Dr. Oz and ADHD

I LOVE The Dr. Oz Show !
(I have also met Dr. Oz, although he wouldn’t remember ….)

On today’s show, (Nov.21)  Drs. Ned Hallowell and Sue Varma, leading experts in ADHD, discussed adult ADHD.  
Although we associate ADHD with children, millions of adults have this medical condition and it is often undiagnosed, especially in women. 

Red Flag for Me ….

Worth going to the Dr. Oz website to read (or watch) what they have to say. 


Over lunch recently, my friend, Kathleen, offered some good advice: 
“Write about the happy times, too.”  

She has been following my blog and I asked her for some much needed feedback… for two reasons.  We have parented children together and she knows a lot of the struggles our family has been through over the years.  
And, Kathleen teaches dyslexic and language learning disabled students at 
The New Community School in Richmond, VA.
She went on to remind me that a sense of humor is essential.

Happy times.  Humor.  Mothering addiction.  They don’t exactly dovetail.
But she’s got a point and I’m working on it.

As I mentioned in Change in Temperament  (Oct), my son repeated Kindergarten. During that second year, he was diagnosed with ADHD, which means that in addition to the attentional challenges, he exhibited hyperactivity and impulsivity.  

No surprise there. 
This extensive testing also showed learning style differences, also referred to as learning disabilities.  
This was a little harder to wrap my arms around.  

These diagnoses don’t come with a personal handbook.  And what I wish they’d told me was that the low self-esteem slowly growing in a child with ADHD and learning disabilities, after years of ongoing disappointments and failures, can 

lead to self-medicating.

The seeds of addiction, I realized, are sown early.  
As I recreate those years, I’ll keep an eye open for the good moments, too.
I’m sure they’re in there.  


2 Book Recommendations

I’ve been searching bookstores for addiction resources.

Many books, written by experts, tackle this complex subject from an academic
standpoint.  I’ve found a number of books, written by the addicts themselves, chronicling their personal journeys through hell and back.

Books written by the parents of substance abusers are notably scarce, 
probably because reliving the experience is excruciating.

Two that I highly recommend:
A Beautiful Boy: A father’s journey through his son’s addictionby David Sheff 
Stay Close: A mother’s story of her son’s addictionby Libby Cataldi.

The emotional wild ride of parenting addiction is distinct from the addict’s
For parents, staying connected to those feelings and attempting to
understand them is a necessary ingredient in their own healing process.

According to an article written by Karen A. Baikie and Kay Wilhelm
“writing about traumatic, stressful or emotional events has been found to 
result in improvement in both physical and psychological health”.

After the fact, it’s easy to let the painful parts blur, just like we forget the 
pain of childbirth.  
But what if the confusion, fear and doubt of one parent can guide, reassure 
or ignite other parents to take action?

I’m writing it down to bring it out of the shadows.

In the past few months, I have been to several of the big-box bookstores as well as explored online to see what addiction resources are on the shelves.  There is comprehensive material written by the experts, who have spent many years studying this complex subject.  There are a number of books written by the addicts themselves, chronicling their personal journeys.  

There are but a few books written by parents of the addict, probably because reliving the experience is excruciating.  
Beautiful boy: a father’s journey through his son’s addiction, by David Sheff and Stay Close: A Mother’s Story of her Son’s Addiction, by Libby Cataldi,  are two that I highly recommend.

My overriding objective in writing this blog is to expose the emotional side and the harsh reality of my own experience with parenting addiction.  It’s difficult to quantify emotions, but staying connected and attempting to understand them is such an important ingredient in the personal healing process.

According to an article written by Karen A. Baikie and Kay Wilhelm, 
“writing about traumatic, stressful or emotional events has been found to result in improvements in both physical and psychological health”….


Change in Temperament

In the fall of my son’s Kindergarten year, a shift occurred.

He was a typical rough and tumble little boy, and seemingly overnight, there was a noticeable change in his temperament – and it wasn’t for the better.  

As first time Kindergarten parents, his father and I were plugged in and excited about what lay ahead in his new school community. He started Kindergarten with established pre-school friends, he was meeting new friends, teachers were excellent, etc.  
It was sure to be a positive experience for all of us, right?   
Age-wise, he was in the middle of the pack.  We never considered that he might not be ready for Kindergarten, but with more structure in his days, attentional issues began to emerge.  If his teacher gave the class a 3-4 part assignment, he usually completed the first task, maybe the second and almost never closed the circle on the remaining two instructions.  In addition to not being able to complete his own work, he became a distraction to others in the classroom.

Mrs. W. worked tirelessly with us throughout the year to come up with creative ways to channel his focus.  Talk about pushing a boulder uphill…
and it was only Kindergarten. By spring, we decided that he should go back to Kindergarten for a second year, in hopes that with some maturity, he might outgrow some of the inattentiveness and impulsivity.

Mrs. W. was the lucky one who delivered the news to him.  His father and I held our breath, waiting for the eruption.  The eruption came in the form of total denial. According to Mrs. W., he listened respectfully and seemed to hear her message. However, when we broached the subject at home that evening, he simply acted as though he was headed right on to first grade with his friends.  

He did, in fact, go back to Kindergarten the next year.  He had another amazing teacher who did everything in her power to help him acclimate to a new group.  A few of these boys had also been with him in Nursery School, so there was some re-connection. Mrs. S., his new teacher, tried to give him small leadership roles to build self-esteem.  

Overall, it was a pretty good year, thanks to all hands on deck …. 

The next year didn’t go so well.