My son was diagnosed with ADHD at 8 years old. I knew something was different from the moment he was born. As my first born, my pregnancy was met with story after story about how I should cherish the time in the hospital because the nurses can care for my infant in the nursery; allowing me some recovery time. Or nap when the baby naps and make sure you are feeding them every 2 hours; sometimes you may even have to wake them up to eat! And so many more...
Can I just tell you how wrong every single person was about my newborn experience? From the moment my son was born he would eat, nap for 45 minutes, wake up for 45 minutes, eat and repeat. This did not change until he was 6 months old. Sometimes at night I would get a 2-3 hour span, but if I had any light on (even in the next room), a car drove by, my husband breathed heavily or the TV glowing he would stay awake and do spin moves (at 1 week old) to see the TV or find the noise. He also started walking around 10 months old and was climbing out of his crib at 11 months old. He kept me just as busy (if not more) as he was. I could tell by the look on other parent's faces that my son was not the typical newborn or toddler.
Fast-forward eight years and it makes a lot more sense. My kiddo is just my busy-bee and once I understood him more, it was much easier to be patient with him. It was also at this time that we made a very personal and family decision to place him on medication. His ADHD was not only affecting his schoolwork, but it was affecting him socially. He didn't understand why kids had a hard time with him at recess or in class--and try figuring out a way to explain it! However, the first day he refused to return to school after an incident with "friends", I knew we needed additional help. Medicine was a blessing. Simple as that. A blessing for him, his education, his teachers, his friends, and most importantly...for him. I could actually follow a conversation with him for the first time in years. When I asked how he felt he quickly replied "My head doesn't feel all buzzy any more!".
As each school year approached, he knew that we would need to have conversations with his teachers about his behavior. You can only "island" a kid's desk so many times before he realizes something is up. Halfway through 6th grade we needed additional resources from the school and teachers to ensure he had a successful school year. We talked with our son a lot about what he wanted and felt he needed. It was during this time I asked him to write a letter explaining his ADHD and how he felt. I wanted to see his perspective. Here is what he presented to me:
"I'm 11 years old and I have ADHD. No, I don't mean just A.D.D. ADHD is different because it isn't just my brain that works faster--my body in general works and moves faster than most other kids. I'll admit that to some this can be seen as a blessing or a curse. I say it is a blessing because it allows me to figure out problems, improve on other ideas and see things in other ways faster and more effectively than some. I have the energy to keep trying and trying and trying. I would like you to know that some times (in my case) I don't realize what I am doing and I need someone to snap me back in to reality. Things like tapping my pen on my desk, wandering around the room, or tearing up paper. Also, a lot of the times, when I seem spaced out, like I don't have a care in the world, it is actually those times when I don't feel engaged in the activity or more simply -- I AM BORED. I need to move and be involved as much as possible to keep my focus locked on. Please try and involve kids like me in the subject or game that is currently happening. Even if it takes a bit more work. Whatever it is, just get our attention.
Next I would like you to know that if people think that ADHD means that ADHD kids are always bouncing off the walls and always not listening to anyone or anything, please understand that even when that happens, we are trying our very best. It can be really hard at times. Please try to get our attention and involve us in whatever it is that you're doing. Just put in some effort and it will all pay off. That's what I would like you to know about ADHD and kids like me."
What his letter taught me is this: I am trying and please don't give up on me.
Simple as that.
I'm trying, guys. Please include me. I'm doing the best I can.
My heart hopes that I remember this on the tough days. My heart hopes that his teachers and friends can see and know this. If my ADHD son feels this way, I can almost guarantee someone else's ADHD child does too. Let us all be a bit more patient and take the time to ask our child how they feel and what they need. They'll tell you every time.
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