Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Domestic Enemies of the ADHD Mom

Today’s Domestic Enemy report comes from our friend Sarah, whose daughter was recently diagnosed with ADHD.  Here’s a little about her…

Oh Hank! These come in a size 16!
I'm a stay-at-home mom to 3.  ADHD Girl is almost 8, Princess Pouty is 5 and Evel Knievel is 3.  I just started a blog but unlike Kate and Lydia, I can't even talk about owning great shoes since Jimmy Choo does not realize sasquatch-footed people like myself want nice foot wear.  *SIGH* 

I totally just heard Kate say "That's SO sad."  Guess what, Kate?  It IS.  Until I find a place shoes for the likes of myself and Peggy Hill, I am out luck.
[Editor’s note: I have a size 11 foot. Try shopping with drag queens, that’s my tip.  xo, Lydia]

I thought I would send you a thought or two about the Domestic Enemies of the ADHD Mom.  Or any Mom who has a kid with a learning disability.  After the past 6 months I am starting to suspect that it is both myself and my daughter that have ADHD.... and the other two kids...and perhaps the guinea pig.  Or maybe I’m just looking for an excuse to medicate myself, because this process of getting a diagnosis has made me more than a little..errr...twitchy? bitchy?  Maybe both...  But in my heart I knew my kid wasn't just being a pain...she really was struggling and I needed to get the rest of the world to see it too.

When it came time to enroll our oldest in Kindergarten, we were on the fence about waiting a year as we could see she was little on the "easily distracted" side.... But as she was a FULL head taller than every child her age already, it did not seem to be the right choice.  Seriously...she had to bend over to make eye contact with any other kid in her pre-school class...she was like Dorothy in Munchkin Land. 

Yo. Do I take the yellow brick road to Kindergarten or what?

So off she bounded to Kindergarten....which was easy to do in size 2 shoes.  Her school career began and she was happy and content.  We told the school of our concerns and family history of ADD, ADHD and dyslexia.  We were proactive with our concerns and involved.  We thought this would bypass problems...it did not.

Enter Enemy #1....the Parent Teacher Let's Wait and See Meetings.  Kindergarten and First Grade had several of these.  Wonderful teachers (they really were GOOD teachers....) say swooning  things like: She's soooo sweet, soooo helpful....really bright and creative....but she seems to be having trouble.  So what as parents should we do?  Oh....well, let's wait and see how she progresses.  Ummm...OK.  Is she Ok to move up a grade...OMG of course!  But, we'll just wait and see how she does.  Can we get her some help....oh you can, but she could/might out grow it.  It was a bit like "we're telling you so we know we've told you but we don't really want to DO anything"  stance.  Some removal of liability....and you're left hanging and not really able to DO anything.  So all righty then.  I'll just sit here in a montage of calendar pages flying by and leave you professionals to it....

But second grade was when I'd had enough with waiting.  The first meeting in October began with "I have HUGE concerns about your daughter."  Ummm...OK...could you perhaps have talked to me EARLIER about this?  A call, an email, smoke signals???

I was done with the waiting so enter Enemy #2....Blaming The Parents.  What's happening at home?  OK....fair enough....but nothing unusual.  No she did not have any birth trauma I am aware of and as much as I love being asked about my private life while sitting in a tiny chair, it's not really your job to make me feel like crap that my child can't sit still. 

As days went on my girl's mood continued to sink....deeper and deeper.  I was done....and I was angry.  I wanted to make all sorts of phone calls and kick in doors.  I blamed myself for waiting so long when I KNEW my kid. 

Enter Enemy #3....The "Being a Squeaky Wheel to Get Your Kid Tested While Not Alienating Yourself and Future Children from Every Person in the School System".  My request for testing was met with silence and procrastination.  "Well...we should wait....we don't want to test too early."  But you told me she was failing...she's miserable.  "Well....the year is really moving on...it's almost over...maybe in 3rd grade."  But it's OCTOBER.  "I know, it's flying by isn't it?"  But. It's. October. 

Enemy #4: Private Testing/Tutors/Services Cost $$$$$$$. So I threw myself in the ring and started looking at what I could do to get the ball rolling myself.  Great news....BEST school for learning disabilities in the COUNTRY is 20 minutes away and only $45,000 a year.  A.W.E.S.O.M.E.  Run of the mill basic testing...$5,000.  Too bad I sold that kidney already.  Tutors, specialists, learning centers on and on and on...  I even looked at home schooling.  If you knew me you would know that was a thought of desperation.  But she was so miserable and sad and feeling stupid...and she's just NOT. 

We got her a tutor, we got her eyes tested, her ears tested, her pediatrician on board.  I sent constant emails to her teacher to update her as to what I was doing.  I was annoyed so I was being annoying.  Nicely informative and 100% mosquito in the ear annoooooying. 

Enemy #5...Stress.  Stress that your kid feels because they know they are not keeping up with everyone else.  Stress your kid totally knows is to do with them and something they can do nothing about.  You can also add in resentment that you want to look at *options* for them and they see you as being a big meanie...picking on them and their school.  "You want to ruin my life by taking me away from my friends!!!"  SIGH.  Stress that at the end of the day you have wasted so much time with the struggling kid that your others have been largely ignored from 3pm until homework is done...  So anywhere from 20 minutes to 4 hours.

This is actually Brandi Chastain, but whatevs.

Luckily for me...I only had 6 months of fighting and they finally agreed to test her.  And I cannot tell you how elated I was (picture Mia Hamm style running with shirt overhead) when EVERY SINGLE REPORT backed up every little thing I talked about.  Every good and bad point about that amazing brain of hers.  They saw it all...the good and the not so good.

And then there it was....IN PRINT...ADHD with Anxiety.  Not that I want a label for kid....but really....she needs help.  So give it to her already. 

Before I go postal.

Enemy #6: The IEP/IEP Meeting.  Now I was lucky enough to have every specialist in the school in total agreement as to what was happening for my kid.  Lots of "This is significant...it's a wonder she's done so well...etc"  But it is so draining and stressful and when it's all in place you just have to hope you got it right.  That they will do what they are supposed to do and you child will get the support needed.  You could almost add "Walking a Fine Line" as enemy #7....you need the school, but if you are seen as a pain in the arse parent, well, your kid is then labeled AND screwed.

Enemy #8 was Shockingly Well Meaning Friends/Family/Total Strangers.  I had the "wow...there's just no way she has ADHD and anxiety issues."  Umm...yes...yes there is.  I live it every single day and it is REAL and it is THERE.  Every. Single. Day.  It is hard to know what to say...the best comments were really: "You know you're kid...I'm sorry you're having such a hard time getting the help she needs."  I even had some friends hook me up with their friends who had had the same issues.  That was SO great. 

But I had people...like close people....like people you might even say who were related to me say: "She's fine...if you just did/didn't do _______."  or "you just want an excuse for why she won't sit still and pay attention."  Those things would make me doubt myself.  That is of course until *I* had to sit and do homework with her and pencils, erasers and tantrums were being thrown around and she'd break into sobs.  I knew it was real and that was enough.

People also have BIG opinions on medication, therapy, homeopathic treatments, schools, on and on and on.  I was a little baffled actually hearing myself responding with phrases like "That is SO great that medication worked on your dog's anxiety with thunderstorms...I'll look in to it."  and "Wow...yog
a and acupuncture...that might not be the best fit for a 7 year old with a needle phobia." 

Really, who knows...maybe the answer IS in some Ritalin based horseback riding, cognitive therapy and the complete elimination of food dyes and corn syrup.  In some ways it's nice that people have idea's to offer.  I rule out nothing.  Including the fact that her ADHD may be contagious, since I'm fairly certain this Mommy job has lost me the ability to sit still or focus.  Squeeky wheel, annoying parent, pain in the ass....I'm fine with any label they give me. 

I just don't want my girl to label herself, for one more second, as stupid.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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