Highschool – ADHD milestone

The last couple of months have been hard work. Having a child transition to high school is daunting enough when they don’t have special needs. Having a child that does have additional needs puts a whole new perspective on the transition for me. Having been in this situation twice before I thought I was prepared for my third daughter to start high school. How wrong I was….

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My daughter 11 years ago 

With so many meetings, notes, letters, forms, questions it has taken me this long to just sit and appreciate that this is a huge milestone in my daughters life.  Having a child with hearing loss and ADHD, learning difficulties worries me no end I struggled with her being in primary school how the hell I am going to cope her being in high school!! I seemed to have spent the last 7 years in a bubble which sadly has now popped as high school is such a different ball game

  1. They are expected to be independent
  2. Remember what they need each day
  3. Organise themselves and get to lessons on time
  4. Get their own food and Eat at lunchtime
  5. Be responsible
  6. Do the work set or have the confidence to ask for help

While for most children going into year 7 may not have as many problems with some or all of these for my daughter these are all milestones she has not yet reached. This is not through a lack of trying to get her to be independent, and trying as many helping strategies as we can to enable her to function as expected by society and peers. Its just some days this holiday it has more added stress and upset on top of everything else that we as a family have to try and overcome. Six weeks is such a long time for a child to be out of school, out of routine, away from their friends and peers. I worry…..

To prepare for high school we have

  1. Chatting daily about high school, familiarising her with talk of high school, answering any questions that she has
  2. Pinning up her school timetable so that she has regular access to it to try and familiarise herself with the sorts of lessons she will have
  3. Taking lots of photocopies of the timetable, I would advise doing this for any child starting high school as they will all loose it at one point or another
  4. Keeping the school uniform out and visual – its hanging in her room with her bag, shoes, pencil case so that she gets use to them, sounds silly to some but having new items can be daunting making sure my daughter is comfy with her new stuff is just as important
  5. Next week we will start getting back into the school routine in regards to times. When school starts we will need to leave the house at 8.20am so in preparation I’ll start getting them in the routine of up, breakfasted and dressed by 8.20am

Its also important to try and not project your own insecurities about your child starting high school. I am finding it really difficult to not become anxious, worried and over protective about how she will cope. I know its my job to worry and to make sure that she has what she needs but she also needs me to be positive and reassuring. I need to let her be as independent as she can be but as a parent and a carer I also need to make sure that she has the support from us as a family as well as the school.

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This is where trying to build a good relationship with new teachers and heads of departments is key. I have spent time worrying that I may be seen as that annoying parent who email’s questions and has had numerous meetings with the senco, but for us this has allowed my daughter to familiarise herself with the school. Its during these meetings that I was put at ease and told I could continue to email if I have any worries or concerns. We all hear the terrible stories where schools don’t communicate with parents and there is no support, teachers don’t receive training in special needs, there is no money, EHCP’s are notoriously difficult to get – we have tried twice and it boils down to being in schools that meet her needs. Parents are left feeling angry, upset and disillusioned with the whole education system. I know at times I feel that way.

High school is the next step up, the next milestone and the fact that there is no playground and no parent – teacher interaction first thing in the morning and last thing at the end of the day in my opinion shouldn’t matter, as parents we should be able to get the support we need and be able to speak to those that care for our children in our place. My advice don’t keep quiet, fight for your children, like I said its not another planet its just high school and lets face it high school is difficult enough for any child.

Good luck to all those taking their first steps into high school in the next few weeks parents and children alike

x Leanne X

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Transitions, EHCP Ramblings…..Sloppy Life in Realtime

The last few days have been the hardest I think I have had for a long time. My brain feels like its on auto pilot, its on a non stop rollercoaster and I can’t see the end. I am screaming on the inside while trying to look normal for my children, family and friends. So sorry but here is as good as it gets my brain is fried, here are my ramblings…..

Why….

EHCP’s, Transition to high school, impending residential trip, family holiday’s, work, hospital appointment’s, general life……

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holidays planned

As a parent of children with disabilities life is never quiet or simple or normal…… there is no getting away from it watching my sister’s I envy them some days because everyday there is something else I need to remember, something else I need to do, to tell, write, ring, order, the list goes on and on. To have a bat shit crazy couple of days feeling like a legless jelly baby who hasn’t a clue what they are doing is normal right? Life gets to us all so if you see me in the street with a bright red face, unbrushed hair, no makeup and looking like I walked of the page of a 70’s catalogue its because I am trying to be a mum, carer, advocate, researcher plus everything else. I go to sleep dreaming of the printer and what its going to spew out next, I wake up to the face of my 10 year old daughter grinning at me before commencing with the first of many rude words, screams, shouts, tear’s or just plain crazy bouncing of the walls until the medication kicks in and she can calm down and concentrate on getting ready for school.

The life of any parent is filled with ups and downs….

Its no different for any parent, we all worry the same, we all do the best for our children the same way and we all have good and bad days thats what I keep telling myself.

So why do I feel like I am loosing the plot well the EHCP for example….theres so much conflicting information out there I feel inadequate in my role as a parent in best supporting my child. Anyone who knows what and EHCP I bet knows what I mean. For those of you unsure its the education, health and care plan which is for those aged 0-25 who have additional needs and is there to coordinate your child’s educational, health and social needs and it also sets out any additional support that they may need. To me its a mind field, another obstacle which I have to try and hurdle over but with amazing people behind me and with the right knowledge I will go blindly forth and try and get my daughter the support that she needs to keep progressing and being able to live as normally as she can and be able to access everything there is to offer in this world.

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Hanging around in her hammock

Then couple this with the impending transition to high school and I feel like a first timer when in fact this is my third child to go to high school. In reality I think I am unprepared mentally in the back of my mind we are not near that stage but in reality we are. This period in our lives has crept up on me so quickly that I haven’t had time to process it never mind my daughter although after a positive look around the school she hasn’t mentioned high school since. With my older two its all they talked about for months before starting year 7. Here in lies my biggest worry as I am unprepared and so is she and it also makes me realise that maybe some part of me has not fully been able to process that my daughter has special needs. Does that make me a bad parent, I don’t think so its just I have tried to stay strong and keep things together and try and make life as normal as I can for my family when in fact I am scared that if I drop a thread our whole family existence will start to unravel like it did 4 years ago.

Raising disabled children is a juggling act. There are so many balls that I am afraid to drop but I have managed to keep them all in the air so far but when there are balls added like high school, the EHCP, new appointments, referrals I am so worried that at some point I am going to drop something and as a parent thats what I have nightmares about.

So tip to myself…..look after myself, take a break, delegate, ask for help, have a massage

take care

x Leanne X

ADHD super Power….Hyper Focus

Sitting here listening to the steady beat of the raindrops outside I am transported to a place of quiet and relaxation and harmony. Hang on a minute its the half term holidays!!!!! whats going on even when my other three children are outside playing my daughter with ADD is always about hanging on my every word, movement, talking non stop, being bored wether she is medicated or not as she does not cope well with the change in routine that is the school holidays.

 Panic stations creep in maybe she has gone outside without me knowing or maybe she is downstairs with the scissors for art and omg I left her unsupervised ARGH

Heart in mouth I literally leg it downstairs and then stop dead. When will I learn….its nothing bad. You see 30 minutes ago I came upstairs while she was starting another one of her art projects. Art is her passion she loves to draw and make and show. Biased mummy that I am I even have some of her pictures on the wall framed. So amongst the turbulent feelings that split second of realisation has caused I realise I left my daughter to do arts and crafts and as far as I know she is still there. Of course this does not stop the panic… having a child who is impulsive means hardly a minute goes by without me worrying what she is going to do next and even though she is nearly 11 that has not changed, factor in the memory, concentration and emotional factors of ADHD/ADD its hard to grasp this alien concept that means she can stay focussed and in one place for more than 5 minutes.

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Art is definitely a Focus….

Whats this I hear you say….shes’s sitting still, concentrating, focused on one thing instead a myriad of different tasks in a matter of minutes. Maybe the ADD / ADHD is not there? Maybe its a misdiagnosis well no its actually something that is real and quite amazing and known by some as an ADHD super power…. Its called Hyperfocus…

What is Hyperfocus?

A short definition from http://www.healthline.com is

“Hyper focus is the experience of deep and intense concentration in some people with ADHD. ADHD is not necessarily a deficit of attention, but rather a problem with regulating one’s attention span to desired tasks. So, while mundane tasks may be difficult to focus on, others may be completely absorbing”

I can see why this symptom of ADHD could be misinterpreted. Heck I didnt even know it existed until I started a course in ADHD awareness. I was never told by the ADHD nurse about Hyper focus. I spent moments grappling with my decision to medicate and attend appointment’s when this symptom popped up, was I wrong was she in fact fine and not have a neurodevelopment disorder??  I thought she was just being stubborn. Talk about learning something new everyday and giving your self a heart attack. There is no way I would have put Hyper focus as part of the ADHD.

What does Hyper focus mean for my daughter and us?

Firstly hyper focus affects us all. This peculiar symptom of ADHD can cause arguments and stress within the family. My daughter is so focussed on the task at hand that sometimes its a real struggle to get her to move onto something else. In the case of art work this is fine I don’t mind her doing art for as long as she likes as she is expressing herself and learning from the environment but its when the hyper focus gets stuck on things like the maths games on the laptop. Again you would not necessarily think that would be an issue but when she is so focussed on finishing first one level then the next and so on and so on it is very difficult to try and get her to relinquish the laptop so that she can do reading which is just as important for her to do as it builds her knowledge of language and aides her language skills. Plus she becomes completely shut of from the world around her and as the definition says very absorbed, yes she is quiet but she also can’t answer questions and can become angry and frustrated if the laptop is taken away as it is every evening at least an hour if not more before bed.

Hyper focus can be viewed by some as an amazing ability and it is when its in the right context and its something that empowers my daughter. The amazing confidence and love that she has for the art that she does is an amazing thing. There are times that I love to sit and watch the magic take hold of her. Watching a picture emerge and seeing the focus and dedication she gives the project to make it the best she can is amazing. But for those of us around a child or adult who has it its also frustrating, annoying, upsetting, it winds up siblings, it quite frankly winds me up sometimes. Nasty arguments that can start as a result of someone trying to join in with my daughter are not for the faint hearted. Its almost like she is startled out of a trance and that invokes all sorts of feelings to bubble up due to the interruption, her concentration is broken and it can feel like hell on earth.

So Super power or not?

I think that it is a super power if it can be directed in a positive way but as with everything there will be days when the super power strikes and its the villain not the hero who has come out to play and to be honest i am not sure how I really feel about that…..

take care

x leanne x

 

 

Its not fair….Siblings and ADD

There are some days when I feel at my worst and I don’t understand why my daughter has ADD, or why she suffers with anxiety or even why my children were born with a hearing loss so how can I expect my other children to understand?

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I have talked previously about the often turbulent and volatile relationship between siblings when one has ADD but after a week now of daily tip tapping, swearing and screaming I feel like I am at my wits end. My ADD daughter is the third of four children. All girls!! I will not say it’s an easy task raising girls but I try to do my best. What I mostly struggle with is the relationship my daughter has with her sisters. Some days I blame myself and find it hard to come to terms with the idea that my children have difficulties and other days I manage to brush myself down and get on with parenting but my other daughters find it hard to process their sisters behaviour and they can not understand why (L) is the way she is.

  • I make excuses like she can’t help it
  • I try and ignore the behaviour which mostly just fuels further arguments with my eldest daughters
  • I find myself shouting and screaming at the wrong child
  • I blame all bad behaviour on her disability when sometimes it isn’t
  • I cry and get angry which then upsets all my children

It’s on these darker days that the behaviour and symptoms of ADD become more apparent especially before the medication starts to work. For two hours before school there is arguing,shouting, screaming, objects flying and general put your hands over your ears din. Some mornings I do not even want to get out of bed. With three children trying to get ready for school and one who is being disruptive, its mayhem and can resemble a battle field…..Yes girls can fight like cats and dogs and its not a pretty sight!!!

I feel so emotionally shattered by the time my children walk into school other parents must wonder what a miserable women I am! 

The older the kids get, the harder it’s becoming to be a mum. Its harder to contain arguments, disagreements and fighting especially when two of your daughters are the same height as you…There is also no negotiating with a child who neither understands, remembers or processes what you say. My ADD daughter finds it increasingly difficult to navigate the sibling situation. She is either going of the deep end at them, annoying them or being mean to them or she gets upset because they don’t want to play with her. I can’t blame them (L) may have forgotten that book she threw at them this morning or the slap she gave them but my other three do not forget and they don’t seem to forgive either.  Some days I do all I can to limit the stress caused by them.

I have to split them up, give them different directions!!  I often feel like I am waving my arms around like an Orchestra Conductor.

The guilt sets in about how my other children are coping with having a sister with difficulties/disabilities. On the outside they seem to cope well but the signs are there like yelling at me that its not fair. Life isn’t fair its hard work as there is no rule book, guide book or instruction manual. Some top tips I have learnt along the way

  • Give all of your children at least 15 minutes in an evening by themselves either talk about their day or do some reading. I have found this makes them feel important its not easy as you may get interrupted but persevere.
  • cooking….I try to involve the older ones in cooking for everyone. It gets them out of the firing line for a while and makes them feel involved.
  • always hug and kiss your children anytime anywhere. Make sure they know even if they have been naughty that you love them
  • sleep overs / days out…for the siblings of a child with ADD/ADHD family life can be hard for them. If at all possible arrange a day out or a sleepover for them with friends or family. It will give them time out and an escape especially if its been a stressful week.
  • Find an activity that everyone can enjoy. We use Story Massage a lot in our house for almost every situation. Story massage promotes relaxation, fun, concentration and it can also calm and bring everybody together.
  • Go for a walk. I find even just going around the block can clear the air and relieve some excess energy.

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Phew now I have written it down I may go have a cry and then brush myself down do some breathing and release the Stress and tension.Even on a bad day I never hate my children or myself and neither should you. Feel free to get in touch with me

x Leanne X

http://www.leannesihm.wordpress.com

ADD….Playing to Learn

As a parent of a child with sensory and learning difficulties I am always on the look out for new and exciting play ideas. Being a parent and entertaining children of all ages can become difficult and stressful. Add in the special needs of ADD, Anxiety, Hearing loss and playtime can produce tantrums and tears born of frustration and lack of understanding. I sit and wonder some days what it must feel like when you think everything and everyone is against you and you don’t understand what you are suppose to be doing. Playtime is such an important part of a child’s life and education. Its how they learn from an early age about the world around them. So how do our children do it?  In my opinion its because they are amazing!!! These little individuals adapt to work around their disabilities.


All children can feel frustration, anger, upset, possessiveness while playing and socialising. I have found as a parent though especially at home that these feelings associated with ADD / ADHD  are heightened. Add in impulsiveness, an inability to wait their turn and short term memory loss, for us finding play ideas is always a challenge. While my daughter is 10 years old her level of understanding is impaired. She thinks differently. Harnessing my daughters strengths and interests is an important part of my roll as a parent and using these ideas can materialise into a myriad of play ideas and situations. We adapt what we have and make the best of it.

  • Story massage…This is an activity that can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities and can be shared with the whole family. We use story massage to sing, play games, remember things, talk about things and to understand feelings. The children love to write their own stories and then show them to everyone. Check out http://www.storymassage.co.uk for more information
  • Sandpits….A really good wealth of play activities from seeking treasure, building sandcastles, writing, drawing, making shapes can all be achieved in a sandpit.
  • Arts & Crafts….We buy bargain’s from pound land or other similar shops and set up on the dining table or even outside. In the autumn we go for walks and make leafy collages from items she has picked up.
  • Role Play…we have a lot of role play toys from food items, dressing up clothes, dolls and teddies. For those of you with boys yes they can dress up and play along as well. My nephews love pushing pushchairs around. The great thing about role play is you can adapt it and you can play with them.
  • Dens….This is one I loved to do with my siblings when we were younger. Seek out an ideal place and put up sheets, quilts, blankets to make an amazing den. My girls will play in their dens for hours playing house.

With regards to play there are some things I have found its just easier to avoid. Puzzles and board games, these cause the most amounts of headaches, tears and tantrums. my daughter just can not cope with them. They cause anxiety and frustration. They can be thrown around in anger causing them to be launched at me or siblings (trust me having a hand full of little monopoly pieces flying at you is not funny). I just do not find the appeal anymore. Saying that a deck of cards is great for a round of snap!!!

So with all this in mind I recently joined my good friend and author of “Diary of a playful child” Pennie Powell. Pennie has two younger children and has for a while now being writing blogs all about the play ideas that she does with her children. I started reading them and started to see the potential for using her ideas with my daughter and its been great. Nearly all of Pennie’s ideas can be adapted to use with older children and I feel they are great to use with disabled/sensory impaired children. Check out her ideas at http://www.diaryofaplayfulchild.wordpress.com  

We got together at Pennies house and had a great morning playing with coloured spaghetti and food play items, foamy bubbles, and the Crunchy box. This last idea had to be my favourite. All it is just a plastic box filled with dried pasta, biscuits, cornflakes all mixed up. Pennie says “This is good for concentration, fine motor skills,distance judging, edible and its also great for touch,feel and sound and works with all ages.” My daughters spent ages separating all the ingredients into three separate piles. It took them ages and lots of concentration but it cost next to nothing and kept them entertained for a good couple of hours.

Have fun trying new ideas

X Leanne X

http://www.leannesihm.wordpress.com