Tuesday, January 8, 2013

In Case Of Emergency

My ADHD tabs have remained mostly unchanged up there, and I check them sometimes to see if they are still valid, always ready to cringe, yet usually surprised that I still pretty much stand by what I had to say about this subject when I was just getting my feet wet.

BUT

I know so much more now! And without complicating things by adding a little info under each tab I am going to put my cup holder right here where everyone can grab it quickly!

(I say “cup holder” because when my big sister was attending her first day of kindergarten she pulled the fire alarm by the drinking fountain thinking it must be where they keep the cups, and I love her and that story)

SO, here you go guys, my BEST and MOST successful advice, items, books and links for when you find yourself at the "What Now?!" Crossroads of this crazy ADHD ride.

1. A label is not something you WEAR like a beauty pageant sash, it is a DOOR that you open.

Behind that door are people and resources and coping skills for making a successful life. A label is a quick way of identifying with someone who has has faced similar struggles, only they are totally nailing this life thing! Sure, you can try to figure it out yourself, but why WOULDN'T you want to know what they have gathered in their tool box? Listen, I'm lazy and selfish, if I can, I will always opt to save myself some time and from unnecessary heartache.

2. Sometimes? Act like you've just been involved in a car accident.

I swear it's the slow motion catastrophic events that will ruin your life in a far more permanent way than an earthquake or a heart attack. Those events demand ACTION. They demand your ATTENTION. You will take time off of work to ADDRESS them. I CAN NOT stress this enough: apathy will ruin your life.

In every ADHD life cycle there are moments where the walls crumble and a teacher or a doctor or a police officer or a divorce lawyer will make you look at the ugly thing, and right then it has your attention, but as soon the the worst part of the crisis is past, walls begin to rise again quickly. “I will do it tomorrow, it's just a phase, the medicine has fixed it, everything will be fine...” and you MISSED your car accident! You might even miss the moment when your son needed his legs set by a proper doctor and then the physical therapy required so he could walk correctly in the future.

3. By the time someone tells you that you, or your child, or your spouse! has ADHD, they and a hundred other people have already thought it a thousand times.

When a teacher says "you may want to look into this." You better get off your butt because NO ONE wants to be the bearer of that news. It’s my professional mom opinion that if they can avoid telling you for one more year, they will. By the time you are hearing about it, it has been discussed with other teachers, principles, day care providers, possibly even other parents. Do not sugar coat this information for yourself, do not say "well, we'll see what the next teacher says" go to a DOCTOR. Go to a behavioral specialist, or get them evaluated through the school immediately.

As grown ups our days fly by, but do you remember how the four years of high school felt like a whole decade? Or how much agonizing time was in between Christmas' when you were 8? For our kids, a day is a long time, and day after day of not having tools to keep out of trouble WILL wreck havoc on their beautiful shiny brains. I speak from experience. To this day I still feel like there is something essentially wrong with me, even though I know that feeling comes from years of living on the verge of being reprimanded at all times; by others or especially beating up on myself for one dumb thing or another. So…

4. BE NICE TO YOURSELF

When I'm so mad or fed up with Russell I could lose it, I say "I am a good mom. He is a good boy. I am doing a good job." Suddenly, even though he is still pouring a bag of oats over the back of the couch, I have the ability to say "Can I please have that?" remove it with no anger, walk to the kitchen, come back and sit down. "Now what should we do?" I ask. He might rage up the stairs, he might cry and say he sorry, his behavior is still his, but now my temper is not the focus of this situation, because, huh! I am a good mom, he IS a good boy, and I am doing a good job.

5. READ THIS YESTERDAY: Kids Parents and Power Struggles

The name is so serious, but OMG, this book is sharp, compassionate to the reader, and changed my life. Period. It doesn't have unrealistic expectations, it also falls under the "be nice to yourself" idea and, because of that, I am about a thousand times more receptive to all the great coping strategies she includes. And she never uses labels if those still bug you, it really addresses the humanity of everyone involved in the situation. Plus you will leave this book with the most important information you might ever bring the table in this adventure: Know Your Parenting Style.

6. THEN READ THIS: 10 Days To A Less Defiant Child

I will be honest, I skimmed this book because I already read a lot and don't need the baby steps of information, but it's written in a great bullet point style that is easy to flip through, Jon has read it page by page, and I would say the yelling in this house has gone down about 90%. Russell didn't change when we read the book, WE changed. I don't agree with everything he says, but I got three huge things out of it:

Never let someone else bring you down to their level, even in punishment it rewards them (consciously or subconsciously)

Living life by the saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” does not make you a weak parent. I suddenly had a NAME for parents that don’t give their kids clear expectations inevitably followed by screaming at them ten minutes later: worker bee’s! I am far too lazy to deliver the pound of cure a little patience and forethought at the beginning could avoid.

Finally this book led Russell and I to making up number 7…

7. "I am extending a hand of friendship."

This phrase lets no one off the hook. It doesn't say I'm right, it doesn't say you're right, it says: when we woke up this morning we liked each other, now let's act like it.  Russell LOVES language and the power of language, so these words aren't too advanced for him, it’s almost like a ritual. When I start to boil over, or he does, or Jon with me, or Russell with Alice, we close our eyes put out a hand and declare "I'm extending a hand of friendship." Then you wait (maybe peeking a little). Everyone gets quiet, and eventually everyone gives in because if  you want this time out trick to work for you, you have to work for it. The minute your skin makes contact and hands clasp... everything changes. It's not magic, and the patience it requires is tedious sometimes, like when you're at the mall with people watching... but I stand with my hand out reached and we pause. Then, after fingers are clasped, the one who extended the hand has to ask "Are you okay?"

It still doesn't let anyone off the hook, but it validates their angst. Rules still apply, consequences still apply, but love is also applied.

Those two phrases have changed our lives.

8. SLEEP

Russell has a weighted blanket. It has also changed our lives, you can make them but when I priced them out it was only a little more to get it done correctly and professionally with fabrics of our choice. He also has a large oscillating fan in his room (because the little fans are too loud), and he has a simple sound machine with 10 sounds. For the first time in his life he goes to sleep easier, and stays asleep longer.

9. Eat Real Food

This falls under the car accident mentality, I know you don't want to, but I'm not asking you to go on a diet to lose weight, I'm telling you for the sake of everyone in your house: eat real food! Don't go crazy, don't become a vegan prophet, don't get overwhelmed! Just get Michael Pollan's Food Rules and start thinking about it. Take a little more time at the store to read labels. Buy lots and lots of dark chocolate from Trader Joe's. Russell is not gluten allergic and our pediatrician said its not healthy to take gluten out of your diet if you're not allergic, but goodness knows I would do it in a heartbeat if I knew it would help.

Also, medicine makes food a nightmare so Russell has his own snack shelf. He can eat anything on it at any time, as well as certain things in the fridge and freezer. Midnight, morning, after school, DURING DINNER, I don't care because being on medicine at seven years old is challenging and that's one way we can be understanding.

10. Sign up for email updates from ADDitude Magazine

Then, just every once in a while, open one up and click on an article that interests you and read at at least 30% of it before going back to check your Facebook. This will help you not feel ALONE, or like you might be making up some of your problems, or that no one can do anything about any of this. People can and they are and, whew, we really are not alone in this!

11. MEDICATE

Do it. Do it well. Become a connoisseur and use the BEST information both Eastern and Western Medicines have to offer, then breath deeply, and know that what works today may not work tomorrow. In fact your medicine needs will change for your WHOLE LIFE. Accept that now, shake your fist at the sky like I do, but accept it, and never get complacent with meds. And NEVER MEDICATE WITHOUT SOME FORM OF BEHAVIORAL THERAPY. Psychologist and psychiatrists are two TOTALLY different animals, you cannot get your needs met by just one or the other. Period.

Most importantly, never accept that feeling like crap for no good reason is okay.

12. Aroma Therapy.

Don't over think it or overpay, go to amazon, get some oils, keep them in your house, your car, your purse, by your bed, in your fridge. I don't get caught up in what they are supposed to be for; calming, energizing etc., I just pick what I like and it's wonderful how a smell can make you instantly present in your own skin.

13. Beam Me Up Scotty

Accept technology. I spent a year telling Russell enough, get off the computer, you don't need the iPad right now... then I stopped. I say sure! And... no one died. I have accepted that all those families in the Star Ship Enterprise used technology as part of how life FUNCTIONS for them. I've embraced it and while we still take total zero technology breaks for a week every once in a while, I love Russell, and I respect his love of games and the art of games, and his skill at them. I am an active participant in his technology life, and he has more input on my blog and Facebook than you'd ever imagine.

We have plastic gold coins displayed proudly in the middle of the house, one gold coin is one minute of Minecraft. The satisfaction of twenty gold coins clanging into the Good Boy Jar is quite fun, and removing five here or there can be a devastating blow for someone unwilling to take a dish to the sink… until they find a way to earn them back ASAP.

Plus we live in a forest and he asked for a pick axe and geodes for Christmas. Technology works for us, not the other way ‘round, and that’s always the goal.

14. Empower Your Bright Child With Language

My last piece of advice is for you and your child, or you and your INNER child. I don't care if that makes me a hippy dippy weirdo, our kids (inside and out), need to understand they are not bad. They are not broken. They are responsible for their actions, but making amends is so much more important than never screwing up.  Understanding the way your brain craves adrenalin is CRUCIAL to self esteem, a person isn't bad because their brain wants to be connected to itself. With ADHD it's just not. It's trying to create its own paths and excitement and movement and sensory input to feel connected. That's just science, man! Not a bad seed. I promise you, if you don't include your kids in this process now, they WILL stop taking their meds in high school. They will not have coping skills when it's time to leave home. They will not know as much about their brain as you do when it time for them to be the one taking care of it.

Russell has seen diagrams of the brain, he can probably explain ADHD to a college class, he knows all the famous figures in history who were brilliant and a little “off their rockers,” he knows he has everything a person needs to change the world, and most of all, that we are a family proud to be a part of the moving and shaking that comes with this.

Even when we yell about it with our brightly colored “love of language” sailor cursing.

Good luck guys. Let me know if I missed anything!

1 comment:

Sharron said...

This is absolutely amazing and inspired, I love it! Wish you would have been around when I was raising you... wait, that sounds wrong! I would add to your fab list 2 things: "Rescue Remedy" from the health food store (for your rescue, not your kids) and MUSIC. A good dose of Rose's Pawn Shop will cure many ills. No gloating just because we will be seeing them live on Saturday~ LOVE THIS POST.