A Beating A Day, Keeps Disablility Away

DO you find this title offensive? Good! It is.

How many of us with ADD/ADHD kids have left a conversation soaked in the vomit of horrible parenting advice?

What he REALLY needs is a few welts with a leather belt, that’ll straighten him up

I would NEVER let my child act that way

He OBVIOUSLY needs more discipline

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This foul upchuck has decorated my perfectly lovely attire on more occasions that I can count, leaving its putrid scent on every part of my conscious. Well-meaning advice- as it is commonly called- is nothing more than an offensive barrage of insults aimed like a sniper rifle, at the parent; me.

In its simplest form, I call it ignorance. Webster defines Ignorance asa lack of knowledge, understanding, or education: the state of being ignorant”

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Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. If you are a janitor, do you give your surgeon lessons before undergoing an operation?
  2. If you are a dentist, do you tell the mechanic how to repair your car when it breaks down?
  3. If you are a stay home mom, would you show up on a construction site and make suggestions on the proper wood to use or how to lay a slab?

Chances are the answer is no. When you are not experienced in something, you are ignorant. I am not an Oncologist, I cannot treat a cancer patient. I am ignorant.

So why is it, that it seems perfectly acceptable for ignorant people, with otherwise decent intentions, to do exactly that; to storm parents with destructive criticism in the form of advice? The short answer:      IT IS NOT!

As a parent we are perfectly within our rights to deny, revoke and rebuke these kids of destructive, forcible suggestions! It has taken me 7 years to get to this realization, and I owe my son an apology for every time I blindly followed this kind of horrid advice, and he paid the price for it.thCAS37RRM

I’ve swallowed the rotten words of people who aggressively tried to coerce me into believing that my son needed more extreme discipline, harsher punishments and stronger limits. These types of advice act like an ice pick, gouging out chunks of the parent’s spirit, self-esteem, confidence and hope. How dare they!? Now of course I am not speaking out against discipline, structure, routine or punishments, these things are crucial for children. What I am speaking against is the overuse of harsh discipline as a “fix” for children with disabilities. In the same way you would never expect a spanking to cure someone with autism, it is no more effective in “fixing” a child with ADD/ADHD. These children need our HELP not our RATH! They are struggling just as we are, to understand themselves, to hold onto their self image in a world tearing it apart day after day, and they WANT to be good. ADD/ADHD minds work fast, and are wired uniquely, they need unique techniques to thrive. The discipline tactics used in history may not have all been flawed, but in today’s society I see an enormous increase in alarming adult behaviors that may have stemmed from the parenting choices they were subjected to. Consider the number of adults who habitually  resort to anger, bullying, hostility and fighting as a response to stressful situations? My guess is these adults came from homes where the main sources of discipline were fear and intimidation. I dont want that passed down to my children. I want their moral compass to come from within themselves not forced upon them by outside forces of fear and anger masquerading as “respect.” I want better! Dont you?

The expression “stay in your lane” never seemed more appropriate than in this context. If you are heavy under the weight of advice that does NOT come from someone experienced in raising a child with ADD/ADHD, or a place of positive encouragement, YOU DO NOT have to accept the offered advice.

It takes some time to build up the defenses we need, the heart of advocacy for our children, and the confidence to use the voice we have, but we must not relent!

If you are bombarded with advice that your gut tells you is wrong for your child, it is OK to stand against it!

You are a capable and wise parent! You are amazing! Did you forget? You have been equipped to raise the children gifted to you! It may not feel that way often, but the truth and the moment are not the same. The moment says “I can’t do this, I have failed, fallen short and feel incapable” but the truth says “I will find a way, I will keep pushing and I will succeed”.

 

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The Other “C” Word

The power of a word rests in the weight we give it. Some words are considered extremely powerful, some words offend, some inspire. Still others bend and contort to change according to their environment. Words like love and hate make declarations of passion, while words like life and death convey a coming certainty. Every word can be broken down into a simple combination of letters, strung together to create a sound. Then, one word, on any given day, can change everything. Cancer.

Did you feel that? Chances are, you felt the gravity of that word.

For years that word has echoed around you, playing its benign song in and around your world, always giving just enough space not to invade your comfort. Then one day it comes barreling out of a black tunnel aimed at you. With a savage howl it hits you, pierces through you, and leaves you crumbled in its wake.

His name was John. Cancer took him.

One day the word Cancer took center stage, with only a short performance in mind. Three weeks later the word funeral replaced it, the show was over. Cancer is a greedy word, and it wasn’t done yet.

John’s younger brother was Josh. Cancer took him too. This time Cancer stuck around for more performances, granted a few encores, and when it had the audience on their feet, the curtain came down hard.

When the fog lifted, two brothers were gone. Swallowed by the blackness of the word Cancer.

Then I saw it. Like the ripple left in the water after it has been touched. Like a scent in the air that lingers. Like warmth of a hug long after its embrace. LOVE.

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Love is the greatest of words. Love covers, cleanses, heals, refreshes, inspires, and comforts. When the dark of the world succeeds in defeating the flesh, love comes to light the way out. Love endures beyond the grave, beyond the pain, beyond the loss. Love has this power even when we don’t realize it.thCA9289YC

It may not be possible to remove the fear and suffering from words like Cancer, but we can choose to give more life to words that lift and strengthen us.

Consider the power of your words. How do you speak to the ones you love? What words in your life have you given power to destroy you or others? Could you take back that power and use it to encourage? Could you cover more darkness with the light of love? We shoulder the responsibility of our words. We are individually responsible for our usage of these simple words. Your words will define you and remain long after you are gone. Your words will be your legacy. Be wise in using them.

Yoga for ADD/ADHD

Reach up high for the warmth of the sun, and pull it down. Put it right into your belly anytime you need it, you are amazing and very smart”.

T hears this first thing in the morning as he follows along with his Yoga Kids DVD.

Yes, my hyper-active, wildly imaginative, creative, talkative, loud and silly child does yoga! I won’t lie to you and say he does it with 100% accuracy and enthusiasm every day, or tell you that I don’t sometimes have to prod him like cattle to get him to even try. What I will tell you, is that it changed things for us!

               I was always a bit turned off by yoga as a concept. Normally, when my mind is made up about something, there is little to no hope of that changing, but luckily for us, yoga was an exception to that rule. It seemed so pretentious to me, with its own clothing style and sweaty, headband wearing, bandwagon followers stretching and contorting themselves into pretzel knots. I’m fairly certain I have wrinkles from the face I made anytime I saw someone who was clearly a “YOGI”. A sneer and an exaggerated eye roll was standard procedure…. And then there was T.

T needed change. T needed hope. Hell, I needed hope!

When a co-worker and nurse suggested Yoga as an ADD/ADHD treatment, I politely scoffed, gave my list of reasons why that would never work for him, and thanked her for her suggestion. Later that week I had a change of heart. I realized I was denying T the opportunity to experiment because of my own illogical, unreasonable dislike of something I, myself, had never tried. I conceded and made a trip to Barnes & Noble where I bought a 2-disc DVD set. YOGA KIDS with Marsha Wenig. I had taken the first leap into the world of YOGA.

If I was going to do this, I was going to go all in! We would do it together.

The first DVD titled ABC’s claimed to be aimed at kids 3-6 years old. Surely it would be a breeze for me. I enlisted the support of my older two children, who agreed to participate in support of their brother. This was turning into a family affair, how wonderful!

5 minutes later there is an 8 year old panting, lying defeated on the mat, a 10 year old with gritted teeth and one leg shaking in the air, a 6 year old with both feet and hands on the mat and bottom in the air, and me. I was near death. I couldn’t breathe, my arms felt 200 lbs each, and my legs just did not bend the way they were supposed to. Ages 3-6.

YOGA No

Thankfully in our bloodline, quitting is not an option. DVD 2 Silly to Calm began. We started by Shaking the sillies out, dancing and pausing to the beat of the music, and “untying the knots” of our joints from head to toe. By the end of this DVD, T was doing something remarkable! As I laid in silence listening to my breathing, watching calm deep breaths rise and fall in my chest I noticed something; silence. How long ago had he left the room? Did I really just do 30 minutes of yoga for babies alone? Was I that easily amused? I looked to my left, where he was supposed to be, and in his place was this calm, almost motionless, silent child who was breathing and watching his chest rise and fall with his breath. My T had gone from silly to calm. I couldn’t believe it.

That was the moment I gave in. Yoga was welcome in our home, in fact if Yoga tried to leave I would have grasped desperately at its pant-leg, planted my heels in the ground and begged it to stay!

I have to admit, I have grown to love and respect this strange, and surprisingly difficult exercise. T still does yoga as often as I can fit it into our routine. Some days he participates better than others, but I’ve come to realize that even partial participation counts.

After 1 week with yoga twice a day T’s behavior in school skyrocketed! He was earning A’s and B’s in conduct and he was proud of himself!

So let them laugh at me. Let them snicker and sneer in my direction when I’m walking out of the sporting goods store with a new Yoga mat, Yoga shorts and a big inflated yellow ball. Let them laugh at me when I fall from my not so graceful warrior pose, or knock the wind out of myself attempting a head-stand that turns into a surprise front flip. Let them laugh at me. Because I’m laughing too! I laugh when I see that amazing boy of mine concentrating on his balance, or his breathing. I laugh when I walk into the room and the peaceful silence washes over me. I laugh when he quotes the DVDs word for word because he’s done them so many times. I laugh because I’m thrilled. T has gained something immeasurable that truly helps him, and I get to feel proud of myself as his mom. That is amazing!

Yoga Silly To calm
T is the North arrow on the compass.

Where can you improve this year?

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We all have areas of life that we’d like to improve upon. If you can’t think of any area in your life that could use a little upgrading, chances are you have passed your alcohol limit for the day and should sober up and come back later!

When we stop looking for areas to improve, we stop growing. Take a look at that plant you never water, see how it stopped growing and turned brown and sad-looking? Yea,  It’s dead. When you stop nurturing new growth, you stop growing, when you stop growing, you die. Maybe not literally, but really, if you’re reading my blog and taking much of it seriously, you’ll be wanting to have me committed, and I am far too busy to learn how to escape from a straight jacket.

So, where do we begin? How’s your romantic life? How have you felt as a parent lately? What does your home FEEL like today? How scared are you of your balance at the bank?

Lets face it, we struggle in all of these areas in cycles don’t we?

This week my house is slightly cleaner than it was last week, but mostly because I’m hiding 4 baskets of clean, unfolded laundry behind closed doors! All we can strive for is perfection right? WRONG! We strive for daily successes, small victories and big miracles. And we do it all again tomorrow. We can all improve, but we wont get into a mindset of growth by crying about today’s struggles. Struggle proudly! Keep moving, and Improving. You are amazing!

Red means STOP!

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Making changes to your ADD/ADHD child’s diet can significantly improve symptoms and MOODS!

Red 40. This means war! Remember in school during a fire drill when you were taught to STOP, DROP, and ROLL? Little did you know that those drills were preparing your for the Battle of Red 40! It’s a grueling war so be prepared for losses and casualties! Red 40 is a vicious little devil hiding in many of the foods we eat. When you first start checking labels, taking this monumental step for your ADD/ADHD loved one, you’ll notice a feeling of utter panic! Stop! Drop the box of Lasagna, and Roll away from the danger! Whew! You were almost hit! After a few near misses you’ll find yourself amazed at the number of familiar foods harboring this dangerous criminal! Oh red 40 you are a pushy little bastard aren’t you?

Don’t give up! You can win this! Take a breath. Think. Here we go!

The FDA considers Red 40 a safe artificial food additive. It adds coloring to many of the foods we eat often. No, it’s not secretly made of toxic waste. No, you won’t turn into a mutant turtle and gain ninja skills. Sorry. It’s just color.

Now, we all know that our children with ADD/ADHD have differently wired brains right? So it’s not very hard to imagine that while Red 40 may make absolutely no difference in our lives, it could very well be harmful for them.

If you are one of those lucky humans who has that elusive thing called “Free-time”, please take a trip to your nearest grocery store and read a few labels, just for fun. For the rest of us, let’s just start with our usual hectic, expensive, exhausting grocery trips. In between correcting the kids for touching everything, and refusing to buy the 4,367 items they ask for, read a label or two. RED 40! RED 40! Oh my! That was a close call! It’s a battle field out there! Get your armor on, and get back in there!

A little creativity goes a long way. Boxed meals are often harboring the enemy. There are usually simple, healthy and dye-free alternatives to boxed food items. Hamburger helper for example, can be easily replicated (my kids couldn’t tell the difference) with egg noodles, cheese sauces that don’t contain Red 40, and a dash of salt and pepper. Just because your tongue’s spoiled pallet needs the flavor level to be set to HIGH, doesn’t mean kids do. Give it a try!

Fruit juices are a minefield! If the grocery store didn’t scare you before, it should by now! But now is not the time for panicking. Save that for when your mother-in-law is coming for a visit!

Water. I’m not sure when we were taught that our kids needed juice. Juice is not necessary. Its tasty, it’s refreshing and most of us believe that it has vitamins and minerals and makes us healthier, BUT, in most cases, that isn’t the reality. While fruit juices DO have some of the nutrients we need, the truth is most juices are packed with sugar, dyes, artificial flavors and preservatives that can do more harm than good with ADD/ADHD kids. You want the benefits of apple juice? Get apples! Then check the label and get water!

 

I can’t promise you that your child with have a life changing transformation after removing Red 40 from his/her diet. What I can tell you is that it CAN help. It IS worth the trouble, and it DOES get easier.

You are a great parent! I know that because you are taking the time to learn and change for your child, just by reading this. So take a moment and be proud of yourself! You came this far, keep going!

Remember the enemy is everywhere, so be alert! Beg, steal or borrow some creativity in food replacement options and see what happens. There is no failure here! There is only trial and error and improvement, and YOU ARE AN AMAZING PARENT!

The good in being unprepared

He counts everything. He listens to conversations he shouldn’t hear. He debates most of what is said to him.

T was noticeably different from my other 2 children from the day he was born. I just didn’t know it then. His need for affection was apparent by day 3 of his life. He needed to feel my touch, constantly. He held my hair when skin was not available to him. I was not prepared for him.

unprepared
Say it with me

 

By age 2, he was a storm. He rattled the windows of my life. Ever craving, he grew to aggressive levels of affection. Little arms tried to strangle with every intense hug. Little mouth pressed powerfully against my cheeks. Little legs ran as soon as they could walk and wrapped themselves around mine, as I tried to walk past him. Little Storm T was a whirlwind. A beautiful, happy, loving wind that whipped around my face and danced at my legs day after day. I was not prepared for him.

I was not prepared for the sleepless nights that came with him. The first 9 months of nursing him meant being up every 2-3 hours, without fail. I was not prepared for the day he chose table food over breast milk. I was not prepared for the health issues he would have when he was 4, and his tonsils began to grow and block his airways. I was not prepared to sleep with my hand on his chest, shaking him when his breathing stopped, 10 or more times a night for 2 months. I was not prepared to kiss him goodbye when the doctors said it was time, and they wheeled him away for surgery.

I was not prepared for the ADHD diagnosis in Kindergarten.

I was not prepared for his level of intelligence.

I was not prepared to change everything for him and then change everything again

This is my life with my son T. I am not prepared, and that’s ok. I have never been prepared for this child, and it has taken me 7 years to realize the benefits of not being prepared.

T brought me back to life the day he was born and has kept me alive every day since. T is incredible. He has been the reason behind my doubts, my fears, my triumphs and my feelings of failure for 7 years, 2 months and 20 days. He is no more or less than any other child is to their parents, he is his own kind of perfect.

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Not being prepared for him protected me from being afraid of him. Not being prepared kept me from over analyzing each step on this journey. Not being prepared for him makes life interesting, fast-paced and exciting.

Were you prepared for your children? Did they seem to fit effortlessly into the space you laid out for them? I had this feeling of fitting with my first 2 children. Round hole-round peg. Square hole-square peg. Then came T.

Round hole- unicorn.

Plan B?
Plan R, S, T, U and V sometimes

 

Being a parent is not a job! Parenting cannot be experienced via books or research. It is an ongoing learning lifestyle that needs room to bend, structure itself and re-structure itself. If you find yourself today a manic mom, a doubting dad, or calling yourself a failure, be glad! Your failures are where the learning begins. You are capable, strong and in control. Accept your children for who God created them to be, love them despite all of their needs and lacking and fight for them as a raging army against the destruction of their precious and enormous little hearts! You are not prepared. That’s something to celebrate!

The Moms we are

I am not the typical every day parent. If there is such a thing. I try to listen to mom’s talk about life, kids, husbands, work and chores, but somehow I always end up with my eyes rolled so far back into my skull, I’m afraid I’ll actually see my own brain! I’ve started to categorize parents into groups. I’m not sure how many groups I have developed but I have yet to find one that I fit into perfectly. If you’re like me, you’ll identify with more than one, for any number of reasons. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Enjoy!

The “my house is always spotless” mom. OMG let me start by saying that you are my LEAST favorite mom ever! I’m not entirely convinced that you are human. Your hand sewn apron is worn neatly over your flowered dress complete with matching heels, earrings, neck lace and perfectly pinned up hairdo. While you look the part fair lady, your useless kitchen ensemble  doesn’t do much to help you prepare an edible meal.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           thCAQE1ZL2

Perfect wife
Just as I suspected!
  • Just like the monsters in my closet when I was a kid, you are terrifying and eventually it is clear that you do not exist! Nope, you’re just a figment of every man’s imagination combined with some horror story from the 50’s. Your perfectly manicured nails in convertible red, make you proud but do very little for the starving kids and skinny, shriveling husband who’s too stubborn to admit he needs food more than eye candy. Please stop invading my nightmares with your imaginary perfection!

 

  1. The “as you wish” mom. Wow, just wow. You keep your husband happy with a cold beer in his hand when he gets home, you have dinner thoughtfully planned every night, except of course, for your date night which you have expertly timed to fit into your husband’s busy schedule. You may not have all of the shades dusted daily, but your man is one happy camper sitting there with his feet up, while you keep the house running in tip-top condition. He knows your date night will revolve around conversation about his job, his friends, his wants and plans and his pleasure. Happy, happy, happy.
you wish
Am I right?

 

  • Where do you hide the vodka lady because you’re not fooling anyone! Husbands are great, I have one too, but there is no chance in hell I would be ok day after day with “yes dear”-ing my life away so he can sit and relax. Stop pretending you don’t want to break his jaw every time his dirty work boots leave mud on your recently scrubbed furniture. At some point he goes to sleep happy and you’re left staring at him in the darkness wondering how long it would take to smother him with a pillow! It’s time to say no dear.

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  1. The “sorry I didn’t get a chance to clean up” mom. I like you, when you’re honest. You have people living in your house and it is not demolished. Good for you! You did it! You don’t have your sexy outfit on but you figure “hell, no one is here, it’s just us, who cares”? Your husband might like to see you a bit more dolled-up, but he can wait for a date night because let’s face it, he’s not really paying that close attention and make up takes time that you really would rather use to get things done. It’s either this or the mess you say? The mess wins every time. Maybe your kids have left shoes out, dropped book bags in hallways, and forgot to flush the toilet in the guest bathroom, but it’s not the end of the world for you. It all gets done, eventually. Right? You’ll try to wear make up tomorrow.
  • You are right in the middle of the mom spectrum. Not bad at all. So what if you don’t feel pretty? Does pretty really matter anyway? You’re rocking the housekeeping duties like a champ! You should have a trophy for every month you succeed at this level! But let’s face it, you’re letting your looks slide, and he’s noticing.

 

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  1. The “demolition” mom. Something smells amazing coming from your kitchen! Your cooking skills are second to none I bet, and the mess you make getting that delicious meal cooked will be dealt with….eventually…maybe. Your kids have one set of clean clothes left which means laundry day can wait until tomorrow…night. Your mismatched socks and tennis shoes are barely noticeable anyway. That pony tail totally rocks like 90’s pop music and while your house may look like something out of an apocalypse movie, your family is fed to bloating by 6 pm, which makes you a total success. Almost.

 

ew
I think I see your husband under…oh wait no, another cat

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  • Please teach the rest of us to cook, and while we are learning that- please for the love of all things sanitary go empty the cat litter box! The mixing of aromas is not helping us want to eat at your house! While I applaud your culinary mastery, your husband has been missing under a pile of old newspapers for 2 days now, and no one is brave enough to look for him…. Hmmm.. wait a minute, you may be onto something. (wink) No, we should probably try to find him…. Soon. After we eat.

I have a feeling we all switch between each of these groups from one day to the next. Or maybe it’s just me. Please comment and let me know where you stand, where you fit, and what I should add! We are all amazing & Hilariously flawed.

When your ADHD/ADD child won’t get back “In the box”

Our little T has a grasp on the world we live in, as much as can be expected of a 7-year-old with ADHD. He is still learning all of the social and governmental rules we abide by, but even in his most grounded moments he keeps at least a few toes outside the box playing with the air.

We live in a world of conformists. Afraid to clap when the room is silent, afraid to stand when others are seated. We are hard-wired to conform, we don’t push the limits.

T goes out hunting for the limits, and not only does he push them but he questions them, he analyzes them. He spends most of his mental time living outside the box.

If you’re like most parents, you spend your life leading these tiny, helpless, blank-slate humans into adulthood, believing you are doing your best, and always doing what’s best for them. In our confidence as adults, we make the decision (sometimes without realizing it) that the best thing for our children is to teach them to conform. To live inside the box. Be quiet when others are quiet, speak when you are spoken to, follow directions, walk the line. Because I said so.

Inside the box there are rules, standards, expectations and one set of facts to live by. But what do you do when your child refuses to live within the borders of that box? If you’re like me, you panic. You question your abilities as a parent, you doubt your strengths and magnify your failures. As a parent we become frantic with the thought that our child may be ostracized, cast out, labeled, discarded, or fail. They stumble, they fall, and we carry the weight of it.

We have all come to know that no two people are alike, however, we do expect most people to be similar. Why? Because we are comfortable with what is familiar. Though we may all have differences, we share many similarities that help us live in society together. When someone stands out from the norm, typically they are regarded with at least some hesitation and cautious curiosity.

Many ADD/ADHD kids are outside the box thinkers. Their reasoning, logical, creative and analytical minds stray from conventional thinking almost as soon as they have a thought. I have come to realize that this is an incredible strength for them!

Imagine being in a room with 100 people with like-minded thinking abilities. A problem is presented and despite following the tried and true methods of calculation, no solution can be found. Conformity would have trained us to stop at that point. After the angles we know have been covered, all options have been exhausted. Now, try that with a group of Outside-the-box thinkers, and instead of a room of stumped brains, you’d end up with several creative (though maybe not probable) hypothesis. The worst that can happen at this point is failure, and THAT is where the learning takes place!

We need outside the box thinkers. If you have been lucky enough to be gifted with this kind of amazing minded child take a deep breath! Your child is not flawed, not disabled, and not difficult. Your child is capable of more than you may realize, and you now have the honor of pulling out his/her gifts, abilities, and strengths and learning to work with them!

Be proud of your family, in all of its differences. The difficulty we face as parents of a child with ADD/ADHD are meaningful difficulty! It means something that we are fighting for our children. It means something that we life in a state of trial and error. It means something that we try so hard to make room for them in this crowded world of conformity. It means that no matter the hardship, we do not give up. So be proud of yourself parents! You are amazing!