October is ADHD Awareness Month.
Y’all. We are aware in this house.
For those of you who aren’t aware, ADHD is a spectrum, with some kids having a mild case, some a moderate, and others a severe case (we jokingly used to refer to our son’s severe ADHD as holy shit ADHD, because sometimes you have to laugh or you’ll cry). I mention this just to note that everyone’s experience is different.
Over the past several years, my child with ADHD has done amazingly well. Getting the official diagnosis and then finding the right way to help him cope made a world of difference and it was only then that we realized How Hard It Was Before.
If your child doesn’t have ADHD or you don’t personally know a child who has ADHD, you might think that ADHD basically boils down to a child who moves around a lot and has a hard time focusing. That’s part of it, but there’s so much more to it. If you want to learn more about it or if you’re questioning if one of your children has ADHD, here’s a good checklist of signs of ADHD at different ages. I won’t spend much time on that here because there are excellent references other places and because I want to share something about ADHD that worries me the most.
This was very clear to us from the start. If we’d correct our son, even something little (and done in a gentle way) like reminding him that his backpack goes on the bench in the entryway, instead of just putting his backpack where it needs to be or even heaving a sigh or rolling his eyes, he’d jump to thinking (and we know this because he would yell these things) that he can’t do anything right, that he always screws up, that no one likes him, that everyone thinks he’s stupid, and even sometimes (on a few terrifying occasions) that he should just kill himself.
These types of extreme reactions are very few and far between now. (And yes, we did address these when they happened with his doctors at the time) Though he’s more likely to have these sorts of feelings when he does not take his medication.
Yet, he still has more trouble dealing with his emotions than his brothers do. He takes criticisms very personally. He’ll assume that if someone doesn’t like something he does, that means they don’t like him at all. He’ll see getting something wrong in class as being his being stupid, instead of just some small skill he needs to work on. Teachers or coaches that push by telling him they know he can do better(without saying anything positive about the job he’s doing now) just make him feel like he’s failing and that he should quit.
It worries me, how much he worries. How hard he is on himself. Or really: how hard he is on himself in situations where there’s no need to be.
I don’t have a magic solution to how to solve this or even know if it can be solved, but during this month of ADHD Awareness, it’s something I can be aware of and change tactics because of.
Whenever I write or talk about ADHD, I tend to get questions about medication. Here’s some of our experience with ADHD medications: