Living with ADHD

“Hello, I’m Brittni and I am a mom of a child with ADHD.”

I feel like whenever I take my sweet Aislyn into public, I need to have this note on my shirt. That way, when I seem WAY more irritated than I should, people might understand. And I know what you’re thinking, it’s ADHD, it’s not that big of a deal, you should feel lucky that’s all it is.

The guilt can be overwhelming. People have no idea how grateful I am for all 4 of my kids. With Aislyn being my Rainbow Baby, I am especially thankful for her! But, that doesn’t take away the frustration and trials that we go through as a family.

“Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often continues into adulthood. ADHD includes a combination of persistent problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior”

Mayo Clinic

Difficulty paying attention– This does not just pertain to school. This goes from morning to night, from situation to situation. Paying enough attention to eat breakfast in a timely manner; Being able to brush teeth or get dressed without being distracted; looking straight ahead while walking; concentrating when learning a new task such as riding a bike or writing letters. The list is never ending. And as a parent, even though I know she can’t help it, I get so frustrated. Aislyn will be 7 in December. In my head, I feel like she should be able to pay attention. She’s getting older and even her younger or sister and brother can listen better than her. But- I’m very wrong. She may be getting older, but she still has a mental health issue that even as adults, is hard to handle.

Hyperactivity– I think this variable could have the biggest range in severity. Some people think of hyperactivity as running around crashing into things and almost like a tornado. And yes, sometimes that’s exactly what it’s like. Other times, it’s my girl watching a movie that she won’t take her eyes off of, but her little body won’t stop moving around. And telling her to stop is hopeless. She might look at me, she might hear what I say, but she just keeps doing it. She truly can’t help it.

Impulsive behavior– This is the one that frustrates me the most. This trait is the one that affects the most people. Impulses can range from irrational behavior, major meltdowns, breaking things, coloring on walls, and saying off the wall remarks. I mean, just the other day, she had a tooth fall out. She ran to tell me as her gums were still bleeding. Instead of going into the bathroom to spit, she spit on the floor. She knew she had to spit the blood out, but instead of thinking rationally, she just did whatever her brain told her at that very second. These are all things we as a family deal with every day. While each of my kids have tempers, meltdowns and bad days, the difference is Aislyn’s bad day affects the whole family. One time, she was so mad at Miguel and me, that she donkey kicked her sister into the back of the couch. She instantly knew she messed up. But that’s all part of the impulsive behavior. The meltdowns may be minor, and it may hurt someone, you don’t know what you’ll get from minute to minute.

I had heard about ADHD and ADD when I was in school. I knew some kids took medication for it, but I just thought it meant those kids couldn’t pay attention in school. I never in a million years thought that something like ADHD could be so… hard.

In Aislyn’s case she has a few other issues that go along with the ADHD. Anxiety, Sensory processing disorder and Oppositional Defiance Disorder are what she deals with on a daily basis. And for those of you who think those are BS disorders, have never had to deal with them first hand. And I refuse to believe that my child is just a “bad kid.” She is bright, funny, and caring. She is not a bad kid.  A good friend of mine, who happens to be a 4th grade teacher, saw Aislyn in rare form one day. She said words to me that I will never forget. “Can you imagine waking up every day as a child having all that going on in your brain and just being expected to deal with it?” Every time I think about that, my heart breaks! My poor baby!

When she was just 2 years old, I knew she was different- and so did her pediatrician. When I brought up to my husband that I wanted to take her to a specialist, he told me I was dooming her; That she was fine. I know he didn’t mean to hurt me. I know he just didn’t want to believe his daughter had any “issues.”

It wasn’t for a few years that she was seen by a specialist and officially diagnosed. We worked through therapy, and then, after lots of discussion and beating ourselves up, we decided to try medication. I’m not going to say life has been perfect since then, she still struggles every day. But I will say, the amount of meltdowns and yelling has decreased and her ability to pay attention has increased.

I know there are some parents who can’t believe I put my child on medication. To all of you, I respect your thoughts. I respect the more holistic and natural way of dealing with mental disorders, in particular ADHD. But, for my family and I, this has been the best solution. I question myself enough in this case, I don’t really need others judging my parenting too.

If you are a parent or caretaker of a child with ADHD, I see you. Listen to your gut. You know what is best for your child and your family. Make the best decision for everyone. Your child is not a bad kid, they just have a harder time making good decisions. Be patient. Be an advocate for your child. Talk to educators and anyone in charge of your son or daughter on a daily basis. Be the voice that your child might not know how to use yet.

And just know, you’re never alone!