Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I originally posted this on 4/12/2011

I have decided to blog my adventures in homeschooling an ADHD child. Skittles has always been hyper. When I say, "always", I mean ALWAYS! I think he was created hyper. I remember when I went to the doctor for my first ultrasound, my Mom, Dad, and brother came with me because my husband was stationed out of state at the time. At only 16 weeks, you could see this little guy just could NOT stop moving. My Mom looked at me and said, "Oh no, he is ADHD." I told her she couldn't possibly render that kind of diagnosis in the womb. Besides, my unborn baby was perfect

One of these days I promise to blog about Skittle's rough start. But for now I will try to make a long story short. When I was 21 weeks pregnant, my water broke. Most women go into labor within 24 hours of their water breaking. I was told I was having a "late miscarriage". My husband and I mourned our unborn child and prepared to give him back to God.  But I did not go into labor and my strong willed, unborn child fought for his life. He fought through 7 more weeks of bed rest, while I laid flat on my back like a human incubator. There is a reason God created an amniotic sac, it is a barrier. Ours was broken. So, at 27 weeks, I got an infection.... (we got an infection) and I went into labor. He fought for 3 more months in the NICU. 

I think ADHD kids have a zest for life. They are strong willed and determined. 1/3 of preemies have ADHD. I don't think the correlation between these behaviors and preemies is a coincidence. I don't think that his 1000 gram birth weight caused his ADHD. I think his strong will, determination, and stubbornness saved his life. There have been many days when I call my mom crying. It is hard to parent an ADHD child but my mom reminds me it is better than the alternative and that might have been not having him at all.

Being a parent of an ADHD child is very lonely. I have struggled with feeling like a failure as a mom. I have cried myself to sleep. I have felt rejected and seen my son loose friends. So often it is viewed as a behavior problem. Many people with good intentions have given me parenting advice and don't get me wrong, most parenting advice has been very helpful. Sometimes though, it just hurts. Sometimes it feels like the person is saying, "I could do a better job raising him than you can."  I know it is not intended that way and I don't mean that I don't want advice but not everyone understands what we are going through. They probably don't realize how severe his behavior is. It is not just that he is wiggly and distracted. He is impulsive, clumsy, over dramatic, anxious, all of these things can pose a danger to himself and those around him. He physically can't stop moving. Sometimes, I look into the eyes of my exhausted child and they seem to say, "help". If you are the Mom of an ADHD child I am sure you understand.

When he was 4, we eliminated dyes like Red #40, Yellow #5 and Yellow #6. This has helped immensely! Some people thought I was nuts when I started this diet but now the FDA is beginning to recognize the link. If you don't have time to read through all my links I will share my favorite quote from this article, 
No one knows what the FDA committee will decide, but the research so far "doesn't appear to be conclusive evidence that food additives actually cause ADHD," says Kate Ulbricht, cofounder of the Natural Standard Research Collaboration, an independent research group based in Somerville, Massachusetts. "Some research suggests that they may be linked to exacerbated symptoms in people who already have ADHD."
I couldn't agree more. I don't think dye causes ADHD. Twizzler can eat dye soaked food all day and it does not affect him at all but when Skittles has only one cookie with dye in it, he literally runs in circles until he gives himself an asthma attack. I don't think the dye caused his ADHD, but it certainly "exacerbates" the symptoms. 

I put off getting a diagnosis for 7 years because I am not ready to medicate my child. ADHD medications are notorious for their side effects and I was not sure that a doctor would offer any other solution. As much as I dislike the idea of medicating my child, I have to acknowledge that, as it is, we are both miserable. I spend my whole day redirecting, reprimanding, and punishing. I hate putting him in a timeout for a behavior that I KNOW he can't control. Afterwards, I go sit in my bathroom and cry. What a miserable childhood, to have a mother constantly harping on you and punishing you for things you can't control. I finally came to the conclusion that something had to change.

So I made an appointment with his pediatrician. I told her, he has never been diagnosed but ADHD is common in my family and I see all the symptoms in him. I explained to her that I am not interested in medicating him. It's not that I am against medication but I don't think it is a long term solution. I want to exhaust every other option first. She praised the fact that we homeschool. "It is so much easier to tailor a learning environment towards an ADHD child at home than in a public school." She gave me some great ideas too. Eliminating distractions by putting him in a boring room. I set him up at my desk in the corner of my room and he does much better there.

We made an appointment with a counselor too. I was so happy to find someone who could see us together. I want to learn how to help him. It was also reassuring to have someone tell me that is was not my failures as a parent. ADHD is an actual medical condition. He showed me these amazing pictures of brain scans. ADHD is not a made up illness, concocted by drug companies to increase sales. It is real and it is happening in my child's brain.

So now we are moving on to treatment. Like I said, I am not interested in putting my child on drugs that dull the senses. I especially don't want him to need medication for the long term. However, I realize he needs something now to help him to calm down. His brain is cranked up 24 hours a day. He gets no rest even when he is sleeping. He never stops talking. He never stops thinking. He never stops moving. I needed to give him a break. I decided to go the organic route.

Yesterday I went to the local health food store. They had a great selection of natural ADHD treatments. They read all the labels with me, listened to me and even asked Skittles a little about how he feels. They was wonderful. We decided to try Attentive Child by Source Naturals. These are chew-able wafers.  I gave him one last night and this morning. His doctor also recommended adding fish to his diet but he refuses to eat fish.  He picked out these yummy gummies himself.

It is too soon to tell but today was a nice calm day. He was able to stay focused on his lessons. His copywork was the neatest it has EVER been. And of course I was able to sit here and type out this ridiculously long blog while he entertained himself quietly.

On Thursday we have an appointment at the Learning RX. They will give him an evaluation and then we can discuss a course of action to help remap his brain. He is still young and his brain is still developing. I wish I had sought out help sooner. I hope that this blog will be a resource to other mom's of ADHD kids who are afraid a diagnosis will label their child and doom them to a life of medication. I hope they read this and no longer feel alone.

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