I Probably Judged YOU – (ADHD In Children)
I was on top of the pack order when it came to judging others and if you are reading this I am #SORRY more than you will ever know.
I did not believe that certain conditions diagnosed in kids really truly existed. Yep, I was one of them that believed it was curable and I ashamedly pointed the finger at POOR PARENTING.
Then I fell! Down, down, down, down… THUD.
We took on a 5 year old child who was very difficult to control. We started the hard trek from Doctor to paediatrician and after a very long (almost) 2 years he was diagnosed with Autism and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). In that wait time we put in place extremely strict boundaries and routine in his life.
ADHD In Children Is REAL
Meanwhile we also took on his younger siblings aged 4 and 3 and “holy guacomoly” we didn’t know what had hit us. We had noticed the previous carer’s house was always trashed and yet they seemed to be great people. It was clean but toys were always everywhere. Yep I judged and clicked my tongue, shook my head and muttered that it’s not that hard! YIKES.… Now it all made sense, and so I internalized my first apology for judging. #SORRY
I had a toy/play room with everything in neat boxes. All sorts of great toys, many remaining from our own three kids who were now older and had taken great care of their toys. I was stunned to discover that if all three new kids were sent in there to play without guidance, EVERY box was taken down, tipped over and toys were thrown around. None were played with! I was looking at real ADHD in children.
Books were torn, puzzle pieces thrown and lost, dolls heads pulled off and so the nightmare unfolded. These kids had been in care since almost birth so no it wasn’t a learned behavior!
None of the three could settle at night until almost midnight and I began to change. I became more military in my behaviour. Instead of story time, cuddles and tuck-ins bedtime became a strict routine of marching to the bathroom, lining up and one by one preparing for bed. Then BED. I would demand compliance with no excuses. There was no room for TLC, as soon as I relaxed and slumped my shoulders in exhaustion and the need to just love, they went absolutely crazy: Jumping, running, squealing and out of control.
In the car each child would yell, pinch, undo each other’s seat belts and generally be impossible to control. Again I changed!
Each child was placed separate to the others. They were read the riot act of proper car behaviour. As soon as one child committed an offence I would pull into a safe car park, remove that child, sit them on the kerb or grass and commence time out. Initially they found it extremely funny. Until they learned that it didn’t stop there. Once home they lost the evenings privileges were showered, fed and BED. Cars slowed down to stare thinking I was abusing the kid, shop owners would come out and stare and shake their heads at this crazy Mumma who couldn’t control her kids. I felt holes burning in my back from stares and judgement and I knew how I had done the same to others! #SORRY
I changed their diets which was hard because I didn’t get support from outsiders. I however, had seen very definite reactions within minutes of these kids consuming foods like JELLY, Sugar breakfast cereals, cordial and fruit juice along with other things like lollies! Lemonade was a WHIZZWOW reaction and still is!
I was exhausted and desperate and fearing for these kids. I’d been told nothing of their behaviours, led to believe they were ‘slightly’ delayed but that was all. (It’s not uncommon to be untruthful when placing kids in carer’s homes, it’s a desperate technique in a desperate world where finding homes for foster kids is difficult because of the lack of carers).
I’m a Bloody Good Parent
Finally from exhaustion, frustration, stress and a huge fear that we would crumble and these kids would end up split up and moved around in the system I screamed out for help from our paediatrician. I’d found out I’d have to wait at least 2 years to be seen in the public system. Foster kids of whom the government is the guardian can’t even get to see a paediatrician! So I called up our PRIVATE paediatrician. He had dealt with us for 5 years before my son died so he knew us, he knew how we functioned and in his own words he stated we were ‘Bloody good parents‘ #Thank you I needed to hear that!
Contrary to how media have portrayed paediatricians I’m yet to meet a Paediatrician who readily and easily puts any kid on ADHD drugs like Ritalin and dexamphetamines. My experience is you as the parent/caregiver get put through a stringent questioning session, have to fill out lots of paper work, teachers are questioned and anyone else that the kids spend time with. It took several more months before we were told to smarten up, accept that ADHD is a REAL medical disability and for the child’s sake and for our own families sake it was time to use the appropriate medication. ADHD in children, when ‘real’ and treated in holistic manner is survivable.
DRUGGING MY CHILD IS NOT EVIL
So then came the guilt, the tears, the beating myself up over doing this to a child. Why? If my child had diabetes I would readily give them insulin! Why was I feeling so awful at listening and obeying a Professional, highly trained paediatricians advice? It’s because the media had made it look like ADHD is a bad parenting disease. Every parent who has a true ADHD child in their home as suffered from this stigma. If I ask someone not to give my kid a red drink I’m seen as mean,yet when I allow it (yes sometimes I’ve felt I needed to EDUCATE someone so I’ve said “Yeah, go ahead, have fun!”) and that child can’t be controlled I’m asked why I don’t have better control, or why didn’t I say they shouldn’t have it!
We left strict notes for babysitters who must have thought us the meanest people on earth. Everything time scheduled and MUST BE IN BED by 7pm. There were some who actually believed that once we went out they were in charge! Their rules in my home. Chaos reigned my house was trashed and they never came back. There was one who actually told a kid that we were mean parents, she was never asked back. Then there were those who followed the instructions and couldn’t believe that they got to sit and study or watch tv while being paid. They told us it was the easiest babysitting job EVA! My WIN!
How Life Is Now
We live life on the edge now and always. We run to a routine that yes often crumbles but it’s manageable. ADHD in children means a busy, noisy life.
I SHOUT A LOT because not only do my kids have ADHD but I have lots of BOYS and lots of kids and I need to SHOUT to be heard.
With medications my kids can attend school and actually learn. Without medications they actually walk out of class, run, laugh and shout at people, destroy property and pretty much are a danger to themselves.
My kids are never ‘sedate’ any child that is sedated in my opinion is accidentally being overdosed and hey there are times when it takes a few months to get the dose right! In fact my kids will still leave you breathless, even on medications! They can however enjoy life and we can survive them enjoying life!
WAIT: They are good kids so don’t get it wrong. It’s that their energy levels put out by their brains is out of control, their world moves 4 times faster than yours 1 minute is 1 second an hour is a minute. Like having 5 double espresso coffees.
SHOUTING is not abuse!
So if you are judging parents who say their kids have ADHD STOP IT! Please!
If you are a parent who is surviving a child with ADHD take a deep breath and know you are AMAZING.
If you are a parent who is desperate and questioning needing to use medications for your DIAGNOSED ADHD child, if you have read everything, tried everything and your life is a wreck then LISTEN to your Paediatrician and give yourself a break. STOP reading all the judgemental, condemning write-ups from know it alls or from parents who’s kids became normal on sugar free diets, it’s NOT THE SAME as REAL ADHD.
Seek support, find other parents with kids with ADHD that you can have a coffee with. At least if your kid’s going nuts the other parent fully understands and WON’T JUDGE YOU.
Here’s a list of a few hopefully helpful links that I’ve found online.
ADHD RESOURCES AND LINKS
ADHD AND YOU (USA)
Living Wish ADHD (Australia)
#Foster care has nothing to do with a child having ADHD, ADHD is no discriminator of sex, race or socio-economic status