Meltdowns Are Tough
What I'm doing right now is something every parent of an ADHD child has gone through. I'm sitting on the giant teddy bear in my son's room. And he's screaming. About having to write one sentence. One sentence that he was supposed to write with his therapist, but since he's 2E, he knows he can run out the clock with her. He can't run out the clock at home, and he's frustrated.
When You Do Everything Right, Yet...
Sometimes the strategies and making it a game fail, and you have to discipline. It doesn't mean you're failing as a parent. It doesn't mean that you didn't handle it right. It simply means that your child has to learn that it's better to spend half a minute writing "My favorite animal is a cat" (especially when they already wrote the word "My") than screaming for the last... let me check my watch... 25 minutes. As soon as he finishes the writing he's allowed to get up and do whatever he wants since he's been in self-timeout for so long, but part of being 2E is trying to get out of un-preferred tasks and perfectionism. It's my son's not-so-great way of dealing with the "Wall of Awful". So, this comes from a lack of self-esteem of his own making.
Keeping It Cool with ADHD is a Challenge
As a mom with ADHD, this is especially hard on me. Why? Because one of the symptoms of ADHD is emotional dysregulation. That means it's hard to control our emotions, and as an inattentive type, I usually blame myself before I get mad. It takes a lot of effort for me to take a step and tell myself, "This isn't about you. This isn't anything that you are doing wrong. This is par for the course." It's also really hard not to get sucked up into it and start talking back. I'm even using this post to help myself stick it out without losing my temper, and that's okay.
Executive Age Vs. Physical Age
So, while we're talking about meltdowns and ADHD it's also important to talk about the EXECUTIVE age of my son. (Click HERE to learn more about Executive Functions) Physically he is a 6-year-old, his brain regulates itself at a 4-year-old level, and academically he is a 4th grader. I constantly have to remind myself that if he could do better, he would. And yes, he IS medicated today. Meds aren't a magical solution that magically makes up for the missing two years. People with ADHD have to be taught the skills that they don't pick up naturally, so the meltdowns lessen immediately with meds, but they don't go away. They now have enough focus and regulation to LEARN the skills that they need. ADHD is the most treatable disorder in psychiatry, but that doesn't make it easy. It takes a lot of work and perseverance to overcome, even with medication. That's why therapy and OT are instrumental in my son's treatment. Therapy is teaching him coping skills and OT addresses the physical, but as parents, we need to work on these skills AND teach them kindness, compassion, and that not all tasks are fun.
After the Storm
So, after about an hour of screaming my son finally settled down enough that we could talk through the importance of writing as an adult. We were able to have a conversation where I explained to him that doctors see lots of patients at the same time and that they give us the clipboards with forms so they know exactly what's wrong with which person and don't give them the wrong medicine. We were able to put together how long he was screaming and looked up the average time it takes to write that sentence for someone with dysgraphia (clinically sloppy handwriting) and it was... 26 SECONDS. Lots of cheers, high fives, and hugs when he finished and sent him on his way to make sure that the WAITING was the painful part, and NOT the writing. Later tonight, when he's asleep, I'll sneak in and just look at him being peaceful to remind myself what all the effort and struggle is for. Right now, I'll be doing 10 minutes of yoga by myself to have a break and relieve some of the stress of the HOUR AND FIFTEEN MINUTE task.