Archive for March, 2011

THE ABCs of ADHD

I’ve read the articles and books on ADHD.  I know the discipline methods, rewards and time outs, the methods of Ross Green (from The Explosive Child) and the medications that work best.  But I also know the realities of ADHD, having 2 children with ADHD and 2 with ADD.  In real life terms, the ABCs of ADHD/ADD are:

Attention! Always on alert for dangerous situations due to impulsive behaviors, such as running across streets without looking, grabbing a butcher knife to cut the end off a banana, running up the down escalator, and grabbing the dog or any other animal roughly and the dog (or other animal) retaliating by biting (or scratching.)

Be careful!  Be careful!  Be careful” is the parent mantra.

Climbing climbing climbing:  out of the crib at age 15 months, out of the bedroom window when a teenager, on rock walls and curbstones and couches.

Don’t touch that!  Don’t do that! Don’t hit her!  Don’t pull that!  Don’t eat that! Don’t hurt it!  Don’t break it!

Exhausted parents trying their best to keep up.

Friendships are difficult.

Go!  Go!  Go! They’re always on the go!

Helpless parents, unable to control their child’s behavior, especially embarrassing in the grocery store under the staring eyes of others, judging them.

If only he’d…    If only she’d….  Parents dream for a different lifestyle.

Jumping Bean:  he goes here and there from friend to friend to friend, never staying long enough to establish a real friendship.

Kitchen walls are written on, bathroom doors have holes kicked in, curtains are ripped, bedrooms are messy.

LOVE.  Parents give unconditional love, but the behavior doesn’t change because the  ADHD remains…

MEDICATION!  MEDICATION!  MEDICATION! Alleluia when it works!!!!

Not paying attention in school so schoolwork suffers: not paying attention for homework, so it’s a nightly fight: not paying attention to other’s feelings, so no friendships are formed.

Overload happens easily and tantrums result. Keep it quiet.  Keep it simple.  Keep it under stimulated for peace.

Psychiatrists are our best friends!

Questions!  Questions from them all the time! Especially hard to escape when you are stuck riding in the car together.

Rewards for good behaviors; stickers, ice cream, Playstation, tv.

Self-esteem is low, parent  and teacher patience is limited so he’s always the troublemaker and never measures up.

Time-outs in the seat till we’re blue in the face.  All the time spent in time-outs would add up to a year in the life.

Understanding is needed from parents, family, friends and teachers; understanding is often in short supply.

Very draining on all, child and adults.

Whining, whining, whining until their parent’s ears hurt.

X-rays, CAT Scans and emergency room visits:  active behavior results in injuries.

YIKES! What has he done NOW?!?!

Zest for life would be a polite way of putting it…

Stress Busters…

Thoughts on things I do to reduce stress and remain sane while raising 5 children with disabilities:

Ø    I buy each person in my family their own brand of socks.  That way, matching them and giving them to the proper person is easy. Also, if the dryer eats a sock, there is always another one to match the spare.

Ø    My children have always had a 9:00 pm bedtime.  They don’t need to actually go to bed, but they need to stay in their rooms and read, watch television, chat on their cell phones or whatever.  This gives my husband and me a couple of hours of “quiet time” and also calms the children down before they fall asleep.

Ø    Every evening, during this time, I try to take a bubble bath.  I have a nice, icy glass of Diet Coke, read a magazine, (I have to much going on in my brain to read a book and remember it from night to night,) and wash with strongly scented body wash.  The scent really cheers me up!  If I feel really decadent, I will light scented candles.

Ø    I work.  I love my job. I get to talk to adults about current events and it gives me a solid foundation to “carry on” otherwise.

Ø    I schedule doctor, dentist and counseling appointments in the late afternoon, evening or on a Saturday so I do not have to take time out of work.   There are plenty of doctors, dentists and counselors who have evening and weekend hours.

Ø    I find places to take the kids where they can have fun, but that fun is contained.  They love the local dog park where they can cuddle and play with neighborhood dogs.  We go to a small local beach where they pick shells, catch sand crabs, and sometimes even go in the water.  We often go to movies such as “Shrek”, “Ice Age”, “Madagascar”  “Up” and so forth.  There is plenty of adult humor in these movies and I am generally the one laughing the loudest.  We go to a clay studio where the children get to make and paint a piece of clay. (My daughter has done so many wonderful dishes that she will have a whole collection for when she sets up housekeeping!)  We regularly visit the neighborhood pool where the children love to swim and the ice rink where they love to skate.  These are both great self-contained areas where the children can be as active as they want and I can sit on the sidelines and wave.

Ø    I find places to eat where the kids can play and I can visit with a friend.  I do not have much extra time for a social life, so meeting friends for dinner is important.  We regularly eat at a restaurant that has a pool table and air hockey for the kids to play while I get to sit and chat.  Being with friends regenerates my batteries.

Ø    As I am often in the emergency room with one or other of my children, I have a “hospital bag” packed, not unlike the bag packed by expectant mothers.  In it I have several magazines for myself and my child,  several dollars in change for the soda machine, and a deck of playing cards to play with my child during the long waits for treatment.  I also bring an extra dose of any medication they are on.  Heaven help everyone if his/her Ritalin or Concerta  wears off while waiting in the hospital. I learned to do this after several hospital rooms were in danger of being destroyed and my child was placed in restraints because they could not control themselves.  (I, too, think the oxygen hoses, the emergency buttons and the many containers of medical supplies are interesting, but I am physically able to refrain from playing with them and throwing them around the examining room! My children not so much…)

Ø    I get plenty of sleep.  If I don’t get enough sleep I am too crabby to face the day!  I am also “low maintenance” in that I dress comfortably not stylishly, I wear minimal make-up, and I have an easy hairstyle.  I may not be the most elegant mom around, but I can get ready for anything in ten minutes!

Ø    I am a “relaxed housekeeper”, to put it mildly.  My house is generally picked up, but heavier housework is not “my thing”.  I would much rather be off at the dog park with my children than sitting home washing the floor.  I do not think that when I die I will say “Oh, I wish I’d kept a cleaner house.”

O I listen to books on CD in the car.  It takes my mind off of things and I can be entertained.

O     I eat.  Yes, eating is bad for you, but I eat things like Cheerios and string cheese. They keep my mouth and hands busy and satisfies my craving to stuff something in my mouth!

O I do not take things too seriously.  Shit happens.  Move on.

Ø    I write this blog.  Writing has always been an interest of mine, and by writing this blog, I am able to take some of life’s daily stressors and bang them out on the poor computer keyboard.  Thanks for reading this and giving me an excuse to write!!!!!

I Don’t Think Alligators Kiss

Yesterday my husband, in a good mood, came into the kitchen, swooped me backwards, and gave me a passionate kiss.  When we had finished, I noticed my 13 year old adopted daughter standing there, mouth gaping open, eyes wide, with a shocked look on her face.  “What was THAT????’ she asked (in American Sign Language.)  “A kiss,” I told her. “No, no”, she signed, “a kiss is a little peck on the lips” she said as she came over and demonstrated one on the dog.  “That is the way you kiss when you really love someone, your husband” I said.  “WOW!  How did you LEARN that?  Can you show ME!?!?!” she signed.   “You don’t learn it, you just feel it.  It is natural when you love someone,” I explained to her.  “I’m going to wait until I’m 17 to do that,” she signed back, and I said a silent prayer to myself that I should be so lucky for her to wait that long!  I laughed inwardly at her innocence, this worldly child who knew the mechanics of sex more than anyone her age should have to know,  (the reason of which is a discussion better delegated to a more serious blog entry.)  But I doubt she ever saw anyone in love before, and she definitely had never seen anyone kiss passionately, which really surprised me.  The more I thought about it, though, I realized she hadn’t been exposed to it in her young life and the only other way she might know would be from watching television.  Because of her deafness,  she has a low reading level and is not able to understand the captioning enough to get interested in a romantic story or one of the more mature television shows which are all over the television today.  Her favorite tv station is the Animal Planet where great stories are told and no captioning is needed. She knows all about the life cycles of animals, insects and reptiles, including their different mating rituals, but, as preparation for real life, I’m sure she never saw alligators kiss like that!

A Miracle that Saved My Life (which you’d only understand if you had a teenage daughter.)

In her senior year in high school, Dinora was scheduled to go on a trip to Greece with her class.  When I wrote to the Department of Health to get a copy of her (adoption) birth certificate for her passport, we were mortified to learn that the birth date on the birth certificate and the birth date on the other legal documents were was different!  Thinking it was a simple mistake at the Department of Vital Statistics, I called.  “No,” they indicated, “That was the date that the court gave us at the time of the adoption.  The only way to change it was to go back to court.”  I was horrified and sick to my stomach. Visions of deportation bounced in my head.  Dinora, of course, was furious at me.  Taking a chance, I sent in the Passport photos, a copy of the adoption certificate, (which had no birth date on it, only the adoption date.) and a copy of Dinora’s Guatemalan birth certificate in Spanish under her birth name.  I prayed that although it was unconventional, it would be enough evidence for a passport.  Dinora was scheduled to leave for Greece on June 5.  By May 28 the passport had still not arrived.  Dinora was confident it would come, as she is confident everything comes to her.  I was not confident at all, and dreaded the day I’d have to face Dinora’s wrath because she couldn’t go to Greece.

Around this same time was Dinora’s senior prom.  She had chosen a dress several weeks prior, and I repeatedly asked her to try it on so it could be hemmed. Dinora, who was only 4 foot 11 inches, repeatedly said it would be “fine” because she was going to wear “heals”. She  was a busy high schooler and didn’t have the time to try it on. On the morning of the prom, Dinora tried it on before school and came crying to me that the dress was way too long.  It was a beautiful, silky cream color, and I am not at all domestic, so I didn’t have a clue what to do to hem it.  I ran to the sewing store and bought hemming tape.  “I can TAPE it up!”  I thought excitedly. It made perfect sense!  Nice and easy!  I got out the iron and began to iron on the tape.  The problem was twofold…the dress had a flare bottom and the hemming came out lumpy and crooked, and also the heat from the iron was melting the silk in the dress!  It looked ruined and AWFUL!!!  I promptly put the dress down, ran into the bathroom, and threw up.  Several times.  “Please, God,” I prayed, “I’ve never asked you for anything.”  I threw up again “Please, please, please  I am on my knees here, please help me out here.  I am over my head with this problem.”  I knew if ever I needed a miracle, this was it!  Still shaking, I got an idea. I ran to the phone book and looked up tailors.  There was one about a mile away, so I gathered the dress up and rushed to the tailor.  “I need you to fix this!” I almost screamed as I burst into the store.  The tailor took one look at it and said “But this dress is ruined.  See, here, where you’ve scorched the fabric?”     “PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE help me!” I begged through tears.  He said he would try but could promise nothing.  He could have it ready by the following Friday.  “NO!” I screamed like a wild woman, “I need it by 4:00 pm this afternoon!”  The man was shocked.  “I’ll pay any amount of money” I continued to beg.  Reluctantly, the gentleman agreed and I burst into more tears of hopeful relief.  I drove home to wait until 4:00, and when I got home and opened the mailbox, there was Dinora’s passport for her trip to Greece!  I went back to get the dress just in the nick of time for Dinora to get dressed for the prom. It was a miracle, (and for only a charge of $5!) The dress was hemmed and in perfect condition!  It was GORGEOUS!  He pointed out a few minor spots in the back of the dress where the material was scorched, but he said most of the bad spots he was able to hide under the hem.  This was a TRUE miracle which I would appreciate forever.  Of course Dinora did not have a clue what I went through for both her passport and her prom dress.  She was appreciative, of course, as was I!!!

The Ups and Downs of Multiple Personality Disorder

Angel developed dissociative identity disorder during his early childhood.  The abuse he endured was so horrific that when he was being abused, a separate personality was born so that he would not have to feel the abuse.  Some are good, some are bad.  Some are female (?), some are male.  Some have aged with him, and at least 2 are still babies.  This is not something I could invent.  I am not making a big deal out of it.  “It” just is a fact of every day life that we try to live with!

Today, Angel was at a friend’s party.  He has one personality that is friendly, game show host upbeat, polite, thoughtful of others and the type of person who others adore.  Andy indicated he used this personality every time he went to a new foster home in the hope that that family would not reject him.  Unfortunately, this personality cannot maintain him for long periods of time, as other, more dangerous, personalities invarianly emerged.  None of the foster families could handle this “quirk”, this change from, dare I even say it, Angel to Devil.  Of course, it had not been diagnosed until he was in 3rd grade, so none of the families could have know what really caused his “severe mood swings”.

His “game show host personality” (as he calls it) was at the party today.  He lasted 6 hours before he called me to pick him up.  While I was at the party picking him up, 5 different people came over to me to tell me what a joy he is!  That he is the best kid around!  That he is so polite and helpful!  And I thought to myself, “If they only knew…”

Once in the car, Angel’s smile vanished and a look of sheer anger appeared.  He held his head an announced that his “parts” (which is what he calls “them”) were fighting.  He cannot let one part out for so long without the rest fighting, he had explained a few years ago.  It was excruciating for him to be so nice all day, he said.  I knew the anger he displayed could be dangerous, and I encouraged him to come home and take a nap, which he did.  He crawls into a fetal position and falls asleep.  In the middle of the night, the “part” that is so emotionally needy will wake up and scour the kitchen for food.  He will engulf anything edible, trying to feed his heart.  Sometimes when he falls back asleep with his stomach full, he will fall asleep and his infant self will come out.  Sometimes this self is so young that it does not yet know how to use the toilet, or it gags on regular cereal. (As an infant, it can only eat oatmeal.)

Angel knows about 10 of his parts.  He knows there are several “mad” ones that he does not know.  These are the  parts that were abused, and if they become known to Angel, then the memories of the abuse would come flooding back.  So they remain hidden as Angel could not psychologically survive the memories at this age.  Slowly they have become known to him, and some of the angry parts have joined the rest of the parts he knows.  Through them, he remembers foster mothers who left him lying on his back, crying for hours.  (In reality, when he came to live with us at the age of 3 he had a flat back of his head from lying so long.)  He remembers them coming in and yelling at him to shut up and not helping him.  He had 4 foster moms reject him, and it physically damaged his young brain.  The angry parts he does not know do bad things to him.  They resent the fact that he is living a nice life and they had to endure the abuse.  They have done things like destroy his homework, steal his cell phone, laptop computer, Ipod and other precious items.  (We’ve never found these items, and once he is conscious that they are gone, the trash has been taken away, so we had nothing to search.) Once, after his second computer  disappeared, I thought I had outsmarted the angry ones.  I locked his computer on a cord to his bedstand.  “There!” I thought.  Let’s see THAT disappear!”  It stayed fine for a week or two.  Then, one morning I woke up to Angel screaming.  “Someone” had stomped on his computer, breaking the keyboard and snapping the screen off.

Angel has been in therapy since the 4th grade, and he has made considerable progress.  Previously, he would study for a test in school and I’d test him on the way to school and he would know the material 100%.  A half hour later he would take the test and in handwriting of a 1st grader, he would flunk it wrong answers.  Through therapy, his parts have learned to cooperate.  Now only the “smart ones” go to school.

Angle has been to Baltimore and counseled by the leading expert in Dissociative Identity Disorder, Dr. Joy Silberg.  He knows the goal of his therapy is integration of all of his parts.  He has indicated he does not want that, that he would be lonely without them to keep him company.  It looks, however, that it will be a long time before he is completely familiar with those angry parts.  They are still protecting him because they are holding the memories of his abuse!

Punch Buggy Heaven

My daughter, Marie, loves to play the “punch buggy” game while riding in the car.  For those of you unfamiliar with this pastime, if a person spots a Volkswagon Beetlewhile riding, they punch, (lightly of course,) the other person.  Marie seems to know where every Volkswagon owner is nearby.  There is a green one at the Veterinarian, a red one at McDonald’s, a yellow one at CVS and usually at least one other on sale at a nearby auto sales lot.

If I were any other type of a person, (like someone who actually PAYS ATTENTION,) I would know where these were.  But I continually forget, and she always forges ahead of me in this game 4 to zip.  Because she is searching the road, nearby streets, and parking lots, and I am DRIVING, the only chance I have of finding one she doesn’t see is when one comes up from behind me and I can see it in my rear view mirror.  Sometimes this happens and I am able to get a point.

Today, my husband took Marie out for a ride.  He is well aware of this game, and he is a better player than I am.  He can sometimes spot one or two Bugs, although he alway loses to Marie.  For the fun of it, he drove Marie to the ship docks in a nearby port.  Down a desolate highway on this Saturday, he finally came to his destination.  The parking lot for Volkswagen Beetles which had arrived by ship, to be transported all over the country. For as far as the eye could see, there they were!  A sea if Volkswagens!  A Rainbow of Volkswagens!   Marie was so amazed!  Until this point, she had no idea that these cars were made overseas and shipped here.  Her dad and she spent a good half hour there, laughing and punching each other in the shoulder.  He said he got up to 210, but she still beat him!

PS.  I am SOOOOO excited.  As you will notice, I learned how to insert a picture into my blog!  This, of course, does not compare to the gorgeously designed blogs which I visit, and I couldn’t figure out how to put it where I wanted to, but it is a start!  There’s no stopping me now!

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