The phone rings and I see the number of my son’s school pop up.
My heart begins to beat faster, my chest tightens, and an overall feeling of complete anxiety fills my body.
“What happened now?” I think.
I toy with the idea of ignoring the call. Maybe if I don’t answer it the problem will go away, magically disappear into the vastness of my voicemail, left to be dealt with at a later time when I feel more up to it. That thought is shoved out quickly and replaced with, “I have to deal with this right away, or I might never call back.”
“Mrs. R, this is Mrs… the school psychologist.” I wonder why she even bothers to introduce herself at all anymore; she calls more often than my best friend or even some family members.
“Your son is…”
That blank is often filled with information on some physical altercation or some refusal to do his work all day. The conversation that follows is peppered with words like “struggling,” “refusing,” “difficulty,” and “challenging.” At this point I begin to cry openly, for I have no ability anymore to pretend to be strong and resilient to what she is uttering. This same information continues to come almost daily in the form of emails or notes from his classroom or the special education teacher.
(*I will add that all of these women are lovely ladies dedicated to their jobs and helping my son. He does not make it easy.)
My son has severe ADHD and SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder). Many people are misinformed or just have some preconceived notion of what ADHD is, so here is a very brief description.
ADHD is NOT:
Just being hyperactive and unable to sit still.
A behavior problem.
Caused by poor parenting and lack of discipline.
Magically treated by medication.
Something small children just outgrow.
Treated with sports or other physical activities.
Just a child being lazy.
The inability to regulate one’s emotions.
An inability to identify and pick up on general social cues.
An inability to filter out the input around you, therefore causing extreme distractibility.
An inability to control impulses.
Abnormal levels of activity.
Difficulty organizing and staying on task.
This is just a brief overview of some of the characteristics associated with this disorder and a child can have some, many, or all of the characteristics. Additionally, any one of the symptoms may be more present and cause greater challenges than others.
My guy has begun first grade this year and the transition has been incredibly difficult. In kindergarten he was able to have some freedom to play and roam; the expectations were not as high. Now, in first grade, he is expected to sit still for longer periods of time, do much more class work and pressures have increased one-hundred fold. In many ways, he is crumbling under these pressures.
When my son crumbles, it isn’t into pieces — it’s into a fine dust, a total and complete meltdown.
Every day he fights against his own brain and body to tune out the world around him, sit still, and focus. He has been losing this daily battle and often comes off of the bus beaten down and wounded from that day’s war. Some days it is so difficult that he just gives up and refuses to do any work altogether. This, consequently, elicits more negative penalties, and additional demands from his teachers to try and work harder. I worry that the day is soon coming where he will just refuse to get on the bus and go to school altogether.
He has no impulse control, and there are times when he calls out so often that no other student can get a word in edgewise. He is smart, brilliant even, and he has ideas that need to be heard. He cannot wait his turn to share his thoughts. Hard earned checks on his behavior chart are subsequently removed.
There are social situations that he seems to perceive or interpret incorrectly. He often uses his words once, but then if a student does not immediately do as he has asked, he will use force to get what he wants. This is unacceptable and must be handled swiftly and with more appropriately severe consequences.
I want to help my sweet boy. I want him to feel smart, for he is truly brilliant. I want him to feel socially accepted, for he is the nicest, kindest, most loving child. I want him to feel happy every day because that is what a six year old deserves. I’m not sure I know how to do that right now and it terrifies me.
I wish society understood just how difficult this disorder truly is. I want parents to understand that it’s not that our children are undisciplined or lazy; they actually work twice as hard as a typical child to function day to day. I want schools to begin to design programs that work for children that are wired this way. Why is my child made to feel less than every day because he cannot fit into the mold of the current educational expectations? We have to do more for children with ADHD.
This post was originally published on ManVsMommy.
About the Author
Laura Russin is a SAHM of two young children, six and four-and-a-half. She blogs as ManVsMommy to maintain parental sanity and to spread awareness of ADHD.