We’ve known that our 11-year-old son, Ian, has ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) since he was in third grade. Actually, we knew something was wrong even when he was in preschool. He was having major meltdowns, had no impulse control, was constantly touching things, and couldn’t seem to stop running. He even ran out of his classroom. One time he almost got hit by a bus after he did so; he just wasn’t paying attention.
But no one could diagnose him. It was a very hectic, stressful time because he was so hard to control. Finally, three years ago, I showed a video of his behavior to the staff at a child development center and they said, “Oh, that’s ADHD.”
Your son or daughter was just diagnosed with ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. And as you sat there in the office, listening to the doctor tick off the symptoms - the attention problems, the disorganization, the fidgeting - you recognized yourself. Suddenly, you wonder: Could I have adult ADHD?
You very well might. ADHD runs in families, and experts say that for any child with ADHD, there’s a 30% to 40% chance that one of the parents has it.
But for many adults, the idea never...
Ian’s behavior is now better controlled, thanks to medications and a classroom aide at school. But the summers are challenging. Both my husband and I work full time, and we can’t leave Ian home alone. Even when he’s on medication, he acts without thinking and can easily get into trouble. We did find an ADHD camp, but it was an hour away, and we couldn’t drive there and back twice a day. We tried one day care center, but that turned out to be a disaster -- their way of disciplining him was to make him sit in a corner. That doesn’t work for a child with ADHD. And private babysitters are just too expensive, especially given our medical bills.
Finally, a couple years ago, we found an all-day summer program at a local elementary school. The staff there really wanted to make it work with Ian. They understand that he can get anxious or overstimulated, so we created a “quiet zone” for him outside. He can go there if he feels too hyper. He knows it’s a place just for him where he can go and get calm. We also taught him how to breathe and count to 10 when he feels an attack coming on. And because that program is for many age groups, it’s easier for Ian to make friends. He can find children who are around his developmental age, which is 8. He will be caught up, developmentally, by 8th grade.