ADD/ADHD and anxiety:
Let's face it parents.
We are frustrated. We are tired. We are a mess.
But we often forget something important: we are not alone. Many parents feel as you do with the stress of day-to-day activities wearing on us in such a way that managing a hot shower after a full day feels like a vacation to the Bahamas.
My younger son Camden was born 6 weeks premature. He was born healthy, breathing on his own, and the biggest baby in the NICU at 4lbs 9oz. By 3 months old, he had already caught up with other babies and his pediatrician tossed his preemie chart into the shredder with a proud grin. He met his milestones on time, and made ladies swoon by batting his big blue eyes. While it was discovered he had minor food allergies, we took this in stride and kept a close eye on what he ate.
Before we knew it, it was time for school. Camden had a rough time with listening and wiggling all through preschool. I shrugged off the teacher giving him a "red" circle for behavior. "He's a 4 year old boy" I thought. "He'll be fine." Kindergarten rolled around and his problems got a lot bigger. Camden's behavior did not improve. His teacher did not have the resources to give him the help he needed. Now I was paying attention.
We pulled him out of school and I began to homeschool. Our intention was to build a strong foundation for him to be able to re-enter the classroom as soon as possible. I had a set up a daily routine with one-on-one instruction. When we moved to another state, my husband and I decided it was time to put him back in a classroom for his 3rd grade year. I was hoping to hear the teacher say, "Wow, Camden reads above his grade level!" or "My goodness, Camden is ahead of other kids in math!" You can imagine my surprise when the opposite happened. I was informed Camden was struggling to focus and frequently off-task. He was not keeping up with the other kids in class. This was leading to frustration and also behavior issues with other kids. We managed to push through the year as best as we could.
Fourth grade arrived. And our son cracked.
To view more of Camden's journey, please click on my articles tab: "Seeing Camden Clearly". This article was published in the ADDitude online magazine and describes what we had to face, and the steps we took to help our son during his 4th grade year.
Camden is now in 6th grade and on a much better path towards success. But it wasn't without effort--and a few tears.
Remember- You are a super hero in your child's eyes. You can help your little one figure this out one step at a time. You are stronger than you think!
Step 1: Don't ignore symptoms. They won't magically resolve themselves. Search for a pediatrician or child psychologist who specializes in ADD/ADHD and have your child evaluated.
Step 2: Accept the diagnosis. Nothing is wrong with your child. All this means is that they are just wired a little differently and process things another way.
Step 3: Learn all you can about attention and focus. It was comforting to know that a plethora of resources were at my fingertips just waiting for me to discover them.
Step 4: If your child attends school, be on top of their curriculum so they don't fall behind. You may need a tutor for extra academic help.
Step 5: Have your child see a therapist; one who has experience with kids who have ADHD and specializes in CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy). This will give your child the tools he or she needs to function and adapt.
Step 6: To medicate or not medicate? This is a question only YOU as the parent can answer. Only you know what is right for your own child.
Step 7: Find a support system of other parents or friends who understand what you're going through. You are not alone, you've got this!
My Favorite Resources:
1. Pinterest: search for ADD/ADHD and you'll see informative tips, worksheets, and lists of helpful resources.
2. https://chadd.org (children and adults with attention deficit disorder)