Saturday, February 28, 2015

ADHD in da house!

I'm an ADHD mom! I don't have it, as far as I know, although there are some moments I wonder!

I'm in the club now - the special ed mom's club. Eh - it's okay, there are a lot of nice folks here, but it's not what I would have chosen.

But do you know who did choose it for me? The Lord. My son has ADHD - he is A Dude Heavenly Designed.

My son is fun and exciting! Things would be a lot more buttoned-up around here without him. He can do flips on the trampoline, gymnastic front supports on any surface before him, and he has mastered every physical task he's ever tried.

He has memorized every word he has seen on paper. He is a great reader when he can sit in one place to do it. He is fast at math, he understands science concepts easily, and he has amazing hand-eye coordination. He is smart and engaging, he has rarely met a stranger, and he's as sweet as pie to his loved ones. My mom would never forgive me if I didn't also mention that he loves nature and the environment.

He is not a great writer, attention deficits make it very hard to get ideas from the fast brain into the physical realm to write. Handwriting is difficult for him, given his druthers he won't do it. He frequently does not finish work at school, has little concept of time, and forgets that you've told him to get dressed within seconds after you've said it.

And God has a perfect plan for him.

The first step was to figure out if his exuberance was a part of an organized personality or was there something else going on? We then officially adjusted to an ADHD diagnosis. It was hard! Hard to accept that your child is not "normal," whatever that looks like, and that he might struggle with this for his whole childhood and into adulthood. Then as school became more demanding we had to get a feel for what kind of special needs he'll have and what kind of learner he is. Did we want to try medication or behavioral support? Therapy? An IEP? What is an IEP? Section 504 plan? What is Section 504? Are there other disabilities?

In our case we don't currently qualify for special education services like an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA; PL 94-142). He will have the same education plan as his neurotypical peers (my new favorite word - neurotypical) but with accommodations.

Maybe he'll complete all odd or even problems, maybe he can type instead of hand-write, maybe he can have a special chair that helps him receive the sensory feedback he needs to sit still. There are a lot of things good teachers automatically do for different students, like giving preferential seating for students with glasses, and a 504 plan will allow those accommodations to follow the student from teacher to teacher so that each one does not have to reinvent the accommodation wheel.

I've been involved in special ed for over a decade as a music therapist, so I understand a little bit of some of the legalese and history behind these educational protections for students with special needs, but most parents don't. How on earth are we supposed to figure this out on our own? There are groups and agencies, yes, but that doesn't make it any less overwhelming.

So this week we are going to have a 504 meeting with the Licensed Specialist in School Psychology (LSSP), the classroom teacher, an administrator and little old me to start discussions on how to best help my child succeed in school, how to "level the playing field" so he is able to benefit from his education as much as his peers who are able to sit still and complete their work in an organized fashion.

This kid will likely not have the school success that some neurotypical (love) students have. We will struggle with homework, remembering to bring home assignments, tests, behaviors, teachers who may or may not "get" the kid with ADHD, medication levels, therapy techniques, insurance issues, which parenting books to read, and finding activities he will enjoy and be successful.

We know that school is not a measure of life success! It's a measure of academic success for students who are made for school.

We will always have to deal with the reactions and expectations of other people who sometimes don't believe that ADHD actually exists and that it is a result of low intelligence, disorganized behavior, or poor parenting.

This can leave me feeling very alone.

But we are never alone. No matter whether my son is the only young man in the world who has ADHD or if there are millions of children who live and excel with it. I'll never be the only one to love my child, protect him, stick up for him - I will always have his Creator to do those things. A Dude Heavenly Designed by a heavenly Creator.

I was also heavenly designed to be a parent to this kid. I might trade the ADHD for perfect attention if that didn't change my child. I might. But it is a part of him just as having musical talent is a part of me. Can we be the same person without our idiosyncrasies? I don't think so.

I'll be trying to make sense of this as time goes on, and my guess is I'll probably be entitled to a degree in special education by the time schooling my children is done! I'll take it.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Little One

I once had this precious friend. We looked out for each other and protected each other fiercely. I called her "Little One" and she called me something untoward, but out of love!

She is gone now, into the arms of Jesus too soon. I usually think about her with a smile and a shake of my head, but sometimes I still feel overwhelmed with grief, even years later. I miss her.

I have a new friend for whom I have similar sweet feelings. It's different - we're older (I'm way older) and both have families, so it's not as all-encompassing as those feelings were for Little One.

This sweet sister is a Little One, too. I just love her and want to protect her fiercely.

My new friend just lost a long-desired son, also into the arms of Jesus too soon. Not too soon for him, but maybe too soon for us here on earth. And my heart breaks for this sweet woman. She is funny, smart, honest, transparent, and man, is she a fierce lover of Jesus.

I'm feeling overwhelmed today - that God would have given me all of those years with the original Little One, who I loved so deeply, and now has reminded me He still gives me sweet friends like her. He gives us the ability for this deep love and that is a gift.

As my new friend continues to release her sweet son into the arms of His sweet Son, we are held by Him, too. He gives good gifts to His children. Sometimes those gifts are only ours on earth for a season. That is hard - really hard. Thank you, God, for my Little Ones and their little ones, on earth and in heaven.

We pray for long relationships and yet still consider you merciful when you call them back to You. See you later, Little One, give this sweet baby boy a ribcracker.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sugar and spice.

Sometimes I still can't believe this happened.

Not the movie night, but the three children. So grateful.

It's not always like that, there are those days! Sometimes I could just not be bothered. When I'm tired, when they're fighting, when homework is hard. But this - wow.

"He has restored the years the locus had eaten." Joel 2:25.

Sometimes He restores years in a way we hadn't imagined - as a family of two, as a parent of a child with special needs, as parents of children already in the arms of Jesus - but he restores.

Thank you, Lord.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Begin parentheses.

Ah, vacation! Love to go, love to come home. Praying for a good night's sleep for all tonight.

Know what will help me to sleep easier? Knowing that tomorrow about 100 items of clutter will be leaving my home. Buh-bye now.

Under kitchen cabinet #1 - decluttered! I got rid of two stacks of papers (one in that yellow bag), and several appliances that I don't currently use, I don't love, and I wouldn't buy again ("Clutter Free", p. 144).

After! I even had room to stick a box of baby wipes that I always use to clean kitchen surfaces (and baby surfaces).

So what, right?  Maybe. But I have gotten tired of thinking, "If only I were better organized I would get so much more done." The bulk of the problem likely isn't organization at all, but clutter - too much stuff.

Kathi (you know, my new virtual BFF) writes, "Yes, you are giving away clutter (anything you don't use, love, or wouldn't buy again), but more importantly you are creating room for the things you value. The things that make it possible to do the work you're called to, the things that remind you of all your people and blessings" (p. 146).

But it's a KITCHEN! You're right, but it's a start. I love my family and love being fed. Tomorrow for dinner, chili in that red crock pot!

You are blessed.