by Heather Eagar
Before my son was diagnosed with ADHD I thought, “How can they diagnose kids with ADHD? Of course they are active…they’re kids!”
There is truth in that. Kids are active. But ADHD goes beyond being active.
My seven-year-old son is a very active, very creative boy. But because my son’s attention was so poor in his kindergarten class last year, I have ended up homeschooling him for first grade. In school he would be so easily distracted, he had no idea what was going on most of the time. And because he also has anxiety, he wouldn’t raise his hand to ask for help.
I thought that giving him 1:1 attention at home would help him. And you know what I discovered? That unless there is some big motivation, it can take an entire day to get a little bit of school done. He’ll get through one math problem, then start drawing a picture of a bear on the back of the paper. Or he’ll get an idea for an awesome new invention and will race away to go build it. I’m trying to help him learn to finish the task he started before starting something new, but I love that he has so many creative ideas.
This has led me to a conclusion. My son needs to be able to use his creative energy. He needs to be able to draw and build and create. He loves learning and will ask me to read him books about subjects that interest him. And if I let go of the control of him needing to sit when I want him to sit, he is able to use his amazing brain to do amazing things, and then usually lets me know when he’s ready to do his schoolwork. (Mostly because he can’t do video games/watch T.V. until it’s done)
But not every parent has the option, or the desire, to homeschool. It takes a lot of time, patience, and can be very wearing at times. And frankly, sometimes, I just want my own space. And I don’t get much of that (I also have a three-year-old daughter).
My point is that every child is different. What is right for my kid, won’t be right for yours. And we can’t judge. But there are options to help both you and your child determine what is best for your situation.
- Talk to other Parents
This has been the number one thing for me. I have an aunt whose kids are a little older than mine and has done extensive research to help her kids with ADHD. Without her, I wouldn’t have learned about the role that occupational therapists play in helping kids with ADHD. They can help kids get the sensory inputs they need, which in turn helps them to calm, focus, and sleep better. I haven’t been able to implement this yet, but am working on it. Talk to other parents and learn from their experiences.
- Research Different Schooling Options
It is amazing the various schooling options now available. I actually do a distance-ed program through a charter school where my son goes to school one day a week, then they provide the curriculum I choose to use for the rest of the week. It has been awesome. But there are so many different kinds of charter schools, that if your current public school isn’t giving your child what they need, there are other options. I’d love to get my son in one that is based on Waldorf or Montessori principles. But even with those, you have to make sure it is right for you. Do your research.
- Utilize Online Resources
Visiting parenting websites like this one is a great step in the right direction. There are also other websites specifically geared towards ADHD. Additudemag is a fantastic resource, as well as www.chadd.org. There are many others if you do a quick google search.
Another unfair judgement I have always made is that young kids shouldn’t be given medication for things like ADHD. But this year I have seriously considered it more than once. I still believe that medication in general is over-prescribed and I have not chosen to go that path yet. But that doesn’t mean it would be a wrong decision, or that he won’t need it in the future. If you feel your child needs more than behavioral intervention, talk to your doctor.
Get the support you need.
You aren’t alone!