When you have ADHD, it's not a cookie-cutter experience. Outside of ADHDers falling into 3 categories according to the DSM (Hyper, Inattentive, and Combined), there are other ways that people with ADHD can vary greatly from each other. I like to think of ADHDers having their symptoms on one of the old sound-booth sliders, like in a recording studio and each of the executive functions is their own slider. So even though my son has a lot of struggles with emotional regulation, he doesn't have the same level of working memory problems that I struggle with. I also don't struggle with emotional regulation in the same way he does. Sometimes it leads to confusion, even within the ADHD community itself on whether ADHD is the cause of undesirable behavior and whether some techniques work well or not. Everyone's flavor is a bit different, and yet there is SOME pattern to it all.
Lately, I've been struggling with my son's emotional regulation and how to help him. (To know how this shows up in G, check out my Parenting is Hard post.) What makes it especially difficult is that most of his problems happen when I'm NOT with him, but I got a small ray of hope yesterday.
When I asked him to pick up "his" mess in the laundry room while grabbing some pajamas out of the dryer, he told me his feelings BEFORE he had a meltdown. "Mom, I feel like Cinderella cleaning up after her step-sisters." I was surprised to hear him say that and asked him why in a calm voice. "Because this is S's mess." No screaming. No yelling. I was shocked! THIS is a huge win for us! "Oh! I'm sorry that I said it was yours." I gave him a big hug and told him how proud I was that he had told me his feelings calmly. "I would still like your help putting the clothes in the dryer, and I'm sorry I assumed that the mess belonged to you. It really helps me to have someone pick up with me, and I'm really thankful that you've been helping out a lot." After that, he finished getting ready for bed and we were able to talk about him having a bit of a cleaning break today.
So what was my take away from this successful communication? My son, rich vocabulary that he has, has a hard time using emotional language. When he was able to equate his problem to Cinderella, it was absolutely brilliant. At bedtime, we've been reading Harry Potter, but I may be turning back to some of the more traditional fables as a way to give him more unique scenarios to compare his experiences with.