Charting the Magnificent Storm – Parenting a Child with AD/HD
Have you ever encountered someone that you adore entirely upon meeting? A person whose gifted with an extra dose of charisma? This person eats and breathes happiness and is never without a smile on her lips and a song in her heart, after all, a happy heart sings. Am I right? These charms are the epitome of our sweet, nine-year-old daughter, the youngest member of our tribe. She has a magnetic personality and never meets a stranger who remains a stranger. Kind, charming, and funny are just a few of her characteristics. Newer to her list of attributes is Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder.
Having grappled with years of denial and refusal to believe that she was anything but a little immature, I finally found myself sitting in her pediatrician’s office pouring my heart out about Corinne’s inability to focus on anything for very long, her severe academic struggles and her newfound anxiety about attending school. She was afraid she wasn’t smart enough, and now it was affecting her self-worth. It was a wake-up call that there is a deficiency and if we didn’t do something to help Corinne, she would continue in a downward academic and emotional spiral. It was more than I could bear. I did what any good Christian mom would do. I heeded the doctor’s recommendation for clinical evaluation, and I prayed for guidance. I prayed for peace knowing the impending diagnosis would initiate an irreversible chain of events. Once the label comes, it’s there for life.
Having a daughter with ADHD is a new challenge for our family. As we work with her doctor to get the medication levels fine-tuned, I am conflicted about how to best deal with her diagnosis. The good news is that we do have a diagnosis and a plan to help her to become more successful in school and other social activities. The challenging part is dealing with the guilt of giving my child a medication that is somewhat controversial, a tad unpredictable, and mind-altering.
For years we were keenly aware that our wild, boisterous girl with a heart of gold was full of energy and had trouble keeping still even when her identical twin and peers had no problem staying in one place or paying attention. But that’s what I love about her – Her big personality, her boldness, her fearlessness and now I am giving her a drug to tame her. It’s still very conflicting for me, but I am trying to come to terms with the fact that this is for her benefit. This treatment is for her future academic success, and so far, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster.
After the evaluation and inarguable AD/HD results, we left with a prescription for Adderall and the hope that this will do the trick. The first day was a huge success. Corinne was excited about the new tool in her arsenal that would potentially launch her into success in the classroom. The days and weeks tick by, and we have been pleased with the changes. She still displays her big personality, but we now see her sitting for long periods and a new willingness to do her homework unassisted. Praise God! Sadly, those first effects are wearing down, and I am witnessing a somewhat overly irritable and anxious little girl. Is it a result of the medication? My husband assures me that Corinne has always been this sensitive. I fear that the drug is amplifying her emotions a bit. She seems to overreact to what would typically be a mild annoyance at most. Time will tell, and I plan to address these concerns on our next visit with her Doctor.
Charting AD/HD waters, I find myself dealing with new issues at school, my child and her self-esteem, her twin’s reaction to the diagnosis and perceived special treatment at school, dealing with behavior issues, medication issues, Corinne’s extreme emotional issues, coping with parenting stress and guilt. Alone, any one of these would take a significant toll on one’s day to day life. What’s keeping me grounded, other than my faith in God and his grand plan for Corinne’s life, is my journey to discover more about AD/HD.
After her diagnosis, I went to Barnes and Noble and purchased a couple of books on the subject to educate myself and my husband. We were initially shocked to learn that Corinne’s twin had a high probability of having AD/HD as well. “Twin studies have found a greater likelihood of both twins having this disorder if they are identical twins that share 100 percent of their genes… If one identical twin has AD/HD, chances are 50 to 80 percent that the other identical twin will also have the disorder.” /1. We read this statistic and decided to have Quinney evaluated as well. We were pleased to learn that Quinney does not have AD/HD. A small victory when it comes to all of the existing challenges of parenting twins.
We are still on the journey to discover more about ADHD, and that has led us into some disturbing and negative online commentary. I’m still learning to swim past the misinformation and those who, like I once was, dismiss the notion that AD/HD is a real thing. Believe me. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. It is very real. Hopefully, the stigma attached to it will go sailing in the great abyss one day soon. Until then, we will continue to pursue knowledge about her disorder and work to advance her success both at home and in the world. We love our daughter and want the very best for her. We see her challenges and her struggles and occasionally the toll it takes on her young state of mind. In the end, we know that she is very resilient and will no doubt persevere and go on to become a successful individual. We will continue to walk with her through the highs and lows of this diagnosis, keep learning, keep seeking new treatments and keep encouraging her.
What are your best AD/HD resources or websites? What has or hasn’t worked for your child?
/1. Susan Ashley, Ph.D., ADD & AD/HD Answer Book