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I feel like there’s a lot of misinformation out there regarding ADHD and it’s symptoms. I was guilty of it myself. I thought it just meant the person was full of energy and had a hard time sitting still. Boy was I wrong. ADHD can present itself in a number of ways, only one of which is the hyperactivity it is so commonly associated with. There’s also time management, distractibility, defiance, difficulty controlling emotions, difficulty in school, difficulty in making and keeping friends, low or zero impulse control, and so many more. Just like each person with ADHD is unique, so is the ADHD itself.
I also feel like there is a lot of stigma against those with ADHD. You get pegged as difficult to work with, hard to be around, and troublesome. None of this is inherently true. Those with ADHD want to do well and be accepted. They are great people, who do not always have control over something they did not choose for themselves. As the parent of a child with this condition, I find that sometimes other parents aren’t so keen to view my child with understanding eyes.
On a typical day, with medication, you wouldn’t know my son has ADHD and ODD (his teacher literally just told me this earlier this week). He listens, plays pretty well with others, is intellectually engaged, and overall well behaved. If you are a new adult to him, he will listen to you and show you respect. However, without medication or if he’s having an off day, the tables are completely turned. He’s defiant and mouthy, he throws fits at literally every possible moment, he struggles to be kind to others, and he tries to manipulate the situation, so you can forget about even trying to do anything that’s out of the normal routine for the day.
I have to remind myself in those times that it’s not him, it’s his condition. It really can be easy to forget that he doesn’t truly hate me when he’s yelling it as loud as his vocal cords will let him. However I also know that he makes choices, and the only way to guide him into making better choices on a consistent basis is to have appropriate consequences-both negative and positive-for his choices. So no, I can’t let him get away with anything-like EVER. It’s a fine line between “pick your battles” and “don’t let him forget who’s in charge”. A VERY fine line.
What makes it all the harder is that he has ODD on top of the ADHD. This was a diagnosis that…..scared me…half to death, if I’m being honest. I still have the unsettling fear that my son will follow in his biological fathers footsteps*(this is an article I’m not ready to write yet), but I am working daily to let that fear go because it’s not mine to own. You can read more about ODD here but to simplify, it makes him push back against authority. AKA me. I am the main caregiver, parent, nurse, chauffer, chef, PE teacher, counselor, and maid to both my boys (and also my husband, shhh 😆). Meaning that my son and I are together whenever he is not at school or asleep.
This makes it harder, I find, for him to continue respecting me and my authority *said in a Cartman voice*. He pushes more against me than he does his dad (step-dad for those of you keeping track). He seeks time away from me frequently but as soon as I leave the house to do something solo, he misses me. I’ve come to realize that’s because I am his security. He pushes against me so willfully because he can count on me pushing back, reminding him just where those boundary lines are. And for someone with ADHD, ODD, and anxiety (because why not genetic lottery!) they need that reminder and consistency to feel safe; it helps him know his place in the world.
I have a long way ahead of me, being a parent of someone with ADHD, and a lot more to learn as the chapters in both our lives unfold. But I hope to those parents out there who like me, have a little something extra on their plate, you will discover that the struggle isn’t always a bad thing; and in fact can be what keeps you close with your child. Read more about the struggles here.