Tonight I had one of those afternoon and evenings with Michael when he was a little, shall we say, high strung and at times challenging. He was having a hard time focusing on what he needed to do, (in this case get ready for and the playing tennis at his weekly lesson). He was argumentative with me about leaving on time, and then was silly and hyperactive at the lesson. When the teacher got him to focus, and that she did, he performed well so the lesson was a success. But he kept coming back to me and asking me about calling up a friend later. I could truly see the ADHD which was making it challenging for him to focus, sequence and move forward in a logical way. This was both frustrating for me, but then on the car ride home when we talked about how the evening would unfold, I also spoke to him about his ADHD. He admitted that he has a hard time organizing himself due to the ADHD and he needs help and reminders. I agreed with him, and told him I and his teachers would support him with reminders, but he needed to do the work too to stay focused. I came up with a new mantra-Stop, Breathe, Think, Speak Or Do. It has met with reasonable success, but still needs work. I also am trying to get him back to doing mediation and yoga to learn to stay in the moment and breathe.
In talking to Michael however, I also found myself saying out loud how cool ADHD was. Yes, parents I used those exact words much to my own happy surprise! I said, just like Autism means his brain works differently and he has many interesting ways of seeing the world because of it, the same is true of ADHD. I was surprised, because though I have said it to other adult people I know who have ADHD and I truly believe this kind of brain is incredible when I see it in kids or adults, I was having a hard time seeing my child’s ADHD as cool. I think that’s because helping him focus and reigning in some of that excess energy is far from simple, and at the end of a busy work week, the last thing a parent wants to do is have behavior challenges to deal with.
Still, in saying it out loud, I felt happy, happy for Michael that he has quirky personality traits due to ADHD, and happy for me that I could see the positives in what amounts to a very fast and different brain which zeroes in on things neuro typical brains may not see right away. I told Michael that in order for him to see his ADHD as the gift that it is, he has to make sure not to let the stressful parts of how his brain works get him in trouble. I compared it to loving food so much that we overeat and feel sick. You can love food, but enjoy in moderation. Same with the way you experience life at a faster pace. Talk a lot, get excited, but know when to tone it down.
Later in the evening I also thought it’s like when I write a story and my characters talk to me in my head. Yep. They actually do sometimes. I have also seen what they look like. However, I don’t have full blown conversations with make believe characters, nor think others want to hear about these characters in my daily life in detail, unless of course they ask about a story or book I am writing. Then if it is the appropriate moment, I talk about the story. That’s what we need to do as parents. Praise the uniqueness, quirks and different ways our child’s brain works due to Autism, ADHD or whatever other challenges they are facing, while helping support them to overcome the difficulties they face in our world due to their different outlook and ways of relating. We also need to teach them there is a time or place for having certain conversations.
Exceptional Parents, how do you talk about your Exceptional Child’s brain and the way they see the world? It’s important to support our children as well as celebrate their differences. We all have our challenges and strengths. It’s by honing in on the strengths while giving support for the weaknesses, that we will help instill a positive attitude in our children as they step into the world more and more on their own. Then, they in turn can educate others out there about differences and celebrate them in a positive way. Until next time.
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