We Don’t Live inside the Box

(It took me awhile to figure out a title for this post.  I really wanted to name it “shameless Plug”, but I figured that might sound a bit naughty.  I will forewarn you though, that this post is about me bragging on myself and I will ask for a favor at the end of it, if you are so inclined.)

There have been many scientific studies done on people with ADHD that have determined that we are indeed more creative than the non-ADHD person.  I found this article in Psychology Today from 2011 that gives several examples of these studies.  To put this simply, we are more creative but only if there are no rules on that creativity.  We also highly achieve at thinking outside the box.

I find this description of “thinking outside the box” as a good way to help describe what life with ADHD really is.

Imagine a box.

Now, imagine everyone living inside that box.  Inside, there is creativity, but it is controlled by the rules of everyone inside that box.  On occasion, someone will momentarily escape that box and think for themselves.  They will come up with something creative and so imaginative that they will be congratulated upon returning inside the box.  That person will be recognized for their greatness, and probably get rewarded in multiple ways.  For the school age child, they will get an “A” and probably some sort of public recognition.  For the adult, they will be put on a list of those who will quickly move up the ladder in the company, along with possible public recognition.  Thinking outside the box is something that most people living inside the box achieve to do at least once in their life.  But there is a rule to living inside the box.  The rule is a strict one, that must never be compromised.  And that rule is:  you must return to living and thinking inside the box if you dare to think outside it for a moment.

Now, imagine the ADHD person.  That person lives outside the box.  Their entire childhood is devoted to finding that box so they can be with everyone else and think like everyone else.  The school system is set up for only those who are inside the box, so finding the box is desirable for success.  However, it is very difficult to find the box.  Once the box is found, it is even more difficult to get inside.  Sometimes, people inside the box refuse to open any of the doors or windows leaving the ADHD person stranded, knowing where the box is, but unable to get inside.  Some adults with ADHD spend their entire adulthood trying to find a way inside that box.  Many find success in never finding that box, but figuring out how to pretend that they are inside.  It is easy to fool those inside the box into thinking that we are inside with them.  Then there is a select group of other ADHD adults that find success in not only never finding the box, but never pretending to be inside either.

For the ADHD person, we spend most of our lives looking for that stupid box.  Sometimes we get in, panic, and leave.  Sometimes we get close and then just stare in wonderment as to why people stay in there willingly.  Very few of us get inside and never leave the box.  It’s a bit stifling in there.  And also, no offense to those inside the box, it is boring in there too.

For the person with ADHD, the box becomes our nemesis.  We try our entire life to get inside, only to run away the minute we achieve our goal.  Then, the cycle begins again.

I hate that box.  But yet, I dream to be inside with everyone else sometimes.  Then other times, I rejoice at living outside the box and love my solitude.

When I was a stay at home Mom I decided to try my hand at writing.  It took me about ten years to complete my work.  Not only did I complete writing a book, I was able to do what needed to be done to get it published.  I followed the rules and got inside the box for a few short moments to find success!  Well, not necessarily success, seeing as how the publisher didn’t fulfil any of their promises, but I was published nonetheless.

And this brings me to my favor I wish to ask of you.  I am trying to complete the second book in my series.  My hope is that there will be seven in total.  The series is called Seven of I.  The first book is “Keeper of the Words”.  The second book is titled “Thrice Blessed”.  If you like Science Fiction/Fantasy that has a true good vs evil concept to it, and have a kindle, would you consider spending $0.99 on the book and then reviewing it?  I have 21 reviews right now, but would like more in an attempt to get a better publisher to look at my second book.  It is only available right now on the Kindle due to my financial constraints.  You can go here to read a description and decide if you would like to read it.

My biggest problem with writing the book is controlling my imagination.  There are few times while writing that I have to force myself to think inside the box in order to not scare anyone away with how wild my imagination can get.

I hate that box.  And I love that box.  It’s an ADHD conundrum.

*Featured imagine is a picture I took last year at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh.  I highly recommend everyone to visit there at least once.  The imagination can get lost in there.

Let the Children Move

My sister is a wonderful teacher and works with the youngest of children to help with their development before they even enter school.  She is always on the look out on how to help children in school.  She shared this with me awhile ago and I love it and immediatly shared it on our Facebook page.  This would not only be good for children with ADHD but all children.  I decided to share this now on the blog, while school testing is going on in many schools right now or will be happening soon.   Thank you, Robyn, for always helping teachers find ways to help their kids!

7 minute work out

Using Teachers to Advocate for ADHD Children

There are many schools out there that still like to use the terminology of “special education”. This description has been used for a very long time and has quite the negative feel to it in my opinion. The definition of Special Education from American Heritage is: “Classroom or private instruction involving techniques, exercises, subject matter designed for students whose learning needs cannot be met by a standard school curriculum.” The definition from Webster’s is: “Education modified for those with disabilities or exceptional needs, as handicapped people or gifted children.” Then the definition used by Princeton University’s Wordnet 3.0 is “Education of physically or mentally handicapped children whose needs can not be met in an ordinary classroom”. In no way do I feel that ADHD children fit the need for “special education” as used in the three definitions above. Yes, there are a few modifications that should be made for ADHD children, like extended time for tests, sitting close to the front/teacher, and avoiding distractions in the classroom, but that does not meet the required definition of “special education” as the child with ADHD can and does learn by standard ways of teaching. And if we are being completely honest with ourselves, I think everyone can admit that even the non ADHD child could benefit from the ADHD modifications. Something else to be honest about is that not every child without any form of disability cannot all learn exactly the same way and need a little modifications of instruction.

I bring this up because sometimes children with ADHD are pigeonholed in the archaic viewpoint of “special needs child” just because they need an IEP or other forms of support. As parents, there is little we can do about it as the school systems will not change their viewpoint. Most children with ADHD, although brilliant, cannot pass a “gifted child” testing because very rarely do the tests for “gifted children” have the ADHD brain in mind. The same is true for IQ testing (which in some states, gifted testing and IQ testing are the same thing). This leaves the ADHD child inside a vortex of swirling fog unable to advance but easily brought down. It is difficult for children with ADHD because they are always forced to prove themselves in a way different from their peers. Teachers have 20+ children in their classrooms and all their children require different methods for learning.

This means, as parents, we are the advocate for our children. Do not expect the school to go our of their way to assist just you. There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of students in each school. And each of those children, every single one of them, have different needs. Some are brilliant, but come from single parent households making life a bit more stressful. Some are not so brilliant, but come from a home with lots of extra money and the expectations of brilliance. Some families have parents suffering from a physical or mental illness meaning that their child needs extra attention from the teacher. None of these children have the benefit of having an IEP. As parents of children who have been diagnosed with ADHD, we have a sure fire way to advocate legally for our children. It is a privileged that we must utilize even if the school still uses the horrible wording of “special education”.

With an IEP and the term, “special education”, Paddy is in an advanced magnet program at his high school and is in honor’s classes. He had to work harder than most students to get to this goal because of the label of “special education” in our school system, but with the help of parental advocating he is succeeding. Kit Cat, also with an IEP, made her way to regional state science fair and made it to fourth place in her group. Yes, we are very proud of them! The diagnosis of ADHD has not stopped them because I have not allowed the schools to pigeonhole them into a stereotype. I have found that the individual teachers (well, most of them) have been more than happy to help me with them. Because of my enthusiasm for my children, the teachers have been right next to me helping to advocate for them. Teacher’s are in a difficult position now a days with the expectations that they have to somehow cater to all children’s needs without leaving out any child. This is difficult to master even in a small classroom setting. However, utilizing teachers knowledge of the education system has been the best way I have found to help my children.

Long story short – utilize your child’s teacher. It is not them who want to pigeonhole our children. They want to help. Listen to them. If you ask for a special accommodation and the teachers says this cannot be done, they are saying that for a reason. Just because one teacher was able to do that accommodation doesn’t mean another teacher can. I know this sounds odd, but hear me out. The teacher’s know their children in the classroom, you do not. One teacher can accommodate because the children in that classroom can also accommodate but the other teacher will not be able to. Let me give you an example: One teacher says that your child can utilize a bouncy chair to help your ADHD child with extra energy but another teacher will say no. This is because that teacher has a child in their classroom with sensory issues that will not be able to handle a child in the classroom bouncing quietly in their chair. That teacher should give another option for extra energy – special stress balls or sensory hand held toys. The teacher cannot be specific about the needs of all their children, just remember that. You cannot always demand the same accommodations. The teachers are not the ones who say “special education”, is is administration. Most teachers want to help all their children. So, listen to their teachers. They are just as frustrated by the system as you are. If you are a positive advocate for your child, you will see the teachers advocating for you as well.

Anxious about Anxiety: The ADHD Diary

It is estimated by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America that approximately 50% of adults with ADHD also have some form of anxiety.  I am one of those adults.  I have been diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder by one psychiatrist.  Another psychiatrist said I have Social anxiety with associated panic attacks.  Honestly, I’ve studied all that I have been diagnosed with and cannot really figure out the difference, if there really is one.  I also have Major Depressive Disorder.  In other words, I’m a hot mess.  But an adorable hot mess.

I mention all this so you will all appreciate why I am calling this past week a success for me.  I am very proud of myself for doing something that many people take for granted and do not understand why I am so proud of myself.  I have a feeling that there will be a few of you that will rejoice with me because you will understand how much of an accomplishment this is.

I got word that my father was going to have open heart surgery because an important artery, the “widow maker”, was 90% blocked.  From the time of diagnosis to surgery was only a few days.  My father lives in Kentucky, while I live in Florida.  This means I would have to fly.  This also means no one would be able to come with me as the kids cannot miss that much school and my husband cannot take off of work for his hot mess of a wife to have her security blanket (him) on a plane trip.  I hate plane flights, but I do not fear them.  I fear the people who must be maneuvered in order to fly.

My husband was able to get me a direct flight to the Cincinnati airport for my way there.  He would not be able to drive me to the airport because of meetings and he told me I could get a uber driver or drive myself.  The thought of being in a strangers car induced more fear in me than having to figure out the parking garage of the airport, so I drove myself.  Thanks to google maps impressive directions to specifically the long-term parking, I made my way with no troubles.  Unfortunately, google maps could not direct me to the way to the airport terminals from the garage.  I purposely parked close to the elevators, which made things better, and the elevators were obviously used to dealing with people like me because underneath the numbers for the floors was a brief description of what was on that floor.  They also have great maps detailing what paths must be taken to get to my destination.

Naturally, all this detailed information meant I would get lost.  Good news is, it was only a brief amount of time in wandering before a kind stranger took pity on me.  He helped me maneuver the trams and assisted me in getting to the check in area for my flight.  All employees there were sweet and exceptionally helpful.  The highest my heart rate got was about 130, so my panic attacks were at a minimum.  My flight was uneventful, other than the few minutes of wandering around the parking lot jungle.

The Cincinnati airport was huge, massive, and scary.  And I proudly made it through with more kind strangers who obviously took pity on me.  This is a kind of pity I am grateful for and will shamelessly admit it.  My sisters found me and we made our way to be with our father.

He did great through surgery and the nurses commented on how much younger he seemed than his 79 years.  His sense of humor was back in just a day after having his sternum cracked open and it was obvious that the nurses were all going to take good care of him.

My flight back home included a layover in Atlanta.  The Atlanta airport, if you have never been there, is pretty much a city on its own.  It is huge.  When I landed there is was crowded and everything was moving.  I attempted to follow the crowd and only found myself up against the wall as the wave of people moved passed me.  I notice that another woman was also up against the wall with me and we took comfort in each other’s presence before finding a spot where we could get back into the flow of movement.  No one notice me or my need for the pity of strangers.  I stopped looking at my smart watch when it showed me that my heart rate was above 150.  I followed the signs to where I needed to go for my connecting flight and I had a choice.  I could take their underground tram or walk.  I figured the tram would be better for my panic, but then noticed that the tram cars were nothing more than human sardine cans.  I chose to walk.

The walk was long and they had the moving walkways to make things go faster.  I did have a slight problem getting on them, but once I did I was able to follow the flow of people.  I felt like I was a duck flying with the geese messing up their perfect formation.  I was bumped into, tripped, and shoved away.  But, I managed to keep my wits about me and made it to my gate.  I desperately wanted to take a seat and wait my hour before my flight boarded, but I had to find the restrooms and then something to eat.  I wish I could say that the people around were nice to me, but I cannot.  There must be something about crowded places that removes civility from people.  No one looked at me as I desperately was trying to find kind eyes to help me.  My panic almost took me over, but I was able to keep in control and made it onto my flight without incident.

When the bumpy flight landed me back to my home state I had to maneuver the trams and find my car.  Once again, I was able to find nice people to help me maneuver around.  I was almost in tears as I was surrounded by people willing to help me.

All these kind strangers have no idea how much they helped me.  It’s not like I wear a sign around my neck proclaiming my mental illness.  I wish I could say that landing in Atlanta was a pleasant experience, but I cannot.  It is, after all, Superbowl weekend and Atlanta is hosting.  It was probably a bad weekend to find myself in Atlanta.

All this said, I am proud that I made it without losing myself mentally.  Several years ago, I would not have been able to do this and my father would have gone into surgery without his youngest daughter there to support him.  However, this is a new me, and I can do these things now!

For many people, this probably seems like a simple task to complete and there will be little appreciation for how difficult this was for me.  I tell you my story just in case you are the old me.  The me that felt I couldn’t do something like flying alone.  I’m here to tell you that you can do it.  You can maneuver the airport jungles and make it out alive!

Anxiety inflicts about half of all adult with ADHD.  So, I know there is someone out there who needs this story.  Just know, I believe in you.  You CAN do it!

School Systems and ADHD

There is a debate among parents with children who have ADHD as to what school would be best for their child – a public school or a private school.  I tend not to get into this debate because of two important reasons:

  1. Not all schools are equal no matter public or private
  2. Not all children are the same and learning requirements differ

Just because a child has ADHD doesn’t mean that one way of learning or one type of school system will work for all of them.  As with the child without special learning requirements, every school must be visited with one child in mind, not all children.

The School Adventures of Paddy

Paddy was born nine weeks early and had many forms of therapy from birth.  Occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and developmental therapy to name a few.  At the age of five he was diagnosed with moderate to severe ADHD with possible autistic tendencies.  To put simply, his ADHD was so severe that the neuropsychologist couldn’t tell if he was on the spectrum or not.  Although our first meeting began with a lecture of how they do not medicate most children with ADHD at that young of an age, our meeting after the tests started with a list of recommended medications for Paddy.  It took a couple of months, but eventually we found the right medication and dose and then marveled at the fact that we could have conversations with our son.  His mind always moved so quickly that conversations were difficult.

At three years of age he started school in the Early Childhood Development program.  Having a June birthday meant that he was young for his age group.  We always planned on holding him back in Kindergarten not only because of his age but because of his younger emotional abilities.  Being premature and ADHD means his emotional maturity would be behind his peers.  At the end of Kindergarten we were told by his teacher that he would be mentally bored if he repeated the grade level again and for a child with ADHD this could mean a lifelong hatred of school.  We agreed.  Paddy was just too smart to be held back because of being socially behind his peers.  So, with the help of his IEP (individual education plan) and arguing (lots of arguing) that social skills are a requirement for effective learning we had him move on to first grade.

This decision led to yearly discussions with the public school systems that Paddy needed social help along with educational help and it would be in his IEP that the schools would provide this help.  We didn’t ask for anything too dramatic, we just asked that he be guided during social times at school.  In particular gym classes, lunch time, and recess.  Most of the teachers had no problems helping him because of his quiet nature.  (Yes, children with ADHD can be quiet.)

We moved around too.  He is a Junior in high school now and has gone to schools in three different states.  His IEP was modified by all school districts, and I was able to successfully argue that social help was a requirement for all the IEP’s.   Some schools were better than the others, but in the long run, we were successful.

Private schools were never an option for Paddy because of his social requirements and his intense IEP.  Most affordable private schools do not have the ability to help with the social aspects of ADHD children.  A smaller class size would not have changed Paddy’s ability to learn, as he has an amazing memory.  The public school system, in the long run, was the best option for him.

The School Adventures of Kit Cat

Kit Cat was born on her due date unlike her big brother.  She was active, opinionated, and loud.  She wanted everything her way and her way only.  Good thing she had such an easy-going big brother!  Kit Cat’s story is vastly different from her brother.  At the age of one she was diagnosed with Verbal Dyspraxia and began intensive speech therapy.  By the age of three she was put in the Early Childhood program so she could have speech therapy everyday.  By the age of five she was also diagnosed with mild to moderate ADHD.  Thus began her part in the public school system and an IEP.

Her public school story isn’t as happy as Paddy’s.  The school was able to keep up with my demands for her IEP, but they weren’t able to help her with bully’s.  Like I said, she is active and opinionated.  Naturally, I encouraged her to keep her personality and have raised her to be respectful but not to compromise who she is.  She is a girl who loves dinosaurs and dragons.  She loves climbing trees while wearing her tutu and tiara.  She loves getting dirty and hates combing her hair.  She wants very little to do with girlie aspects of being female.  She loves the sciences and loves to immerse herself in books.   This means she was bullied by almost everyone, even certain teachers.  Her public school adventures were miserable however she needed the speech therapy that many private schools couldn’t provide.

Once she got to fifth grade and her speech therapy was getting reduced because of how well she was doing, we were able to switch her to a private school.  Our school districts allows public school therapist and teachers to come in and help students with their special needs.  It is a wonderful program that I wish all school districts allow.  In the private school she floundered initially because of how much she emotionally prepared herself to be bullied.  Her fifth grade teacher was able to help her break her wall she put around herself and she has flourished since.  She is in seventh grade now and got a first place ribbon in the science fair and went on to win third place in her group in the diocesan fair.  She no longer tries to anticipate being bullied and enjoys time with her peers.

The Educational Differences

To be upfront and honest – yes, Paddy was bullied in school too.  But his bullies did not affect him like Kit Cat’s did.  Paddy is laid back while Kit Cat is full of passion.  His laid backness meant his bullies got bored and stopped.  Her passion meant her bullies enjoyed her reaction too much to stop.  For the school’s part, the public schools rarely admits to the bullying.  They admit there is bullying, but they don’t admit to specific bullying.  In a way, that is a form of bullying, but I digress.

Paddy has succeeded in public schools and the private schools would not have been able to provide the help he needed socially.  Kit Cat did not do so well in the public school and needed the smaller classes and fewer people that the private schools provide.  So, my answer to which school is better for kids with ADHD is that it depends on the child’s needs and what the schools can provide.

There is no straight answer to the question because the question is not as black and white as it seems.  As all children are different, so are all school systems.

All children need different ways to learn.  Even siblings.  This is why school choice is so important for our children.  And why I will also fight for my right to have to kids go to the right school for them without having to go bankrupt.

The Fog

The ADHD fog is one of the most asked about symptoms I get and one of the most ignored symptoms by professionals.  It is difficult to understand if you have never experienced it.  And it is one of the most frightening aspects of living with ADHD.  It causes the most problems in schools.  The fog is the aftermath of the daydream.

Daydreaming is healthy for children to participate in.  It builds creativity and helps children with their imagination.  It is encouraged by the teaching establishment during certain activities in classes and it is something that many parents enjoy for their kids to do.  The quiet playtime.  For kids with ADHD, it is a requirement to have time to daydream.  It relaxes our over active brain and provides a place of calmness that we do not have in our real lives.  However, it can have horrifying consequences if the people around us do not understand that daydreaming is almost sacred to us.  And, just like you don’t want to pull the prayerful person out of their meditations too quickly, you don’t want to pull the ADHD child from their daydream in a swift manner.

You see, we just don’t daydream.  We live in what I call “Lala Land”.  Lala Land is not just one place, it is not just one daydream but a land of various dreams.  Lala Land is a safe place where the ADHD child is protected.  After a long day at school, it is a place that allows relaxation.  It is a place that allows constant mental disruptions and minimal brain control.  It is a wonderful place to go.  As an adult, I still enjoy Lala Land.

The problem is not Lala Land itself, but how the person with ADHD is mentally removed from this sanctity.  If it is done willingly there is absolutely no problem with it.  If it is done gently with calmness there is no problems either.  If it is done with harshness and anger, it creates the Fog.

The fog is a place of terror, pain, and confusion.  It is harsh and horrible.  It is every worst nightmare coming at you within a minute.  It is cold.  It is the exact opposite of Lala Land.  It is a state of being with no emotions other than fear.

When your child, or a child that you teach, is in Lala Land.  Please do not demand that they came back to reality in an instant.  Be gentle.  Be calm.  Give them a time frame to come home.  Tell them gently, “you have 10 minutes”.  Then again, “you have 5 minutes”.  Then again, “you have one minute”.  And then tell them to come back to reality.  Sometimes, this time frame is something that cannot be done.  An emergency happens, or you lost track of time and have to leave 2 minutes ago.  Then tell the child, “we have to go now” and gently guide them.  Do not demand they put their shoes on.  Assist them in putting their shoes on.  Allow them the dignity to come out of Lala Land slowly.

The fog does cause physical pain when it comes on this harshly.  It creates mind numbing confusion.  It is something that adults can usually handle, but children cannot understand.  Please be gentle with your child when Lala Land creates the fog.

The fog also engulfs the ADHD person when too much stimulus creates a need to vanish.  The fog in these times isn’t painful like the Lala Land fog is, but it does create the same confusion.  When you are with your child and their face goes emotionless and they seem to be thinking slowly, that is the fog.  This will usually happen in public.  A busy shopping mall, a theme park, or even in a library.  It doesn’t need to be loud to be overwhelming, just over stimulating.  If your child likes to read, walking into a library will create an overwhelming emotion and the fog.  Yes, it still happens to me in library’s!  I may just be a bit pathetic in my love of books.

So, the long story short is – be careful when your child is in Lala Land or in a overestimulating situation and you need their attention.  If there is time, allow them to come out of it on their own.  If there is limited time, or in public, give them deadlines to when they need to be in reality.  If there is no time, be gentle and don’t demand they be mentally there in a moments notice.

If you notice your child in the fog while in public, it is important to get them out of it or they may stop following you.  This is when the ADHD child wonders off.  Anyone will be able to get them to go with them.  Make them hold your hand until you can get to a safe place to get them out of the fog.  If not safe place can be found, it is better for their safety to force them out of it no matter the consequences.  For children with ADHD, do not force them to go to overstimulating places if they are not comfortable with it.  It is for their safety.

An example of what can happen – I was overstimulated before going into a fun child approved haunted house ride at Disney World.  To this day, I am terrified of haunted houses because of it.  It can affect the child even into adulthood.  Of course, my parents had no idea I had ADHD, and no idea why I was reacting the way I did.  I was trying to tell them that I was afraid, not because of the haunted house, but because I was overstimulated.  I know now that I should have been removed from the chaos until I was able to get out of the fog, but I had no way of telling my parents this and my parents had no way of knowing this is what I needed.

I feel like this post is kinda all over the place, but what do you expect?  I am ADHD.  I’ll probably touch more on the fog later.  It is an important aspect of having ADHD.   But, it is confusing for those who do not live with ADHD.

What is ADHD

It is important to understand what ADHD is and what it isn’t.  First and foremost, it is not statistically a learning disability.  People with ADHD usually do not have difficulty learning (approximately 25% may have a learning disability on top of ADHD).  They are just as smart as the average person.  Some studies have suggested that they may be smarter and more creative than the average person while others suggest there is very little intellectual differences.  Therefore, it is impossible to suggest that it is a learning disability.  ADHD is considered a neurodevelopmental mental disorder.  To put simply, when the ADHD person’s mental functions are taken into account and the studies provide adequate time and distraction free environment with mental breaks, the ADHD person tests are no different from the average person.  When the ADHD person is forced to take tests on the same standards as people without ADHD there is only a 8%-9% difference is test scores.

ADHD was first written about in 1798 and documented as “mental restlessness” by Sir Alexander Crichton.  In 1902 George Still gave a series of lectures to the Royal College of Physicians in London that gave a clear representation of what ADHD is.  I bring this up because of the number of people who maintain that this is a “new diagnosis” and suggest that it is a bogus one.  So, please inform these people when you meet them that doctors have been writing about the symptoms since 1798, which could not, by any logical person, be considered a new thing.

The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) has had ADHD in their manual since 1952 when it was labeled as “minimal brain dysfunction”.  Then in 1968 it was labeled “hyperkinetic reaction of childhood”.  In 1980 is was given the ADD diagnosis and in 1987 they changed it to ADHD.  In 1994 it was split into three subtypes: ADHD inattentive type, ADHD hyperactive-impulsive type, and ADHD combined type.  Anyone who claims their child is ADD and not ADHD are using diagnosis standards that are 30 years behind.  So, if your doctor has said your child is ADD and not ADHD, you need to find a new doctor.  One that is more up to date in their knowledge.

I was diagnosed in my twenties with moderate to severe ADHD inattentive type.  My son, Paddy, was diagnosed with severe ADHD combined type, and my daughter, Kit Cat, was diagnosed with ADHD inattentive type.  What does this mean for our family?  It means we rarely have a quiet moment in the house yet no one seems to notice that we never stop moving.  My husband, Stu, who is statistically the exact opposite of us, is well adapt at ignoring the chaos he calls home.

As a parent, I am my children’s advocate.  The mama bear of children with special needs.  The school systems are not up to date on what ADHD is and they still list it as “other health impairment” on IEP’s (Individual Education Plan).  It is listed with 10 other “health impairments”.  Those are diabetes, epilepsy, heart conditions, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, pneumatic fever, sickle-cell anemia, and Tourette syndrome.  If you are anything like me, you are now completely overwhelmed with the desire to sing at the top of your lungs the Sesame Street song, “which one of these is not like the other”.  I’m unsure as so how ADHD and Tourette’s can be seen as an “other health impairment” when seeing that the other health impairments are all medical ones and not mental ones.  This shows how behind our school systems are.  I will discuss more on IEP’s and the school systems on a later post.

It is up to us, the parents of children with ADHD, to be their voices.  Too many parents try to avoid the diagnosis, or try to deny it.  Too many people believe that ADHD is something to be ashamed of, but it isn’t.  It is a wonderful mental disorder!  I would never want to live without it.  It makes me different in a good way.  I see the world in a way the average person doesn’t.  I see the beauty in things that others just pass over.  I not only think outside the box – I live outside the box!  Do I really believe all that?  Well, no.  But my children will never hear me say anything different.  They will be raised to embrace who they are.

And I will leave this post on one final note that I tell all children with ADHD.  (I work in the office at a private school, so I meet many children with ADHD).  I tell these children and their parents that we are all created in the image God.  This means that God has ADHD!  And, if you really think about it, that explains the platypus!  The platypus is a duck-billed, semi-aquatic, egg laying, mammal.  It has a beaver tail and otter feet.  And the platypus has a spur on its hind foot and the male can delivers venom from it.  Yea.  Only a creature with ADHD could come up with that.

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!