Living with an ADHD/ODD child
Don't be fooled...
If you are viewing this, you might be attracted by the idyllic picture of my son and me. I have to admit, we do portray a warm, loving family unit, but looks can be deceiving. We only achieve familial bliss half the time. The other half of the time is spent arguing, cajoling, manipulating, yelling, (yes yelling) slamming doors, growling...well you get the picture.
Living with my son is like living with a chameleon...always changing. Let me back up a bit. He was born May 27, 1997 at an ungodly time of the morning, having decided earlier that he really wasn't ready to make his entrance into the world, and that attitude has prevaled to this day, and most likely will for the rest of his life.
My first clue that I might be in for a bit of a challenge came after my first night in the hospital. I had opted to have my son sleep in the nursery, as I was bagged after the sixteen hours of hard labor I experienced trying to convince him to finally make his entrance. When the nurse brought him to me the next morning I asked her how he had slept and was told "...restless".
I soon discovered, after the first night I spent trying to sleep in my own bed, that "restless" didn't even come close to how he slept!
The next 3 years was a blur consisting of sleepless nights, (I considered two consecutive hours good) colic, general screaming for six hours at a time, and the usual challenges associated with raising a small person. The fact that he is turning 11 in May is a testament to not only my intestinal fortitude and success as a parent, but to my fear that if I did kill him while he slept they would have locked me up and thrown away the key!
I should add here that I am a single parent (a sad, but true statistic regarding ADHD children) and have two children. My daughter is 22, engaged to be married, works two jobs, just bought a car and seems to have a good head on her shoulders, even though she still lives with 'Mom'. I have been heard many times to say that had my son been born first, I wouldn't have a daughter! Needless to say, I stopped at two children.
At times I am exactly the same as other parents I meet...proud of my son, of being his mother, of his intelligence, abilities, etc. But that only covers part of the time. Any parent of an ADHD/ODD child will know exactly what I am saying. For those of you who don't, let me fill you in.
ADHD stands for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. ODD stands for Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Taken together, this means not only does the child bounce off the walls, and can't concentrate for longer than 15 minutes at a time without constant reminders, he also has an attitude the size of Mt. Everest and is not afraid to use it. Couple this with an additional diagnosis of Anxiety Disorder and some Post Traumatic Stress, and you have my son.
Now understand, that the majority of parents out there think that ADHD is a 'made up' diagnosis... that the doctors, teachers and parents of an ADHD child have simply decided that it is easier to medicate the child rather than parent/teach them. Let me tell you this is NOT the case at all.
By the time my son was halfway through kindergarten, he had already been suspended twice. Once for hitting his teacher, and once for choking another student. (This from a 5 year old) Now, a lot of parents, upon hearing this would say "I would have spanked his butt royally" or "There's no way in h*** my son would ever get away with acting like that" or something along those lines.
Well I'm here to say that I could have literally beaten my child and he would still have acted the same way. These actions have nothing to do with lack of discipline, (at least with legitimate ADHD/ODD children) and everything to do with an honest medical problem. I'm sure that somewhere there is a doctor with a list of initials after his name who can quote chapter and verse as to why these kids act like this. However...I don't speak 'doctor' and I'm pretty sure that most people don't either. (I have since found some excellent resource material that offers an explanation as to why, and have learned to speak 'doctor' quite well!)
Additional resources for Adhd/Odd
- One Small Step for Parents
An online community with resources, information and support for parents raising children with ADHD and its attendant disorders.
- How to deal with children with ODD (oppositional defiant disorder)?
Oppositional Defiant Disorder is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical manual of Mental disorders - Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) as a pattern of negativistic behavior which significantly...
- How To Cope With Your Child's ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder)
Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ODD, ADHD/ODD. This is for the parents who live with this disability, day in, and day out. If they are lucky, maybe they catch a break on the weekend, (depending on whether you are a single parent) if not, then unless a
What I do know, is that somewhere in the brain, there is an area that recognizes 'consequences'. (I have since discovered that ADHD/ODD is a frontal lobe malfunction.) What I mean by this is: "bad action = discipline (IE:spanking/time out) = hurt feelings/pain = realization not to repeat the bad action". With an ADHD/ODD child, they process only part of that equation,IE: "bad action = discipline = hurt feelings/pain". The 'realization' part doesn't apply.
Now I'm not intimating they are slow learners by any means. Most of these kids are bright, and smarter than the average bear, with a range of intelligence that reaches into the 'gifted' areas. They are fiercely loyal, loving individuals, usually with a heightened sense of right and wrong, imaginative, hyper-focused (but only on things they want to do,) have boundless energy, don't see the world or society the same way we do, (which can be a good thing as they get older,) creative, excellent hand eye co-ordination, etc. (Are you confused yet?) I could go on, but I think you get my point.
Suffice it to say that living with an ADHD/ODD child is an adventure that isn't for the faint of heart! My personal experience with my son includes school suspensions beginning in kindergarten, through and including grade 8, expulsion from a 'behavioural school' in grade 2, half days through grades 1 to 3, psychiatrists, psychologists,counselors (three separate appointments each week) doctor's appointments, specialist appointments, parenting classes, RCMP 'visits', 'Care Team' meetings, neighbourhood parent 'visits' and school parent 'visits' to list a few. (I should like to point out that some of these behaviours have subsided to a degree as my son gets older, and he is improving behaviourally. He rarely disrupts the class when he is at school, deciding now, that instead he won't do any work. One step forward, two steps back...)
I've even had a complete stranger knock on the window of my car while I was waiting for a turn arrow, so he could tell me I should speak with my child about his behaviour while driving....in my car! I was stunned! So I told this stranger that maybe he should tell my son, as I had reprimanded him until I was blue in the face, and if this man could do what I couldn't, I would eat my hat! Naturally, it didn't work!
On top of all of this comes another challenge....how to support your family. If you are fortunate enough to have someone you can rely on to help with child care, that can lessen your load. However, that doesn't always happen. In my case, (and I'm sure there are others out there as well) my son's behaviour was so erratic and at times over the top, that no one could handle him for any length of time except me.
This translated to "Stay At Home Mom". I did work part time when he was preschool age, but unfortunately that didn't work out. After I became a single parent, my son's behaviour took a nose dive, to the point that it was impossible for me to work away from the home. So...what to do? I could sit on 'the system', or actively find a way to become self sufficient. I chose the latter, however, I should also say that even though I did my best to be self sufficient, I still couldn't make enough money or commit to an away from home job for several years.
To date, I have written the first of a children's adventure series (a copy of which can be found at Lulu.com) entitled Christopher Collin and the True Okemus . I am also publishing a book dealing with life with my son, called "part-time Genius full-time Job", and manage an online community, One Small Step for Parents (link available above,) with resources, information and support for parents raising children with ADHD and its attendant disorders.
What I have written here is only a fraction of what we deal with parenting these wonderfully, charismatic (and sometimes volatile) children. The phrase "One heck of a ride!" sums up our lives as parents and teachers for these kids.
I would also like to invite other parents of ADHD/ODD children to contact me, if only to let them know they are not alone in their struggles. Hopefully this posting will raise awareness of our challenges and bring some relief to the ostracism we encounter daily.
Copyright Enelle Lamb 2008 - Please do not copy and paste this article, but feel free to post a link using this url: http://hubpages.com/hub/Living-with-an-ADHD-ODD-child