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ADHD and Homeschooling

Mama Of Diagnosed Child Reaching Out To Home Schooling Families
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Hi Families,

I am noticing a lack of recent discussion threads but I’m hoping that there are those among you who might still be able to talk about home schooling challenges with children affected by ADHD, ODD, OCD, Sensory Issues etc.

My daughter is six years old and though we’ve known for a long, long while that out daughter has ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorders, we have only just approached a pediatrician for help beyond our family strategies. I think I find home schooling a happy, funny, always on the go, suddenly-tearful, sometimes furious, forever unpredictable child, the kind of challenging adventure I could really use some company for.

If you’re ahead of me on this journey, I would love to hear from you. If you’re in the same position and reading this at some point in the future, then I’d love to hear from you too! Home schooling can be pretty isolating - home schooling a child who tears through social groups like a tornado one day but like a surly mammoth being forced to walk through molasses another, is even more lonely!

Replies

I too have been where you are. I think you have a great advantage in that you already know what you are dealing with. We did not realize what was going on until 9th grade! By that time she was already very down on herself and I didn’t understand. I had tried punishment, I’d tried everything before I realized I was seeing issues that she was not in control of.

Honestly, I feel like my life has been a living hell for the past several years trying to homeschool her. Once she reached school age, my oldest daughter had to be completely independent in her schooling because I had to give ALL of my attention to the younger one.

I am so glad you have learned of this early. I still don’t have the answers, but I can see that it has helped our relationship to treat her with love and never punish her for things she doesn’t have control of. I know that she sees me now as her ally and she opens up to me about everything. That doesn’t mean it’s not hard anymore. It’s crazy hard. Harder than I thought I could bare. But she knows I love her and am on her side. She knows I want the very best for her.

I think it’s important to have her involved in co-ops and other activities and not to be isolated. She is on medication now which helps some, and she has just started seeing a counselor.

Hang in there!

Posted by DE gwynne on Mar 22, 2017 at 3:47pm

Hello Mama, so good to hear from you.

Wow, what a journey you’ve had - it’s lovely to hear how close you are to your little but it sounds as though you’ve been through the mill! My daughter is an only (she was born the week before I turned 41 and was a little ‘against the odds’ late in life miracle), and I’ve had many, many days lamenting the fact that we couldn’t give her a sibling. But oh boy, I honestly don’t think I could manage her drama filled life alongside another child, even the most mild mannered and easy to parent child, and I am completely in awe of you.

You are absolutely right about our fortune in having the diagnosis so early, and in finding a pediatrician who quite forcibly took the lead in being so emphatic about the diagnosis and first step treatment. Over the last three years I’ve gone back and forth on seeking assessments, pros and cons of medications, and hoping we were in phases - the only thing that really stopped me was that my kiddo didn’t really seem bothered by her issues and I didn’t want to alert her to their being something “wrong” if I was the one who was over-reacting. But having her in a couple of classes really highlighted how difficult she was going to find things and I was galvanized by her creeping awareness. I know how lucky I am not to have had to watch her struggle as so many families have, and to have a head start on the emotional issues. I wish you hadn’t had to go through that with your daughter - it becomes a bit of a tangled ball of complicated to figure out solutions for so many things at once, doesn’t it?

I really hope counseling helps her - and you - I’m wondering what else I ought to be doing beyond medication, and I’m so glad for your family that you have that in place. The ADHD is tricky to say the least but oh my goodness, the ODD is the worst. At six! The teen years are going to be interesting, aren’t they?

Posted by Parkour Anyone? on Mar 23, 2017 at 1:49pm

Have you ever heard of the book “The Feeling Good Handbook” by David Burns? It is a great book. Are you familiar with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? That is what the book is about.

I wish I would have found it long ago. I’ve skimmed through it and I want to go through it more thoroughly and use it consistently with my dd. At 16, many of her thinking habits are quite entrenched. Maybe you could nip some of your 6-year-old dd’s thinking habits now.  I’ve tried it a little. Not long ago, when she was sitting on the couch crying and angry because she couldn’t understand her math, I started writing down the statements she was making. For example: “I can’t do anything!” and “Why can’t I understand it!”.....etc.

She wasn’t looking at me when I was writing them down. After a few minutes, I said, “Look these are some of the things you just said.” I went through them one by one.

“You said, ‘I can’t do anything.’ Is that statement really true? What about how good you are at….....” (you get the point)

I was trying to show her how she tells herself things that aren’t true and I pointed out the truth about each issue; like all the things she does well. She seemed quite taken back by my ideas. I need to get into the book more thoroughly and do it on a regular basis. I guess if I’m honest with myself, most of the time I’m too exhausted from dealing with all of and can’t muster up the strength to do it.

I don’t know. Just one thought. BTW, yesterday when leaving the counselor’s office she was crying and angry and said, “All she is doing is telling me to try harder!”  I hope that’s not really true because that kind of “counseling” isn’t going to help her.

Posted by DE gwynne on Mar 23, 2017 at 7:58pm

Thank You so much for that reading suggestion, I will most definitely look into grabbing that.

I am most definitely a HUGE fan of CBT. Years ago, I trained as a counselor and before I moved to the U.S I ran a Community Mental Health Day Center for adults and I also taught - mostly adults with Autism and associated disabilities. Absolutely nothing I learned or taught there helps me in any way with my daughter lol There are good and bad counselors and sometimes it’s just a poor match of personalities. When the fit is good, it can achieve wonders, but sometimes a change in counselor is preferable to being put off the idea for life. I too would really hope a counselor wouldn’t say “You must try harder!” I guess if your daughter continues to be more frustrated and upset by her sessions, and if it’s possible, then a change in counselor may have to happen? Obviously I’m a fan of counseling but if CBT is available, then I would think that would be a great fit for kids like ours. Actually, I think we should all get a quick course of CBT at intervals throughout our lives, unlearning habits that we didn’t even know we were forming would be good for all of us. Your daughter has a head full of ‘chattering monkeys.’ It’s a thought that we all of us travel through life with these monkeys sitting on our shoulders, chattering away to fill our heads with the thoughts we have of ourselves. The monkeys take on the voices of the people in our lives, of course parents (and particularly mothers) feature as a loud voice of one of the monkeys, teachers, partners, bosses etc do too. Sadly, one of those pesky little monkey voices will be our own and it’s one of the hardest to ignore - which is fine if all those monkeys are happy little souls, boosting your confidence and self-esteen. But if they chatter criticism, those are the voices that shape your opinions you have about yourself, and those voices need to be quietened in order for you to redefine yourself more accurately. CBT is the only thing I ever found to be helpful in shutting my monkeys up and the ones I CBT’d away have been replaced by another really obnoxious troop who keep laughing at me, yelling “YOU, a parent? Hey listen to this guys, this nutter thought she could be a parent - that poor kid!” I think those fiends are right there flinging pooh at me - if only they hadn’t set up shop in my brain, I could throw things back at them, at least tranquilizer darts!

After the front row seat you’re in with your daughter, you’ll be better qualified than a lot of professionals! I know my brain, my heart and my patience all get a second wind when my daughter goes to bed and I start that mum thing of thinking of all the ways I could have done things better, read a lot, research until my eyes won’t stay open and go to bed with great plans for the next day. Then the next day comes and brings reality with it and before long I’m right back into the chaos I studied my way out of the night before. Why don’t these books come with those synopsis texts they do to help kids cram for exams lol? I have time and energy to either be a mum or read to plan to be a better mum, but not both! But I think your book suggestion sounds like it might be worth diverting some of my lesson planning time to reading - it’s not like my lesson plans are doing very much good right now anyway!

Posted by Parkour Anyone? on Mar 24, 2017 at 1:04am

I know EXACTLY what you are saying about the chattering monkeys. They’re all in my head too. I left a message this morning for the counselor and told her what Abby is saying and also said she really needs help with emotional regulation. I think that’s one of the big problems. One little thing happens and it’s “game over” for the rest of the day. But I know that’s is a good scenario for CBT too. And I’ve learned the emotional “flooding” is a common think with these kids. When I read that one day, it was like a light bulb went off!

We have similar backgrounds it sounds like. I have my Masters in Social Work and then worked for 2 more years after that and got my LCSW. But none of it helps with your own kids it seems like. I suppose it’s possible that if I didn’t have that it would be even harder - but I don’t see how anything could be harder.

I taught CBT for a high school group one year for a group of troubled kids. I have no idea if it did any good for them or not. But it just doesn’t seem to make any difference here at home.

I also understand what you mean about energy. Dealing with her all day long zaps my energy. It’s so draining. I’m exhausted but then I’ve got to make dinner and do laundry, etc. I have spent a lot of time researching but it’s few and far between. I feel like I’m just as depressed as she is and I’ve cried mountains of tears over the years. The depression just zaps me as well. There have been many many times that I have felt like I can’t do it one more day.

If I am honest, I wish I could put her in school. I’ve thought that for a long time but she is so smart and ahead in some areas and so far behind in others. It would make it hard and I think she would be even more frustrated. And so would the teachers. I would NEVER put her in a public school though. It would have to be a church school.

I was hoping this counselor would be the perfect fit. She has a Ph.D. in psychology and has a specialty in testing with these types of kids also. In sitting in the first session, I was very impressed in some of the things she said. I thought she had really good insight.

When she read the specialist’s report, she understood it very well and told me some things that I didn’t pick up on when I read the report. She said she’s in about the 99th percentile for language and some other things, but low in other areas like math. There are some executive functioning issues as well. Years ago in my own research, I discovered that she had dysgraphia and dyscalculia. I think the dysgraphia is much much better. We have worked hard.

I’ve been homeschooling for 17 years and have one more to go. I just hope I can hold on for that long.

Posted by DE gwynne on Mar 24, 2017 at 6:17pm

Oh sweet lady, I am so sorry for bailing on our conversation - every single day I have thought I’d make it back, and every single day has been worse than the one before! Tonight, after six consecutive ‘worse than ever before’ days with my kiddo, I think I can absolutely understand your twin sentiments of “I’m as depressed as she is,” and “I wish I could put her in school.” I don’t know whether the medication is helping, making her worse or if it’s always been this bad and I am just now identifying it more, but as of right now, I am seriously considering put this girly in school next year! Ironically, she is working better (when we finally get started!), and longer in terms of schooling but the moment we’re not fully engaged in that she is complaining about boredom yest wants to do nothing. Apparently, she has nothing interesting to do or play with which is news to me - I’ve thought the mountains of stuff she drags out of her room into the lounge really were toys! Every day has been a play at the park day, plus two of her fun groups but still she complains. And the whining, oh my goodness I think I might actually strangle one of us. I think I’d actually prefer fits of temper, though there has been plenty of that too. If this is ‘progress’ after her pediatric appointment, I am ready to go backwards. Two more weeks until review .... I am not entirely certain we’ll both make it!

Posted by Parkour Anyone? on Apr 01, 2017 at 9:45pm

Oh my goodness! I totally understand about not being willing to do anything, then complaining about being bored!!!

At this very moment, she is sitting on the couch doing nothing, despite my constant prodding. We read biology for a while this morning. She did alright but I had to keep asking her if she was with me and ask her questions about what I was reading.

I have told her that I can’t be responsible for her education and can’t do it for her. She has to do her part. I KNOW that in the late afternoon, she will be upset with how little she got done today and crying about how she hates school and she can’t do it. I have no idea how to motivate her. I feel like I have tried everything.

Fortunately, she has her appointment with the psychiatrist today and then she has a counseling appointment after that. She hates going to both. I am going to tell the doctor that this isn’t working and maybe we still need to do some tweaking to the medication.

Your “name” is parkour. Do you do parkour???

Posted by DE gwynne on Apr 03, 2017 at 5:55pm

It’s incredibly demoralizing isn’t it? I think the way I home school helps make the work a little more fun, or at least I can wrap it up in unit studies tailor especially for her. But I am becoming increasingly concerned about how well I’m preparing this child for a world that hasn’t been packaged to grab her attention and keep her engaged. I think I can cope with the ADHD at her young age more than the ODD and impulsiveness which seems to be the root of evil here. I really hope Abby’s psych appointment goes well and offers up some new avenues for you both, and that her counselor is a little less frustrating to her this week. I haven’t yet organized anything for my daughter but I have accepted a meeting with a counselor for myself this week. Had the counselor caught me this morning, I’d have told her no thank you, not at this point. But she called ten minutes after all hell broke loose in the grocery store and I was smart enough to accept the offer! I wish you the very best for those appointments and hope to goodness they yield some new weapons for your mama arsenal smile

Posted by Parkour Anyone? on Apr 04, 2017 at 1:48am

Sorry it’s been so long.

Yesterday Abby had a great school day! I’m so glad. But the day before she wasn’t able to do any at all!!! That night she cried and wanted me to say, “it’s going to be okay.” But I just don’t know if I should be saying that. Because I honestly don’t know if it’s going to be okay. I have no idea how she is going to graduate next year. I have no idea how she is going to be able to complete the subjects she needs to complete.  In my state, she needs four maths and she is still on her second one. How in the world is she going to be able to get two in in one school year?

I was talking about this with my husband the other day and he said, “On no - she’s graduating! I don’t care what you have to do or say on her transcript - she’s graduating!”

He has watched me cry for years trying to deal with her. He wants me to be able to be done with this too. I appreciate his support. And honestly, I don’t want it to drag out for an extra year. I literally don’t know that I could handle that. I honestly think this is the hardest thing I’ve done in my whole life.

People just don’t understand how hard it is. Even my sister doesn’t think it’s as hard as I say. She’s one of those people that doesn’t believe in ADHD and thinks I’m just making excuses for Abby’s lack of learning in some subjects. (She also doesn’t approve of homeschooling.)

I feel like I’m constantly trying to educate people on ADHD so they will understand. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like people just don’t get it. They don’t understand how all-encompassing it is. They think ADHD just means kids have a hard time focusing or can’t sit still. It’s a constant battle to advocate for her.

So not only do I have to deal with her learning issues, anxiety and depression; but I also have to work with everyone else who thinks I’m just not doing a good job.

Oh my, sorry for being such a downer tonight. The psychiatrist did add a new medication for her on her last visit. So once again, I’m holding out hope that change will come. Maybe this time.

Posted by DE gwynne on Apr 13, 2017 at 2:26am

Hi Lady,
I’m sorry I’ve been AWOL - more family drama and ailments and relatives getting kicked out of nursing facilities and, and, and…Oh yes, and trying to parent and teach a little crazy head too. This has been a month where your comments about people not understanding or believing in ADHD, it’s treatments and home school to boot, have resonated every single day. It’s a brutal journey isn’t it, especially when those you might expect to be supportive are anything but?
How are you and Abby doing - any progress with her counselling? I have been going to a counselor myself at the insistence of my doctor, mostly relaxation techniques that I’m supposed to be practicing daily to reduce my tachycardia - it’s not going very well lol We now have a referral for the kiddo too. If we hit it from all sides, we might just survive it, right? Right? I really hope you’ve had a better…er, month? Wow - so sorry about that! Thinking of you all though, and sending you best wishes too.

Posted by Parkour Anyone? on May 09, 2017 at 1:27pm

Yes, I’ve been AWOL too. Wow, the tachycardia sounds serious! I can imagine that could interfere greatly with the issues you are dealing with. It sounds like you should be making that a priority. It’s certainly not going to be helpful if you have a heart attack or stroke. Does your daughter know about your condition? Well, I guess she young and may not understand it though.

May is such a busy time of year! I am the Advisor Coordinator for our homeschool umbrella school. So that means that I’ve got 45 families to look after. I do have four other women to whom I delegate families. But I’ve got to jump in on some of those if there are any problems. Which of course there are.  I then have to check in with the Advisors and make sure they have done their jobs.  All in all, sometimes it gets overwhelming. (Like I need something else that is overwhelming.)

Abby has been going to counseling. Every time we leave, she is very angry and talks about how much she hates it and her. Last week she told me something she said that I agree with but don’t think it is the time to talk about it. She told Abby that it’s not good that she is sleeping most nights in our bed. I agree, BUT, I know that it is a symptom of bigger issues. So the counselor was talking to her about it and telling her it’s not good and it’s not good for her parents and she needs to stop. I definitely agree with ALL of that! But, I think the way to resolve it is to work on the issue that is making her feel like she needs the security of sleeping in our bed. I think working on the symptom without addressing the cause is going about it backward and that it wouldn’t be successful working at it from that direction.

My husband and I have been talking about it and last night we decided not to make her go back. I asked her yesterday to tell me about the things that she has taken away from seeing her - any little ideas or helpful thoughts. Her response was, “Absolutely nothing!” I realize there were probably some there but she didn’t hear them or refused to hear them. But anyway, I feel like it’s not working and we’ve spent a lot of money on it. So last night my husband called and left a message at the office canceling her appointment on Wednesday and said we will be discontinuing the counseling.

Maybe some kind of “life coach” or “ADHD coach” would be a better fit. I don’t know.

The added medication, Wellbutrin, is helping. But we still aren’t there. I’ve also gotten some essential oils and some natural stuff that I think are maybe helpful. The jury is still out on them. The natural thing I got is Synaptol. It says it’s natural relief for poor focus and hyperactivity symptoms. I’ll let you know how it goes, I got it off of Amazon, If I could find the essential oil at the moment I would tell you what it is. But I can’t seem to put my hands on it. I’ll let you know.

I need to sign off for now. We have co-op this afternoon and she will be doing some dissecting. I ordered a frog, a worm, a lobster looking thing and one other thing. It came as a kit for biology. I am blessed to be co-oping with another mom who is a chemical engineer by trade. She does all the sciences. I’m lost on that!

I hope you have a blessed day.  smile  Make sure you take time to relax so you will be around for many years to come with her.

Posted by DE gwynne on May 09, 2017 at 3:37pm

Hey Lady, I see my earlier comment didn’t post - it was long too lol, so probably a good thing. I was just coming to check on you to see how Abby is doing without the weekly ordeal of the counselling. I hope the experience with one who didn’t seem in tune with her approach hasn’t put her off forever, it’s something we often need to revisit throughout complicated lives and it’s such a shame when the experience leaves a lasting impression of it being less than helpful. I am sure Abby was really thankful that you listened to her and acted to stand up for her - if it did nothing else to help, putting you and her Dad firmly in her corner is a plus, right?

I really hope the natural elements are helping - it’s a diverse arsenal we need with these girls, hey? We now have our referral in place to seek behavioral health for Amy and will hope to goodness it’s more of a ‘life coaching’ kind of thing rather than counselling too - I feel we’ve not yet reached a need for counselling as such, more that some tips, strategies and training for us as a family. I’m not sure that anything we might learn will necessarily translate to Abby’s needs given their age difference, and there’s probably not a lot I’ll learn that you won’t already know, but you can be sure I’ll share it all with you - you have been such a tremendous support and I’d love to be able to reciprocate. If I were close to you I could at least help you with your co-op admin lol You seem to keep every moment incredibly busy!

I am going to finish up ‘kindy’ with Amy, though we’ve already started a lot of ‘G1’ work (homeschools really obviate the need for grades don’t they?), and after a little break we’ll be doing summer school at home. I really wish we could do vacations and camps or at least some cool trips but we’re working on a shoe string here so I’ve incorporated as much fun as I can. Our local library has a homeschool group and they have a STEM class once a week - it would be great if Amy could join in because she loves science and math and like you, those are not my subjects at all! You and I partnered up would probably have the most socially aware children ever - but their sciences would be of the life variety and not the chemical, biological or physics based, hey? Typical - I get an active, scientific kid when I am best equipped for a bookish kid who loves to curl up and read with me endlessly lol Opposites attract hey, and she’s keeping me busy and active and for that I am grateful smile Thank you for your kind words about my own health - in seeking aid for Amy, I appeared on the radar of the adult behavioral health team and though I didn’t think so at the time, my doctor’s insistence that I meet with one of their holistic practitioners was probably the right thing at just the right time. So I have had a few sessions where we’ve been working on relaxation - the kind I can do while washing dishes and queuing at the store, and I know it was necessary. I think adding diet, exercise, relaxation and some stress release will yield the best results for Amy and I together - the thought of checking out during her childhood is stress-inducing in itself! 

Anyway, I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend and that you get to enjoy a break soon too. Kindest regards to you sweet lady smile

Posted by Parkour Anyone? on May 20, 2017 at 1:38pm

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