Just call me Jiji

…me, just pretending to be me ….now, where did I put that cape??

Archive for the tag “ADHD/ODD”

Nine Years Old and Already Breaking Hearts

A couple of days ago Leon came home from school and I could tell he wasn’t himself. Well not his, get off the bus and get the homework done right away, to get it out-of-the-way, so he can watch TV and play, self.

His ODD was in full force and rearing its ugly head. Everything was an argument or a fight, he asked for things he knew I would disagree to and then would have a huge fit when he would hear the word no. He lashed out, got fresh, and as a result he had to suffer the consequences of his actions. The consequences in this case being no video games for the rest of the day, including his newest addition to his collection; Skylanders.  He had just gotten it for his birthday the week before and was becoming obsessive about it. I felt he needed a break from it. Which he did. But the storm that came after that, resulted in a huge temper tantrum. There was yelling and crying, and screaming and runny noses, and soberly “i hate you’s”, and “i hate myself”, and “i just want to be left alone”, and screaming into pillows, and pinching and scratching at himself, and me grabbing a hold of him in my arms to cradle him and love him and keep him from physically hurting himself.

Phew! I see more and more of myself in this child every day! Memories and things long forgotten and tucked away in the far back of my mind. And now as I watch him go through so many of the things I went through in my own childhood (things that had made me feel “wrong”); and now to see him go through it, and not know how to deal with the intense emotions that come with it,  just kills me. I only hope that I can parlay my understanding and feelings to him based on what I have already gone through and cushion the blow even just a little. Let him know, he is NOT alone, there are others who understand, who get it, who have the same difficulties and differences.

This poor child carries the strain of always having to restrain and keep in check his natural ADHD impulses to do his own thing, his own way, while he is in school all day and for just long enough after school to get his homework done. The meds that he is on helps him to do that, and for all intense purposes work great, but some days are a bit more challenging than others. Sometimes the smallest monkey wrench puts a crimp in his day and throws him completely off course. It could be anything, maybe his schedule was unexpectedly interrupted, maybe he isn’t feeling well or maybe someone said or did something that he just can’t get off of his mind. What ever it is, it can cause the storm described above…

and below….

Leon: MOM! I am having a REALLY bad day! All I want is to come home and relax by playing my new game and you won’t even let me, And I am just really really stressed (pleading now, with tears running down his cheeks) PLEEEASE let me play with my Skylanders I just need to forget today happened!! Pleease!!! I DON’T WANT to go to fencing, I just want to RELAX!!! and I can’t do that if I can’t play my game!!

ME: (cradling my poor sobbing little boy whose trying desperately to sway me into changing my mind about taking away his video game privileges as a result of consequential behavior) I know you are upset, Leon. I am sorry that this hurts your feelings, but you know the rules if you get nasty with mommy you lose certain privileges and telling me you feel too sick to go fencing but just fine to play video games is not going to cut it.

Leon: I’m sooorrrrrry! I won’t do it again. Pllllllleeeeeeaaaassssseeee can I play my game. I had a bad day and besides I got some bad news at school and I am stressed about it! I just neeeeeeeeeed to playayayayay my GAME!

ME: What bad news? Do you want to tell me about it.

Leon: I just don’t want to talk about it OKAY!!! (screaming) Just let me PLAY!!!!!!

ME: eh, there is that tone again. (remaining as calm as any parent who just wants to strangle their beautiful child can)  Lets just try to stay calm and talk things out and we can see were we go from there.

Leon: If you knew this bad news you’d know why I am so stressed!

ME: So tell me about it

Leon: I don’t want to

ME: Okay you don’t have to tell me. But I am a little worried, can you tell me if it’s bad news about you?

Leon: no

ME: is a teacher involved?

Leon: no

Me: a friend?

Leon: yeah…

Me: did someone get hurt or sick?

Leon: no it’s not like that, it’s, it’s it’s just to horrible to say, I’ll write it down.

Me: (a little concerned now…. takes the folded up paper from his hand – reads his scribble and…..) (SMILE) Leon, is this what is upsetting you so much?

Leon: yes!

The note says: ” _________ has a crush on me! (It’s shocking!)”

ME: (inner voice) AWWWWW how freaking cute!!!!!!!!! (outer voice) This is flattering news, it should make you feel good about yourself. _____ is a very nice girl and she obviously has good taste. Don’t look at this as a bad thing, think of it as a good thing. I thought you liked ______.

Leon: I do! but I don’t want a crush, I want a friend!!!!

ME: All you have to do is just tell her that.

We talked a bit more about how he came to this knowledge….

Leon: Her friend came and told me, and then _____ said she was too embarrassed to tell me herself.

ME: what did you say?

Leon: nothing, I just fainted!

Ah the complexities of a fourth grader.

Today he came home in all smiles, we talked a bit before my bronchitis sent me back to sleep and he had a very nice evening playing with his dad.

I had asked him if he had spoken to ______. 

Leon: yeah, I told her that I didn’t feel the same way about her, and I asked her if we could still be friends. and she said yes.

Alls well that ends well!

I just hope ______  is okay! I mean who can blame her? My kid has always been a looker…… 

and he is an AMAZING KID to boot.

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SCREAM!!!!!!!!!!!!

You scream, I scream, we all screeeeeam…

That’s it nothing else, we all just scream

SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAM!!!!!!!!!!!

Back when I was young, about a million trillion years ago, I had a small group of people I hung  out with in high school, and  we had a brilliant way of dealing with stress.

We would get in the car and drive down to the beach at top speed with all the windows down
and just SCREAM at the top of our lungs.

I can’t tell you how good that felt!! It was amazing!!

I long for a good long scream

I NEED a good long scream!!!

Anyone want to go have a scream with me?????

{ Just FYI – This scream was brought to you by the letters N-O-T & H-A-P-P-Y  and is courtesy of my first impression of the new school psychologist – which is condescending, major-interuptus-not-listen-to-us, and blechy)

“I LOVE my Feral little child.”

Early in the morning through bleary eyes, I peer out across the sun lit room at my child, and a grin slowly forms on my lips as I think to myself;

I LOVE my Feral little child.”

Sitting cross-legged on the floor wearing only his PJ bottoms, with his fuzzy blanket draped around him like an animal skin of sorts, with his long, wild and crazy hair all messed up and draped over his shoulders; he really does look like a feral child!!

He looked back at me, and I fully expected him to say “Me Leon, You Mommy, Me hunt and gather food, You wait here.” instead I got “Mooooom, I am huuuuungreeeeeey!” To which I replied, “Me Mommy, me tired, go now, ask your father to forage for food”; his reply … “you’re weird!”

Yes, yes I am!

I later opened up my laptop to look up the meaning behind “feral child” , I wanted to be sure I was thinking of the right word. Wikipedia not only spit out the meaning, but provided a picture in example as well:

Oh look!! It’s a picture of my very own sweet child!

It looks just like him!!!  At least I think it does.

It’s fitting though, and not just because he looks like a feral child with his hair all tangled, and mussed up, going in all different directions. But also, because he is a wild child at heart. And I mean that in the best possible way.

He certainly dances to the beat of his own drummer. As I’ve often maintained, he is a strong-willed child with a mind of his own, and once it is made up there is no changing it.

Such as it is with his long luscious locks, which I am happy to say, we have learned to tame (somewhat anyway).

He made up his mind to grow his hair long just short of 2 years ago in January of 2010, I remember the date because I blogged about it here.

It was late in January when he came home all excited about doing the Math-a-thon to raise money for St Jude Children’s’ Hospital and helping other kids his own age, who were sick with cancer. It was on that day that he asked if he could donate his hair to the kids at St. Judes. When we told him he would have to have a lot more hair than what had just recently grown out from his mohawk, he said he didn’t mind at all.

Leon in Disney sporting his blue mohawk

Leon's Hair as it was the day he came home and declared he was donating his hair to a kid like him with cancer

I also told him that it would probably take him a few years before he would have enough to donate. It didn’t phase him one bit. Both Ron and I  were pretty proud of him for wanting to do this, but we also thought it would not last. Boy were we wrong. It’s been two years and he still has an inch or two more to grow before he can donate it. Despite being picked on and teased in summer camp, and consistently being called a  girl by strangers, he is more determined than ever to reach his goal.

We’ve come a long way….

   He is such a beautiful child, it is no wonder strangers call him a girl

In the end it will be so worth it. And that long hair suits him, it suits his personality. And yes he does occasionally look like a feral child, possibly raised by monkeys. It was after all just yesterday that I caught my wild little child in the act of standing on his chair in the pizzeria attempting to swing on the lamp that hung above his table. But no matter how wild my little child gets or looks, he will always be MY little wild child!

“I LOVE my Feral little child.”

I Nominate; My Superman

I recently found this on  ellen ;

Nominate the Amazing Person in Your Life…

Do you know an amazing person who could use Ellen’s help? We want to hear about them! Tell us all about the most deserving person you know, and how Ellen can rock their world. Maybe it’s a family member or spouse who always puts your needs before their own, a neighbor who has changed your community for the better, or even a teacher who goes above and beyond with your kids. This season, Ellen’s gonna keep giving back!
Read more: http://ellen.warnerbros.com/show/respond/?PlugID=433#ixzz1RH3DUlaq

So I decided to nominate My Superman!

Dear Ellen,

I love you and I love your show. You and your show always make my day! You are just so genuine, with a hugely generous nature. You have a way of making people feel comfortable and at ease; like spending time with a really good friend.

Well good friend, I’d like to share something with you about my family, about my husband in particular.

His name is Ron, he is a handsome devil, a smooth talker with an odd sense of humor, a sci-fi geek, who rocks my world, and keeps things balanced in our lives. And he is the most giving and amazing man I know. He always puts the needs of our family before his own.  When I met Ron, he became the man who renewed my faith in hope. In short he is my Superhero.

My family consists of Ron (39), myself (42), and our son, Leon (8)

We have a good life, NOT an easy one, but a good one, because we have each other. Things have always been tough on us financially, and we always seem to muddle through whatever life throws at us, either on our own or with help from our extended family. And for this we have always been truly grateful.

We all do our best to make the most of our lives. But no one works harder than my husband to provide and take care of our little family. I try and do my best too, but I have so many limitations, that I fear he often gets the short end of the stick.

Both my son and I suffer from disabilities that require regular doctor visits and a lot of very expensive medication between the both of us. My son has severe ADHD/ODD and I suffer from Fibromyalgia. We have a HUGE deductible on our medical insurance and given our individual medical needs it is necessary for us to come up with a LARGE sum of money in a very small amount of time at the beginning of each year. He barely makes enough money that we can usually get by living paycheck to paycheck with just enough left over to cover and enjoy the little things like the movies or Cub Scout fees for our son.  But when the big bills come in, that’s when we really struggle.

This year, so far, has really tested Ron’s limits.  Ron’s car died, and while we managed to get by with only one car for a few months we did eventually have to buy a second used car, which is already in need of repair.

In addition to our financial stress, Ron has had to take on additional parenting duties, above and beyond all the amazing things he already does with and for our son, due to the decline in my health this year.

No matter what comes our way, Ron does everything he can to make things right again. He really is a good man, and he puts his all into everything he does. As a husband he is just amazing, not only does he work hard in the office every day, but he comes home to take care of a majority of the household duties, when I can’t, due to my disability; and he still makes time to be a Den Leader in Leon’s Cub Scout troop and spend quality time with him.

Lately though, it seems as if life has really been testing Ron’s limits. My husband’s normally optimistic outlook on life seems to be dimming. Right now, Ron feels as if we just can’t get a break and that everything is getting thrown at him all at once and he just can’t get ahead. Some days I look at him and he just looks so terribly defeated, like someone had just drained him of all his energy. It kills me to see him this way.

This is a man who truly deserves a break. Not only is he an amazing husband and father but he is also a genuinely GOOD MAN!

Ellen, PLEASE help me make my husband’s life just a little bit easier.

Here we are at his sister’s wedding, which also happens to be our wedding anniversary. (I am the one with the pink hair 🙂 )

Me and my Superman!

EDITTED ON Jan 19th 2012 to add:

Hey Ellen,

Being that this IS your birthday-month; I wanted to share with you that May is my husband’s birthday month. In fact, this year he turns 40 on May 13, 2012.

You know incase the SWAGGIN WAGON is in NY around that time???

That’s a hint…. you know incase you didn’t catch it.

Love ya Ellen!!

And my Superman!!!

HAPPY New Year!?!???

Well, I had to say it, didn’t I? This is after all my first post of 2011.

Thing is I’m not feeling’ so Happy New Yearish at the moment. It’s part of why it’s taken me this long to post something. It’s not that there haven’t been any happy occasions, events, or news to post about; there have actually, and I want to share them, especially because some very good things have been happening with Leon; it’s just that, well, I am just too damn tired (and in pain) to even think clearly. And not the I just have so much to do tired either. It’s more like the, just walking from the couch to the bathroom and back has me feeling like all my energy just drained out of me and I can’t move, type of tired.

There is no doubt about it; this winter is really messing with my fibro BIG TIME. Mother Nature and Jack Frost have teamed up to kick my butt!

Here is today’s forecast from the National Weather Center:

Winter Storm Warning

  • Statement as of 9:52 PM EST on January 26, 2011
    … Winter Storm Warning remains in effect until 6 am EST
    Thursday…A Winter Storm Warning remains in effect until 6 am EST Thursday.

* Locations… portions of northeast New Jersey… New York City
and southern Long Island.

* Hazards… heavy snow.

* Accumulations… 8 to 14 inches of snow… with locally higher
amounts possible.

* Winds… north winds of 10 to 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph are
expected across New York City and northeast New Jersey.

* Timing… a wintry mix of snow… sleet… and freezing rain…
becoming a moderate to heavy snow this evening… and a heavy
snow overnight. Up to a quarter of an inch of ice this evening.

Special Weather Statement

    • Statement as of 1:13 am EST on January 27, 2011
      … Heavy snow will impact Bergen… Bronx… Essex… Fairfield…
      Hudson… Kings (Brooklyn)… Middlesex… Nassau… New Haven… New York
      (Manhattan)… Passaic… Queens… Richmond (Staten Island)…
      Rockland… Suffolk… Union… Westchester and western New London
      counties…At 1257 am EST… National Weather Service Doppler radar was tracking
      a wide band of heavy snow extending from northern Connecticut
      through Long Island and New York City.

Snowfall rates within this band are between 2 to 3 inches per
hour… but could be as high as 4 inches per hour in the heaviest
portions of the band in Nassau… western Suffolk… New Haven and
Middlesex counties.

In addition… gusty winds between 20 and 30 mph with occasional
gusts up to 35 mph will occur causing blowing and drifting
snow….and reducing visibilities to 1/2 mile or less.

Motorists should exercise extreme caution.

A Winter Storm Warning remains in effect for the area.

We’ve already had so many storms so far this New Year that I’ve lost count at this point and it’s only January.  These storms have been so frequent and so on top of each other, the effects of which are unbearable. It’s times like this that I am most aware of my Fibro …obviously!

Last week a friend got an up-close peak into my life with Fibro, when she stopped by to invite Leon and me over and found me curled up in a ball on the couch, with my head resting in Ron’s lap as I wept because the pain was that intense. I think it really took her by surprise. This invisible disability suddenly became visible.  Being the wonderful friend that she is, she took Leon so I didn’t have to worry about him seeing me like that.

I actually felt a bit embarrassed that she had seen me like that.

I know I should not be embarrassed by the situation but it is very rare for someone to see me with that bad of a flare-up, and in that much pain, and THAT vulnerable.

Not that I haven’t had flare-ups before in front of people. It’s just that, well, it isn’t always so blatant. The pain is always there alright, and occasionally someone will comment or make a joke about me walking like a crumpled up old women before I can straighten myself up, but usually it will go unnoticed. But Friday’s flare-up, that was something all together different that was what I usually refer to as a “lost in the pain” flare-up. One that gets so bad that I feel completely lost and consumed in the pain.

And with this icy cold, snowy, storm-filled winter I feel like it is freezing me in time and incapacitating me to the point that I cannot even function in my own life right now. I have been out of commission since this year began.  As a result not only am I suffering but so is my family.

The all over joint pain, headaches, fatigue (serious fatigue), insomnia, and muscle weakness keep me from being able to do normal everyday things, including taking care of my family. The burden then falls on Ron; my dear and wonderful husband. So now his life has been turned upside down too.

Not only does Ron leave the house to work all day, but when he is home he has to take care of the things I can’t.

Much to my dismay and intense gratitude he gets up early with Leon every morning without waking me up. He knows that mornings have always been difficult for me, but right now they are even more so. My insomnia has kept me up till anywhere between 3am and 5am on a regular basis. I am thankful because waking up every morning at 7am and functioning on all cylinders is practically unheard of.  I just wish I could do more in the mornings so Ron could get ready for work stress free.

Ron has to get himself and Leon ready at a time when Leon’s ADHD is at its worst. There always tends to be a battle whether it is about taking a shower, eating his, breakfast or getting dressed for school. I usually wake up to one or the other’s yelling or a phone call telling me, my sister is on her way with my niece, whom I care for while my sister is at work. Although, too often this year I’ve had to send her to my mom’s instead.

As it is I am no longer caring for Nico (my friend’s son), but now my fibro is forcing me to give up more days with Kiera too, making money even scarcer.

While taking care of Kiera can be extremely draining, I at least can nap when I need to, while she does. I just can’t see that being included as a benefit in a real job 😉 , so while money is scarce, I am lucky that my sister needs my help. The major downside then falls to Leon and Ron again.

Generally while caring for Kiera or any child, one would think I could keep up with the house work since I am home anyway. Unfortunately that just isn’t always the case, and right now because of the intensity of my flare -up and especially because of how long it has been lasting, there just isn’t any relief long enough for me to catch up on my housefrau duties. It’s embarrassing!

What is worse, is that rather than let it all pile up, Ron jumps in and picks up the slack. It makes me feel so guilty, because I can see it is taking a toll on him.  The getting up with Leon, and battling him to get ready for school while preparing his breakfast and packing up his lunch, and sticking him on the bus; then he has his job to contend with; only to come home and have to contend with me, who is thoroughly exhausted and mostly immobile from the pain and Leon whose meds have worn off and is talking a mile a minute, bouncing off the furniture, and vary needy at this time of the day.

On my normal days, flare-up or not I would have at least pushed myself  to clean up after the day’s activities, get the dishes done, have Leon’s homework done, fed him and ready for bed by the time Ron got home so that he could at least enjoy himself with their ‘Daddy and Leon bedtime routine’. I’ll be honest, I rarely get all of that done, especially during flare-ups, but I do my very best and depending on the severity of the day I have gotten quite a bit of it done. But right now it’s as if my tush has been glued to either the couch or my bed. Basically I’ve been bedridden (or couch-ridden as it were) since the year began, and if the weather keeps up this way I don’t see it getting any better anytime soon.

I worry about the strain it puts on Ron. Add to that the struggles we face financially at the beginning of each year because of how our medical insurance is structured. Between Leon’s ADHD/ODD meds and my Fibro /ADD meds and our regular doctor visits, we have to come up with a lot of cash in a very short amount of time because we have a $2500.00 deductable to meet. That’s not an easy thing to do when living paycheck to paycheck. This is the time of year when our bills pile up. So on top of the strain my fibro puts on Ron he has this to deal with. Now add to it the fact that Ron’s car has died and can no longer be driven, so he has to use my van until we can afford a new car. At least with me pretty much being bed-ridden I can do without the van for now.

The guilt and the depression that comes with it weigh very heavily on me. I feel responsible for Ron’s stress, and I worry about his health.

So with all that, it hasn’t felt very Happy New Yearish   ….yet

As I said before there have been a few highlights to the year so far, involving Leon, so not all is lost.

But that will have to wait for another day.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Yipee Skipee it’s Halloween!

I love Halloween! It ties with Christmas as my favorite holidays..

Both are fun and festive! Christmas lets me get my shopping on and Halloween lets me get my costume on.

Last weekend we enjoyed yet another Halloween Celebration. I say another, because this year is no different from any other year, where we attend many different Halloweenie events.

Traditionally Leon gets to go trick-or-treating at least 3 times each year.  First Leon starts his candy collecting in PA at Ron’s parent’s summer retreat, a campsite on the Delaware river, that they have been seasonal members of since Ron was Leon’s age, that hosts a costume parade, trick or treating, and a Halloween party at the close of the season in the end of September. His second T.o.T. collecting is usually at Pumpkin Park, a local amusement park that opens itself up for safe trick or treating every year, however there was scheduling conflict and we did not get to go this year. And lastly we always enjoy having a few friends meet up at our home for a light snack before we roam the neighborhood on Oct. 31, forcing our kids to collect candy for our – umm I mean their enjoyment. 

This year we have a packed Halloween schedule once again. In September, we had fun at the campground as usual. Leon wore a grim reaper sort of costume because as much as he wanted to be Emperor Palpatin from Star Wars, I knew the make-up involved in it would try his patience and his sensory issues. So I nixed it for the campground. He enjoyed himself none the less.

He’s the one all in black

Two weeks ago we went upstate to enjoy the fall scenery and do some apple picking as described in my previous post.

The 3 of us collected twigs, acorns, and leaves and put them together; and Leon snapped this photo.

Last weekend I spent Friday and Saturday putting our costumes together. I’ve always enjoyed making costumes and dressing up in either couples costumes or coordinated family costumes, and luckily Ron and Leon enjoy it too. Our theme is usually determined by what Leon chooses to be and then we work around that.

Being HUGE fans of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, it was only natural that we would portray characters from the movie. I am the Lovely Sally, Ron is Jack Skellington the Pumpkin King, and Leon of course is Oogie Boogie.

Putting costumes together for Jack and Sally was simple enough. Ron’s was completely store-bought and in the interest of saving money, (along with having an excuse to wear my leather corset) mine was put together from pieces of clothing that I already own (with the exception of the wig which I borrowed). Leon’s costume of the other hand was something entirely different. Oogie Boogie is not a readily available costume, in other words it had to be made. And Leon was very specific about it looking true to character.

I spent four hours creating Oogie’s head on Friday and about five hours creating his boogie, I mean body on Saturday. It turned out truly amazing if I do say so myself, I am quite pleased with the result!!!

You’re joking, you’re joking,
I can’t believe my eyes”

Mr. Oogie Boogie, Nightmare Before Christmas

We wore our costumes to a friend’s Halloween party Saturday evening and had a blast! Leon’s favorite part was getting to watch Nightmare Before Christmas and Scooby Doo with the other kids. My favorite part was the look of surprise on people’s faces when they found out Oogie Boogie was not store-bought. Well, that and getting together with friends.

On Sunday, Ron’s parents joined us at a street fair. We went in costume to participate in a costume parade and enjoy the farmers market and a wonderful musical group, The Bari Koral Family Rock Band. They were terrific but we had to leave early, Leon was having an off day due to the previous night’s activities.

Ron, Leon, my niece Kiera, and myself

You will notice that I did not go as Sally in the pictures; instead I was an eco-friendly witch. I felt that it was more appropriate daytime attire, and it gave me an excuse to wear my green dress that just happened to match my green witches hat that I had received as a gift from my sister a year or so ago. Hmmm.. Do you think she was trying to tell me something?

This whole week continued to be about Halloween festivities for us. Leon’s school hosted a pumpkin patch for the students during recreation time on Wednesday. He was happy to come home with a pumpkin, a pint of apple cider, and some candy corn. We decorated the pumpkin when he got home from school

It’s Not So Spooky Snoopy!

On Friday, Leon went to school in costume, as did the majority of the other students in his school. The principle, whom I adore as y’all know; led a costume parade in front of the school, and invited the parents to come and watch.

Jedi Leon

It was just so adorable to see them all dressed up and enjoying themselves. Our principle by the way dressed as Sponge Bob, which I thought was great. So did the kids, they just love her! Leon was excited to come home with his “crabby patty” prize for scariest costume. Funny enough, Leon did not wear his Oogie Boogie costume.  The student’s were not allowed to wear masks, so he donned a previous year’s costume, Jedi Luke Skywalker. Which, isn’t a scary costume, however, knowing my SPD son and his issues with clothing, I allowed him to wear a pair of skeleton pajamas as a costume underneath his Jedi costume, in case all that extra fabric was too much for him. So he went to school and marched in the parade as a Jedi; but by the time the principle got to his classroom afterwards he had stripped done to his bones, won scariest costume, and came home as a skeleton.

That same evening the PTA hosted a Fall Harvest Costume Dance. We  really, really wanted to show off the Oogie Boogie costume, and even though masks were not permitted, I allowed Leon to walk in as Oogie, knowing that my extremely hyper-active, run wild as soon as he hears music, ADHD child would take it off within 10 minutes of getting there. I was right, of course, and Leon spent the rest of the evening as a break-dancing skeleton. Which is quite funny to watch! Ron and I attended in costume as well. Ron as Jack, and I as the Green Witch, once more – I figured my leather corset would raise more than a few eyebrows in a school setting.

Conga!

CIt was very nice to see some of the other parents wearing costumes as well! My favorite adult costume was the Sleestak! As for the kids, the home-made Sally was great, as was the Mini Mad Hatter, the Peacock, and my favorite Little Witch in Training (just because she is the sweetest little girl).

Sleestak and Jack rev up the dance floor

The funniest part of the evening was when the DJ called the Sleestak and Beetle Juice over to help lead a dance. Funny because, he was pointing at Ron (aka Jack Skellington) when he said Beetle Juice.

You could not see his face under that mask but I am sure Ron was cringing every time the DJ (who was really great with the kids) said Beetle juice, which he said a lot. At one point Beetle juice, I mean Jack; I mean RON was asked to lead the conga line.

Conga, conga!

 I am very lucky to have a husband who is such a good sport (and doesn’t mind working up a sweat! – that is a rubber mask he was wearing). I think he really enjoyed it too, the notoriety, not the sweating.

On Saturday, Leon and Ron started their day early. Aside from Leon’s first Drawing class, they went to the Boy Scout Jamboree for the day, which being scheduled for Halloween weekend had to of course include a Halloween parade. Unfortunately they missed the parade, but they enjoyed the day none the less.

Happy Birthday BSA!!

When they returned, we got ready for a party at the haunted house across the street. Our friends (who are also our neighbors) go all out on Halloween. The outside of their r home gets totally transformed a week or two before Halloween, and is ever-changing. The house draws a lot of on lookers. This year the theme was a Cannibal Cafe and aside from the typical masked persons scaring the bejeebers out of passerbyers, including one who chases them down the street wielding a real chainsaw (sans blade); they added a new character to the mix. The zombie chef was working up his magic for the crowd, offering up; grilled upper intestines (because the lower ones taste like crap), liver and fava beans, fried fingers, leg of Sam, eyeballs, s.o.s. (shit on a shingle), and “The Exorcist” special. He was a crowd pleaser for sure.

The Spooky House day & night

(click pictures to enlarge)

Sunday, Halloween; was a very long day for sure. We spent the morning preparing for a Pre-Trick-or-Treat Get Together at our home. I planned games for the kids to play for prizes, including the ever popular mummy-wrap game which was a ball. The kids enjoyed a few crafts, some games, some chicken nuggets and cupcakes, and spending time with each other, at about 3ish we set out on our merry way, around the neighborhood. Keeping up with the kids was a task and a half. We managed to hit quite a few houses, some of them more than once, before we made it back.

Trick or Treat!

(click pictures to enlarge)

We had been invited back to the “cafe” across the street to enjoy yet another party because this year they decided to host a party on both nights of Halloween weekend, rather than just their usual one party on Halloween night.

Par-tay!

The second night was by far more crowded and busier than the first night, with both the invited guests and the passing onlookers. The live entertainment was a huge draw. Even Ron got in on it as kids high-fived him and asked to take pictures with him.

Ron enjoying the spotlight

And now I get to suffer the Day After  Halloween Hangover….

                                                                  ….that’s okay I got the cure

CANDY!

I will not play with fire…I will not play with fire…I will no…

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Hoo Boy!! My worst fear is Leon becoming extra ordinarily attracted to fire! It satisfies the need for instant gratification and shows lack of impulse control. Fire is highly attractive to many with ADHD, like a moth to a flame, and just as dangerous.

Last night our little moth got caught up in the flame.

It was my fault completely and I take the blame and the shame that comes with it. I feel like a terrible, terrible mom for letting my guard down, especially since I should have known better.

I had received a beautiful candle from a good friend on Halloween, and I wanted to enjoy it. Being that Leon was contentedly occupied on his computer, I felt it was safe to light it in the living room, after all he was two whole rooms away. My huge mistake was not listening to my first instinct to blowing it out as soon as he went into the livingroom to watch TV. I had planned on doing just that, but he stopped me and very sweetly asked that I leave it on, because he liked the way it made the room feel. He asked me to trust him.

Ah, TRUST. My very mature nearly eight year old child wants me to trust him, I want to trust him, but not only is he a child but he is a child with ADHD. That is a hard one. I believe strongly in letting him develop his independence, so when he asks me to trust him, I want to show him that I believe in him, I want him to feel trusted. But because of his inability to control his impulses without the right parameters in place. Trust is not and should not be doled out unconditionally. Additionally trust is something that is earned and must be maintained. I believe that Leon’s ADHD adds a bit of difficulty to doing that.

He asked me to trust him. Had he earned that trust? The answer is yes. Had he maintained that trust thus far? Still yes. Had I made a huge error in going against my natural instinct to be extremely and overly cautious about trusting him with something like fire in the first place? That is a BIG HELL YEAH!

I let my guard down, that is not to excuse it though, I still own that the mistake was mine.

You see Leon is a very bright boy, he retains information extremely well. Once something has been taught to him, you can be sure he knows it!! But despite that fact, or the fact that he has been to numerous fire safety exhibits, or that he has been taught how to build and maintain a campfire properly and safely in Cub Scouts, as well as by his Dad and Grandpa; I for one have never been comfortable with the idea of a child; let alone my child, my ADHD child at that,  near a flame; campfire, candle, or otherwise. I know that any parent, or non-parent for that matter would feel the same. But the fact that I had to go through life without my father due to a fire, makes me just that much more hyper sensitive to this issue.

Leon has been around quite a few fires in his lifetime, at the campground and with the Cub Scouts. I have seen him get awfully close, but not because he was being careless (quite the opposite really), but because he was given permission too. Not by me, well not at first anyway, but by his Dad (or Grandpa) who felt more strongly that he could be trusted because he had learned all the right things to do as well as what not to do. And because they were watching him carefully. Something that I have just learned is not enough.

Despite my heart beating a mile a minute and my holding my breath every time Leon even neared a campfire; I myself began to let my guard down and trust him as the others did. In fact I even felt a bit of pride at how well he handled himself around fire and at how much he knew about fire safety and prevention.

It was that pride and a small sense of security in knowing that my son knew how dangerous fire has the potential of being, that allowed me to drop my guard and trust him when he asked me to leave the candle on.

Stupid, stupid, stupid!! What the hell was I thinking??? Seriously, I freak out when I find matches or other fire starter within his reach, but I agree to leave an open flame lit with him in the same room? WTF??

I agreed because, before doing so we went over the rules of fire safety, I could watch him and the flame from where I was sitting, and he was clearly advised that he would have to sit on the couch and not go anywhere near it!! I agreed because I hadn’t taken into account that it was already 7pm and his medication had already worn off. I agreed because I let my guard down.

HE HAS ADHD, DAMN IT! NEVER, NEVER LET YOUR GUARD DOWN!!

The result was not disastrous by any means, but it was very scary for all of us. One minute I had looked over to where he was and where the candle was and all was peaceful and the next minute I looked up and the whole candle jar was on fire. I ran over and once I had realized what had happened, I snapped. I started to yell and scream, demanding to know what he did (knowing full well what he had done) while trying to put the fire out in a panic. Ron ran into the room and managed to get it out.

Leon’s immediate response was to deny, deny, deny. To which i called him a liar. Ron put his hand on my shoulder to calm me and it worked. I then calmly told Leon that we were leaving the room for 5 minutes to let him think and when we returned he had better be prepared to tell the truth.

The Truth? He threw a kleenex on top of the flame to make it a little bit bigger.

His immediate consequence was to go to bed early, we told him that we would have to think of a pretty big consequence to match the seriousness of his actions and that we would discuss it in the morning. Before he left for bed he drew a picture of all his favorite things with a circle around them and a line diagonally across and handed it to me. He said “I really don’t want you to, but I think you should take away my favorite things for like a month or maybe 2 weeks”. We told him our decision would be made by morning.

This morning Ron and I informed him that his punishment included No Computer, No Wii, & No DS for 1 week, additionally he was required to complete a different written assignment on each day of his punishment, (today he wrote “I will not play with fire 10 times) and lastly his he has to go to bed 1/2 an hour earlier every night for 1 week.

We turned his drawing into a poster as a reminder. It is the one pictured below. We then got into the car and drove to the local Fire Station and he had a talk with one of the firemen there. I really hope this will make an impact on him. Leon suggested that tomorrow his written assignment should include making a map of our house and developing an emergency escape plan.

I am still very worried. I have been ever since the psychologist who evaluated him told me to be cautious and watch for signs of pyromania as he gets older, as it is common among kids with ADHD as severe as his is.

WHY DID I EVER LET MY GUARD DOWN?????

I now understand why my mom beat the living daylights out of me with a yard stick when I was caught playing with fire!

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11/10/10 EDITED TO ADD: Just to add some clarity to why I am/was so hard on myself and so stricken by this situation  (and to explain why my mom beat the crap out of me); – a few months before my 3rd birthday and just two weeks before my sister was born (2 months prematurely); my father died of smoke inhalation in a fire. The fire ignited after he had fallen asleep in his bed with a lit cigarette, and he was trapped in the apartment, and the smoke got to him before the firemen could.

  FIRE SAFETY IS A BIG DEAL TO US!

Making Accomidations

In my previous post A GOOD START I made mention of a letter I had written requesting certain accommodations to be considered for my son’s 504 plan as well as an introduction letter to the teacher on his first day of school. I received an email shortly after asking me about the details of what I had included in both.

A year ago I could have written that email myself making the same request. When it came to attending our first CSE (Committee for Special Education) meeting a few years back, I had no idea what to expect. I did my homework and looked up various articles explaining the process, and while they were plenty helpful, the one thing I did not find was how to or even what to ask for. All I really wanted was an example to follow. I was at a loss.

Last year, the parent trainer assigned to us by the school suggested I check out FAPE’s Accommodations and Modifications Publication for ideas on what I would want included in Leon’s IAP (Individual Accommodations Plan). It was really great advice. I read through it and pulled from it what I needed and wrote a letter specifying my wishes. I used Leon’s name often and personalized my requests  and then at the end of the letter I included a photos of Leon. I did not want my son to be just another name in a file. I wanted them to know his smile and see the twinkle in his eyes.

When Leon started his first day of 3rd grade i put a copy of my request in an envelope with a letter of introduction to his new teacher.

I remember reading an article somewhere about how to make the first day of school a bit easier on your child; and one suggestion was to write a letter to the teacher introducing yourself and your child, along with some interesting info about your child; their likes, dislikes, hobbies, etc…

I took this advice back when Leon started kindergarten and have been doing it ever since. Not only do I think it helps the teacher to understand Leon, but Leon is a bit more at ease when the teacher acknowledges not just him but something that is of interest to him. He warms up a lot more quickly and is more engaged. I love this idea for any student, but for Leon who has special needs because of his ADHD/ODD and emerging sensory issues, I love it even more. And to make things even more personal I have always added a picture, either one he drew or a photograph of him.

Below is a copy of what I sent Leon to school with on his first day of 3rd grade. It’s very lengthy, and chock full of info. Perhaps too much so but it’s what has worked for me. As far as I am concerned I really believe that when it comes to my son and his issues; the more a teacher knows, the better things will go.

September 7, 2010 

Dear Mrs. L,

 I would like to introduce myself, my name is Jill  and I am Leon’s mother. Leon’s father, Ron, and I look forward to meeting you and working closely with you this school year in an effort to make Leon’s experience in 3rd grade a good one. I wanted to give you a little insight about Leon that you may find useful. It is my hope that this will be helpful to you.

 Leon is a terrific yet challenging child. His mind just works differently than the rest of us. He thinks differently, he sees things differently, he hears things differently, and he does things differently.

 Leon was diagnosed with ADHD-combined in May 2008 and also more recently with ODD (July 2009), I suspect he is also SPD-proprioceptive. Currently we are working together with his pediatric neurologist to stay up to date with the best medication plan for him. At this time he is taking Concerta 54mg in the mornings and Clonodine 0.1mg in the evenings. Side effects you may want to be aware of include dry mouth, headaches, stomach aches, dizziness, drowsiness, anxiety, irritability and blurred vision. Please let me know if you notice any of these side effects.

Leon has a wonderful personality and is so full of life that it bursts out of every pore in his body; he is loving, caring, and sensitive to others. Leon is highly energetic, and is always looking for an adventure, he’s very inquisitive and resourceful. He is curious about everything around him; he’s got an amazing imagination and can be very inventive. He is also full of ideas and loves telling stories. He loves to create and invent ‘stuff’; he is an artist and an inventor. He has a thirst for knowledge and is way too smart for his own good. Leon loves to read and wants to know everything about everything, He’s fun-loving and very expressive. He’ll keep you on your toes and keep you laughing. Leon is also a master negotiator. He will try to talk circles around you. He yearns to please and to be accepted and will go that extra mile (sometimes too far) to get someone’s attention,  He always seems to notice things that others take for granted, he has a great capacity to remember the oddest things (as long as it is ‘not boring’, to him). Leon is an extremely bright child with a mind of his own and he is not afraid to use it. He is the most well-behaved when he is engaged and interested in what he is doing, when his needs are being met with immediacy, and when he is being recognized and praised not only for a job well done but also for his effort.

 I have attached some helpful hints about Leon, as well as; the request that I had submitted to Mrs. N back in June 2010, for specified accommodations and/or modifications to be considered and included in his 504.

 Please contact me at your earliest convenience to arrange a time that we can meet, to discuss a plan for Leon this year.

 Thank You,

Jill

Email:

Tel:

**

Some helpful hints about Leon :

 

Leon does much better in a structured environment. In less structured environments (i.e. gym, lunch, and recess) he tends to lose some control and can give in more easily to his impulses if not frequently redirected. 

Immediate feedback, reward, and praise go a long, long way with Leon, re-enforcing good behavior and his self-esteem. He is very self-critical, which often results in bad behavior or is reflected in his work.

A clear understanding of the consequences for undesired behavior will help Leon stay on task, as will frequent reminders of possible rewards for attaining certain goals.

Leon needs very specific, detailed instructions and rules given to him frequently and step-by-step throughout his task. It helps to have him repeat the instructions back to you, so that you know he heard and understood them.

Checking in with him often and encouraging him while he works will help him stay on task.  He will need reminders to not rush through his work, just as much as he will need reminders to keep working, as he gets distracted and bored very easily,

Leon does yearn to please, so allowing him to participate often and giving him something active to do (i.e. handing out papers or supplies, running an errand to the office, line leader, etc.) can help channel his hyperactivity while improving his self-esteem.

Leon gets very easily frustrated with himself and certain situations, because he has yet to fully master control over his impulses and doesn’t always know why he does the things he does.  It will often be expressed in the form of anger, whining, or tears. Occasionally he lashes out physically at objects around him.

Leon gets very easily overwhelmed when he perceives things to be “too much” (i.e. too many problems on one page, too much homework, too large a mess to clean up, etc.)

Extra time and patience may be required to listen to what Leon has to say.  He is very expressive but it can take a bit longer for him to get his sentence and his thoughts out.  

Reminding him and preparing him in detail for what comes next will give him time to adjust his behavior as needed.  He will need a few reminders of what the desired behavior is.

Leon has quite a bit of difficulty keeping his hands to himself. He does not recognize personal space or social cues. This can create friction with his peers if not re-directed and watched carefully.

Keeping his hands busy with something constructive and keeping a watchful eye on him is key. He often takes things he should not have and uses them inappropriately. (i.e. Scissors to cut his clothing). Keeping such objects out of his reach is important to keeping him out of trouble.

Leon gets extremely hyper-focused. This is quite often a good thing but it is just about equally as much a problem when he hyper-focuses on something negative. He will grab on to something and get stuck in it. Getting him to let go of something he is truly hyper-focused on can take some doing.

Leon is a Terrific Kid with tons of potential to go very far in life! He is deeply loved and has a huge support system behind him all the way.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Revised September 7, 2010

To Whom it may Concern;

 On behalf of our son, Leon, DOB 00/00/00, we are requesting the following accommodations and/or modifications be considered and included into his Section 504 plan for the school year 2010-2011.

 Curriculum:

  • Specify and list exactly what Leon will need to learn and do to pass. (this includes – completing his assignments and taking pride in the work) Review frequently.
  • Allow Leon to work on problems or assignments that are slightly more challenging when he is bored.

 Leon needs to be reminded of where he stands and what is expected of him regularly. He has difficulty with things he finds boring or too easy, conversely he has a fear of failure and therefore is resistant to things that he deems, too hard or overwhelming.

 Books:

  • Provide Leon with, or allow him to bring in reading material that is at or slightly above his reading level to read in between assignments if time allows.
  • If available provide a second set of textbooks for Leon to keep at home.

 Leon is a veracious reader and has an incredible thirst for knowledge. Allowing him to read in between assignments may keep him from disrupting the rest of the class. Leon also often forgets to bring home the appropriate materials to complete assignments.

 Classroom Environment:

  • Give repeated reminders to Leon to keep his work space clear of distractions and unrelated items.
  • Seat him away from windows or doorways, and other distractions
  • Keep extra supplies of classroom materials available, in a separate location (pencils, erasers, paper,etc)
  • Allow for fidgets, to feed his need for movement yet helps to keep him focused (spinner ring, bendaroos, Velcro strip on the underside of his desk)
  • Take away items that are used inappropriately or that become a distraction.

 Leon can be easily distracted when a lot is going on around him. He also has a need to touch and hold things that are within reach. Allowing him, with limitations, to have something to manipulate with his hands gives him a bit more control over himself. Leon should be observed carefully when using scissors, He has a tendency to use them inappropriately (i.e. cutting his clothes, books, folders, etc.)

 Directions:

  • Give clear and precise instructions to Leon in small steps. Remind him not only of what he must do, but also what he must not do. (“Leon do not begin until I have finished giving my directions” or “take out only one pencil”)
  • Have him repeat the directions for a task back to the teacher, aide, or for the whole class.
  • Give reminders to stay on task and check his work.

 Leon has a tendency to shut off (and often walk away) in the middle of what is being said to him. He needs reminders to listen all the way through. Repeating the directions back insures Leon has not put his own spin on what he is supposed to do.

 Time/transitions:

  • Let Leon know that certain tasks require a certain amount of time and should not be rushed through.
  • Remind him to slow down and take his time, to avoid careless mistakes
  • Let him know a few minutes before a transition from one activity to another is about to take place, give several reminders.

 Leon often rushes through everything. He needs repeated reminders to slow down and take his time. Leon also has the tendency to get hyper-focused; in which case transitioning from one task to another becomes a challenge.

 Handwriting:

  • Provide a print copy of assignments or directions written on the board especially for home assignments.
  • Allow use of computer for longer written assignments such as short essays or book reports.
  • Provide visible acknowledgement based on Leon’s progress and effort for handwriting (to be reinforced at home with reward).
  • Allow Leon to rewrite illegible answers, or answer orally for a better grade.
  • Remind Leon to write with pride and care, and not to rush

 Leon rushes through his work, his thoughts come and go quicker then his hands can move. He has the ability to write very clearly, when he takes his time. Leon is motivated by praise and reward.

 Grading:

  • Allow Leon to rewrite illegible answers, or answer orally for a better grade.

 Tests:

  • Provide Leon with reminders to take his time and to recheck his work before handing it in.

 Leon often makes careless mistakes when rushing or overly confident.

 Behavior:

  • Pair Leon with a student who is a good behavior model for class projects.
  • Use nonverbal cues to remind Leon of rule violations
  • Minimize the use of consequences; provide positive reinforcement as well as negative consequences.
  • Increase the frequency and immediacy of reinforcements
  • Develop a reward system that can be carried over in the home as well as at school.
  • Develop a system or code word to let Leon know when his behavior is not appropriate. Allow him to correct himself.
  • Develop interventions for behaviors that are annoying but not deliberate (i.e. the use of fidgets)
  • Be aware of behavior changes that relate to medication or the length of the school day; modify expectations if appropriate.
  • Create a checklist for Leon so he may self regulate and be in control of himself.
  • Remind Leon to speak in a respectful and friendly tone. Praise him for expressing himself appropriately.
  • Remind Leon that he must not chew on inedible items (pencils, staples, clothing, etc)
  • Remind Leon to speak slowly and clearly, and with a friendly tone.

Leon has a strong need to be independent and do things his own way. He responds very well to praise and positive reinforcement that is immediate and frequent. Leon’s emotions run very deep, when they get the best of him he has a very difficult time expressing himself in a tone and or manner that is respectful and appropriate.

 Parent/Teacher Communication:

  • Make use of a daily or weekly communication journal to keep the lines of communication open with parents.
  • Inform Leon’s parents of any allowances or consequences that have changed.
  • Inform parents of any changes in behavior that may be associated with Leon’s medication so adjustments can be made.

 The communication journal allows us to stay informed about Leon’s progress and monitor if his medication is working or needs to change as he gets older. It also gives us a clearer prospective on what behaviors he needs to work on, in school and/or at home.

 Thank you for your time,                   

My son has ADHD, now what? (on our decision to medicate our child)

When I began this journey; this ADHD journey, with my son, I was lost.

I mean, I knew what ADHD was …didn’t I??        

…Did I????

I had a vague idea, or so I thought. But as it turns out, I didn’t know what it was. Not really anyway.

I had heard the term, I had even used it –“ugh, you’re so ADHD, would you control yourself already!”

In the past when I had heard about someone with ADHD I would think to myself – Oh, ADHD?  Really?  Oh okay, so no big deal, right? WRONG!!

Yeah, but it’s not really real; it’s just an excuse parents use when they can’t control their kids, right? WRONG!!

But you can just have to control yourself or take a pill or something, right? WRONG!!

It is a big deal, and it is real, and it is neurological. It isn’t just a term or adjective to be thrown about, and it is not an excuse for bad behavior, and it should not be ignored or played down.

When I sought help for my son, I went in seeking anger management for my 5-year-old, after being told he was too young to have ADHD.

That’s pretty sad though, isn’t it? I mean really…, anger management …for a five-year old?

What does a 5-year-old have to be angry about anyway?

A LOT, apparently, especially when that child is neurologically disabled. There I said it, disabled.

Yes people, ADHD is a neurological disability!  Life with ADHD is not a phase, it is not an excuse, it is not bad parenting, and it is not curable. And it is definitely not easy; not by a long shot. Not for the person who has to live with it; or for the people who have to live with them.

Once we sought professional help, getting the diagnosis for Leon was the easy part. Knowing what to do with it was not.

“My son has ADHD, now what?” Seriously! Now what?  My guess is, that this is the question that plagues every parent that has just found out that their child is not the spawn of Satan, he just has ADHD. That and, “so what does this mean for our child?” and:

Well there’s always that little pill, right? WRONG!! …I mean right. No, I mean wrong, I mean maybe …it depends.

Right now, for us, for our son, it is right. But just because it is right for us, does not make it right for all people who suffer with ADHD.

No one wants to throw medication at a then, 5-year-old without cause or without exhausting all other avenues.  

And we, the doctor included were no different.

I am not the type of person who thinks a pill can solve every problem. In fact I’d like to think I am the opposite especially where my son is concerned. But I’ve had to come to rely on medication for so much. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly side of medication in both myself and in my son. 

Our decision to medicate Leon did not come easy, it took my husband and I several months to finally decide  to try it out, once we felt that there was really no other recourse. And even after extensive research online, in books and magazines and in seeking the advice of several different professionals it was still a very hard decision to make.

The ultimate turning point for us was when my best friend who also happens to be a pediatric RN told us to look at the quality of his life. Will medicating him give him a better quality of life?

And the answer was yes. Before taking his medication he could not function normally at home, in school, or socially with friends. He was constantly struggling to be “good”. He could not stop himself from constantly moving around, staying in his seat was impossible for him. He was always in the spotlight as being the kid in trouble; his self-esteem was so low it was nonexistent. The daily stresses of just trying day after day to control his impulses were more than he could bear. His frustration with himself and the lack of understanding of why, when he so very badly wanted to be good, he just could not; turned to anger and self-hatred. The pain of watching my child, get off the school bus day after day in tears, because he loathed himself so much, is indescribable. So again if taking the right medication was going to stimulate the part of his brain that was misfiring and allow him to function in a way that he could gain more control over himself then yes, yes, yes, it would give him a much better quality of life.

He was a few weeks shy of six years old when he began taking medication regularly. We started very slowly and felt a sense of reassurance knowing that if it didn’t work then we would take him off of it at any time. He is now just a few weeks shy of his 8th birthday, and has been on medication ever since.

Has it helped him? That is a resounding YESSSS!! Is his quality of life better? Ever so much so!!

Is it really just as easy as popping a pill and you’re done with the whole mess? NO WAY!!! NO HOW!!!

This is has been a very bumpy ride; there has been nothing easy about it, least of all, medicating (Leon’s) ADHD. We have gone through 5 different medications up until this point. Some were very effective, until they weren’t any more for no other reasons than his system had become used to it or his growth required higher doses. And some were downright disasters! Disasters to the point of us nearly losing our son as a result of being on a medication that was completely wrong for him. But despite the nightmares we lived through, as a result of that, we would not change our decision to put him on medication. We also will never stop questioning if it continues to be the right choice.

And nothing, NOTHING is ever as easy as just popping a pill. Becoming healthy, being healthy and staying healthy will always require a bit of work. I am a true believer in that, and you will NEVER hear me say that medication alone is what helps my son. ADHD is a constant struggle, and medication is just one of the ways we combat Leon’s ADHD. As his special needs change so will our methods.

A Good Start

 

Half way into October and I am amazed how quickly time has flown, since school started this year back in September.

Looking back at Leon’s first 6 weeks of 3rd grade, I can’t help but smile. I am delighted at how things have gone so far. We have his IAP in place, he has possibly the very best match in a teacher that I could ever hope for, he has come to terms with having a Para following him around all the time, his confidence is up and he’s doing great, and dare I say it? He may actually like school.

I’d never say that to his face of course. He’d deny it all the way up, down and sideways; for sure. But I can honestly say that I have not heard the words “I HATE SCHOOL” in at least 4-5 weeks. And considering it was his daily mantra all last year and every so often over the summer whenever school was mentioned, I’d say that is amazing!

I’d say it’s due to a good combination of things. The first being how much he seems to have grown over the summer. He’s taller, yes, but I am talking about how much he has matured. He turns eight next month and I am just amazed at how grown up he is all of a sudden. The way he talks, the way he carries himself, the way he relates to others, the way he thinks… He is growing up right before my eyes!

Once he was my baby boy snuggled up in my arms, then he became my big boy, holding my hand to cross the street, what comes next?  As much as I want to hold on to his hand until the end of time, I know I’ll have to let go someday. Seeing how mature and wise he is becoming, I know he is well on his way. It makes me so proud and yet so sad at the same time.

I also have to give credit to the school itself. There have been a lot of changes at our school. The usual changes that are imposed on schools, like standardized testing, and the like, of course. But also a lot of changes to what is being offered to the students both academically and socially. Last year our school got a new principle, and if you’ve read any of my previous posts you would be right, if you’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not missing our old principle.  She wasn’t mean or anything, she was just very uptight, and stringent, she was set in her ways and very resistant to …fun and lightheartedness. My one real qualm with her personally was, her suspending Leon from school when he was in 1st grade for managing to get off school property and walk all the way home unsupervised rather than penalize the people responsible for allowing the whole thing to happen in the first place. In the end officials were called and things were rectified, but her poor judgment has forever left a bad taste in my mouth. I still have nightmares about the whole situation. It was a very scary time for us, one that I admit still haunts us all.

Our new principal is a breath of fresh air! She has brought so much change to the school in the year that she has been here. She has made school more enjoyable without sacrificing it academically. Learning has become fun for the kids, parents feel more welcome and are able to be more active in their child’s schooling, and there is a larger sense of community since she has taken on her role as principle. Leon enjoys the extra touches of lightheartedness that she brings to the school. Things like spirit week with crazy hat day, or costume parades on Halloween, or even the start of a student council for which he was eager to try out for. Her incentive programs have touched Leon personally, last year he was “Caught Being Good” twice, and plans to get caught again. And just last week he came home with The Star of the Month certificate, of which he was very proud.  He is enjoying his school so much more now that it has become a fun place to learn.

Add to all this, a terrific teacher, and Leon can’t help but LIKE school. Again I wouldn’t press him on that, but when asked about his teacher he will out-and-out tell you “She’s nice, I like her”. For him to think it and feel it is one thing but for him to actually say it, that’s quite another. His standard responses to most questions about how he likes something or someone are usually a very indifferent “it’s okay” or “fine” type of answer. I have to say though I very much agree with him!!!

Leon’s first day of school always brings out a teeter-tottering of emotions and nervousness in me, but for some reason his starting 3rd grade was especially nerve-racking. I guess it’s because everyone always talks about how hard school becomes in third grade. More is expected from students, responsibilities get larger, homework assignments take longer, more activities; like chorus and orchestra take up more of their precious time. Life for a third grader gets a bit more demanding.

Demanding…. Now that’s not something that fits well into the life of an ODD/ADHD child. Demanding, is something that Leon’s teacher is not! Accommodating, nurturing, open minded and open-hearted, those are words that I would use to describe her teaching style.

I was so nervous about Leon starting 3rd grade that I sent him to school on his first day with a big fat envelope stuffed with 5 type written pages about Leon. Yea…I know it’s a little much. The envelope contained a letter from me introducing myself and Leon, along with a page of helpful motivators and techniques we use with Leon to help him stay in check and last but not least a copy of the accommodations that I wanted included in his 504 IAP. Of course when I sent all of that in with him on the very first day of school, I was worried about what she would think; would she be receptive… would she resent being bombarded on the first day?  I didn’t know how it would be received!  

I was very, very pleasantly surprised!  She was very receptive.  Not only did she respond in a letter, (a real letter, not a just a short note), but she also called me in the evening from her home. That definitely earned some big time points with me. She took time out of her own day to reassure me about my child. Awesome!

I met her in person at the school’s open house; in which she took even more time with both Ron & I, one-on-one, to sit down for close to an hour to discuss a plan for Leon. I was blown away. And I left there so reassured.

Nothing has changed since then. I still love his teacher, his principle, his school, and of course my kid!

And dare I say it one more time?  …I think Leon may actually LIKE school! 

But shhh… don’t tell him, it’s a secret!

Scratch That!

I think it was about 7am-ish when Leon pounced on our bed and announced that it was time to get up. I am not too sure though because I was DEAD ASLEEP. I heard him, I even saw him through squinted eyes. I heard Ron say something about the TV. And then ZZzzzzzz!
It was close to 9 o’clock when Leon pounced again. The TV timer kicked in and turned off the TV (a tool we use to get Leon to the school bus on time). He need us to enter the password so he could finish watching his show.
I pad into the livingroom and through squinted eyes I fumble with the remote. Everything is all blurry. I forgot my glasses. I go get them and return. As my eyesight returns my gaze falls to the coffee table.
The words come booming out from my lips “GET TO YOUR ROOM THIS INSTANCE BUSTER!! YOU ARE IN BIG TROUBLE!!!”.
This is what I saw:  

Yes! He did use that ROCK to CARVE his name into the coffee table!

 

I plop down on the couch in disbelief only to stick my hand in something cold, wet, and slimy.
Ugh! Jello!
I take a quick look around…. there!….. there is the half eaten cup of red Jello.  

But wait, this is green jello?!  

Look! there’s some orange Jello too!  

I look around.  

Hmm, nothing, no sign of any other containers.  

I scan the floor…  

OMG! Between the couch and under the table…  

This is what I find:  

  

  

That’s 3 Jello, 2 pretzels, 2 Capri Suns, and several chocolates  

…and now he is grounded to his room for the day.  

   

Lesson of the day:  

Do not leave your ADHD/ODD child his own devices in the morning for any length of time without the aid of his medication!!

Cleaning my plate – part 3 ~Chaos!~

….continued from Cleaning my plate – part 2 

I have another appointment with my doctor in two weeks to discuss how things are going with the Lyrica. Hopefully all will be well and I can go ahead with my next concern, which is Adult ADHD. I really want to get a handle on it. I think the combo of ADHD and Fibro is really throwing me for a loop. And the fact that I am getting older isn’t helping either. It was pointed out to me by someone who has been diagnosed and is in treatment for Adult ADHD that, as women age, our hormone levels start to change and it effects our brain chemistry in such a way that the coping mechanisms that we’d developed through the years to help us adjust to life with ADD start to fail.

That was like another A-HA moment for me.

Given the bad winter and the constant fibro flare-ups I put a lot of blame in that direction, but the facts just maybe that ADHD is also to blame for these feelings of being broken and life falling apart on me all the time. I feel like this whole clean your plate thing is my way of getting my life back in order.

I am not the type of person who thinks a pill can solve every problem. But I’ve had to come to rely on medication for so much. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly side of medication in both myself and in my son. And when it comes to medication for ADHD, I’ve seen it work wonders for Leon. So that is the direction I want to take in treating my (so far self-diagnosed) ADHD.

 
 
Took a quiz and this was my result:
Serious ADHD Likely!
 

Of course I have developed a coping system over the years but lately I feel that it has broken down, so maybe there is something to the whole changing hormones/brain chemistry thing. 

In the meantime though, as I said I am looking to find new ways of dealing with what life throws at me so that I can make, not just my life: but my family’s (Leon’s in particular) lives more manageable and organized.

Structure is key for people with ADHD, I know I function much better with structure in my life, and so does Leon. I haven’t been able to give that to Leon lately, because I haven’t had it myself as of late.

Some of the things that need working on include:

Getting rid of the C.H.A.O.S …..aka Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome (cute huh – I borrowed that from Flylady.net). My house is always such a complete disaster that I am too embarrassed to ever have anyone over. And that includes playdates for Leon.

When he asks for a playdate, I really hate to say no, especially since it is pretty much a basic necessity for him given his need to improve his social skills. I hate it even more that my reason for saying no is because the house is a mess.

Clutter is a major cause of all the chaos in the house. We just have too much “stuff”. A lot of it we don’t need or even have room for.

I am always behind on paperwork, there is piles of it all over the place; a lot of which are projects I intend to get to,but don’t have the time for. Like scrap-booking my last 3 Disney vacations, digitally; or the plans I have to make a behavioral chart for Leon; or the binder of Leon’s ADHD/ODD Medical and Behavioral History. Much of this stuff ends up getting moved to boxes, that I refuse to put in the basement for fear I will forget about them.

I am also suffering from packus-ratus, I save EVERYTHING! Like memorabilia, collectors items, Tchotchkes, sentimental items, even empty boxes 😕 . unfortunately it is a trait that I have passed on to Leon. He has a collection of collections. They include; Thomas trains, Pixar CARS, Pokémon cards, Club Penguin Cards, Silly Bandz, Bakugan, Rocks, Snapple Caps, Magazines, Stitch toys, Tags, Gift Cards, Star Wars Lego’s, and yes, he also collects empty boxes and containers.

Then there’s the fact that it looks like a whole daycare center threw up all over my house.  All the baby items, (from clothes, to high chair, to bouncers and toys) that I had packed neatly away in the hopes of having a second child, can now be found in nearly every room in the house for use with my niece Kiera and my girlfriend’s baby, Nico; whom I babysit everyday.

I am sure I’ve said it before, but after a whole day of keeping the kids happy and busy while cleaning up after them all day, I am just way too exhausted by the end of the day to get everything picked up and put away properly. The end of my day is around 4pm when, all at once my son gets off the bus, yelling something about wanting a playdate, as he dashes by me to get his homework over with so he can move on to better things; while both my sister and my friend come simultaneously to gather up their kids and all that goes with them. I’ve got people coming and I’ve got people going and for some bizarre reason it is also the time of day that I get phone calls, usually from someone whose just wanting to chat (RON!). It is a very chaotic time of day. I just get soooo frazzled.

I just hate that feeling, and I am sure I am failing at trying to keep my composure for Leon, who should and needs to be able to come home to a calm, clutter-free, organized enviroment for him to be able to concentrate and complete his homework and shed the stress of always having to be “on” at school. 

My goal is to get rid of all the unnecessary stuff. And I’ve already started…

….more coming in Cleaning my plate – part 4

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