Wednesday, October 29, 2014

An Interview with My Son About ADD

ADHD Awareness Month is coming to an end.  What to blog about?  Should I create a list of my favorite links?  Should I list some of my favorite quotes from S regarding his ADD?  What to do? As I was talking to S about my dilemma, I asked him if I could interview him. He thought that would be just fine.  We had an enjoyable conversation.

Here you are.  You are getting my interview along with some of my favorite quotes and a handful of links.  Enjoy!

What is it like to live with ADD?
Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it’s bad.  My ADD can get me in trouble because I end up thinking about other things instead of my school work.  I end up thinking about many different things, and you [my parents] say that I’m able to put things together and link things that other people might not be able to link together; however, the drawback is I can link things together. 

When it comes to certain day-to-day tasks, my mind is so busy doing other things that it prohibits me from putting the important things together in that moment.

Do you remember what life was like before you were diagnosed with ADD in the 4th grade?
Other than you [my parents] telling me that the teachers said I wasn’t paying attention in class, no.  

What do you remember about being diagnosed?
I do remember the appointment with the pediatric neurologist.  He struck me as someone who might have had ADD himself.  He told us to try the medicine.  It was a low dosage of Concerta. After I started it, the teacher noticed I was paying attention better.

Do you wish you didn’t have to take ADD medicine?
I wish I didn’t have to take the medicine.  It’s another task that needs to get done.  

You are almost 18.  Why don’t you tell your doctor you want to stop the medication?
I know it helps me, and I know if I don’t take it I end up having a dysfunctional day which causes me to get in trouble.  If I don’t have my medicine, my mind races all the time, and I do things just to do them.

Can you be specific?  What kind of things?
One time I didn’t take my medicine.  I sat on the floor for a long time doing nothing.  

If I don’t take my medicine, I am hungry all the time.

Quote:   “I was sitting in the chair trying to get ready, and my ADD kicked in and here I am.”

What are the benefits to you of your medication?
I, generally, stay focused.  Not only do I stay focused but I am able to reason better about my actions.

Do you take your medication every day or do you take medication breaks?
I take it every day.  My pediatric neurologist told me that I have ADD every day not just on school days.  

I know kids who take medication breaks.  The signs of this are very visible and noticeable. Seeing that, I know I don’t want to take a break.

Do you think you will stay on medication as you journey into adulthood?
I really don’t know.  From the looks of it right now, yes.  Unless someone comes up with a way to get the brain to regulate itself without the use of medication that is highly proven and has an 80% or more success rate.

What are 3 negative things about having ADD?
  1. My mind is always thinking.
  2. I am always thinking.
  3. Sometimes it’s hard for my parents to understand my train of thought, and they end up saying, “Only you would think of it that way.”

Quote:  “It’s like I have 10,000 things running through my head.”

What are 3 positive things about having ADD?
  1. I’m able to put historical events in order, connect them to each other, and explain relationships between the events.
  2. I like to look at alternate scenarios for historical events.
  3. There might be scholarships available to me because I have ADD.

You are planning on attending college.  What are some challenges you might encounter?
  1. I need to make sure I am in class on time.
  2. I need to get all my work done - not just focusing on one thing and excluding everything else.
  3. There will be some days that my mind will be too busy thinking about other things.  This makes it difficult for me to do things that are normally easy.

Can you explain what it’s like to hyperfocus?
I’m primarily thinking about one thing only.  It’s helpful in trying to get that one thing done; however, the drawback is that until I have completed that one task I don’t want to do anything else.

When it’s crunch time, I can, miraculously, finish an assignment that I should have started a while ago.

What are some strategies you use to help you stay focused and get your work done?
  1. Listen to Classical music.  
  2. Create an ADD Journal.

What would you like to tell someone who was just diagnosed with ADD?
  1. You are not the only one who has been diagnosed with ADD.  In actuality, the world itself, as a result of all of our gadgets and fast-paced society, has developed ADD but has refused to recognize that.
  2. You can be successful!  You will have to work harder to stay focused.  
  3. Your friends and family will look a lot of things up and figure out how to help you and how to understand you; however, they will not succeed.

What would you want the parents of a child who has ADD to know/do?
  1. You can get through this.
  2. Even though when you try to get the kids to do something or correct a behavior and it seems like they are not listening, most likely they are listening.  Sometimes, they will even show you that they are listening.
  3. Know that the timeline that you want to do things most likely will not line up with the child’s sense of time.  Sometimes time is considered irrelevant.
  4. Some days they just need free time to think and process everything going through their minds.
  5. Don’t try to fix your kid.  Be patient, and everything will work out.

This wraps up the interview with S on ADD from his perspective.  Who knows?  Maybe he will allow me to interview him again on various topics.

When all else fails, S likes to use this tactic, “You know I have ADD.”  Sorry dude.  You still have to get your stuff done! At times like this, it helps to read articles like 20 Things to Remember If You Love a Person with ADD.

Since S made my writing easier today, you will find me on the couch with chocolate.

Friday, October 24, 2014

It's Been a Winning Kind of Week!

The Senior:  This week hasn’t been too crazy.  We were able to get settled into a routine.  We suggested to S that he start getting up at 7:00, get ready, and take some time to listen to the news and/or read his Bible until 9:00.  At that point, he could start his work.  So far, that seems to be helping him stay on task.  [Otherwise, he gets distracted reading news headlines when he's supposed to be logging onto the computer for math.] He has had his work finished around lunchtime every day.  We will call that a win!

This week S has been working on College Algebra, Daily Grammar, World War II unit, The Human Eye course Lesson 2 (Science that he is interested in is always a good thing.  He just told me that it is a useful course. It is quite interesting.), his research project, Personal Finance, and German IV.

S is enjoying getting his work done early in the day because it is giving him free time in the afternoon and evening - kind of a new thing for him.  We have taken time to watch some DVD lectures on History (his idea of fun).  One day after watching some segments, S went to the computer and sat down to write (this is a child who doesn’t enjoy writing).  I told my husband we have been waiting for this day! Again, we will also call that a win!

He had horseback riding this morning which he always enjoys.  The one downside is we have to leave the house at 7:30 - not an easy task for S.  For the winter schedule, they are going to change his time slot again.  We will see what he ends up with for a time.  He prefers Friday slots because he likes to end his week that way.  He works hard to have his schoolwork finished or almost finished, so he doesn’t have much, if anything, to do when he gets back home.  

This weekend he will be getting his clothes together for his Senior Portraits which are scheduled for November 2.  He’s not very excited about having these done.  Outfit changes will be minimal (swapping out shirts).  He thinks we could just take a picture of him sitting at the dining room table on our phones and call it good.  

I sent the email to our state homeschool organization telling them we want to know when graduation registration starts.  I also asked about accessibility for him at the ceremony. We can work out glitches now rather than later. Again, S really doesn’t care if he goes through a ceremony; however, we feel he should be honored for his hard work.  He will do it. He just wants to have a party in Minnesota.

All week long, he was supposed to get his clothes put away in his room.  I don’t think it has happened.  He would be content to live out of his clothes basket.

Volunteering: S volunteered 8 hours last weekend, and he will volunteer 4 hours this weekend.

S is wearing his National Park Service Volunteer hat that he received for being one of the top volunteers.

The Sophomore:  J had a busy week at school.  He has some really good teachers this year. He had a Chemistry test and a Math Analysis test. He had an AP History essay due today.  He was working on his Science Fair project using Survey Planet.  If you would like to help him, feel free to click on the link and take his quick survey.  Thanks!

This weekend he will be working on an AP History project and working on a write-up that is due for his Science Fair project. He will also be carving our pumpkins for Halloween. He always comes up with something fun to carve. Looking forward to it.

J had a bracket fall off of his tooth Wednesday afternoon.  He has to go to the Orthodontist Tuesday morning.  I called, and they said it could wait until then.

He will also be volunteering at an Open House at the stables where he volunteered this summer. It looks like the weather will be nice.   We will be heading to that right after church and Sunday school

Practice:  J practiced 14 hours this week.  He took Thursday night off to complete homework and rest (I felt like he was a little stressed when he came home from school. Everyone needs some recharge time). His rips are healing, finally.  They are starting to put their routines together gearing up for competition season.  His first meet is in 3 weeks. He’s looking forward to it. Monday night he was the only upper level boy at practice, so he had 3.5 hours of 1:1 coaching.  He was tired that night!

On the Homefront:  We had our gas logs installed in our fireplace on Monday.  S is really excited about it.  The fireplace is in our office area where he does his schoolwork.  He is looking forward to having a fire while he sits at his desk.

My husband ended up taking off Monday from work.  He was going to take time off while the workers were here.  They ended up coming late, and my husband’s shoulder was quite sore. I told him his boss would be upset with him if she knew he went into work not feeling well (He is blessed to have a wonderful boss). He is still recovering, and he still can’t drive.  Next week, he can start driving again!  Not sure who’s more excited - him or me.

My husband is the primary cook at our house (he is very good and enjoys it), so his recovery has hindered that. I have been doing a lot of slow cooker meals which actually has been nice for J. The food is ready in the slow cooker, so he can eat what we are having prior to practice. S loves it because there are always leftovers.  It makes lunch for him much easier.

I have been able to get to the gym in the morning during S’s quiet time.  It’s been nice to get back in there.

Since it hasn’t been too crazy here, I will be enjoying some quiet time on the couch with chocolate and my new book that I hope to finish this weekend since it deals with the topic I want to blog about next week. Stay tuned to see if that happens.....

Linking up with:

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Weekly Wrap-Up

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Get in the Zone

As I'm typing about my son's ADD and him getting in the zone, the jingle "Get in the zone, Auto Zone" is running through my head.  Just a random thought as I'm preparing to write about my son's ADD and him getting in his zone.  There is a term for getting in the zone -  "hyperfocus".

What does it mean to hyperfocus or get in the zone?  It means that a person is so engrossed in something that they will tune everything/everybody else out unless they are interrupted.

What does that mean for my son?:
1.  He can sit at the computer for hours on end playing a computer game without ever getting up to eat, drink, or take a bathroom break.
2.  He can spend hours working on foreign language (told you he loved it).
3.  He can spend hours watching the History channel or history related programming.
4.  He can spend hours "researching" on the Internet.  This jumping down rabbit holes is problematic when he actually needs to be researching something for school. He gets so distracted from looking up things related to his original topic that hours of research might mean he has only looked up one thing related to the topic. [This is something we are working on this year as he prepares to head to college next year.]
5.  Cleaning his room might mean taking everything off his cubby storage container because he focused on putting one thing away in the "perfect" place.
6.  He can be on his way to the bathroom and put his brakes on at our family calendar.  We call this getting sucked into the "calendar zone" at our house.
7.  He can be tasked with putting his clothes away, put one sock away, and watch hours of music videos on YouTube.  All because he wanted to listen to music while he put his clothes away.

You get the picture.  Things that are meaningful to him get done.  Things that are not meaningful to him are more difficult to complete.  We are all guilty of this.  We don't mind doing things we enjoy but put off things we don't like.  

The problem for S is the magnitude in which he attacks or avoids tasks.  He has to work on regulating himself so he doesn't get lost for hours doing one thing or getting lost for hours not doing something.  

Some strategies he uses include:
1.  For something enjoyable on the computer, setting the timer on his phone to go off after a specified time (longer time period).  For watching TV, he may establish that he will be done after watching a certain number of segments.  If we are home, he will ask us for verbal confirmation if he has watched too much or if it has been a reasonable amount of TV.
2.  For something less enjoyable (writing, putting clothes away, cleaning his room), we have talked about him using the timer on his phone to be set in 15 minute increments to evaluate if he is on task or to redirect himself at that point.  We have found that to be a reasonable amount of time because he doesn't lose a lot of work time if he wanders off during 15 minutes. 3.  Finding something enjoyable to do after doing something less enjoyable.  Example:  He enjoys doing foreign language for school.  We have him save that task to do after his other subjects which he finds less enjoyable.  He has something to look forward to doing.  Also, if he gets in the zone while doing the more enjoyable thing, he's not neglecting other work at that point since it has been completed.
4. Use techniques he identified for himself when he created his ADD Journal.

I'm going to get in my zone now - on the couch with chocolate.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

ADD Journal

LIfe with ADD is something I don't have personal knowledge about - I don't have ADD.  I can, however, tell you what it is like to parent my child (not every child) who has ADD.  My husband and I have read a lot of information about ADD - parenting techniques, strategies for kids who have ADD, strategies for teens who have ADD, transitioning into adulthood with ADD, organization for ADD, etc.

The author who has given us the most helpful "aha" information has been Dr. William Dodson. In his article "Secrets of the ADHD Brain", Dr. Dodson talks about an ADHD Owner's Manual. This is a strategy where the person who has ADHD records things he/she has done to get in the zone over a month long period .  At the end of the time period, the person will have personal strategies to get in the zone.

When S is in his zone, he can accomplish so much.  It is amazing even to him.  The last few weeks of S's junior year I had him write for a few minutes every day about things that had worked for him.  The tricky part for him at first was he wanted to talk about things that didn't go right. Nope.  Write what worked for you today no matter how big or small.  

This is S’s compiled list:
a.  Do Math early in the day
b.  Things have to be interesting to me
c.  Getting up earlier allows the opportunity to take Concerta earlier
d.  Occasional change of environment/change of pace
e.  Switch back and forth between subjects that are similar (German and Russian) - loves foreign languages!
f.  Knowing when medication is working correctly or when it needs to be tweaked
g.  Knowing that an end is in sight - chunking work - creating lists
h.  Desire to finish the slowest part of a task
i.  Having knowledge related to task
j.  Being able to trust those who help me so I don't have to worry.  I can focus on my task.
k. Desire to improve at a skill/task
l.  Creating a sense of urgency - "crunch" time
m. Task list on calendar (like to check things off my list)
n.  Desire to brag about accomplishments
o.  Don't put writing off - get it done

Interesting piece of information:  S was tasked with writing about what worked for him.  He didn't go back to compile the information until the end of July when asked if it was completed. It's a work in progress…

I will be on the couch with chocolate.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Medical, Field Trip, & College Talks

The Senior:  What a week this has been!  All kinds of things happening.  At the end of last week, we received notification that S’s PCM had been changed, and he had been moved out of Pediatrics.  We knew this would happen prior to his 18th birthday, but we had a plan for it; this was NOT our plan.  My husband was able to get some answers about it this week. Long story short, he was moved out of Pediatrics.

On Tuesday, we found out that COL Ed Shames from Easy Company (Band of Brothers) was going to be speaking at the Hampton History Museum on Wednesday.  What an amazing field trip! He is such a nice man and a wonderful speaker.  We could have stayed there all day.  He autographed books for us and made sure we had pictures taken - “Promise me you will send me a copy.”


On Thursday, S had an appointment with his Orthopedic Surgeon.  He hasn’t been good about his stretching this year.  Prior to his trip to Minnesota, we told him that they might talk about doing surgery again.  He told us while he was in Minnesota that he was stretching every day. He tells us this every year, and he hasn’t.  This time he did!  My mom said he told them he didn’t want to have surgery again.  Good!  KEEP STRETCHING!!!!!

His appointment went well other than waiting at X-ray for an hour.  He was told that since he is done growing he doesn’t have to go back to Orthopedics unless something is bothering him.  

After that appointment, we met with our DME representative and the lady at the hospital who makes it all happen for us.  As S is preparing to head off to college next year, we knew he needed to upgrade his mode of transportation.  He doesn’t want a power chair.  He was given a really cool alternative, so we are looking forward to that.  Some replacement parts were ordered for his current wheelchair too. There were some recommendations for college visits by these two people. So we will be looking at these schools to gather information.
This morning he had horseback riding, so it was another early morning for us.

S has been busy working on academics in between all of this other stuff.  He has been doing College Algebra, Grammar, World War II unit, Human Eye Lesson 1 (finally sent off Thursday night), German IV, and Foundations in Personal Finance. We also ran across National History Day.  S is interested in participating in that. Even though it is his senior year, we are still changing things.  Plan and adapt!

Our youth led 3 services at church on Sunday.  S participated.  He doesn’t hesitate to speak in front of the church; however, sometimes his body hesitates.  When his tone kicks in, his diaphragm locks up and he’s not able to speak.  He did well the first two services and locked up a little during third service.  He utilizes strategies he’s been taught in Speech, and he got through it. All of our youth did a great job!

He attended Youth Group Wednesday night.  It took a little bit of juggling around to get him there, but he made it.  It’s been a challenge getting everyone to the right places with my husband not being able to drive right now.  Thank goodness for great friends!

The other night we spent some time talking to S about college next year.  We know he is going to start at our local community college and transfer into a 4 year school when the time comes. We talked about different academic paths for him to pursue at the community college.  Right now, he is leaning towards an Associate's degree in Liberal Arts which allows him to pursue different interests and see what path might be a good one for him to follow.  We need to get him there for an “official” tour and meet with the Disabled Student Services office.

Volunteering:  S didn’t volunteer this week, but he did send in his requested hours for October. He will be volunteering 8 hours this weekend.

The Sophomore:  J had a busy week at school.  On Wednesday, he took the PSAT.  He said it was long.  He went to a Corn Maze last weekend and participated in our Youth Led Services at church also. He will be working on his Science Fair project this weekend.

Practice:  J practiced 17.5 hours this week.  His wrists are quite ripped up, so his coach kept him off rings and bars one night.  We ordered him a roll of moleskin tape to help protect his wrists.  It is ENORMOUS!  The picture didn’t show the roll in relation to anything.  I just laughed when we opened the box.

On the Homefront:  Same old, same old here.  My husband had Monday off.  He had a busy weekend, so he was quite tired.  He rested and then we did some cooking.  I have been busy driving everyone to their designated places.  Thursday morning, my husband had a 6:30 AM PT appt.  I asked him if he hated me.  We left from there, went home, picked up S, and headed to the Naval Hospital for his appointments.  There was a nap on my schedule that afternoon; however, that didn’t happen because S’s appointments ran late and long.  
The most exciting thing this week is we purchased tickets to see Casting Crowns at Carnegie Hall in January! I am so excited!!!!!

It’s been busy, so I will just be hanging out on the couch with chocolate.

Linking up with:

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

They Moved Him Out of Pediatrics!

So, S is turning 18 in December, and he will have to leave the Pediatric Clinic.  His doctor has been asking him for 2-3 years when he wanted to move to the Family Practice Clinic.  He kept telling the doctor that he would stay in Pediatrics until he couldn’t be seen there any more (the day before his 18th birthday).  The doctor laughed and told him fine.  

Because we have an awesome pediatrician, he created a plan to medically transition S.  We wrote it down.  I blogged about it.  It was a good plan.  The best part about it was that S was comfortable with it.  He is going to leave a doctor who has been his Primary Care Manager (PCM) for more than 8 years. He knows S.  He “gets” him.  He knows our family.  We have a mutual understanding and respect. His nursing staff has been wonderful with us in helping to get paperwork signed, faxed, etc.

Imagine our surprise when S received a postcard in the mail on October 9 that stated:
The PCM for you and/or one of your family members has changed.  You are encouraged 
to make contact with your new PCM within 30 days to establish yourself as a new patient.
It then gives instructions to log on to their website to see who it is…..

This is not part of the pediatrician’s plan to transition S!

Because S is almost 18, we told him to send a message to his doctor via Relay Health (S might be the only Pediatrics patient to have his own account because the pediatrician expects S to send his own messages since he is almost an adult. Have I said how lucky we are to have this doctor?). He did.  He laid out the facts:  received this postcard, have a new PCM, will this doctor be a good match for me.  

There is someone who looks at the messages before they go to the doctor.  Typically, it is the doctor's nurse. This was someone different. This person decided that S’s message didn’t need to go to the doctor.  She responded to him as if he were the parents. She raved about this new doctor (we aren’t questioning his qualifications since he is my PCM); however, we are wondering if S’s current doctor thinks he will be a good match for S.  She continues to go on how to schedule an appointment and gives the hours of the hospital and appointments line. She also clarifies that since the PCM change has gone through that S won’t be able to schedule an appointment with the Pediatrician.  She also mentioned that she has looked at his records to make sure his physical and immunizations are up to date.  Did you notice anywhere in his record that he is not your typical Peds patient?  Did you notice that he has a disability or two?  Did you notice the number of Pediatric Specialists he sees?

This is the response we (my husband and I) received from the same person mentioned above who intercepted this message before the doctor saw it:
Subject:  Deactivating Relationship
Message:  PCM is now Dr. ______.  Child will be considered an adult soon (Age 18).
*Because your relationship with this provider has been declined or deactivated, you cannot reply to this message.

Really?  My son’s relationship with his doctor goes beyond you sitting at a desk “deactivating” it. That doesn’t end it!!!!


Now that my rant is over,
my husband went over to PEDS this morning since he works near the hospital. The pediatrician's nurse had been out last week. It was someone not familiar with S who wrote back to him and us. My husband was able to go into the doctor's office and talk to the pediatrician. The doctor said that S did exactly what he had asked him to do.

Long story short,
the pediatrician would like to see him with a different doctor. He said the one they assigned him to - the one I see - is a good fit for mom. He thinks for long term care there might be a better option for S. My husband has those names, and we have to log on to the system and put it for the change.

We have a transition plan, people! We just need everyone to follow it.  

If only life worked that smoothly.....Is it any wonder I need to be on the couch with chocolate...and perhaps a glass of wine?