Good morning. I'm writing today as a mommy. No pin-able images, just me chatting. I was thinking the other day how different this summer has been from last summer. It's a good thing. Really! A lot can change in a year, and I'm so thankful.
Last summer I had to deal with full blown temper tantrums numerous times a day. I had to give multiple time outs, my patience was really low, and my blood pressure was really high. My middle was 8 and he would act out constantly, sometimes hurting me or another person in the family. We thought it was him just being stubborn. We didn't understand how he was so different from my other 2, we were doing the same rewards/consequences with everyone and it just wasn't working.
Last summer was the huge lightbulb moment. The fact that my little 4 year old would act more mature than my 8 year old was a big deal. I teach 4th. I know this age, and something was different. Then I had confirmation when a friend posted about her son. It was a Facebook message about how he was upset over a piece of chicken on his fork. We'd had that same temper tantrum over the same thing in my house. I learned about Oppositional Defiance Disorder. I learned about it and realized we needed help or we would end up with a teenager in jail.
So we emailed the doctor in August. It was rushed through the proper channels and soon he was being retested for ADHD. I didn't think he had ADHD. I mean he had a hard time memorizing math facts, but he wouldn't get up and wander. He didn't seem to fit the picture I had in my mind. I didn't understand the correlation then, but ODD occurs in one out of 5 kids that have ADHD. He was diagnosed with ADHD in September and we chose to start medication.
It was our choice. As a teacher I have seen the miracles that happen when students are able to focus. I was skeptical still whether or not he had ADHD. Honestly, I thought the doctors were wrong. BUT the medicine wouldn't have worked if it wasn't ADHD. His brain was running constantly, and the stimulate works opposite in kids with ADHD. It actually calms down their brains for them to be able to focus. We saw an immediate change.
We started behavior therapy for the ODD portion of it. It was a family thing... we learned how my son's mind is like cobwebs and he's trying to focus through it. The medicine clears the cobwebs away. The doctors have said that the medicine doesn't do anything for the ODD part, but we've seen that when he's able to focus and reason, he doesn't get as frustrated so easily. Less frustration equals less meltdowns.
We went to a ticket program in our home for half of last school year. He would earn his rewards. It was a way for him to be able to recognize all the rewards that he was taking for granted. He would have to "work" for them. Be a helper, earn a ticket. Take a shower, earn a ticket. Do your best on your homework, earn a ticket. Y'all know how much I dislike real tickets though, so I used ticket clip art to put 30 on a page and he would highlight them. The tickets added up into prizes - game time, watching a show, getting a McDonald's ice cream, etc.
We were able to go from there to switching to "If you do this, then you can do that". That's where we are now. We've had regressions and have gone back to the tickets when we need to. He doesn't like them, but he likes the rewards he can earn. He will now go weeks between huge meltdowns. He will go days between time outs. He doesn't physically hurt us anymore. That's what I meant when I said that it's such a huge difference from one year to the next. I'm so thankful for all I've learned this year.
I wish I had been taught more about ADHD years ago, so I could have seen the signs earlier. I wish I had been told how it's not just a focus thing, it's a brain thing. I wish I had understood so I could have helped my son earlier, so I could have helped my students better. Understanding is a gift.
Thanks for listening to our story.