Before Q’s diagnosis., I though I knew what ADHD was. I thought it was pretty simple and straightforward. I knew that ADHD was Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and I thought that was pretty self explanatory. A hyper kid that takes Ritalin to calm down was my overall general assumption. Growing up I heard people casually throw out that they had ADD or ADHD and they all seemed fine and didn’t appear to have any struggles so I assumed it was easily fixed with a pill. I now know that I was wrong. WAY WRONG. ADHD is much much more than 4 little letters and ADHD isn’t a diagnosis to casually throw around or assume to be easily treatable. ADHD is so much more than a kid who can’t sit still.
Monday, October 6th, is Child Health Day which happens to fall during ADHD awareness month so I thought today would be a great time to talk about something that affects my child. I hope this post enlighten those who are like the *old* me and think that ADHD is straightforward and simple. I hope this post reaches a mom who is struggling with her child and isn’t sure why her kid is so “bad”. Rather than throwing a bunch of medial mumbo jumbo at you, I am going to give you my interpretation of the medical jargon mixed with personal experiences to give you an inside look at ADHD.
“Quin.” “QMonsterrrrrr.” “QUINLAN JAMES!” Wait a minute, if my child has ADHD why is he able to focus so hard on a video game that he literally can’t hear me saying his name until I am tapping his shoulder? This is a common misconception. Kids with ADHD can get focused, laser focused actually, on things to the point that they can literally turn their ears off and not hear anything outside of their focus beam. However, on the opposite hand, when it’s a non-preferred task, such as a chore, focus is really difficult. For example, Q’s job is to give the dogs their food & water. He will go get the bowl and get it to the sink and 5 minutes later I walk in the kitchen because I still hear water running and he’s playing with the water and has long since forgotten what he was actually supposed to be doing with the water.
Lack of focus can also present bathroom issues. Now, I can recognize when Q has to go potty, and can help remind him to stay focused long enough to go, but if I am not around, he will wait until its too late and he’s starting to pee his pants before making a mad dash to the bathroom. Thanks to ADHD, he can easily ignore his internal bathroom alarm. This is really frustrating as a parent because you know when he says he has to go potty he means he has to go NOW. You don’t have long enough to pull to the next exit, run to the front of Target, or hustle to the back of the restaurant. There is no buildup or warning.
Aggression. This was something I didn’t realize comes with ADHD. QMonster gets frustrated REALLY easy. This is probably the hardest part of ADHD, as a parent. Seeing you kid get so upset about something so trivial, such as losing a video game, and knowing that there is no logical reasoning with him is difficult and maddening. The aggression is due to Q’s impulstivity. For example, if his Roblox character “dies”, he gets so frustrated and his impulses take over and he gets mad. He can’t stop his mind long enough to remind himself that he doesn’t want to act out. I’ll say, when he calms down, he is remorseful and can tell you that its wrong to get frustrated about a video game.
Impulsivness, which often presents itself as anger, is sometimes hard to recognize. To outsiders it may look like a bratty kid having a tantrum in Target. To us ADHD moms, we walk a fine line of deciding if its ADHD impulsiveness or truly a bratty tantrum….afterall they’re still kids and have kid like tendencies as well. Trips to target with Q are hard. His impulsive nature means he focuses on a toy and he wants it NOW. Deep down he knows that acting out isn’t the way to get what he wants but his ADHD takes over his mind/body and he can’t self regulate. As he has gotten older, and I have gotten more experience, we both can recognize this issue and take steps to circumvent this issue, though I will say, when I least expect it, a Target tantrum rears its ugly head.
Often times, I think outsiders think I am a bad mom when they see my way of parenting…and maybe I don’t fit their definition of “perfect parenting” but parenting an ADHD child has challenged every thought I had about parenting and I have had to get creative and find what works for US. Delayed gratification doesn’t work for Q (remember, impulsive) which means we make a weekly trip to Target for a “prize” to pay out on his weekly chores and quite frankly by Wednesday he is growing anxious to get to the store. The concept of “save your money for the big prize” doesn’t work for Q. Q struggles to wait, whether it be in a line, for his turn, for a trip to go somewhere, etc. We don’t talk about what we’re doing, if its something fun, until pretty close to time, because he can’t wait and will either be a) super annoying asking 100 times about said thing or b) aggressive because he is tired of waiting for said thing.
Going back to trips to Target, you better plan ample time for the trip! Nothing in an ADHDer’s world, when presented with options, happens fast. This is super frustrating as a parent. We can’t do a quick “run into the store” or “grab a snack from the gas station.” Why? ADHD causes Q to have issues with making a decision. He literally CANNOT make up his mind. Every new item he looks at takes his mind and runs. About the time you think he decided on what candy bar he wants or what toy he wants to spend his money on, he sees the next thing and his brain makes some impulsive moves and hes off on another train of thought. Typically on the way to Target, I try to get him to focus on what he wants to buy. Is he feeling Hot Wheels today? LEGOs? Maybe a new Nerf gun? He will be solid on an idea of what he is going to get until we get to the toy aisle and he sees something else. It it all too common to walk in expecting to buy a Nerf gun and walk out a box of LEGOs instead.
Reading back through this post, I think I have presented ADHD in a negative light and I don’t mean to. Q’s ability to get laser focused is actually pretty awesome when it comes to learning about things that interest him because he hangs onto every word in the documentary he is watching and can repeat facts to you long after hearing them. He is so SMART thanks to his ability to retain information that he focused in on. While the impultivity is hard to deal with as a Type A, it is refreshing to spend time with someone who is spontaneous and unpredictable. I tend to live a pretty pre-planned day and Q often reminds me to stop planning and start living. Another thing I appreciate about Q is his ability to chat. While its endless chatter, all the time, it is never dull around our house. We talk about things I’ve never thought about and had long debates about which planet is the best, what snake could beat a shark in a fight, and what would happen if our continent merged with Africa. It’s never a dull conversation with Q.
Like I said, this is my interpretation of ADHD. I probably should have split this up into a couple of posts because I have/had alot more to say. ADHD isn’t simple, at all, and trying to summarize it in one post isn’t doing it the justice it deserves. When someone says their child has ADHD, I encourage you to think past the simplistic thoughts of a “hype kid” and see the real day to day to struggles that ADHD presents to kids and their families!
I am curious to know if you had the same thoughts the *old* me had in regards to ADHD? If so, did anything in today’s post surprise you to learn?