Brooke - posted on 03/20/2013 ( 3 moms have responded )
I originally wrote this to post here:
But for one reason or another I was unable to. Maybe it was too long. :)
I am always amazed by how much as mothers we give to our children. I think a lot of moms deserve a lot of applause reading this blog. Obviously they care. But there is a lot of confusing messages out there. And not a lot of really great practical advice. So I felt compelled to write. This is going to be long so bear with me so I can give you some background as well. So here's what worked for us.
My son is 10. He is very bright. We did not always know just how bright he was. There's a lot of distraction and noise around a child who has ADHD. I even thought he might have learning disability. Shame on me.
I raised him overseas for the first 9 years of his life and the school system there was very tough and unforgiving. Not ideal for a child with ADHD. He came home with very low grades. His creativity was not looked favorably on. But I was not there to help. I ran a large company and a really crappy nanny sat on her ass while my child suffered. But the thing is, it's not her responsibility, it's mine. Yes , yes I know I have to make the bread to feed the family, but somethings just won't wait.
Last year we moved back to the US and many things have changed since then. Since the age of 8, he has been on a mid-dosage of Concerta. About 18mg. My son is very large. Not fat, but very tall. Over 100 percentile and I want to keep it that way. We know that meds like Concerta causes a growth retardation in the body, PROBABLY also in the brain. The medication did enough to help him concentrate for a short while during the day. However there was not a lot of improvement in grades etc. Because I was not there to show him HOW.
At first I did not understand or know enough about ADHD. I was ignorant and so life went on. So did the confusion and chaos.
Putting my son on medication was not my first choice, but the doctor asked me to try it to see if there were any positives. During the trial period, there was some improvements. But there were also a lot of side effects. I hated the side effects BUT I made a choice then, to put him on the medication for as short a time as possible, to help us develop a plan. One that involves getting down the habitual behaviors needed to succeed.
So when his medication ( this program started during summer holidays before he started grade 4) was "active" he was made to follow a strict schedule. First reading, then math, then anything else we felt he needed to work on. Very soon I began to see HOW FREAKING smart my kid was. Not just a little bright. He is super bright. He just needed a way to reach it, verbalize it, express it, connect with it. He had to be taught how.
My son was able to integrate into the US school system, successfully. He pretty much only brings home 100% on most subjects. His writing does need to improve but then again English is his second language. This is coming from a child who used to bring home maybe 20%. I knew he was bright, but shamefully, I did not know how bright.
Parents expect a quick fix. They are ready to critique drugs. What parent WANTS to out their kids on drugs? We KNOW it is not a CURE. Right? Parents you need to know, DRUGS are NEVER A CURE. They only help manage, maintain or deal with symptoms. SOMETIMES they have really bad side effects. But you have to choose a plan.
People are ready to criticize diets, or exercise. But they are not willing to plug in the time and effort. The truth is, maybe it's because many of the parents of kids with ADHD also have the symptoms or at least had these symptoms as children and still habitually live in the same manner.
I took a year off my work to focus on him. And I know it isn't always possible. But if I can do it, I can't imagine why anyone else couldn't. I am a single mother of 2 kids. I saved and saved and it was a part of my plan to be hands on, while SHOWING my son the right habits. And it has paid off. I am not saying it is a miracle, but this is a child who used to not sleep, until in the wee hours of morning. There were a thousand excuses. Water, setting the alarm, I love you mommy, I have to go pee, and on and on and on. You all know this.
I found a method that puts him to sleep without fail. ADHD children MUST have adequate sleep. More than average child, it keeps them calmer, not more hyper. Wearing them out is a foolhardy theory. If you go to your phone, find a white noise (ocean wave) app. I turn it on for him. Set the timer on about an hour. We put it on loud. He then gets enveloped by the white noise, and falls asleep. It works. In fact he can't sleep without it. And he doesn't have to.
And we use smart solutions like that to deal with everything. But it is not to say you can use it as a crutch for not doing the right thing.
I cannot stress how much having an ORGANIZED home helps keep things clear for them. My home is always spotless and everything has a place. This is not because it is my nature, trust me, it’s not. But it keeps us from stressing out and it helps my son SEE how important organization is. He sees that it is a PART of our life so WE DO NOT let things GET out of control or chaotic. Parent’s you need to commit to this. One of the reasons ADHD kids have a hard time when they are adults, even if ADHD symptoms have diminished is because of EARLY LEARNED BEHAVIOURS.
My ex grew up with very strict regimented parents. On the surface you could not see the ADHD. He was perfectly organized. Wrote lists, drew diagrams, etc. It is the reason he is a HIGH functioning ADULT with ADHD. He has created his own business niche and is successful in it. It is something I learned and took to give to my child. If only my exes parents had taught him ways to deal with matters of the heart and mind.
That is why it is important for me to deal with ADHD on a holistic level. I don’t mean some hippy dippy way. I LOVE technology. I love modern science. I love junk food. BUT I ain’t no fool. We should use what we have for good, not to aggravate or perpetuate problems.
If you have done the research you know your child needs a high protein diet. Especially if they are on meds. You have to get up and make sure they get it. It stabilizes them.
We also make fresh juice in our home. We do not drink supermarket juice. We buy fresh produce and make sure if it's not organic to get all the pesticides off (usually vinegar and baking soda soak then scrub and rinse). I make sure his blood is pumped full of green, live nutrients. I pack it in his lunch with and ice pack and a insulated bag to keep it from oxidizing. Anything to ward off the dangers of drugs. When you know they are dangerous, you have to do something to help counteract as much as you can. That means antioxidants.
But we are now at the final stages of our plan. This is going to be the hardest part. Because it involves a lot of work from parent and child. If your son is anything like mine, he wants to please you. He wants your approval.
For many years my son's spirit has just been crushed. He was called names, asked what was wrong with him, chastised by teachers, coaches, my ex, his nanny. And worse of all me. My ignorance with ADD/ADHD was at a level where I had heard of it but it was everyone elses problem. If they had hyper spastic kids then, too bad for them. It was when I went to therapy with my ex that I learned about it. My ex was diagnosed with Adult ADHD. Soon after I had my son checked and sure enough... Suddenly it was MY problem. And I started to understand why life had been so tough. So chaotic with me always trying so hard to keep some semblence of normalcy, all by myself. But I have no such excuse now. I know about ADHD. I have a love/hate with ADHD. It may be why my son is such a colorful charecter. Why he is so ready to be involved. Why he is so curious and creative. I love that. I don't love how hard it is. Many a times I have fallen down and started to cry. I just wanted it to be easier.
That was then. This is now. And it is his time to blossom. I sometimes have to be firm. But you must tend to your child's emotional well being, just as you do his physical and psychological. He needs to get time out from criticism too. Sometimes you have to just hold him and tell him, you are making me proud.
He has to understand why you correct him, Why you tell him to fold his clothes. Why you make him sit quietly and study. He needs to know it is because you love him so so much. And you want him to have a fighting chance in this world. And you want him to succeed and be proud of himself. Show them that it comes from love. And they will prove you right.
Our final phase is the step where we come off medication. But it is not a fast process. In recent months the school has wanted him to go on a higher dosage. You know they don't say it in those exact words, but they steer you that way. But in our case, not because he doesn't get high grades, but because he is so JOYFUL about life and that is deemed inappropriate and disruptive at times.
BUT I completely understand where my son's teacher is coming from. There is a class full of kids. She has my respect and sympathy. It is often difficult for me to handle even my 2 children. But putting him on a higher dosage has just kept him pretty much where he was before. As I said before he is very large. Even so while understanding the schools position I cannot stand the idea of even more poisons being put into my son's body by my hand. I know you mothers understand what I mean. We sometimes feel like there is no other solution. But I cannot let it end like this. I know that long term effects of the drugs will have more negatives than positives.
So I knew the time to implement my third stage was upon us. Previously I thought I would give him at least until the end of 5th grade, but it has to happen sooner. I do not want him becoming more and more dependent on medication. I only wanted it as a tool to help him while he learned to do things habitually. And furthermore, if you have done your reading you know our children have a higher incident rate of substance abuse. Be it caffine, nicotine, alcohol or drugs. So you need to teach them NOW when they are young, how stupid it is to allow dependency. On drugs, on games, on TV, on anything. Form good habits, KILL bad habits before they begin.
And where is the proof? Every several weeks or so, when I know there is going to be a long enough break from school or a long weekend, we do a mini-drug holiday. I set him about his chores. I have him reorganize his closets, etc.
If you know anything about kids with ADHD and the like, they become overwhelmed. You have to understand, in their hearts they WANT to do as you've told them. But sometimes it just gets so chaotic in their minds. They do not know where to start. But thanks to the "training" he has had when on medication, he just follows through with same strategies. YES, it takes a bit longer and maybe it's not as PERFECTLY tidy, but it is still pretty good. He won't make his future wife crazy.
He will know how to help. I teach him every day about empathy. One thing parents need to know about many kids with ADHD, esp. boys is part of the symptoms that leads to social akwardness and future divorces etc, (My ex had ADHD) is lack of empathy. Imagine, your sweet child, growing up cold and uncaring. No!
My son, learns to love and care from me. I show him. His heart muscles are strong. He can flex them with the best of them. He learns to share with his sister. I explain why. Why we care. How to care. Why others suffering hurts us. And no he is not being "programmed" to feign emotion. He just needs to know why. All of this is important for success and happiness in life. NOT just grades. We also read the ELF-HELP book series. So good.
We work on his spiritual development as well. Look, I am far from perfect. That's why I wanted to share our success with you. Because I had to learn a lot along the way. And perhaps because of my short comings I had to actually MAKE a plan of action. And follow diligently. That meant targeting every aspect. Starting with the root of the problem, mind and body, then dealing with the effects in heart and spirit.
When my son hypers up and gets disruptive, he meditates. When he eats and before he sleeps, he prays to God. Thanking God for his successes, his family. He learns to be grateful. He learns to appreciate what he has. He learns that he is not the center of the universe. Even though he is at the center on mine. ♥
So here's the final stage. My son thankfully enjoys healthy food. It's always been a part of our lifestyle, BUT, what I learned is, healthy food is not always REAL FOOD. It doesn't matter if you THINK you are feeding them pretty healthy food. NO. Nothing is really toxic proof. Everything in your supermarket is slowly killing your children. I am not being over the top here. Every fruit, vegetable is literally covered in pesticides. Every box of oatmeal, cereal, loaf of bread is filled with poisons. The food companies out there do not care about your baby. BASTARDS!
But I do. I used to think people were over the top with conspiracy theories, GMOs, etc. I am educated, but sometimes it doesn't really sink in, because we have been brainwashed for so long.
I put my family on a juice fast for a few days, to see what would happen. MY SON was TOTALLY DIFFERENT. And so was I. One thing parents need to get a grasp on is, not that the ADHD child is making your life harder because you have to prepare special meals or such, but that what is good for your child is probably really good for you as well. And your other children. Your whole family needs to make changes. My daughter is 3. There is NO WAY IN HELL I am going to let my princess go through this hell. She is already on a ARTIFICAL FREE regimen. This was not easy to change.
She was highly addicted to sweets and carbs. (I found out my former nanny had been feeding her sugar to keep her quiet. I mean PURE WHITE SUGAR) My daughter was addicted to apple and orange juice and damaged her front teeth and we had to remove them and put in “new teeth”. It was heartbreaking. But that was the price we paid for having someone else watch my kids while I ignorantly worked and my children suffered. My 3 year old understands schedules. She studies every morning on ABCmouse.com and with her LeapFrog toys. She knows it’s the first thing to come after breakfast. It must be done to get rewards like TV or “chocolate”, which I buy in dark with no color, additives, and no sugar or sweetener, only sometimes with Stevia.
So we began our ARTIFICIAL FREE diet. And by diet I mean lifestyle. And I do not mean we have given up shampooing or mascara, God forbid! Me like pretty! :) I mean we monitor what we put in our bodies.
This was not easy. I began to realize that every single thing we consume or use to flavor our food contains color, additives, preservatives and the like. I know this isn't news but when you try to make the shift you will soon see how far gone and OH SO WRONG it really is. Suddenly the salad dressing you reached for to give your kids a healthy meal suddenly looks like toxic poison. Because it IS.
They are all liars. Think about it for a moment. Countries that use the highest amount of color, additives, preservatives have the highest ADD/ADHD children. Trust that those fat bastards at the heads of the multinationals are not eating their own poison. Farmers who spray with pesticides have highest rates of getting cancer. But we eat this stuff, not once or twice but everyday. I used to think organic was pointless and expensive. I thought it would all be too much trouble, but that is what the big guys are counting on. They make the food that kills us slowly, then they provide the drugs to help us DEAL with the same illnesses they causes. Don't be skeptical, be smart and figure it out.
Maybe it all seems too trivial. But it's part of the whole circle. You can help your child by making those changes. Is that too much to ask?
I haven't been paid by anyone, I am not some hard core advocate. I am just a mother who has started to see REAL CHANGE. I live in California. I have 2 kids. I am usually an executive but currently a stay at home single mom.
I started on this journey because I wanted to help my child. At first it was just about, GOOD GOD, if he keeps on this way, he will be a bum. Bad grades, discractive, Constantly BLAMING everyone else. Soon it became about starting to understand where he was coming from. Soon I realized he was hurting. BADLY. He didn't want to look stupid. He didn't want people to think he was weird. He knew something was different. He had too many many many thoughts running circles in his mind.
Desperately I wanted to help him. I even started working on developing technologies to help him. Even my business ideas all come from all the research I have done for him. You could easily say that my life revolves around my child.
So because we are preparing to wean him off his meds, we have started his regimen of
Omega 3, Vitamin C, B6, Iron, Magnesium, NAC and Zinc. To monitor we started one at a time and several days apart at a time. So far so great.
He will be off his medication at the beginning of the spring break. We are also beginning Play Attention on his break. But I already know it will work. I am only subscribing because it is a fully developed program he just needs to do. How could exercising your brain not help? Even as aduls we know working on crossword puzzles and such improve brain function.
Parents of ADHD kids need smart solutions because we can’t do everything by ourselves.
It is expensive. All of it. And it's insane if you think about it. We have to PAY more for foods that have been grown naturally. If you understand how business works, you will start to figure out that big business is charging less for food that has been chemically treated, colored, and been enhanced. BECAUSE they are selling more.
If your child is anything like mine, he may be totally obsessed with video games, computers, mobile phones. My son would not know where the day has gone if I left him to his own devices. He can spend and entire day on his phone surfing the web, playing games and watching the same shows over and over.
It's mind boggling. So as parent's of kids with ADHD we need to find things that occupy their minds but have a healthy benefit. I found toys like SNAP CIRCUITS to be amazing. It keeps him interested because it's technology based, but he is learning how to build things. Maybe it's not as fun as Mario Bros. but too bad.
He is also very happy with Lego. He really does build some of the most amazing things. It surprises me frequently. I see in him a future computer programmer or architech. Of course that's if he doesn't run off and become a singer or dancer. Not that there's anything wrong with that. :) Just as long as he doesn't to the kid of dancing that involves wearing underwear. Because he certainly likes to dance around in nothing but his skivvies!
My son hated to read. He HATED it. With a passion. When I asked him to read, he would pretend and the kid is so smart, he can surmise from reading a few choice lines how to dupe me. But I figured it out. First your kid needs to WANT to try. For that he has to like what the book is about.
So I started him with Archie comics. I was a big fan when I was a kid and it's how I taught my younger brother and sister to read. Initially you hook them with the pictures, but soon they start reading to figure out exactly what the characters are talking about. Once you get them reading comic books, you can graduate to "chapter books". I started him with books like Lego Ninjago. Because HE LOVES the TV show, it was somehow just like an extension of watching the cartoon. Finally I introduced him to books like the Magic Tree House books and Geronimo Stilton. His reading went from ZERO to amazing. When he started at schoo his ARS reading level was lower than anyone in his class. He is now in the top of the class.
So here's what I am saying. If you want to see improvement it's going to take TIME, EFFORT, HEART and a LOT OF MONEY. But to me I think of it as a lifetime investment.
You might think drugs are easier, but try, to think of them as a short term tool.
My son used to sit in front of the TV all day long. I learned to slowly cut time one step at a time. You wouldn't just drag an addict away. I mean you might want to, but you will just create a lot of other problems. You need to wean them onto things and wean them off things. Like when they were babies. One step at a time. They will change if you show them the way.
And finally, DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP. If we messed up before, we can change now. If we didn’t know before, we can start to learn now. Your child’s future happiness is at stake. What would a loving parent not do?
I don't know if your child will respond like mine. But I do know all this information was mostly readiy available online, before my journey. Yes we used a few innovations but I should have and could have started all this even sooner. But there were too many excuses. Work, family problems, busy scedules, lack of finances, you name it. But the sooner you put into practice the sooner you will know.
My son is awesome. He's so funny and sweet and WHAT AN IMAGINATION! What energy!
Don't kill their spirits. Let them be who they were meant to be. But help them get there in the safest, best, most loving way possible!
I pray you find some hope and solace and God bless your family!