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 :-).



Ryan & Janna said...

I'm sorry. I've watched a nephew struggle with Asperger's Syndrome, it is heart breaking. I hope you find something helpful soon. I'll keep you and him in my prayers. You're a great mom!

Devon Parmenter said...

Heather, I think it would be a good idea to meet with my mother-in-law. Her first son was diagnosed with ADHD. She also has experience with homeschooling. And because she is a communication coach mainly focusing on personality types, she can help you organize based on your personal strength and limitations. She is a ball of information, and I think meeting with her and hearing some insights from her would be WELL worth it. Let me know if you want her contact information. I think she would be a big help.