Feb 20

Guest post: Been there, done that, where’s the t-shirt?

adhdt-shirt

I fly at least once a month for my job and each time I arrive at the airport, I am met with the announcement of what color Homeland Security has assigned to our potential travel threats. The color red equals a severe threat of attack, while blue offers a “guarded” risk.

Everywhere we drive, colors represent something similar, as well. From the first time we start to drive, we recognize that the color red, whether on a stop sign or light, dictates that we should stop, while yellow guides us to slow down or proceed with caution.

At least once a month, I see someone post something on Facebook about being “dumb enough to wear a red shirt in Target” and after seeing some version of that sentiment for about the tenth time, I started thinking.

What if I was able to wear a brightly colored shirt that enabled me to alert those around me that I was in the company of a small child with ADHD? What if I had the luxury of presenting myself with a universally-recognized color garment that told people to “proceed with caution” both in how they regarded my child and how they addressed me? Continue reading

Feb 19

Guest post: The Shoes that Matter

A life long resident of upstate New York, Kristin Osborn lives at the foot of the Adirondack mountains with her husband and two kids, 11 and 4. Kristin is a graduate of the State University of New York’s creative writing program and has been working as a manager in medical sales for 10+ years. Being a mother to a son with ADHD has finally given her the outlet to start writing again, as being able to put her feelings into stories is a therapy that’s hard to match.

red_shoes_muohace_dcI have been following the site for a few months now and it has really helped me to deal with my feelings about being a mom to a four-year-old with ADHD. I know so many people ask questions on here, but for me, it’s helped me to just write down my thoughts about my experiences. It’s even helped me to consider starting a blog, just so I can have an outlet. I bet some people can agree! Here’s something that happened just last week:

Last week a Dora the Explorer fruit snack took an 800-mile trip with me. Through a thirty-minute wait at security and through two flights, that chewy little purple smush hung on tight. I travel a lot for business and so because I have a small child with ADHD, I relish those overnight trips by myself. I get to wear clothes that are clean and that also match and I get to eat in restaurants where the food doesn’t come served exclusively on a red tray. Continue reading

Feb 08

Guest post: Autism and My Child: Getting Familiar with What I Already Know

Mama Bear is the mother of 3 young boys, the oldest suffering from Bipolar 1 Disorder and the youngest diagnosed with depression and possible Aspergers Syndrome. I write a blog to let go of my pain and to help support others by letting them know they’re not alone. Her blog is here: http://mysonhas2brains.blogspot.com/

mapMy recent experience in having my youngest son assessed for autism spectrum disorder has taken me for a bumpy ride. At first, I went through a period of grieving that made it hard to eat and sleep. This was surprising since I never went through this stage with my oldest son when he was diagnosed with a mood disorder. Sure, I was devastated at times, but I didn’t struggle with a feeling of loss so abruptly. I think it was due to my desperate need for my oldest son’s rages to stop and my understanding early on that he had a brain problem. Where with my youngest, I had always believed it was just a stage that he would eventually outgrow. Next, I struggled with my guilt and shame for not seeing my son’s symptoms sooner, I felt like a terrible mother who now had 2 kids cursed with a disorder. As I started getting down to business, preparing for our appointment with the Neurologist, I was forced to face all the unknowns and to explore a world I was unfamiliar with. What followed was a long, slow exhale and a feeling of peace. Continue reading

Feb 01

Guest blog: Dating & Raising an “Easy to Love” Child

Today’s guest blogger is a 35-year-old mom with a 5 year old kiddo with ADHD and ODD. Her child has been on medication since August.

Note: ETL stands for “easy to love,” which is short for the title of the book: Easy to Love but Hard to Raise.

holding hands

If you asked me to define myself a few years ago, I would use the following words, “failure, divorced, single mother & thirty-one”. At the end of 2009, I asked my ex-husband of seven years, to move out of our home and filed for divorce. He unfortunately got himself heavily into drugs months before his eviction and as a result, he was a danger to me and my child, “M” who was 2 at the time.

M was always a “spirited” child from birth. As 2010 arrived, M was showing more signs of ADHD and M’s behavior was not for the faint of heart.  M’s acting out, biting, hitting and uncontrollable anger was exhausting and difficult. As M’s behavior worsened, I felt alone. It was hard for other family members and friends to understand M’s actions and often times; I was looked at as “the problem”.  I was emotionally drained. With working full time and dealing with single motherhood and my ETL, I wondered two questions. (1) if I would ever be able to get myself out there and (2) who would want to be a part of my madness?  For those that are single mothers and raising ETL kiddos, there is hope.

I decided to take a tiny leap and took the dating world on slowly. I tried EHarmony and went on a series of many bad dates.  Either the chemistry was not correct, date did not take hygiene seriously or moved too fast (wanting to meet kids after first date). I actually had one person that wanted to do a “family” date after two dates. That may work for other women, but not me.  Not only were the dates bad, but what single working mom really has the time to date, especially a mom of an ETL kiddo?  I came to a fast realization that (1) I barely even have time to shave my legs in the shower without M knocking down the door (2) makeup and trying to look cute are overrated (3) Babysitters are few and far between (4) uninterrupted sleep may outweigh a date (5) having thirty minutes to myself definitely outranks a date.

I admit, I had a negative outlook on the whole dating thing and it was not until I crossed paths with someone special that I realized dating might be okay.  I ran into someone I knew a long time ago and for me, there was instant chemistry.   Even though there was chemistry, our paths would not cross again for five months and when they did, I knew that this person, “B” was special.  We took things very slow and did not involve M for many months.

Once M was involved, things got interesting at times. There were times that M had massive tantrums and many therapeutic holds ensued in front of B, who never judged me. Throughout 2010 and 2012, M’s behavior was a see-saw of ups and downs and when there were downs, it was not fun.  It took a few years and a therapist to get M evaluated and on medication.  Even with M’s medication, M had shares of tantrums and moods. There are two evenings in particular that stand out.  One evening, M was in a mood and I had to give M the emergency meds for the first time. M was angry and having a massive tantrum that involved hitting and biting and a therapeutic hold.  Once the meds started working, M calmed down but it was about 30 minutes of “fun”.  While this was going on, B did not judge me, intervene and most importantly, did not leave.  When all was calm, B was outside and I stepped outside to tell him it was safe to come back in and B gave me a hug. I was in emotionally drained and in tears and B told me I was a good mom.

Another time, B came over for dinner. While I was trying to finish dinner and set the table, M started to get in a funky mood.  It escalated at dinner and I had to remove M from the table and put M in time out. I had to hold M’s door shut and M had a big one. M destroyed the room, screamed bloody murder and was throwing objects at the door.  B asked me if I needed help and I told him I have it handled and to enjoy his dinner.  Even though I did not find it funny at the time, I find it comical now, as this is my life at times with M.

Even though it took some time, I was able to find someone that does not judge me or M. B is good to M and provides a positive male role model for M, which I am grateful for.

Raising ETL kiddos is hard, draining and emotionally exhausting but there is hope! Through my story, I want to leave you with the following: 1) Single ETL mommies can date and have a successful relationship 2) your ETL kiddo will be able to handle someone new in their life 3) take things slow and take your time introducing kiddos in the mix 4) try to take time for yourself whether it is gym time, nap or relaxing 4) Humor can make the worst day a better one 5) Things may not be perfect but you can be happy.

Nov 21

Holiday fun! Relatives who don’t get your ETL child…

I posted this almost a year ago today and it’s still pretty relevant. Thanksgiving and the holidays are really stressful for kids like ours, and unforgiving family doesn’t help matters at all. I’m hoping this year’s holiday will be okay, but I have a contingency plan if anything goes wrong – pay attention to my child and leave as soon as things go awry.
Let’s get one thing straight from the get-go: I have a really great family. My parents, my in-laws, my sisters, their husbands and my nieces – all have been really understanding and forgiving when it comes to dealing with Little J.
Yes, there have been moments, like when my (very tired) mother-in-law was seated next to LittleJ for a 4-hour car ride and he talked non-stop from the maple syrup capital in northern Vermont all the way to their home in western Massachusetts , forcing her to eventually put her hands over her ears to try to drown him out, or the time he called my mom a Big Butt and my step-dad picked him up and turned him upside down to “teach” him not to do that, or the very first time he met his same-age, heretofore peaceful female cousin and within 5 minutes had goaded her into punching him in the head…oh, the list is really endless. But all in all, our immediate family has been very understanding and kind and generous in helping with Little J. Many times much more than I’ve managed to do so, frankly. And I really appreciate it. Continue reading
Nov 17

The Village (You are NOT alone)

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of people who are involved in my child’s life. At the same time I think it’s really easy to feel isolated as the parent of a child with the type of special needs that my son, Little J, has. His over-arching diagnosis is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, or FASD, which includes behaviors similar to ADHD and mood disorders – what some people, including me, consider to be “invisible” disabilities.

If you are parenting a child with an “invisible” disability, like I am, and you go out in public and your child has a tantrum or an outburst or rages or otherwise acts up, you are instantly judged as a bad parent. People just don’t understand a child who looks perfectly “normal”, yet whose brain-based disabilities impact behavior and emotional regulation. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve been told that I just need to spank my child – by perfect strangers and acquaintances alike. Family and friends don’t get it, and although they may care about you and your child they can also be quick to judge – based on assumptions they’re making about your parenting, or about witnessing isolated incidents, or through caring for your child for a couple of hours when he was “perfectly fine for me.” Professionals – even those whose profession is helping a child like yours – need to be educated about your child. And support is hard to find. Add that to the exhaustion and unrelenting stress of trying to find answers to your child’s problems as well as the day-to-day management of your lives and it’s easy to become a hermit. A lonely, stressed-out hermit. Continue reading

Nov 12

Homeschooling & neuro-behavioral special needs: what type of homeschooling works best?

If you’re reading this you’re either curious about homeschooling because you think it will help your child, actively homeschooling and looking for tips, or searching in desperation because you’re sick and tired of whatever rigmarole you are going through with your child’s school.

I have been in all 3 situations. And like I said in my last post about homeschooling a child with ADHD or other special needs, including neuro-behavioral disorders, cognitive delays, developmental delays, social skills problems, learning disabilities, or just plain old out-of-the-box thinking, I am pretty new to the whole homeschool thing. I’ve been homeschooling my 10-year old son exactly 1 year and 3 months with a 6 month sabbatical (we sent him to a private special needs school) thrown in the middle. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that pulling our son, diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), which includes elements ADHD, ODD, SPD, PDD, cognitive delay, and PBD out of school was one of the best treatment decisions we’ve made for him so far. Continue reading

Nov 12

Homeschooling your child with neuro-behavioral special needs: myths and realities

Compared to many people, I haven’t been homeschooling very long. J, my 10-year old with ADHD, learning disabilities, audio processing difficulties, developmental delays, poor short term memory, and sensory processing issues, all under the umbrella of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or FASD, is only just starting his 2nd full year of homeschooling along with his brother, 13, who is neurotypical and a typical early teenager. But deciding to homeschool was no easy task, and I’ve read a lot and thought a lot about why this is the best choice for our family. Continue reading

Nov 07

Bless his heart, or, Meet my ADHD/ODD/PDD/SID/WTHRK (who the heck really knows) boy!

This post is from 2 years ago and was first posted to A Mom’s View of ADHD. I’m bringing it back for a couple of reasons: one, because it shows how far we’ve come, and two, it shows how much things have stayed the same. Since then he’s been diagnosed with FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder), which not only explains a lot, it explains EVERYTHING, he’s calmed down a lot (largely due to our newfound understanding of FASD, as well as him just getting older and more mature) and we’ve pulled him from school to homeschool, which has solved the problem I describe in this post. I also now know that in fact, his refusal to do homework or to participate in class were because he actually could not do the work. His teachers were wrong. So I unfairly judged him on this day…as I am sure I continue to do. It’s very difficult to understand a child who has ups and downs in behavior like J does, who can control himself one minute and be completely out of control the next. He has grown and developed but it’s very much the same situation, different permutation. And so the emotions I have towards him are the same as they were 2 years ago, although I’m perhaps less desperate feeling. Today. I’m less desperate feeling today. Tomorrow might be entirely different.

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At the Piggly Wiggly yesterday I was talking to my favorite cashier, Elaine, about my 8 year old son, LittleJ. “He’s been doing his homework so far this year,” I said as she was ringing up my spaghetti squash, “But he just writes whatever. I don’t know if that really counts.”

“He doesn’t understand it?” Elaine asked. Elaine, in addition to being a fine cashier, is also a mother and was an elementary school teacher’s assistant before she retired and became my therapist a grocery store clerk.
“I don’t know,” I admitted. “He doesn’t read the directions or the problems and I don’t know if he can read it and is choosing not to, or if it’s because he’s off in space” here, I make a motion with my hands to indicate my child shooting off to the moon, ”or if he actually can’t read it.” Indeed, my children’s teachers so far have told me that they think he’s capable of doing the work…but he just doesn’t. At home we see glimpses of ability, but only if we sit with him, and when we do that it’s less likely that he’ll actually focus and do the work and more likely that he’ll take the opportunity to push my many buttons, say mean things, cry, or pick his nose. Continue reading
Oct 31

5 reasons why this special needs mom HATES Halloween (and it has nothing to do with Satan)

After 9 Halloweens with my wonderful son we haven’t had a good one yet – oh, except the one when we were traveling and we skipped trick-or-treating in favor of ice cream sundaes. I can honestly say that while it has gotten better over the years, as the mom to a child with ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, mood disorder, and slow auditory processing, all under the umbrella of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), I hate Halloween.

Here’s why:

1. The candy. The Candy! My child cannot handle dyes, too much sugar, or artificial flavors and so some Halloweens I’ve had to go through every single donation before we’ve even made it to the sidewalk. Airheads. Nope. Skittles. The worst! Laffy Taffy, Mike and Ikes, even M+M’s – like poison. And then once we get home figuring out where to hide it and the right ratio of miniature candy bars per bites of dinner…really, spare me the hassle. One year he feigned tiredness and stayed on the hayride for an entire neighborhood block while I took his brother house to house. When I got back to the wagon he had 8 Laffy Taffys shoved in his mouth. He couldn’t even chew. His face was covered with Laffy Taffy slobber. Honestly, it’s better when his dad eats it all.

Continue reading