ADHD and Adoption

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Jac0b and Lexi working on their rainbow looms

It’s so funny as the weeks go by, when I look back, I can see where I’m riding a rollercoaster of emotions.  It’s a cross between that and a game of whack-a-mole.  Some issue pops up–it’s like we hop on the ride.  We go up, up, up where the issue gets worse and worse and my emotions get worse and worse. Then, we find a way to resolve it, and down we go until that issue is over and we hop off the ride until new something new pops up.

Last week’s issue was Jac0b’s ADHD diagnosis. I haven’t talked a lot about this here on the blog.  Some because of his privacy issues and some because I don’t feel like after 4 months I’m any expert.  But, what I realized at the end of last week is that after sifting through all of our issues for 4 months (yesterday was the exact day!) that ADHD is the main issue we continue to deal with.  And that means we will likely continue to deal with this for years to come.  And that thought totally overwhelmed me.

When we adopted, I was fully prepared (ok, as much as possible) to deal with adoption transition issues.  I didn’t actually know what that looked like, but I knew it would be a bumpy road to integrate a new person into the family. But, at some point, we would adjust and move on. What I didn’t expect was an ongoing medical issue that we would need to deal with for years to come.  They told us he had ADHD before we adopted him–he was diagnosed at a very young age–but in my ignorance about ADHD and exuburance to adopt, it was nothing more than a footnote. Oh, ADHD, no big deal!  Scott has ADHD and we will manage fine.

I’ve come to realize that a child with ADHD is much different than an adult with ADHD and the effects of ADHD on family life is quite remarkable.

I feel like I’ve been baptized in the ADHD world these past months.  I’ve done more learning on ADHD than any adoption issue we’ve had.  I don’t know everything, but I have learned.

For those that aren’t aware, ADHD is just what it says–an attention disorder.  It’s not that a person with ADHD can’t concentrate; in fact, they can concentrate very well when they want to, it’s just that the concentration is never consistent. Here are some other ways ADHD has been impacting us:

  • Argumentativeness.  People with ADHD often like to argue (I’m generalizing here). Their brains enjoy the stimulation and will often become addicted to arguing and will pick a fight just to start an argument.  This has been by far the biggest impact to our family. The arguments have been about the silliest things and will escalate when they really shouldn’t.  And when you have two people in your family with ADHD and another with a need to be always be right, well, you can imagine some of the “discussions” around here. As a person that hates confrontation, even if I’m not a part of it, it stresses me to no end.
  • Impulsivity. Impulsivity is a hallmark symptom of ADHD and it affects all environments.  People with ADHD will often do what they want to do when they want to do it without thought to consequence.  This has caused all sorts of issues both at home and school. He’s going to say whatever he things, hit whatever he wants and throw whatever he wants to throw, whenever he wants to do it. There’s also problems with waiting turns and delaying responses which is FUN with 3 kids.
  • Inattention. They’re easily distracted from the task at hand and when you’re trying to integrate someone into your family and learn morning routines, etc, it’s hard when the dog walks by or a phone rings–it can throw everything into sorts. Forgetfulness is also an issue here. It’s difficult (read: impossible) to give out a list of things to do and see it done. Almost everything gets lost. Tasks are forgotten. So much attention goes to getting him to pay attention.

All of this adds up to another 8 layers of difficulty in integrating a person into your family.  Anyone with kids with ADHD knows it’s hard work. Bless you, friends.  I really didn’t understand the struggle.

And so, at the end of last week, when I realized that a lot of our issues are not rooted in adoption transition issues at this point, but ADHD issues, I guess in a way I had to go through a bit of grieving process.  And that sounds terrible, like I was regretting adopting Jac0b and that’s not what I mean at all.  I think what it means is that I had to recognize what our true issues were and then come to terms with it–I had to get fed up and angry over it and then accept that that is just part of him and that’s ok.

But, you know. God is so good.  Truly. I got to the end of my rope on this on Saturday.  And then Sunday’s Advent reading was about Abraham and Isaac and how he provided the ram for the sacrifice.  God is Provider. God just washed over me the comforting knowledge that he would help us through this.

The truth is I am not capable of handling it. I do not have enough love, enough compassion, enough patience to parent Jac0b, or any of my children.  But God can supernaturally give me those qualities and guide us to the knowledge we need on how to cope, and even thrive, with ADHD.

Even Saturday night I “happen” to start a conversation at a Christmas party with a couple who are essential oil folks and we were able to chat about some success stories about oils for kids with ADHD.  It’s little things like that where I know God is providing answers for us.  Not all at once, but like stepping stones.

Parenting is a hard gig no matter what, but God is greater and can provide all our needs.

Those of you familiar with ADHD, I’d love to know about any resources, occupational therapy, supplements, oils–anything–that have worked for you. Talk to me!

ADHD and DORE

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On Friday I mentioned that we’ve been getting physical therapy for Jac0b’s ADHD. Now, that might sound a little crazy that one would need physical therapy for ADHD, but indeed, it’s a thing.

When Jac0b first came to us, a friend from our small group gave me the book Driven to Distraction. It was written by two doctors with ADHD about ADHD. They have a follow-up book Delivered from Distraction which deals with practical ways to cope with ADHD for both the person with it and their family. They even mention that this dallas pain management doctor helped them through a lot of processes.

I learned our brains are divided into areas. One area is for thinking called the cerebrum and another is the skill development center called the cerebellum. The skill center helps in all sort of things, but especially in the process of learning and automating skills, like reading, writing, riding a bike or typing. For some people, the skill center isn’t very efficient and so the thinking center has to make up for it, making it super hard to learn and do the automated tasks. A lot of times the person can be clumsy, take longer than others or they can’t even remember how to do tasks.

One treatment, if you would, for ADHD that was introduced in those books was a non-medication treatment by a European company called DORE.

DORE has developed physical exercises which stimulate the thinking center, the cerebellum.

The idea is just like if you do enough pull-ups, you’re going to have great arms and abs. If you do enough of these physical exercises targeted for the cerebellum, your cerebellum is going to be stronger, allowing it to remember things, organize things, concentrate on things…all sorts of things, actually.

DORE can help children with ADHD, Asperger Syndrome, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia. Here is a really simple video to help explain:

 

They do individualized assessments with each child and determine exactly what type of exercises would benefit them.

Then, you get a login to a web site that is loaded with your individualized plan and twice a day for 10 minutes, you follow the exercises until you graduate the program. Usually it takes 12-18 months.

Even though their US office is in Mississippi, we were able to do everything online in Skype-like sessions and other online tests. And like I mentioned, we believe we are already seeing results just a month later.

In the book Delivered from Distraction I mentioned above, the one doctor sent his son through the program and his son went from hating reading to being an avid reader.

I highly recommend you watch this success story from a rugby player who was dyslexic and quit school in 8th grade, who quickly was able to read and found great improvement in his game after doing the DORE program.

Isn’t his story amazing? You can see more success stories here.

I’ve talked to at least one set of parents who are doing similar treatments with their son through an Occupational Therapist, but this is actually much more affordable, we don’t have to leave our house and the plan adjusts every day for him as he progresses through the levels.

It’s yet to be seen exactly how much difference we’ll see, but I can tell you I have seen his math improve, his reading fluency improve and his teachers are reporting better focus and attention. We are seeing better behavior in general around the house and while I realize we have so many factors in play especially for Jac0b, I truly believe DORE is a big part of his successes. The exact things they said it would help are improving.

The really cool thing about this is, this is not something he will need to do the rest of his life. Once his new neural pathways are formed, that’s that.

I’m really excited to see where we are a year from now.

And while I’m definitely not telling you this for this reason, we do get a free month of treatment if any of you sign up. If you check it out and find that you want to sign up, would you tell them we sent you their way? We’d appreciate it!

I would love to hear about your experience with this type of ADHD treatment. Also, please share with someone who think might benefit–I haven’t found even one person who has heard of DORE, so let’s spread the word!