boiled a third time is called ‘blackstrap molasses’ or ‘C molasses’.  In this form, one tablespoon contains up to 20% of our daily recommended value of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese.   Is it just me, or does that sound like it has some nutritional value?  This form of sugar has a stable and longer shelf life.

This should have been where the refining of sugar ended.  But, it didn’t have a stable colorization to it, and didn’t look pretty.  Therefore, some more playing around with it was needed so it would be aesthetically pleasing.

Brown sugar – this is a bit strange, logically speaking.  One way to make Brown Sugar is to refine it to the crystallization stage but keeping a touch of molasses in it.  Or, it is taking completely refined sugar and adding molasses back into it.  Simply put – it is refined crystalized molasses.  Yes, you can use molasses mixed with refined sugar as a baking substitute for brown sugar.  It’s that simple.

White sugar (aka refined sugar, table sugar, granulated sugar, and regular sugar) – This sugar is made by refining the sugar so that it removes all the molasses from it.  Please see above for the health benefits of molasses.  This makes sugar completely useless in the nutrition factor.  It is pure sucrose.  Once this is done, cane sugar and beet sugar is chemically indistinguishable.  This form of sugar has an extremely long and stable shelf life.  Since it has no nutritional value, and has been reduced to its simplicity, it is easier to bake with and is aesthetically pleasing.  To put simply, we took all nutrition out of it so that it looks good and cooks easier.

But wait…there’s more insanity!

Now we have High Fructose Corn Syrup.  This isn’t even sugar, folks.  It’s made from Corn Starch.  How high fructose corn syrup is made is so complicated that I cannot easily describe it.  So, I’ll direct you to the Wikipedia page (which has a vast variety of highly credible references) to read on your own if you so desire.  It is by no logical persons definition, natural.  Yes, it uses natural products at the beginning and middle, but the end result is not something that Mother Nature would ever make on Her own.  It is made only in a laboratory and has absolutely no nutritional value and is quickly digested.

Recent studies have shown that High Fructose Corn Syrup can be addictive and can lead to other addictions.  But, I digress, as I so frequently do in my rants.

I did my own study on myself and my children.  High Fructose Corn Syrup made our ADHD symptoms severely worse even when we took our medication.  All three of us reacted poorly to it.  Another self-study showed that refined white sugar also made our symptoms worse, again, all three of us.  We did much better when consuming sugarcane or molasses.  The only problem is, it is almost impossible to buy pre-made foods that do not have refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup in it.  Our biggest problem is that I am a horrible cook.  Of course, we could go the ‘all natural’ route and shop only at farmers markets or whole food stores, but we simply cannot afford that!  The more addictive high fructose corn syrup is extremely cheap for some reason that defies logic.  Is it just me, or wouldn’t just one simple refining process on a food product make it cheaper to buy?  But heavily refined foods that require multiple layers of refining with employees in a laboratory is cheaper?

Can someone please explain that to me?

So, to sum this up.  Sugar is not created equal.  My own unscientific study has proven to me that the more natural and less refined the sugar is, the better it is for ADHD symptoms.  We watch our diets and sugar intake and I know when my kids have gone off the wagon and had a snickers.  Or, to be honest, they know when I go off he wagon and have M&M’s – my greatest, and most yummy, enemy.

Why does highly refined and labortory sugar taste so good?

*Feature image is that of “Bill the Cat” created by cartoonist Berkeley Breathed.  Bill the Cat is awesome.

A Lesson in Patience

Children with ADHD sometimes do not understand that nuances of socializing.  To them, everything should be simple.  However, pop culture plays an important role to the youth of today and if the ADHD child doesn’t give a hoot about what is popular for the day, then socializing can be painful at times.

Paddy is one of those children that is learning how important pop culture is to his friends.  For the most part, he is improving greatly and is finally finding his niche of friends and is “fitting in”.  As a parent, this has been a heartwarming journey to watch him go through.  I’m still nervous and terrified that everything will come crashing down, but do not let him know my feelings.  Things have been good for months now, and I really do believe this group is accepting him for who he is.  Whew!

We have raised him with the old-fashioned belief in chivalry, which I know is dying a slow and painful death.  However, Stu and I feel it is important for him to be chivalrous.  Last week, when there was a downpour of rain when the bus dropped the kids off at the bus stop, Paddy noticed that one of the girls did not have an umbrella nor a rain jacket.  Living in Florida, Paddy knows these are very important items to have during the rainy season so he offered his rain jacket to this girl, who was very grateful.  The next morning she gave it back to him.

Paddy then confided in me that he really thinks she is very annoying and has a hard time being around her and now all she wants to do is be around him.  He explained that she talks all the time, and even after people on the bus tells her to stop, she keeps talking.  He observed that she talked to herself for 20 minutes one day annoying all who was around her.

I thought on all this, and decided to have a talk with Paddy.  I began by reminding him how his sister annoys him so that he will pay attention to her.  I then explained that maybe this girl is being annoying because it is the only way she gets attention.  He remembered times when he was ignored and how badly that made him feel.  He agreed that maybe he shouldn’t judge her too harshly and try to be a bit more patient.

I never realized how difficult socializing can be.  I went to a very small school (graduating class of only 23 people) so all my classmates knew I was a bit off in the personality department and having so few people meant that for the most part I was accepted by them.  Heck, I think it made me stand out in a positive way with such few people.  I also was the youngest child in my family and my two sisters were quite popular, which probably helped to.  So, guiding Paddy has been a real experience.

Kit Cat has the personality of a bulldozer so these things never concern her.  Paddy is my gentle soul.  I pray for the world when it is time for me to send Kit Cat out into the world.  I worry everyday that Paddy will survive being on his own.  At least, he knows she has his back.

I love my kids.

On The Spectrum of Uncertainty

Several years ago I was asked by a friend to describe what I call “The Fog”.  This particular symptom of people with ADHD is also described by others a “mental fog” or the “brain fog”.  I prefer to call it simply “The Fog”.  This may be because of my love of everything horror and sci-fi.  It just sounds more mysterious to say “The Fog”.  Anywho…

The Fog has been described by many as being mentally stuck in the mud, or having cotton in your brain.  Other’s describe it as physically being awake while mentally still being asleep.  While others go even a step further and say it is like your brain is not really your own and it is almost impossible to control.  Almost.

I find these descriptions odd because none of those really sound like a “fog”, do they?  Yet, everyone seems to use the adjective of “fog” to describe it.  The funniest part of using this word is that it isn’t supposed to be an adjective at all!  It’s a noun.  Yet, here we are using it as an adjective to describe the noun of brain.  Oops, did I just let my nerd out?

So, what is “The Fog”?  It is when the ADHD brain becomes overstimulated and decides to be uncooperative.  It is a place of no or little emotion.  It is a place where everything moves mind numbing slow, yet so fast that it is impossible to comprehend.  It is a place where nothing seems real and everything is muted, and so darned loud.  It is frightening place to be.  Comprehension of surroundings is almost impossible.

Sometimes The Fog only lasts for an hour or two and I can get myself out.  Sometimes it can last days, and rarely for weeks.  You will find that people with ADHD will oftentimes not go to loud overpopulated places like sporting events or loud parties.  This is because that much stimulus will put us in The Fog and it is so scary that it isn’t worth setting ourselves up for it.  This can greatly reduce socializing, especially in early adulthood.

After explaining this to my friend she commented that I pretty much gave the same description as her sibling gave her who tried to describe her life being on the autism spectrum.  This got me thinking, at this time, are the two connected.  I was assured by the DSMV-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition) that autism and ADHD are two completely separate disorders and the two shall never combine.  However, it always nagged at me considering the similarities.

And then in 2013, the DSMV-5 came out and things changed.  It appears that studies were done and they decided that the two shall combine in some cases.  However, how much they combine seems to be under debate.  The CDC reports that 14% of people with ADHD are also on the spectrum.  CHADD reports that more than half of people with autism also have ADHD symptoms.

Because the DSMV-IV was positive that the two conditions shall never combine, very few studies have actually been done.  It is just now that these studies are beginning to happen, so I foresee many changes in how autism and ADHD will be seen in the future. Recent studies have shown that the two do have the same genetic risks so a change in thinking may be very soon in the future.

So, what does this mean for parents of children with ADHD?  Right now the school systems have ADHD listed as “Other Health Impairment” instead of ADHD.  This is because the system of how ADHD is viewed in schools hasn’t changed since 1975.  The schools refuse to look at ADHD as a true neurodevelopmental disorder.  If the APA (American Psychiatric Association) decides that ADHD is indeed on the spectrum, then the ADHD child will receive the much-needed help in the schools system.  However, this will further pigeonhole the child with the stigma of “special needs”.

It is a catch-22.  But, at least that will put us in with very good company.