Thursday, May 29, 2014

Greater Expectations

I want to share something that I've been noticing lately. For kiddos who struggle, whether from a disorder or from life circumstances in general, life is hard - period. Because the vast majority of these struggles are invisible, people have no idea that they are going on. If people don't know that there are circumstances beyond the child's control, they have no way to justify the things they might be seeing from that child (i.e. acting out/behaviours). Therefore, there are people (adults) who think some children are just plain jerks because these adults don't take the time to seek understanding. How unfair is that?!?
It absolutely sends me around the bend when adults judge and/or write off kids. Aren't all children really works in progress? Isn't that kind of the entire point of 'childhood'? Aren't kids also, generally speaking, products of their environments? If a child has a disorder of some sort and less than ideal life circumstances, life has already kicked them while they are down. Why are there adults that still feel they need further 'kicks'?
My philosophy of kids - you can only bring them from where they are and work towards progress. If you place expectations on a child that are greater than they are capable of achieving, you are absolutely setting that child up for failure. Alternately, if your expectations are too low, a child will never have anything to strive for. How are you supposed to know the difference? Know the child! And, for crying out loud, if you can't be bothered getting to know the child, stop judging them for things you don't (or can't be bothered to) understand!
While children are progressing along their life's journey, wouldn't it be more helpful and encouraging to notice the positives than dwell on the negatives? The way I see it, if you are noticing the positive things that your child is doing and positive choices they are making, they are going to start to feel pretty darn good about themselves. When they are feeling good about the little positives, they will likely start to feel proud of themselves. Once they are starting to feel proud of themselves, that will provide the intrinsic motivation that they will need to move forward with a positive outlook on life. When they have intrinsic motivation for displaying positive behaviour and making positive choices, they will chose those positive behaviours more often.
If these kids efforts are only met with criticism and negativity, what motivation would they ever have to make positive changes? If kids who struggle, put forth effort, and still don't succeed, what motivation do they have to try again? For these kids, it's much easier to not try at all, than it is to try and fail. Kids with invisible issues are already putting in monumental effort just to exist side by side with their neruo-typical peers. Now add to that, expectations that are higher than the struggling kiddo can achieve. It's a recipe for disaster!
So, where all children are concerned, can't we all just keep an open mind? Can't we all assume that a child is trying despite what OUR version of trying might look like? Can't we accept approximations?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Music for ADHD?

I read an article today about the power of music to help ADHD symptoms. The complexity of the music has the ability to engage synapses that might otherwise misfire (to paraphrase in my layman's terms). The article primarily talks about the use of music in therapy and the practical application for families. I will definitely be trying this at home with my ADHD peeps (me included). Here is the link to the article:
My interest is for classroom use. I have a class of amazing and wonderful grade fives who have a tendency to be a bit on the rowdy side. If I were to play soft music in the background of the classroom, would it affect the entire mood of the room? I'm thinking that it might!
My question to all of you...
TEACHERS: have you used music in the background while you've taught a lesson? Or, have you only had music playing while students are working independently? Inquiring minds want to know😉

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My ADHD Hyper-focus

It's exactly what happened to this blog. ADHD comes with the characteristic of hyper-focus. It can be a huge problem OR it can be brilliant! If you notice the dates on my blog posts, they start in 2010, picked up again in 2012, and are restarting now in 2014.
During the first round, I thought to myself, "hey, my kids are all diagnosed, people might be able to relate to our family, I should start a blog."  The second round came with a new business venture, It Works. If you were following my blog because of those posts, I've deleted them. Sorry, but they really didn't fit into my idea of what I meant for this blog to be about. However, at the time my hyper-focus kicked in and I had grandiose notions of making millions with those products. Intrest waned...bye bye It Works.
This is now my third attempt at blogging and, of course, I find my ADHD self obsessing over it. With the explosion of social media, I feel compelled to link everything to everything else. So my blog is tied to a twitter account (@jennsbusyhouse), I'm sharing on ADDitude Magazine's discussion boards, I Pin all my posts to my ADHD board on Pintrest, and I'm still trying to decide if I want to give myself a shout out on Facebook. The hyper-focus is driving my blog at this point, but I hope to push past it and follow it through, if anyone finds it interesting that is...
Other examples of hyper-focus in my life include:
- reading for pleasure: I have to plow through a book in about a week, otherwise I completely loose interest.
- going to university: I didn't decide to go to university until I was 25 (mostly because I always believed I couldn't be successful there). When I finally decided to go, I started in spring intersession because I could never have waited until September to start. I did my entire BA and my BEd in three years because I was hyper-focused on it and knew I could let up.
- It Works business venture: my hyper-focus for that only lasted about 4 months. I hadn't made any significant money during that time, so I couldn't be bothered anymore.

Do you find hyper-focus to be a positive or negative in your life? What kinds of things do you get hyper-focused on? How do you cope with it?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Your Brain on ADHD

This is one of my favourite internet pictures of ADHD! I've shown it to my class. The neuro-typical kids get jealous. ;)
That's all for today!

Friday, March 14, 2014

ADHD is Fake?!?!?

WOW! I was just reading a blog post by someone who believes that ADHD is nothing more than kids behaving badly, that it can be cured with a good old spanking, and that it is a disorder made up by pharmaceutical companies! He also claimed that dyslexia, celiac, and fibromyalgia are creative inventions.

I first skimmed to the bottom of the page looking for the punch line, then left the page because I could literally feel my blood pressure rising! I triple dog dare him to come and spend a day in my school or my house for that matter!!! Grrrr!!! My logical, rational side is very aware that there are many ignorant people in the world, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and that there really are cases of over diagnosis and unwarranted medication of children, but my emotional side wants to throat punch him!

He clearly has no experience with children of any variety. He doesn't know how heart wrenching it is to see the look on my child's face when they are struck with the realization "oh no, I did it again, didn't I?" Our kids literally try so hard to be good and do the right things, only to be taken off track by their brain's inability to send and receive all of the messages properly. If this was not the case, stimulant medications would have disastrous effects instead of actually treating the biological nature of this disorder.

I am all about focusing on the positives and super powers that come with the gift of ADHD, but I am not blind to the struggles. We need to take the bad with the good and play on our strengths. Sure, ADHD wasn't diagnosed as much in our generation, but how many of us got to grow up feeling stupid, worthless, and like we would never amount to anything because of it?

By not diagnosing, treating, and providing early intervention to anyone with any type of mental illness, we are doing that person a complete disservice! Treatment only evens the playing field for neuro-typical people and all the rest of us. Everyone should have the opportunity to live up their their fullest potential, if some people need help to do so, then so be it. All human beings are valuable and should be treated as such! If only there was a treatment for ignorance and discrimination...

Soap box rant over.

It's like five steps backwards for mental health advocates!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Dinner Blunder

An ADHD problem: your eyes read one thing, but your brain registers something different! Earlier in the week, I received a message from a friend, inviting my hubby and I over "for an evening". The problem is that my brain registered "for dinner".  We figured out a night, I asked if I could bring anything, and the plans were set. Only one problem - the plans in our heads were completely different. Fast forward to today...knowing my own tendency to make the occasional mistake (insert sarcasm font), I sent a message to clarify whether we should come over at 7 or if dinner was at 7. Unfortunately, the message wasn't received. Did I go back and reread our previous messages? Lol, of course not! DOH! Since the actual plan was to come over at 7, after dinner, we were about 40 minutes early and we hadn't eaten dinner, SMH! It might have been remotely possible to cover my mistake, if my hubby, Shawn, hadn't wondered 'what we were having' on the drive over because he was starving, UGH!
When we arrived, all was fine, and I took a bottle of wine over to my friend in her kitchen. I causally mentioned that I'd sent her a message to clarify the time for dinner. Then, there is a look exchanged between us that alerts me to my error. "Did you guys have dinner yet?" In that split second before I answer, I have to weigh my embarrassment at my ridiculous mistake and the fact that I know Shawn is starving! I couldn't let Shawn sit there hungry because of my mistake. I had to admit that I'd messed up. Sometimes ADHD can make you feel like such a DORK!
Thank goodness I have such awesome and forgiving friends! We went on to have a very pleasant evening. I only hope that I have the opportunity to get things right next time. 😉

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Why Would I Want to Get Rid of my ADHD??? son is now 10. He's bright, beautiful, and bouncy. He has too many awesome qualities to list. But, one of my favourites is that we can now have deep, meaningful conversations, like this one about his ADHD:

Me: Casey, I was just reading an article about nutrition and food choices that could eliminate your ADHD.
Casey: No thanks.
Me: But, it's possible that you wouldn't have to take your pill anymore.
Casey: It's ok.
(as you can see he's a man of many words)
Me: But, don't you think we could try it for maybe two weeks and see how it goes?
Casey: (starting to get annoyed, with an accompanying are-you-out-of-your-mind look) MOM! Why would I want to get rid of my ADHD???


For this one, I give myself a pat on the back for always focusing on the benefits and positive qualities of ADHD. Ba-BAM, my son loves his ADHD!