Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Opening up, Part II

Thank you to all that called and/or responded to my previous post.  The initial period of panic and grief has subsided and things are back to normal... with an added mindfulness of needing to be more proactive in our parenting.

Since those couple of bad days a week or so ago, things have been much better at school.  Brennan has been incentivized to be more conscientious of his actions and he's been coming home quite happy and pleased with himself for not needing any reminders at school.  When asked how recess was he's answered several times that he "played with his friends" and had fun.

In the end, I'd say the problems are still there - the impulsivity, immaturity and lack of focus will continue to be challenges for him, and there are some kids who will just not appreciate Brennan in general.  But he does find friends to play with and he's not completely rejected by his peers so it's not as bad as it seemed or could be.

For now I'm considering the different options - whether to wait for the assessment from the pediatric therapy professionals or seek an assessment from the school district.  When one of those takes place I can then see what the next step is and try to go from there.

Because my initial research and thoughts amount to such a large and distinctive topic, I think I will start a new blog where I can share things related to it without clogging up the "family" blog.  There, I just started one at  And in the process, I just found some other blogs with helpful tips and info I can hopefully mooch. :-)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Opening Up

 ***** Written 2 days ago *****

I'm going through one of the hardest parenting phases ever.  The phase where you are worried sick about the welfare of your child.  I just don't know what to do, how to help him be the success that I so desire him to become.

Brennan has always had some quarks which set him apart from his peers.  The high voice, the walking on his tip-toes, the extremely low tolerance for anything possibly disappointing.  These are things I've hoped and watched for him to outgrow.  When he started kindergarten these things became more noticeable compared to his friends, but by the middle of 1st grade now it's starting to really cause a rift.  A couple of months ago his teacher called me in for a conference after spending months trying to put a finger on how to describe Brennan's behavior.  Sure, he had trouble sitting still or following directions, but even more than the other children in the class.  His teacher explained to me that she had always thought ADHD was kind of fake.  The - "oh for goodness sakes, they're just children; they just ARE wiggly and unfocused" - attitude.  But then she attended a teacher's conference where an expert in the field talked about the disorder.  Not only did Brennan's teacher think of him immediately, but she learned that without intervention there can be some undesirable consequences.  Thus our meeting.  She explained to me examples of things Brennan does that seem to hit the criteria.  Some of these examples referred to the rest of the classmate's responses, which gave me the impression that they're sometimes frustrated by his behavior (they have to wait because he ran off ahead instead of listening to the directions, they're concerned by his crying outbursts, etc.).  The things that his teacher mentioned rang true to me.  I've never wanted to officially think he's got ADD/ADHD because I know that it's over-diagnosed and didn't want to fall into that category or not be taken seriously.  Nevertheless, he DOES exemplify most of the characteristics.

Every so often I try to subtly get a feel for Brennan's social situation.  If I ask who he plays with at recess he'll often respond, "nobody" or "I tried to play with so-and-so but they said no" or things like that.  And he's told me "So-and-so doesn't like me".  Yesterday I helped him write his Valentine's Cards. For several names that came up he mentioned the same thing.  It started to really break my heart.  To hear your own child tell you in all seriousness that nobody likes them (because they've been told so by their classmates) is one of the worst things to bare.

Today he came home with another note from the office.  Apparently he was wandering around the halls during class time.  He had no explanation.  He didn't know why he did it.  The note said he's been reminded many times recently that he needs to be doing what the rest of the class is doing.  Impulsivity is a problem.

****** Today *******

I started bawling today after receiving an email from Brennan's teacher.  He got in trouble for inappropriate behavior - behavior which he'd been reminded not to do before, apparently.  His teacher never says directly, but from her words I get the impression that Brennan is not really excepted by his peers.  That's apparently a common problem for children with ADHD.

"Dr. Linda Sonna, psychologist and author of The Parent’s Guide to Children with ADD/ADHD explains that the ADHD behaviors can be very off-putting to peers. The distractibility, difficulties staying on task, interrupting, loudness, fidgeting, poor spatial boundaries, and overall hyperactive behaviors tend to create problems."

 "Friendships play an important role in a child’s development. Unfortunately, for a child with ADHD who struggles with social skills, impulse control, a short attention span, difficulties with self-regulation, moodiness, disruptive behaviors, disorganization and other issues that can strain a relationship, friendships may be few and far between. This can lead to increased feelings of loneliness and isolation.... Children with ADHD often struggle with peer acceptance."

The descriptions both of behaviors and consequences all totally apply to Brennan.  My heart hurts so bad.  How can I help my son?  How can I avoid these heart-wrenching social situations which I fear may just get worse as his classmates mature even more?

Last December his physician referred him for an assessment.  I called yesterday for a status inquiry and was told the first place has "refused to see him" and the second place is waiting for insurance approval.  I hope it goes through soon.  I deeply need advise because things feel they're just falling apart at school.  I have considered Homeschooling since before I had any children.  I'm torn between feelings that the school system won't do enough for him, and feelings that I won't either.  I know that structure, repetition, and routines are super important for children with ADHD, and these are not things I'm very good at.  At least not in an educational way.  I don't know.  I'm definitely nowhere near ready to start it now.  I'd been thinking that I'd start this next fall, but besides the regular self-doubt involved with starting to homeschool, I'm concerned about how to homeschool HIM: someone who needs one-on-one attention and lots of hand-on learning, and frequent (read=constant) help to stay focused and on track.  How do I do that while caring for other children and getting stuff done around the house and squeezing in errands?  I wish I could afford to send him to a private tutor to do it for me :-).


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Attempt #... 100 (Give or take a million)

One of the fun aspects of parenthood, I think, is the initiating and tweaking of ideas and techniques for caring for your home and children.  There are limitless ideas for every teeny-tiny aspect, and yet it's kind of nice to evaluate how your techniques are working and sometimes try out new ones or give small adjustments.

It took me years of attempting to implement Flylady's "load a day" laundry system before it finally clicked as a routine.  It happened to coincide with including the boys in the putting-away process, and though we don't do it "perfectly," it gets the job done. (hee hee)  I've tried several different techniques for having the boys put their clothes away.  At first, since it was before full-day school, we used to do it first thing after waking up.  I'd sit in the hallway and parcel out the clothes while folding the adult ones.  When I had Hollyn that put a kink in the routine though.  A previous technique had been to put kid clothes into a bucket which Brennan carried upstiars, but the boys' clothes outgrew it so I moved on.

Last night I found 3 empty baskets which have been hanging around trying to find a good job.  They've been unsuccessfully designated as baskets for "things going upstairs" or "things going downstairs" or "toys" or whatever.  Anyway, last night I grabbed them and used one for each child to have their OWN basket of laundry to put away.  Because I'd thrown random toys and books into the laundry basket previously, I ended up dividing those things up and placing them into the baskets too.  Light bulb!  This brings me to my newest tweak.  It's pretty basic.  Each boy has their own basket.  I will put their clean clothes plus anything else of theirs or that belongs in their room into said baskets and they'll be in charge of emptying it before going to bed.  To make it more official, I grabbed some paint and labeled the baskets. :-)

What I love about this is that it will also hopefully help with the issue of living room clean-up which has previously eluded us.  I haven't found a consistent strategy there yet.  Not for lack of trying many, many of them though.  Anyway, I'm excited to try out this catch-all basket idea.  I think it's good for our current situation, where both boys are old enough to do it, and the baby is too young to be contributing that kind of mess.  (The hard part is that young age when they're messy but not old enough to carry everything back upstairs.)

What kinds of things do you do for laundry and toy clean-up?  Does it work intermittently, pretty well, or super amazing?