At the end of 2nd grade, my son was formally tested and diagnosed with ADHD (inattentive type). It wasn’t really a surprise. I knew my dude’s struggling was more than just laziness and lack of motivation. Even still, hearing the psychologist explain her findings brought me to tears. I guess the realization that for the rest of his learning years we would need to revamp how we approached his education was a bit heavy, but honestly it was also extremely empowering.
My husband and I were “good” students.
He was valedictorian, and I was top 20 of our graduating class. For us, any struggle in school was very much correlated with lack of attention or motivation. Our first two sons tested into Jefferson Parish’s advanced academies and, although they may have needed some extra attention during certain phases, they have been similar in educational approaches as we were. My fourth dude, not so much.
First grade showed signs of difficulty attaining to task. Behavior charts weren’t all greens and blues. Teacher discussions included words like “distracted” and “disruptive.” Homework seemed to take a very long time and included meltdowns and explosions. Now, I’m a mom of 5 boys. I have this weird heightened sensitivity to the lack of grace boys are given in the school setting, and the expectations some teachers have on kids as young as first grade. I’m also not oblivious. Before you tell me something is an issue … I promise, it’s on my radar. His second grade teacher was amazing. Same discussions, but with a loving air about them.
This is where I started to look a bit deeper.
We met with the counselor first. She knew about our dude and had already had conversations with the teacher. We discussed options and paths. We met with the counselor AND the teacher to talk about best approaches and possible accommodations. Then, we scheduled the evaluation.
My son was in the room, and all words were spoken in his presence. We spoke of how smart he was, how awesome of kid he was as a friend, athlete, brother. We spoke of his struggles in class. We agreed to have him tested the next week. The test showed signs of difficulty attaining to task, focusing on things, and staying still. In conclusion, we had a son with ADHD.
According to www.ADDitutdemag.com, 11% of U.S. children aged 4-17 years old, or 6.1 million, have been diagnosed with ADHD. Boys are about 3 times as likely to be diagnosed as girls. The diagnoses rate is likely showing increases each year as it is becoming more widely spoken about and kids are given more opportunities for appropriate intervention.
We are still in the learning phase of what works best for him.
Honestly, we will probably always be in a learning phase. What my husband, myself, and my dude are learning most though, is how to take these four letters and use the information behind them to empower our approach. I have found I am more patient through a meltdown, ultimately resulting in a quicker regroup and less of a disruption to our evening. My son is learning to be self aware. He asks for his headphones when brothers are distracting, and for “brain breaks” when we’ve conquered a big homework assignment. We put up a homework shield to make his world a little bit smaller when necessary. We’ve made adjustments to the snacks we eat when we get home. We’ve had to ask neighborhood kids not to knock on the door on school nights. We make sure school makes small adjustments to give him the best shot.
Our nights are still long, but we are rocking 3rd grade. Our grades are not the only thing we celebrate, but we sure do lay it on thick when hard work shows up as a good test grade. We also smile and love through it when hard work doesn’t.
You meet each kid where they are.
This is no different. With ADHD, we have the unique gift of understanding and affirming where this kid’s specific struggles are coming from. I find that super empowering.