I remember a time I used to hear the phrase “special needs” and immediately associated it with people who had severe disabilities. It wasn’t until my own son was classified as a child who has special needs that my entire perception changed.
A Little Background
If you are a regular reader here on my blog or you follow any of my social media; then you are aware that my middle child has ADHD and Tourette’s Syndrome. This has created some significant challenges for him both in his home and school life as well as his social life.
The combinations of both these disorders has made for quite a wild ride for all of us. As a parent, before you understand your child has a diagnosis; you are probably trying to operate on one last nerve! There is so much to learn about your child, how their brain processes, and then developing a new way to interact with your child.
We’ve had to really scrap our parenting style to accommodate his limitations. It’s not as easy as it sounds because after reminding him of something for the millionth time you find yourself saying “what do you not get?!!” And then you have to stop and remind yourself; he can’t help it. What do I mean by that? Keep reading.
There’s More to It then You Know
I always assumed ADHD was just a child being hyperactive but it’s not. How he processes instructions, his memory, his ability to retain information short term, his ability to focus, multitask or stay organized are all a part of the big picture.
With his tics, he can’t control them and when he feels agitated, flustered, frustrated, anxious, sad or excited; it can ramp them up to 100!
Combine his awareness of his ADHD and his tics you can only imagine the amount of anxiety a kid like him might feel. He’s painfully aware of his differences from the other children, the stares people give him when he fidgets and tics. This basic awareness is enough to trigger his anxiety which in turn exacerbates his symptoms.
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What its Been Like
These challenges have made school an uphill battle these last two years. Between the ages of 9 and 13 the symptoms of both of these disorders tend to manifest in boys at their peak. So while he used to be different just a couple of years ago; we’ve seen a dip in his grades and it has been hard as a mama to watch.
We’ve had to employ new methods to ensure that he is bringing class assignments and homework home. This has required extensive communication with his teachers, meetings at the school, and ensuring he as a 504 Plan to protect his rights.
We’ve put him in behavioral therapy because we felt it would be good for him to have an accountability partner that wasn’t so close to home. He’s able to go and express his thoughts and feelings and be taught new ways to accomplish what most of us would deem simple things.
We’ve begun using reminder cards which we’ve strategically placed around the house which serve as a way to get him to double check his responsibilities for the day. We now have a routine of me going through his book bag and folders; sifting through every nook and cranny to make sure he has all that he needs and get rid of all that he doesn’t. This helps reduce the clutter and chaos.
All of this is tedious, time consuming and really exhausting at the end of the day. But it’s absolutely worth it. Especially when we’re beginning to see signs of improvement. The reality is that this part of the job is going to be constant redirection all the time until he either outgrows it or is old enough to manage it on his own.
As parents, you will be tired and overworked and want to curse everything at times. This even more so if you have other children because you have to still make time for them. And we definitely have 2 more children.
You will have days where you feel awful for feeling how you feel, and I’m here to tell you that’s ok. You’re entitled to whatever feelings. But at the end of the day, when your child needs you?
You show up and you show out no matter what.