Calm Down

Sitting quietly in class all day is a very difficult thing to do! Being 9 years old and adding ADHD on top of it makes it almost impossible but somehow my son manages with the help of DAYTRANA patch, self-control and lots of concentration. He really deserves a medal as far as I’m concerned!

There’s no wonder why he bounces off the wall when he gets home. We try to get his energy out by playing basketball, throwing the football or going to a near by indoor trampoline place but even after all the activity he still has a difficult time to slow down for his evening routine. This has caused me to start doing some research on calming supplements, herbs and techniques that I wanted to share.
Lemon Balm – Lemon Balm has several benefits, including reducing stress and calming effect.

Lavender Oil – Scent has calming effect to help promote relaxation and reduction of stress.

Magnesium – A mineral that’s non-existent with my son’s intake due to being a picky eater. Having anxiety and being under stress actually depletes your magnesium level, I actually might need some of this too. Magnesium helps you sleep better, gets rid of stress and helps your brain work better.

Calming Techniques – Deep Breathing, stretching, listening to music, walking (in case of my son running), squeezing a stress ball, drawing and/or writing. The calming techniques are a work in progress for us since my son has a hard time slowing down to recognize that he needs to implement them.

We are now starting my son on magnesium supplements and applying lavender oil to his temples to help him slow down in the evening, hopefully, one of them or both will help him slow down. It hurts to see my son struggling with all the obstacles that accompany his ADHD but I know we will be stronger and more educated with our hands on experiences. I will keep you posted on our new path to calmness!

ADHD Awareness Month

The many faces of ADHD Awareness Month

Today, I got several email blasts announcing October as ADHD Awareness Month! It would be so nice if everyone became more knowledgeable and understand the children that struggle each day with ADD/ADHD.

Celebrities are teaming up with CHADD to raise more awareness, generate positive messages about ADHD and raise funds for ADHD Awareness Month.

Having a child with ADHD you can feel alone, singled out and often discouraged about home, school, organized sports and social gatherings. Finally, something positive about ADHD, it’s about time!

Back to the Grind

Back to RealitySummer is over, school is in full swing and it’s time for me snap out of vacation mode and Back to Reality. I had a hard time writing this summer, don’t know why so here’s my first go at it!

My son is now in 4th grade and after attending Back to School Night and meeting his teacher, I know it’s going to be a difficult year with lots of homework, getting organized and being responsible and held accountable. I’m trying to nip things in the bud though, and meeting with the school’s inclusion team and his teacher this coming week, making sure his accommodations are being met and his teacher has read his report and to put some strategies into place.

The first week of school my son got 3 ‘Homework Infraction’ slips sent home due to incomplete homework, homework done on incorrect paper and/or not done at all! My feeling are these slips are an insult to any child and sure to lower self-esteem and confidence, especially a child with ADHD and dyslexia, who is already struggling with self-esteem and self-confidence.  His weekly homework is 2-3 hours of homework over the weekend then 1 1/2 hours of homework every night, this might work for a some of your kids but not mine! He needs to be able to be a kid too, playing sports and with friends, therefore homework will be on the top of my list in my upcoming school meeting, will keep you posted.

Have a great weekend!

Happy July 4th

July 4th

Here’s to a happy and safe July 4th from our families to yours!

Some Patriotic-Sounding Names Fun Fact

Fifty-nine places contain the word “liberty” in the name. Pennsylvania, with 11, has more of these places than any other state. Of the 59 places nationwide containing “liberty” in the name, four are counties: Liberty County, Ga. (65,471), Liberty County, Fla. (8,276), Liberty County, Mont. (2,392) and Liberty County, Texas (76,571).
One place has “patriot” in its name. Patriot, Ind., has an estimated population of 209.

The most common patriotic-sounding word used within place names is “union” with 136. Pennsylvania, with 33, has more of these places than any other state. Other words most commonly used in place names are Washington (127), Franklin (118), Jackson (96) and Lincoln (95).

Fun Facts from United States Census Bureau

Anxiety

anxietySince it’s summer time I’m able to spend more time with my son and seeing that two of his largest battles are anxiety and perfectionism.  He’s constantly has his guard up, worrying about anything and everything, always questioning, trying to predict an outcome (what if?) of every daily event. If things do not have his envisioned outcome he gets very oppositional. He always needs to know details about everything, i.e. what we are getting at the store, what is he doing next, why are we going to the bank, etc…He also worries that he’s not good at school, he does not have enough of play dates, he’s not good enough in sports or other activities. To be honest with you, he did great in school this year, he’s an exceptional athlete and has lots of friends but not according to him.

This summer he’s spent two weeks at basketball camp but every day complained of a stomach and headache before going and always asked to be late so he did not have to do the warm-up drills. Basketball camp is now over and after a short conversation about “it’s not good to arrive late”, I now know that he did not want to do the warm-up drills in fear of not performing up to his standards (better than others). His recent stomach and headache complaints bring back memories from the school year and how many times he complained, now I know he was scared of failure in school too. And then his anxiety over not being perfect in soccer, basketball and baseball this last year and seeing himself as a failure if he did not pitch a strike, make a goal and/or basket. Wow, it’s absolutely heart breaking and I can’t even imaging how hard he works every day just going through life!

He already has anxiety over the next school year, saying it’s will be too hard. I keep on talking to him about keeping up with his math and reading skills during summer so he will not loose his current skills, but he refuses to read or do any math with me. He sees an educational therapist (same one he’s been seeing for two years now) every week to keep practicing math and reading but last week he shut down and would not do anything with her. I guess I’m kind of at a loss.

Nothing is a guaranteed cure for my son’s perfectionism and anxiety I hope creating more stress free environment at home (a challenge), find a more suitable school (working on), medication & therapy (already doing), and teching him to relax are just a few things we will continue to work on!

House Rules

House RulesMy son has ADHD and is  very stubborn, controlling and thinks he rules the world, and if he does not get his way he gets very oppositional and defiant, slamming doors, flipping over furniture and uses hurtful words.

This morning was one of those mornings where he did not get his way and the house turned upside down. You see, he woke up at 7:30 am and got dressed, and I caught him sneaking out the door to go our next door neighbors without asking. Not only was it too early to go and knock on someones door, at 7:30 am, but he did not ask for permission, one of our house rules.

Our ‘House Rules’ are simple and we only have a few of them to make things easier.
1. Say please and thank you
2. Respect each other
3. Ask before you do
4. Use kind words
5. Love each other

In addition to our ‘House Rules’, my son has a routine of what is expected of him in his day to day routine, for example; brushing his teeth, getting dressed, showering daily, coming his hair, going to school, etc…If he meets the expectations he will get a specified amount of time for TV, ipad, playing with dad, playing with mom and play dates. If not, certain privileges will be taken away!

Back to this morning’s event! After catching him sneaking out the door I had to ask him nicely 25 or more times (I lost count) to come back inside, with a response of “Shut Up” or some other non-acceptable words every time. I finally got him back in the house and tried to explain to him that he can’t just walk out the door without asking plus on top of that, he cannot go knocking on someone’s door at 7:30 am. OMG, doors slammed and things went flying and the threats of he’s going to hit me started. This is where I usually lose it but today I tried to remain calm, choosing my words carefully and then re-direct. This took 30 minutes to do but we were finally able to get dressed, walk out the door, get in the car and go and get some breakfast before I dropped him off at camp.

Sitting at breakfast we were able to talk a little about what happened, how he did not follow several of our house rules, the consequence he will get for not asking to go next door and how disappointed I was. I am now on my way next door to explain what happened and to have them help me enforce the consequence of my son not being allowed to visit them today and if he tries, ask them to send him home.

In addition of letting him know of his consequence for today’s behavior, I also informed him of his schedule after I pick him up from camp so I will not experience any more opposition. He will be spending an hour with his educational therapist reading and reviewing math facts and then we are going to his behaviorist.

Needless to say I am exhausted and frustrated from this morning and having a hard time sinking my teeth into work and doing my daily chores. I need to get some food in me and run to the grocery store but instead I decided to put everything in writing hoping it will make me feel better. My son is the most sensitive, loving and caring child but sometimes he just snaps and this is where our family really struggles!

Summer Cold

A Cold

Summer is here and guess who has a cold? Both my son and I! I guess the first week without any stress of school, homework, sports and appointments let our guard down and wham, it got us!

Now trying to get a child with ADHD to take it easy, and not go swimming in warm, sunny Southern California is rather challenging, so I gave up! But for myself, a daily “Immune Shot” (fresh squeezed ginger shot) and “I am Strong” juice from Juicy Ladies is a must! It could all be in my head but I’ve visited them three days in a row now and I’m already feeling better.

For my son I will need to sneak in healthy foods (a smoothie), vitamins and get him to bed early in order for him to get well, a little bit of a challenge but I will manage.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and fun summer!

Dyslexia, ADHD or Both?

Reading

In January I attended a Dyslexia presentation at my son’s school, you see my son is also dyslexic. He struggles with far point (from the board) and near point (from a book) copying, phonics, written expression and reading comprehension.

The speaker was Susan Barton, Founder of Bright Solutions for Dyslexia, and wow, what an amazing speaker and how eye opening her presentation was. She spent three and half hours speaking about dyslexia, the warning signs, programs that work and programs that don’t work. Dyslexia is more common then you think, approximately 3-4 out 20 kids in a classroom are dyslexic. Dyslexia is also very common with ADD/ADHD kids, and a dyslexic and ADD/ADHD diagnosis are often confused. I also learned that the saying, “People with dyslexia don’t know how to read”, is a myth, they do know how to read, they just read differently.

Here are a few warning signs of dyslexia she mentioned.

In Preschool

  • Delayed speech
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Constant confusion of left versus right
  • Late establishing a dominant hand
  • Difficulty learning to tie shoes
  • Trouble memorizing address, phone number or alphabet
  • A close relative with dyslexia

In Elementary School

  • Dysgraphia (slow, non-automatic handwriting that is difficult to read)
  • Letter or number reversals continuing past the end of first grade
  • Extreme difficulty learning cursive
  • Slow, choppy, inaccurate reading
  • Terrible spelling
  • Difficulty telling time
  • Trouble with math
  • Extremely messy bedroom, backpack and desk
  • Dreads going to school

In High School

  • Limited vocabulary
  • Poor written expression
  • Unable to master a foreign language
  • Poor grades in many classes

I am fortunate that my son’s school has an inclusion program and I was thrilled he qualified for their dyslexic reading program, Barton Reading & Spelling System.  My son gets pulled out of class 2 days a week reading one-on-one with an inclusion specialist. He has a long ways to go but he has made great strides and is a stronger and more confident reader, and has learned reading tactics that he will use for many years to come. We also listen to Audio Books when we travel in the car and I just learned about the Braille and Talking Books Library (check with your state library for details) and I am planning on using this resource for the upcoming school year.

 

Overwhelmed

Juggling

Today I am overwhelmed! Between morning drop off, grocery shopping, working, figuring out what to make for dinner and helping with homework I feel weighed down. I can usually handle my daily load but today I can’t and I’m trying to figure out why?

I think I know why, I have started too many projects and haven’t finished one today! Here are of the projects I am juggling today:

1. Work – working on Facebook, Instagram and Pic Stitch for a client. Meeting work deadlines.

2. Finalizing summer plans and registering my son for summer school and camps.

3. Paying bills (especially do not like this one).

4. Finishing several blog posts I started a week ago but have put aside due to interruptions. There are so many things to share!

5. Figuring out what I should make for dinner??? A huge issue in my house since my son does not eat the same things my husband and I eat.

6. Creating a distract proof homework environment for my son. We are going to try to meet the tutor at the library instead of home today and we’ll see how it works.

Well the list goes on and on! Hopefully I will be able to accomplish most on this list but the day is coming to an end and I have to go and pick up my son from school.

Medication Rollercoaster

roller-coaster

We’ve been on a medication roller coaster for the last 2 years and still not sure we are on the right track! My son was diagnosed with ADHD, ODD and Dyslexia in March, 2011.

In May, 2011 we started on the traditional, Ritalin, amphetamine based stimulant, resulting in high anxiety, tension and agitation we decided to try non-stimulants. In addition to Ritalin he was put on Prozac for depression and anxiety. Instead of taking care of my son’s depression and anxiety, Prozac did the opposite, made his mood, anxiety and depression worse. His mood swings got so bad we took him off Prozac immediately and put him on a low dosage of Abilify to stabilize his mood.

December, 2011 we started Strattera and Intuniv, non-stimulants, for focus, still resulting in extreme moods and drowsiness, even on Abilify (who wouldn’t be moody when you are tired all the time). In August, 2012 to go off Strattera and Intuniv and try Vyvanse, a dexamphetamine based stimulant instead. It worked well for 9 months (I thought) but he always had a difficult time coming off them in the evening (we called it the bewitching hour), high anxiety and easily irritated.

This April our son’s teacher told us our son is having a hard time focusing in class and not learning, therefore, decided to change medication again. In order to move on to the next choice of medication, we had to go two weeks without anything for focus but remained on Abilify, it was amazing how happy and calm our son became when he was off the stimulants but ‘O MY’ did I have complaints from his teachers. One of his teachers actually asked us to put him back on Vyvanse for focus, and I just learned that her request is against the law since she is not a doctor, imagine that!

After meeting with our pharmacologist/psychiatrist in April we came up with a new strategy. Since the Abilify has stabilized his mood, we can now try Strattera again but starting at a very low dosage and increasing the dosage slowly for four weeks instead of starting at the max dosage from the start. Tonight we will increase the dosage and so far so good at home, in sports, social activities but at school he’s become more defiant with his teachers.

Remember medication does not work alone! My husband and I try very hard to have a nurturing and stress free home environment (not reality though), my son attends a weekly social skills group, sees a child psychotherapist weekly and has tutors to help him with homework and school projects. Open communication with school and teachers are very important too. I touch base with his teachers 2-3 times a week. Our goal is to eventually be free of medication and if not, lower dosage he’s currently on.

Today I received and email from my son’s teacher and he’s staying on task, focusing and not interrupting in class. I am so excited could this be the right medication regimen for him? We could only hope!

This will be an ongoing subject…to be continued…

Seams in Socks

I’m on my way to my sons’ baseball game and wanted to mention tactile sensitivities!

My son is extremely sensitive to seams in socks! We just got through a 15 minute battle with lining up the seams properly, with his bulky baseball socks in his baseball cleats, phew! Luckily, he transitioned well and got right into the car to go down to the field but sometimes the seams in the socks issue can turn into tantrums that are difficult to recover from.

We found Socks without Seams here.

Summer School, Camp of Both?

Well it’s time for us to decide what to do this summer! Having a child with ADHD and finding a camp can be a challenge in more ways than one. I’m actually late so I can say ‘goodbye’ to early bird discounts.

In the past years I’ve ruled out summer school and gone for taking the summer off. But school is getting harder and more demanding so I’m thinking about enrolling my son in summer school so he can keep up next year. My son does not like change (what child with ADHD does) and already has anxiety over the next school year, so I am thinking that continuing with academics into the summer will help out.

With four weeks of summer school, 2-3 weeks of camp plus family vacation time summer will be over is in no time. So will this be too much, and will he have enough down time? I am starting to re-think our plans already!