Sometimes life tires me out. We are just coming up on two months since diagnosis, and man… somedays it feels like I’m climbing Everest, between advocating for myself, but more importantly, my son, and my family.
I am finding those who most claim to understand, don’t. Lip service, if you will, is paid to our life.
All my efforts of sharing what myself and husband have been taught, and learned through trial and error, don’t always work.
That is okay. I am realizing it is not my place to convince others of our reality…
So my family lives our reality; peacefully. Yet under constant criticism, always offered unsolicited and unwanted advice.
The worst of it?
I wish I didn’t have to apologize all day long. To strangers, to the librarian, to the girl at the coffee shop who he knocked the table over on (and it landed on me), to friends, to family for feelings hurt.
I wish people outside of my nuclear family of three were more understanding, more receptive, less judgemental.
We three, we aren’t neurotypical, we have what is referred to as the ADHD nervous system; we are doing the best we can with the tools we have. And above all? We three are trying to live from a place of mindfulness, and love.
I’m sorry my son (and my husband and I) are sensitive to loud noises, too much noise at once, or too many people talking to us at the same time, or being the center of attention.
I’m sorry we aren’t able to arrive early or on time, often times leaving much too early; even for parties where we are the guest of honor.
ADHD / SPD common triggers:
Loud noises (fireworks, thunder)
Bright lights (camera flashes, bright sun, strobe lights)
Odors (perfume, scented detergent)
Coarse fabric on skin
Swimming in lakes
Tags on clothes
Being touched or hugged
Tart or bitter foods
Do you know how it feels to have sensory overload? To be completely overwhelmed by all the sensory input charging through your mind; interrupting any conversation or activity we were just engaged in?
For myself, and my son, at this moment in time, the best thing for both of us to do when we are overwhelmed? Physically remove ourselves from the overstimulation, to try and find our center again.
Let me repeat myself. Sensory overload / ADHD overwhelm, threatens our physical, emotional and spiritual safety. WE react the same as if we were being physically threatened by someone with a weapon. Once WE reach this place? Our fight or flight response is engaged; and nothing but leaving the offensive situation will help.
People have scoffed, gotten offended, offered what they think we “should be doing” to better parent and control our child. To them I have apologized; and attempted to share knowledge… but I am learning, I cannot change anyone else’s mind.
I’m sorry others cannot find it in themselves to actually experience what a joy it is to have such a kind, gentle, sensitive and sweet boy as a companion.
His father and I are learning and trying to accommodate our sprout, so that he doesn’t get too overwhelmed and have meltdowns. Part of that is setting limits, creating schedules and routines. And also speaking up for him when we can tell he needs a break. (So much great information found at that link!)
This is all to avoid the following: having to medicate now; having him develop oppositional defiant disorder; or depression because his self esteem is shot from being yelled at / punished / shamed for certain (but definitely not all) behaviors which aren’t within his control. They are created by the neurological systems in his brain, misfiring.
I know what others may think of this blog post. This has been told to us many different times by many, many experts; from Early Intervention, up to the neurodevelopmental specialists at Boston Children’s, and his teacher included. We do not wish to medicate; so we have to do things this way.
Modifying ourselves, our responses, and taking stock of how our words could be perceived, has not been easy. There have been slip ups- frustrations run high here sometimes. Living mindfully, we talk them through, and discuss how next time there are better choices – and better consequences. We do this as a family, too.
We have been working with our son on “choices”, and logical consequences, since he was about 2 year old; as that is what he was taught at his daycare, and now preschool. Better to have the choice be bad, then tell him HE is bad. (It all leads back to caring most for his self esteem, and not making him out to be something which he has no control over – ADHD behaviors are neurologically based; not something which someone with ADHD has control.)
This is my last apology on this topic. I am strengthening my resolve and doubling down on my efforts.
I will not apologize anymore for our existence, and the accommodations we must make, to take up space in this world; trying with all of our might to conform to others. We have just as much right to exist peacefully, here, as anyone else.
We have come so far! We are parents to a five year old, who is so very curious, full of love, and empathy. Our hearts are full, with joy, with hope, with all the possibilities the future holds for our son and ourselves.
Peace. Be well, but mostly, be mindful.