by Elaine Pomfrey at www.tm.org/blog/
I get it. I finally understand you. You aren’t acting out. And you’re not trying to drive me crazy, even when you tear around the house non-stop.
You have ADHD. That stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. What’s that? Well, you know how you can’t sit still and always want to run around. And how you have problems paying attention and sometimes shout out the answer before the teacher even finishes the question. That’s all from ADHD.
I don’t want to bore you with facts, but I just want you to know that lots of kids have this condition – 2.4 million in the US. Of the 100 kids in your school, 3-7 of them have ADHD. And probably more boys because they are 3 times more likely to have ADHD than girls, but no one knows why. They say ADHD runs in the family, like red hair. Come to think of it, your Uncle Jerry, the inventor, never could sit still either.
ADHD is not a bad thing at all. You are bursting with energy. You are creative. You are always ready to take on a new challenge. You could think of it this way: Your brain is special and works differently than other kids’. So you are ready to move on to the next project before completing the first one.
But sometimes, it might feel like a bad thing because you get in trouble a lot—at home and at school. I’m sorry for not understanding you and yelling at you more than I should. Like the time Aunt Emma and Uncle Henry were over for dinner and you wanted to leave the table. I made you sit there and you got so fidgety. Eventually, your shoe got caught in the tablecloth and you pulled all the dishes off the table! Just like Fidgety Philip in the story. If I had known about ADHD, I would have sent you to your playroom right after you ate.
At school, you may get bored easily and feel like the teacher picks on you. That’s because she doesn’t understand what it’s like to have ADHD. It makes it hard to concentrate for a long period of time. You might get really frustrated or shut down when you can’t do the work. Kids with ADHD often lose their homework or pencils. When you were in 1st grade, Mrs. Johnson kept you after school you because you were always wandering around the classroom and wouldn’t stay seated like the other kids.
But now we are all going to work with you, and not against you.
Remember when we went to see Dr. Lovisky? She put those headphones on and asked you to raise your hand when you heard a sound. That was a hearing test. She also gave you an eye test and complete medical exam to determine that you had ADHD and not something else. She also asked what you were like as a little boy. Wow, did I have some stories to tell!
Anyway, Dr. Lovisky suggested that you take medicine several times a day to calm you down and help you focus. But, this medicine can cause stomach aches, make you crabby and keep you awake at night. In the long run, it may slow your growth. So, I want to try some other things first, like meditation and a change in the foods we eat.
Dr. Lovisky told me about an experiment where kids with ADHD learned the Transcendental Meditation technique. They meditated twice a day at school for 10 minutes each time. After three months, over half of them reported that they were less anxious and depressed. Over a quarter of them said they could focus a lot better. Plus lots of them found out their memories were better and they were more organized.
You might like this comment from one boy who had problems with impulse control (that means doing things without thinking about them first): “Before I started meditating, if I was walking in the hallway and another middle school kid bumped into me, I’d turn around and hit him. Now that I’ve been meditating for three months, if somebody bumps into me, I stop and think, “Should I hit him or not?”
You might wonder how you’re going to sit still to meditate. Well, TM actually helps your mind and body settle down so you find you can sit still for the 10 minute meditation. The TM teacher I met said it’s really easy to do, and it will help make you feel calmer and less restless the more you do it. I’m going to learn too so I won’t be so stressed out.
Now the bad news—no more Cheetos and Coke. I know it’s your favorite snack—mine too! But I read that the thing that makes cheese doodles orange – it’s called artificial color—makes ADHD worse. And so does sugar. Yikes! But I found some cheese doodles at the health food store that get their orange color from a healthy spice. And the store has tasty sodas without sugar. Plus we’ll have lots more grapes and cherries and corn on the cob— your favorites.
I’m going to get more organized. We’ll get on a better routine—earlier to bed and sit-down dinners at night. Plus we’re going to set up some goals together—like completing homework each night and remembering to take your books to school. When you achieve your goals each day for 2 weeks, I’m taking you to Chicago to see a Cubs game!
Next week, I’ll meet with your teacher and explain your situation so that will hopefully make your life easier at school. And I’m going back to school. Well, just for a few weeks to learn how to be a better parent. Hope I pass the test!
Anyway, kiddo, just wanted to explain all this to you. I think you are such a special boy and I love you so much!
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