Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Joys of my Life

 Yea so, my night.....

I *allowed* my six (almost seven) year old son to run away.  He was in the midst of one of his "episodes" tonight (which lately happen ALL the time) when he screamed at me that he wanted to run away. I simply told him that was fine and he could get his stuff when we got home and go.

We get home and he runs to his room to pack his bag.  Within minutes he was back at the door with his suitcase.  I meanwhile had already moved on to trying to get dinner started.  He stood at the front door for a few minutes telling me over and over again that he was leaving - just waiting for a reaction.  When I didn't react, he opened the door and yelled that he was really leaving.  I still said nothing.  Finally after some more yelling and asking me if I really wanted him to leave and some more ignoring on my part - he walked out the door; where I promptly shut and locked it.

**And before anyone goes and gets all upset and calls social services on me - I watched him the entire time he was outside and was ready to go get him if I needed to**

I went and watched him from the window.  He stood in front of the door for a couple minutes, I assume waiting for me to come after him.  When he realized I wasn't coming he started to walk away but continued to look at the front door.  Within seconds he came running back to the door.  He realized the windows were open and yelled for me that he forgot something and wanted to come back in to get it.  I told him no, he ran away he couldn't come back in to get stuff.  (apparently he said he wanted his coat because it was cold, but it was really 70+ outside).

So he began walking away again.  This time he got to the neighbors sidewalk before he got freaked and came bolting back to the house.  He yells through the window again that he's ready to come back now and was sorry for running away.

When I finally let him back in and he was finally out of his "mood", he was ready to sit down for homework time.

Meanwhile during all of this, I was just dying to know what he had thought to pack and what was in his suitcase.  I didn't want to make a big deal of it but I did notice he left his bag at the front door.  Normally I would have requested that he take it back to his room; but because I wanted to know what was in it, I let it stay.  Are you curious to know what an almost 7 year-old would pack to run away?

Why, duh....doesn't everyone pack their Daddy's to run away!

And yes, his Daddy doll is the only thing that he packed to take with him.  
I sure hope his plan wasn't to go far!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Challenge #6 - Use a White Board

I know, you're probably thinking just yesterday I was saying that I needed to slow this process down a little bit and not make so many changes at once.  But this is actually something I started using several weeks ago and it's been working - it was later in my list of challenges but I decided to move it up since we're already using it.

You may also be asking, what does using a white board have to do with parenting an ADHD child.  Well here is a picture of our white board:

(Sorry for the bad quality but I took the picture in the pitch black with my phone because my son is currently sleeping.)

As you may be able to make out, it hangs right next to door/light switch so he can see it multiple times a day.  His board is basically his list of things that need to get done over the course of the day.  It is split into both AM and PM so he is able to distinguish when he needs to do each item.

Every night after he falls asleep, I go into his room, take the board down and write the new items for the next day.  That way, when he wakes up in the morning he sees it before he even walks out of his room.

He also loves that I draw pictures to go along with each of the items.  I originally started out only with pictures of words that I didn't know for sure that he would know but thought he could probably figure it out with a picture.  He was quite upset one day that there were no pictures on his board though, so now I draw them for each of the items.  (It takes a little longer, but it makes him happy and so I do it.)

I have also been able to figure out that I can't just write "shower".  He has no idea what I want him to do with that.   I must write "Take a shower" for him to understand.

What I just realized you can't see at the bottom of the board in this picture are the smiley face magnets.  After he completes each item he moves one magnet next to that item to signify that it is completed.  This results in him gaining a sense of accomplishment and me not having to hound him to do things or ask constantly if things are done.  I simply say go look at your board and I can also look at the board and see what has or has not been done.

Along with this challenge, has come the use of consequences as well.  He knows that if items are not completed either before we leave for school in the morning or before he goes to bed, than there are consequences for not completing them.  Tonight he lost dessert because I had already reminded him twice to complete the tasks on his board and he choose to play with his toys instead.  Another night he lost TV time.  I've tried to simply explain to him that it isn't really a punishment - he made choices to do something besides what I told him needed to be done.  And now that it's time to do "XYZ" (dessert, TV, video games, etc) he can't participate because he must now do what was expected of him.  Some nights he gets it and is fine with it and other nights he losses his shit (like tonight).

So is all of this time consuming? Yes, very much so, but so it parenting a special needs child.  This is however working for us right now though and that's all that matters.  The plan is, as he gets older that some of the routine things can be left off the list (take a shower, brush your teeth, etc) and it will only be used for non-routine things.  And as he gets older still, the idea for him to write out his own board (with my final approval) is an option as well.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Deployment Update

So in the midst of the my parenting posts, I wanted to give you all an update on deployment as well.

We are currently 24 weeks/170 days in.  Which means we are 42.5% done with this stupid deployment.  Almost to the half way point!  

I'm really starting to look forward to R&R - I just don't know if it can possibly get here soon enough!

Challenge #5 - Don't Argue

I have not fallen off the band-wagon of my parenting a child with ADHD challenge.  What I've discovered though is that I need to take smaller steps and implement new things slowly.  My son thrives on routine and changing so many things at once was putting him on edge; so we've had to slow it down a bit.

As for an update on where we are:

Challenge #1 - I started back to the gym today and am excited about it and I have been trying harder to watch what I eat.   I also laid around on Saturday when the kids were gone and did nothing but watch movies.  It was just what I needed.  I'm also still looking into taking Annoyed Army Wife's suggestion of meditation - I'm very intrigued by it.

Challenge #2 - I'm honestly still working on this one.  I have all the rules written out but need to get them printed and laminated for his room and the fridge.  We've been slowly talking about them at dinner time too.

Challenge #3 - This has been going well too and it helps that he has begun asking me exactly what I mean if he doesn't understand something.  It helps me to know what I need to say the next time so he "gets it" (although that's not to say that he'll "get it" the next time either).

Challenge #4 - I have been really trying my hardest on this one.  Just today I sent him out of the room so I could have 5 minutes to recompose myself so that I didn't yell at him.  I'm not gonna say that there haven't been days where I have "lost my shit" because there have been but they are becoming few and far between.

So on to Challenge #5:

Do not argue with a child, let alone a child with ADHD.  As soon as you begin arguing with a child, it puts you on their turf and with an ADHD child they seem (at least my son is) most comfortable in conflict.

I have realized that I tend to be an argumentative person when I'm trying to get my point across.  I often find my self going back and forth with my children (and even my husband) to the point where I snap and end up yelling at them. 

I need to say what I mean and stick to it.  If the direction is not followed, there will be consequences.  I am the parent and when I make a request it needs to be done, not debated as to how/when/if it needs to be done.

One of the first steps is to sit down with children and explain that there is normally a good reason that you're telling them to do something.  It's not because you're mean.  However, keep this explanation short and sweet because a long winded conversation is sure to loose them.  Next, explain to them that you will no longer argue with them and that they will be expected to accomplish whatever task it is that you've stated.  They don't have to be happy about whatever it is, but it needs to be done.  Finally, kids need to know what the consequence is if they insist on arguing with you.

At dinner tomorrow tonight this is what we will be talking about.  What do your dinner time conversations sound like?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Challenge #4 - Remain Calm & Friendly

As difficult as I know it is,  you need to stay calm and have a friendly disposition.

When an ADHD child can sense anger, they will likely match (if not top) that anger.

As much as I find myself raising my voice with anger (mostly because he isn't following directions); I need to step back and practice those breathing exercises we have been working on with him in therapy, and try to remain calm.

It is very easy to just start yelling when put in a situation where it seems your requests are being ignored.  I need to realize that isn't normally the case.  Most times he doesn't intentionally ignore me (although sometimes I'm sure he does) and if I start off by yelling at him, it's only going to make things worse.

This is honestly probably one of my hardest challenges.  I grew up in a house where as soon as my father raised his voice - we obeyed immediately.  I have tended to use that same practice with my children - although it doesn't seem to work very well; especially with a child with ADHD who will only turn around and match me.

My goal is to not raise my voice or yell at any of my kids for the entire day.  There are other ways to get to my point across and I need to work on them.  I know one day isn't much, but it's a starting point which will hopefully take off with time. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Challenge #3 - Give Clear Commands

Start every command by stating his name in attempt to get his attention.  If I walk into his room while he is watching TV and simply tell him to clean his room - it's NEVER gonna get done.

I must first ensure I have his attention and he is looking at me.  Saying his name, generally does the trick (but not always).  Then begin with the first simple direction.  Saying clean your room (even if I have his attention) is NOT gonna result in a clean room.

I must say, "Please pick up your football gear of the floor".  In the ideal world, I would stand there and wait for it to be completed before moving onto the next step.  However, with 2 other kids in the house, this doesn't and can't happen.

After the first direction is complete, he is either required to come see me for the next instruction or I will check on him frequently to ensure it is getting done.  I then give the next specific instruction.  "Please put your shoes away in the closet".

This process continues until his room is clean.

My goal is to ultimately be able to give him a list of specific items he needs to do in order to clean his room and eliminate him having to come get me or me having to check on him every few minutes.  But for starters, this works. 

This works the same for all commands.  As a general rule of thumb most ADHD kids can only remember/process 1 or 2 step instructions at a time.  If given more than that, they are only being set up for failure. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


In this post I mentioned that one of the diagnoses with my 7 year old was ODD.  What is ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) and what does it entail?  I have had this question asked on more than one occassion so I figured it was worth a post of its own.

While again, I am no expert, here is what I do know about it.  It is when a child is routinely uncooperative and defiant towards authority figures.  Yes, you're probably thinking almost all children act in this manner at some point in time. This is different in that it is ongoing and is severe enough that it interferes with the child's normal social, family and school life.

Some of the symptoms exhibited include:
  • frequent temper-tantrums
  • excessive arguing
  • deliberately attempts to annoy others
  • blames others for mistakes
  • frequent anger
  • mean and hateful/hurtful talking when upset
  • easily annoyed by others
Also, 40% of ADHD children also are diagnosed with ODD.  They seem to go hand in hand in many cases.  It is very rare for a child to be diagnosed with only one form of a psychological/learning disability.  

I am open to questions.  Please continue to ask them.  I will answer all of what I know.  And if I don't know, I'm sure I'll be asking that same question in his next therapy session (I'm sure I would have thought of it eventually) in order to figure out an answer.   :-).  

Challenge #2 - Make Rules He Understands

Post clear precise rules that he understands.  And go over them frequently.

General rules like "Be on Your Best Behavior" mean nothing to him.  He needs to know exactly what behaviors he needs to be exhibiting.

If he going to a friends house, I can not say "be on your best behavior", I must tell him:

- Remember your manners (please, thank you, etc)
- Follow directions the first time they are given
- Do not talk back
- It is not your house, you do not always get to do what you want to do
- It's okay to lose if you're playing a game.

General rules that would mean something to a typical 7 year old boy, mean nothing to him.  Unless it is spelled out for him, it's only setting him up for failure.

Also, he needs to be reminded several times, as many times he is probably not paying attention to what I'm saying, even when it appears I have his attention. 

This week we will be working on posting clear house rules, not just for him but for everyone.  Both the older kids will have a copy for their desks and they're will be another hung on the fridge for the whole house.

So far this is what I have:

Be respectful.
     No talking back.
     No screaming, yelling or arguing.  (parents, siblings or friends)
     Use your manners (thank you, please).
     Treat others as you would like to be treated.
     No name calling.

Be respectful of others property.
     No jumping on furniture.
     No door slamming.
     Walk, do not run.
     No ball playing inside.
     Wrestling is only allowed in the basement.

Use an inside voice.
Listen.  Do as you are told.
Clean up your belongings.
No tattle-tailing.

Do you have known house rules?  If so, am I forgetting anything?  Any other suggestions?

Challenge #1 - Stay Healthy and Positive Yourself

The first and most important step before being able to help your child is to help yourself.  You need to eat right, exercise, find ways to reduce stress and get adequate sleep before you will be able to fully function in the level needed to be able to successfully parent a child with ADHD.

It is my goal to start going to the gym again on a regular basis or if my schedule doesn't allow it, to at least walk around the track/field during sports practices (cause we all know I'm there enough with 3 children!).

I will be trying to more closely watch what I eat.  While I have been doing decent with this, I still crack under pressure of fast food when it's more convenient than going home to cook something.  I have recently started doing freezer cooking and this works wonders for our family.  It's mostly during my lunch or the weekends where I'm exhausted or we're between games that I tend to resort to fast food.  I need to better plan lunches and weekends to avoid this.

Since I've been working full-time since the school year started, I haven't had too much trouble sleeping like I was during the beginning of deployment.  We'll see if that continues as I begin to cut hours over the next few weeks.

As far as relaxation.  I need to come up with a plan for this one.  I try to get the grandparents to take my kids at least one weekend a month with ideas of pure relaxation in my mind.  However, I generally seem to fill up that time hanging out with friends and constantly being on the go - fun, but not very relaxing.  I need suggestions on daily relaxation techniques.  How do you relax after a long day?

Monday, September 13, 2010

A New Challenge

Several months ago, I spoke of some issues that we were having with our middle son, who will be 7 next month.  I am finally ready to discuss this in more detail.  It has been a very long and drawn out process that is still not complete but I am confident that we are seeing some of the best doctors in the area and we will continue working on solutions.

While our school district basically told me I was crazy and there was nothing wrong with our son, I'm glad I followed my maternal instinct and continued to seek help through other options.  Over the summer, our almost 7-year old was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder).  While these diagnoses are not yet finalized and we are still undergoing further evaluations for some other possible issues, we are fairly confident that this is a good starting point.

I unfortunately, have found myself having a hard time dealing with and adjusting to this information.  Not that I'm in denial, because I'm not; but more so with having to adjust my parenting techniques in order to better fit him.  I'm finding myself frustrated and with little to no patience left at the end of the day; which only results in worse behaviors on his end.  And then, because I work with special needs 3 and 4 year olds, I get even more irritated with myself for not doing things "right".  Of course dealing with all of this in the middle of a deployment doesn't help anything either. 

In my attempt to become a better parent to him as well as my other two children, I will be starting a new challenge for the next month (give or take) featuring a tip, suggestion or activity on how to more effectively deal with ADHD and/or ODD in children.  

I am by no means an expert in this field, these are simply things that I will be attempting to incorporate into our lives in hopes of a positive outcome for our family.  I think many of these things can also work for other special needs children and even for children without special needs.  

I hope you all will join me in becoming a better parent and/or supporting this new challenge. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Life of a Grass Head

Gone are the lazy summer days of not working.  

I was not suppose to be working full time this year, I was actually not even suppose to work part time.  I was simply suppose to substitute.  Mostly on Tuesdays.  

So far this school year, I have worked EVERY single day.  

I have found myself in a long term sub slot in my classroom from last year.  Mind you, I'm not really complaining.  

I love what I do and I love the kids I work with.

But it sure makes for a hectic, crazy night when I get home.  I normally have a little over an hour to help two kids get homework done, get dinner cooked, get kids fed, dressed for practices and out the door.  

Housework has fallen to the wayside these days.  But everyone seems happy and they're still alive so that's all that matters to me right now.

My oldest daughter made this grass head during summer camp.  It has taken up residency in an older potter on the deck.  While I'm sure she has long forgotten about it, I have not.  Every night I look at Grass Head and just smile.  Smile wishing I had his life, smile remembering the lazy summer days but most importantly smile loving this hectic life we have created.  


This Blog is my outlet. It's where I share my thoughts and feelings. It's a place where I can vent. Not everyone thinks alike. People don't always share the same religious or political views. Some people (like me!) occasionally think in more “colorful” terms than others. Sorry, but I'm a big girl and can use cuss words and talk about not-so-mainstream stuff if I want to. If you find that sort of language offensive / shocking / annoying, you may want to stop reading now. Life as a military wife ain't always pretty. It's my life, though, so don't say I didn't warn you.