ADHD · Uncategorized

School Pictures and The Myth of the “Perfect Smile”

It’s been a long week people and school pictures were just one amusing bump in the road.  So I’m going to make this short but sweet.

In an ideal world on picture day your sweet child would wake up and cheerfully put on the adorable outfit you so caringly laid out for him/her the night before.  You would arrive at school admiring all the cuties dressed in their finest and kiss your little one farewell.  Reminding them to smile for the camera.

Here’s what happened in my house this week.  Monday was a holiday and when I glanced at the calendar I saw the reminder that Tuesday would be picture day.  My hubby was out meticulously drafting his fantasy football team so I invited a friend and her kids  (a fellow fantasy football widow) over for dinner.  We all had fun but I was pushing well past bedtime by the time I got the kids settled in for the night.  In my rush towards bedtime, I had skipped over the step where we lay out our clothes for the next day….and you can guess where this is headed,…yep we forgot all about Picture Day!!

The next morning after I sent the kiddos off on the bus and settled into my office I saw that little reminder again on my phone.  I looked at my husband in a panic but then quickly realized the magic in this moment.  Picture Day is never picture perfect in my ADHD household.  Even on the best day, I struggle to drag my littles through their morning routine without losing my sh**.  On Picture Day, everything amps up a notch because I’m asking them to wear that itchy dress or the shirt with a collar that drives them to a complete meltdown.  This year the outfit wasn’t what I would have chosen but I unknowingly skipped over all the chaos.  When I picked my son up from school and apologized for my mom-fail.  He responded, “Don’t worry Mom.  I look great” as he flashed me the picture perfect smile to melt my heart.

I found this story and it made me smile.  Maybe we need to let go of the reigns a little sometimes and let our kids shine in their own special way.

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Tell me in the comment section what is your mom-fail moment?  Any wisdom gained?

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Take Time to Celebrate Yourself

It’s been pretty quiet at ADHDaze this week.  I just wanted to send a quick check in to let you all know that I’m still here but I took some time to do something I rarely do….celebrate myself.  Yesterday was my birthday.  I’m not looking for attention but just wanted to use this as a reminder to all you mama’s of ADHD kiddos to take time for yourself.  I know you don’t do it enough.  It will recharge your batteries and make you a better parent.

ADHD · Uncategorized

Little Known Ways to get the Best ADHD Evaluation for Your Child

When Pickles was first diagnosed with ADHD 3 years ago, I had no clue what I was doing. I was like a police dog determinately sniffing for my next clue.  Now that we have lived with this condition for a while I understand the evaluation process so much better and would like to share some tips with you.

Rule out other Conditions

Many other things can look like ADHD so be sure to consider sleep disturbances, anxiety or undetected seizures to name a few.

Consider Recent Life Changes

A new sibling, a recent move or divorcing parents can also cause behaviors that look like ADHD

Occupational Therapy Evaluation

An Occupational Therapist can evaluate your child’s sensory, cognitive, physical and motor skills. This can provide important information and a suggested treatment plan.

Educational Evaluation

Many children with ADHD also have a learning disability.

Autism Spectrum Disorder Evaluations

This is a very in depth testing process. Autism and ADHD share many characteristics. It wasn’t until Pickles went through this process that I was reassured that we had the right diagnosis.

Brain Scans

There is little evidence to show that brain imaging scans can be used to diagnose ADHD. The brain scan, NEBA, is only one the FDA has approved to help diagnose ADHD. It is used more often to rule out ADHD alongside other traditional evaluation methods.

I have said before I wish there was an easy blood test that could confirm ADHD. It is a long and convoluted process. It will take time to find the right doctors, psychologists, and therapists to perform these evaluations. Don’t give up!! The right diagnosis is EVERYTHING for finding the right treatment for your child.

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Have you had your child evaluated for ADHD?  If so, please share your story in the comments below.

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The Cheat Sheet, How to Prepare your ADHDer for Back to School

You want soooo badly for this school year to start off right.  Your child suffers enough with the obstacles ADHD has thrown at him.  What can you do to give him a fresh start?

I know you don’t have a lot of time because as I write this my littles will start school in less than a week.  There are endless articles out there on how to get your kid back to school ready so why should you read this one?  I know your household is different.  You will have to focus on things some parents never think twice about.

The Cheat Sheet (what has worked for us & a few things I want to try)

1. The Binder

Last year Pickles had to start using a 3 ring binder to organize her school work.  YIKES!  As you can imagine this was a bit of a disaster (thanks to lagging executive function skills).  After several heated discussions about lost school work, I sat her down with our tutor and begged for her to help us get organized.  A few things that kept us on track were pocketed dividers (where she could stow assignments that were due the next day), and a pencil pouch (where she could store supplies like pencils and those hole reinforcers).

2. Meeting with the Teacher

At our school teacher assignments are made the evening before the first day of school.  On the first day of school (after I’ve taken pictures and bid my little ones goodbye), I go home and write an email to the teacher explaining Pickle’s condition and requesting a meeting at her earliest convenience so we can set things up for a successful year.  This has always worked wonders to open up the lines of communication.  This year I’m thinking about taking it a step further and documenting everything with a letter like outlined here.

3. Reinforce School Routine

This might come a few weeks into the school year after a daily routine is established in their classroom.  What this looks like for us is….after back to school night (with school schedule in hand) I will review the routine with my kiddos.  I will ask if there are any things that are troubling them.  I will ask what part of the day is their favorite.  This will give me an idea of where to look for red flags.

So, are you ready?  What do you do to prepare for Back to School?  Please share in the comments below.

ADHD · Parenting · Uncategorized

How to Calm Crazy Kids and Feel Like a Good Parent

Are you the parent of those kids that run up and down the aisles of the grocery store?  Do you get the evil eye from the person in front of you at the theater, on an airplane or any other sort of seated public appearance?  Are you worried about what the neighbors might think as the high pitched shrieks of laughter or screams of sibling rivalry bellow from behind your walls?

You are not alone!  Last week my 10 year old daughter and I were hanging out on the pool deck as my son swam laps with his swim team.  It was a special day because later that evening we had tickets to watch Shawn Mendes and Charlie Puth perform.  I was on edge anticipating the ADHD induced sillies to rain on our parade.  My girlfriend and her 2 younger boys came over to say hello.  Her boys were fresh out of the pool and wrapped up in towels to dry off.  Pickles (no, not her real name) walked over to greet them.  I was far enough away to not be able to hear what was going on.  I observed her running circles around the 7 year old boys and repeatedly sticking her face just inches from theirs.  I could tell from their body language that they were less than amused.  Engaged in conversation with my girlfriend this scenario continued for several minutes. Finally I was able to call her name and redirect.

When we were back in my car and safely out of the public eye, I asked her what was going on??

She replied, “I’m just so excited about the concert.”

“I know sweetie. It was obvious from their body language that the boys weren’t happy with your behavior” I responded.

“I know,” she said, “but I didn’t really care.”

SIGH!  I’ll count this as a small win because a few years ago she would have been oblivious to the body language.

I took a deep breath.  I went in knowing this day was going to be a challenge.  The concert tickets were a gift for her birthday (9 months ago) so the buildup of excitement was a lot for any child to handle but Pickles was dealt the ADHD card so regulating her emotions was an even bigger challenge.  I reminded myself of the special parenting approach for my daughter and forged ahead determined to face each moment as it presented itself.  We were making memories!

Shawn
Token Shawn Mendes shot…he’s such a cutie!

The concert was so much better than I had ever expected.  Yes, there were many moments of complete and total unbridled craziness.  I had to remind myself several times to stay calm.  Screaming is never the answer but that is hard to remember when your daughter is screaming at the top of her lungs and bouncing off hotel beds.

How to Parent thru the ADHD Induced Wackiness (or any other moment when you need the kids to turn it down a notch)

This recent “win” gave me the idea of making note of what works to help calm the crazies when it appears like you fed your child a bowl full of sugar for breakfast (and my loyal readers know I would never do such a thing):

  • Get the Wiggles Out
    • If my kids are bouncing off the walls at home and it’s just too much for me to handle I will give them an activity to get that energy out like run 3 laps around the pool or drop and give me 10 burpees
  • Redirecting
    • Going back to my concert example above there are times when you can’t send your kid off to burn up energy.  Try refocusing their attention by playing a game like rock-paper-scissors, freeze dance or charades.  It has to be something entertaining enough to draw their attention.
  • Self Calming
    • I’ll be honest this one is the most difficult for me to execute.  I’m not going to give up because in the long run this is the most effective tool to teach our kids in order for them to succeed in life.  The one tactic I have had the most success with is what we call “snake breathing.”  Teach your child to take a long slow breath in through their nose and then slowly exhale through their mouth while making a hissing sound.

What do you think?  Would this work for your kiddos?  Is there a trick you have up your sleeve to calm the crazies?  Please share your win or struggle by commenting below.

ADHD · Parenting · Uncategorized

Can I Keep my Cool During Summer?

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I have such a love/hate relationship with summer.  I love the warm nights hanging out by the pool.  I love the break from homework and stresses of school.  I love the family vacations.  I hate the lack of structure and unpredictable schedule.  I hate the never ending sibling rivalry.  I hate the numerous daily requests to play with any device.

I could go on and on but you get the gist.  I want to take a second here to apologize for my lack of posts here on ADHDaze.  This summer schedule really has gotten the best of me plus I’m working on another big project that I will announce soon!

I wrote about my plans for summer earlier here but this time around I’m in the thick of it.

This is going to have to be a quick post because it’s just minutes until I have to leave again to get the kiddos from camp.  Here are a few things that are helping me keep my cool. Although I have to admit I’ve lost it a few more times than I would like to admit.

Time Timer

We have a firm rule in our house…no more than 1 hour of screentime per day!  This hasn’t slowed the ENDLESS requests I get to watch tv, play on the iPad, play on my phone etc. etc.

time timer
The Time Timer is a good visual reminder of how much time is left for watching TV

I dug our Time Timer out of retirement and started to use it as a visual reminder of how much time is left before the screens go dark.  I can’t say this has eliminated all meltdowns but certainly minimized them.

Amazon to the Rescue (again)

Another lifesaver has been Alexa.   The kids love to use their Echo Dots to play music, play games, check the weather and so much more.  Just yesterday, they figured out how to call each other from one dot to the next.  This provided at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted entertainment (without a single sibling squabble).  It’s been helping me to build my shopping list.  Hubby often forgot (thanks ADHD) to write things down on the list when he’s cooking…now all he has to do is ask Alexa to add it to the list.  GENIUS!!

What’s working for you this summer? 

Please, please, please share your successes

 

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Pills, Inhalers, Vitamins…How to Keep it all Straight?

My husband and I are the epitome of the saying “ships passing in the night.”  And this night, about one year ago, was definitely one of those nights.  I’m fuzzy about all the details of the day but what is ingrained into my memory was the moment I second guessed myself.  My husband was out with his buddies and moments after I had given Pickles her nightly meds I had that sinking feeling.   I wondered if by chance he had given her the medication too before he left…and one quick phone call confirmed it was true.

I started to panic.  The medication in question was used to control her tics but it was initially developed as a blood pressure medication.  My first instinct was to text my girlfriend (whose hubby also was enjoying whatever guys night out outing festivities were occurring).  My friend is an internal medicine doctor and her calm voice soothed my nerves a bit but in the end I had to phone the on-call pediatric nurse which ended up sending us to the ER.  We had a very long night of blood pressure monitoring before we were finally sent home tired but unharmed.

This sent a message to me loud and clear that we need to have a better system for monitioring medications in our home.  The sad thing is that I still haven’t done anything about it!!!  Here are the things holding me back (aka excuses).

  • whatever the solution…it needs to be simple so my husband can be on board too
  • while my daughter has multiple medications she takes for ADHD, my son has asthma so we have one and sometimes up to four inhalers/nose sprays in the mix
  • we have 2 places where we keep medications, in the kitchen & upstairs, we do this for convenience because the medicines are stored right where we dose them

So What’s Next??

At her last appointment, Pickles psychiatrist mentioned using a pill box to sort out daily ADHD medications.  Why did I never think of this??  For some reason in my mind I equated those weekly pill boxes with the elderly.  Of course we could use one too to keep our family on track.  In fact I just ordered this one.  Also, I just purchased this Prescriptions Printable and will keep it on the clipboard right next to our medications in the kitchen.

 

What is you experience with organizing medications??

Comment below to share your thoughts.

ADHD · Uncategorized

A Mother’s Day Letter to a Mom of an ADHD Kiddo

Dear fellow ADHD warrior,

Is this not the motherhood you had envisioned?  Not the picture perfect life you aspired to?  When you first held your baby in your arms, I bet you couldn’t imagine the struggles you would face each day to just get your family out the door each morning.  As you celebrated their first step, you were totally clueless to the sideways glances you would get years down the road when they proceeded to bounce off the walls.

I am right there with you my friend.  This is not the team I signed up for either!!  When your child’s doctor broke the news that your precious peanut has ADHD your world shifted.  You would soon learn about all the obstacles your kid would have to face (or maybe you are still learning).  I’m still learning too.

I learned that the hyperactivity (while sometimes beyond annoying) isn’t the worst of it.  Having to dig through yet another gross pile of lost and found at school to find the misplaced coat, isn’t the worst of it.  Tracking down homework for the millionth time this week that never seems to make it to and from school, isn’t the worst it.  Yep, the worst thing is realizing your sweet innocent child can’t separate themselves from this disease.

They may call themselves stupid.  You might watch them struggle to make friends.  And you will definitely lose it more than just a few times trying to help them hold it all together.  But you’ve got this girlfriend!!  I know you do because I do too!!!

It is our job to teach our children that they are not ADHD!  ADHD is something that they have but we are here to teach them ways to harness its power.  They have creativity and energy that we cannot fathom.  Yes, the world will ask them to conform to it’s boring routines and rhythms but we are here to help them figure out how.  And no matter how many timeouts or sideways glances they may get we love our kids unconditionally.  Don’t ever forget to remind them….each and every day!

Happy Mother’s Day fellow warrior.  You may not have chosen this elite breed of parenthood but I’m damn sure you’ve got what it takes.

xoxo,

Jen

ADHD · Uncategorized

Exercise Your ADHD Brain! (Guest Post)

I’m very excited to introduce my first guest post from my friend Deborah over at Raising The Blinds:

Many of us dread exercising, even though we know it is a proven method to get us in to shape.  (Raise your hand if you feel like patting yourself on the back following 15 minutes on the treadmill. Guilty!) But, what about exercising the brain?  It is a healthy option for anyone, and an even greater benefit to individuals who struggle with symptoms of ADHD.  Why?  Exercise flexes the brain’s muscle, so to speak.  It flips a switch for our executive functions and helps to increase mood and focus.  So, why wouldn’t we encourage our kids who struggle to stay focused to be active?

Exercise offers kids with ADHD many benefits.  It improves working memory, and increases focus so they can be more alert in class and less impulsive, decreasing the severity of ADHD symptoms.  It also wears out the kid who has trouble winding down his brain when it is time to fall asleep.

Some children with ADHD find it difficult to exercise, so the form of movement they choose is important.  Not every child with ADHD excels at competitive sports due to lack of coordination or the inability to follow fast-paced, complicated directions.  Any activity that raises the heart rate will do:  martial arts, running track, swimming or even cycling where kids tend to compete against their own individual ability are great examples.  Or maybe your child with ADHD isn’t eager to join a school sports organization or any organized sport.  Exercise as a family!  Find an activity that appeals to your child, (walk the dog or play catch in the yard) and use it as a time to bond, all while helping improve your child’s focus in a natural way.  My husband has been known to run the boys through a fun obstacle course similar to the television show WIPE OUT in our basement, just to get them off the couch.  (Or on the couch, as my husband sometimes allowed.  I pick my battles.)  As a child with ADHD, your son or daughter often feels misunderstood, always expecting to fail, so the benefits of exercising together will also help to increase their confidence! A competitive game of HORSE with Mom or Dad at the basketball hoop can create some friendly competition while releasing endorphins.

Schools appear to be jumping on board with the notion that exercise can improve kids ability to focus.  An elementary school in Colorado have turned time-outs to time-ins when kids misbehave, offering them 10 minutes on a stationary bike or an elliptical trainer instead of sitting them in a hallway.  It’s a win-win for the student and teacher.  A school in North Carolina launched a program in 2010 called Read and Ride, where students can pedal on stationary bikes while reading their favorite book.  An elementary school in New Jersey is following suit, and began asking parents for old exercise bikes to help ‘get the wiggles out.’ Kids earn time to go to a separate room filled with stationary bikes and pedal out their impulsivity.  Teachers often say kids returning from a half-hour physical education class tend to focus more on lessons.  Children often lose recess time when misbehaving, but it is the worst outcome for a child with ADHD.

So, why take ADHD medications if exercise helps work in a similar but natural way?  The effects of exercise only last a few hours following the activity, serving short-term but big benefits.  It can help to clear your head, though other interventions like medication can be helpful and offer benefits throughout the day.  Likewise, medications aren’t the only fix for ADHD symptoms.  Health experts recommend a combination: Medications, behavioral management and exercise, along with education for the parents.