Our son struggles with ADHD, would lo... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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Our son struggles with ADHD, would love support and advise from other parents

Swede82 profile image

Hello! I am new to this community and looking for advise/support. My husband and I have an 8 year old boy Max who was diagnosed with ADHD about 18 months ago. It’s a struggle, a real struggle. He is on medication and has been consistently for about 15-16 months. It works well when he is on it but we still struggle a lot with his outbursts and behavior. It’s of course worse now it seems, since he’s not in school full time due to Covid. With cases popping up all the time, the school will occasionally close for a couple of weeks at a time. Evenings and mornings are especially hard. Every morning it’s like he’s shot out of a cannon, unpredictable, loud, crazy, unfocused yelling and screaming. At night time we can have good night and bad nights. It’s just depends. Since we are in our little bubble here and don’t have any friends or relatives with children like Max, it feels like we are alone in this. That we have the only child with these issues. Which of course we know isn’t the case. It causes a lot of anxiety, stress, crying in our household. We would just like to hear from other parents going through the same things, and how you handle your ADHD child. We know each child is different but any advise and/or recommendations would help!!

14 Replies

Welcome to this group! You will get a lot of wonderful support here. My son is 15 with ADHD and was diagnosed at 6 so I am a little further along on the journey and I can tell you while it is not always easy, it can have wonderful moments too. My son is medicated and I have found that while it was not an easy decision at the time to start, it really is one of the best things that we could have done for him long term.

I’m so glad you found your way to this forum because I know that I have found some of the best ideas and advice from other parents along the way. You are not alone!

Swede82 profile image
Swede82 in reply to Shamasamdrew

Thank you Shamasamdrew ! I am looking forward to being able to chat with other parents who are going through the same things we are

Hi Swede! I totally get the "shot from a cannon " in the mornings and what I call "hitting the wall" at night after which, my real son ceases to exist and it's the ADHD show around here. If you have ever read any of my responses (you are new, so probably not), I consistently describe the management of ADHD as a three legged stool with the legs being medications, accommodations at school and lifestyle modifications at home (like a set sleep schedule and shooing away guests being "the wall" is hit). In ordinary times, I swear by this. BUT, these are not ordinary times and increasingly I am hearing of the unique challenges posed by the pandemic which is keeping many of our children home from school amd many of us working from home. So, here is my temporary, state of emergency, every person for themselves three legged stool: 1. private spaces, 2. EXERCISE , and 3. Noise canceling headphones. First, the spaces. What has kept us sane is having a space where each of us can be alone (hide). My wife has the bedroom, sitting room area, my son has the teen hang-out space we created next to his bedroom and I have the space in the basement I civilized while I was working at home in the spring. You would be surprised how therapeutic just having space that others don't invade can be. Now I get that not everyone has space to spare. I have read of folks who crammed themselves in small spaces in cities because life was outside the apartment (like reserving an interior room on a cruise ship believing you'll not spend much time there anyway). Those folks will need to be more creative to find space. Second, exercise. In addition to a child with ADHD, I have a young chocolate lab. I find that both benefit equally from a long walk or other vigorous exercise. My rule with my son is that he can talk all he wants as long as his feet are moving. It works. Somehow, as long as we are moving, I am able to tolerate the constant noise. It's like crickets chirping in tne background or the sound of ocean waves. Third, and when all else fails, the noise canceling headphones. Weekends are particularly challenging here because unlike week days when we wake my son up with his medication, on weekends, he sleeps in and explodes to life with ADHD fully at the wheel. This morning, I just wanted to read the paper, but it sounded like an airport runway in my living room. I put on my noise canceling headphones and searched for "soothing music" on Amazon prime music app and enjoyed my paper in relative peace while looking out the window at the new fallen show in the yard, hot cup.of coffee in hand. It was quite nice. Now, my state of emergency plan won't win me any parenting awards perhaps, but as noted above, it's for these unique, "every person for themselves " times. I am certainly not a better parent when I lose patients or yell. Normalcy is within sight now, I truly believe!! Be well. Hang in there. Don't forget to laugh. These kids can make us crazy!!

Swede82 profile image
Swede82 in reply to ADHD_DAD

Hi ADHD_DAD , I appreciate your response! I am not sure how old your son is, but these are great tips for all ages. I think that sometimes the hardest thing for us to remember is that our son doesn't choose to be this way. He didn't choose to have ADHD, and we KNOW that things he says and does are, believe it or not (and sometimes very unbelievable) out of his control. We have read so much and listened to so much on how to handle a child like this, and all of the advise seems so obvious....but when you are at your wits end and ready to pull your hair out and just scream....it's easy to forget. We are actually going to schedule an appointment with some specialists to get a deeper insight into all of this. He has been diagnosed by the ADHD specialist at his pediatricians office and they have been super helpful but we need just more tools to be able to handle this. Some days are good....a few even great. But some days are just almost unbearable! Thanks for listening to me rant, and I am looking forward to being able to chat more!!

ADHD_DAD profile image
ADHD_DAD in reply to Swede82

Lest you take my state of emergency survival tips too lightly, let me tell you a story. We just finished our evening 3 mile walk. He abided by my rule: as long as the feet are moving, he can talk. I am generally good at shutting it out (crickets chirping, ocean waves, see above). Well, tonight I accidentally listened. I didn't intend to, but I heard, "Dad, Dad DAD!!.. are you listening?" He then proceed to tell me about a chicken named Mike which, he swears, lived for 18 months without a head. Apparently, it was being decapitated for the purpose of being eaten, but they removed only part of the brain leaving the brain stem (and apparently, one ear). He went into great detail on how they fed it, how they didn't eat it because now it had more "value" as a side show than as food and how and why it lived, ate, etc. And this went on for THREE MILES!! Now this may seem interesting except that he told me the exact same story with the same amount of detail about 3 years ago while we were hiking in the mountains. I pointed that out to him and he recalled it (in vivid detail, of course), but that did not dissuade him from telling this story again. He pointed out the details which he added this time that he had not included 3 years ago. When we got home, I "tapped out" for awhile for some alone time. On the positive side, the dog is now sleeping in his bed and my son is on the couch quietly reading. I am always in awe of his amazing, fast, super brain, but as noted above, these kids can make you crazy if you let them!!

Nats2005 profile image
Nats2005 in reply to ADHD_DAD

How do you convince your kid to respect your private spaces. Our 5.5-year old son is rather attached to daddy (me). If I try and retreat to somewhere quiet he'll be "wait, I'm scared" and insist on following me.

Sometimes my wife might be able to get him to build with blocks or Legos, or he'll be willing to camp out on his bed with his tablet (Kids' Fire) but other times he needs to be in the same room as us, tablet blasting at full volume, stretched out on the floor and kicking his feet against the rug. And if I leave to run an errand it can be Meltdown City.

If we can get outside that's good, but neither me nor my wife are winter people.

ADHD_DAD profile image
ADHD_DAD in reply to Nats2005

My son's older now (a teenager), so he can be alone. When he was younger, my wife and I had to be proactive. I used to joke that single dads got the whole day with their kid on a weekend and I never did, so I always planned "daddy day" one day per weekend. I had my son for the whole day and my wife would have the whole day to herself (just one child). My wife would have him the other day and I'd have the day to myself. When we were all cooped up at home, we kept the same kid of schedule, but the "spaces," as described above, became more important. On weekdays, she is mornings (although I am here and drive him to school) and I am evenings. She is usually in the bedroom winding down by 7:oopm or so and I have the later shift. Was easier when he was littler because he'd go to bed around 7:30p. Now he stays up later, so the deal (which I enforce with a figurative iron fist) is that he needs to be up in his "area" (bedroom or hang out space) by 9:40pm (which is about when he "hits the wall") although he can watch tv until around 11:00pm (which is later than I like, but he can't fall asleep sooner; I was the same as a teen).

Most of the time "daddy day" involves some outside activity like hiking, mountain climbing, kayak, boat (when the weather permits). In the winter, it's more challenging. Last weekend, we took the dog and went snow tubing at a local park with an awesome sledding hill and yesterday, we went skiing all day. We pretty much walk 2-3 miles every evening (after his mom punches out for the day). That can be challenging. Wind chills of -7 F on Friday, but the exercise really improves his focus and behavior. Helps to have a high energy dog. I think ADHD is the natural state for young Labrador and he will not take no for an answer! So, that's what works for us. Definitively easier when they can be unattended. Be well. Good luck to you.

ADHD_DAD profile image
ADHD_DAD in reply to ADHD_DAD

Also, don't forget #3-- the noise cancelling head phones. Might do the trick for you Nats2005!! Good luck.

Aimee1422 profile image
Aimee1422 in reply to ADHD_DAD

Thank you for sharing your perspective and tips. I think this will help us a lot. Creating the personal spaces is brilliant! I think this will allow some much needed decompression, particularly when all the wheels are falling off and the roof is caving in. I am ordering the headphones right now 🙂

ADHD_DAD profile image
ADHD_DAD in reply to Aimee1422

I have upgraded the noise canceling headphones to the status of survival device. Tonight on our walk, my son told me of a parrot named Alex which, he claims, is the first bird in history to demonstrate understanding of an existential question. He said the parrot looked at itself in the mirror and asked, "what color?" The owner/trainer, convinced she had never said that in front of tne animal, so it couldn't just be mimicking, proceeded to try to teach the bird to recognize and name objects for the next 20 years. He claimed the bird always struggled with fruit, calling all fruit ban-apples. At age 31, the bird died suddenly of unknown causes. Its last words were "be good." Please don't think he told this story succinctly as I have tried to do. This went in for OVER 2 MILES!! He said tomorrow he'll tell me about 2 Canadians killed by a flying bear. This kid is going to make me crazy. Time for some blues instrumental (don't need any more words today) through the noise canceling headphones! Serenity Now!!

Our son is almost the same age, and we go/have gone through the same struggles. Mornings are so scary. Its just how you describe. The stress, the trying to remember its not his fault or his choice, the out of control energy. We talked with our developmental pediatrician and she recently switched him from short acting medications to a 12 hour Strattera and a 24 hour Intuniv, and it has changed our lives. He wakes up happy because his medicine hasn't fully worn off yet, which has dramatically changed the tone for the day. Plus he eats better, sleeps more and goes to bed earlier which makes him better rested and less 'hangry'. I agree with everything the other poster wrote about exercise, consistency with parenting etc etc but when you have the right medication everything else becomes manageable. You might check with your developmental pediatrician to see if there are any appropriate 24 hour medications that might work for your son. Best of luck, you are not alone. Oh - there is also a training we did once for parents called PCIT, it helps train parents to become more consistent with their parenting and to connect with their kid... but, as I said, for us the right medications are the foundation for being able to do pretty much anything. The other stuff comes after.

Thank you!! It feels good to know someone elsehas the exact same struggles. Our son is on Focalin right now but it’s only effective for 8-10 hours. We are scheduling an appointment with a ADHD specialist and we will definitely bring up possibly switching meds to a longer acting one!

That's a good idea. And if Focalin is working for him in general that's great, maybe the prescriber will add a second 24 hour support med instead of switching him away from Focalin... but find a prescriber you trust and develop a long term relationship. It took us several years to get to the current combination of medications for our son. You want someone who knows your family, who will stay with you over time, who is very familiar with the different med options, who will track your child's growth and development and make adjustments as they grow. There are always slightly different effects and side effects to all these medications, and so it takes someone who knows you and your child to find the right thing and adjust as needed on your journey... but I think the issues you are describing are very manageable with the right provider on your team.

Focalin does work well! This is the 3rd medicine he’s been on. The first two did not work well. So I want to keep him on this one, but like you said...add something else possibly!

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