Guest Blogs

Chin Up, Moms! Things Can Really Change for the Better!

I never thought that some of my son’s sleepover struggles would just —poof—disappear. But they did.

One thing we’re taught pretty early in our lives is that things change. They change often and sometimes they change without warning.

I’m very familiar with the concept of change, but I lost that perspective when it comes to Ricochet, my son who has attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD), autism, and learning disabilities.

I’ve made it my life’s work to understand ADHD and my son’s special needs in particular — to my own detriment at times. I’ve focused on his differences and his strengths and interests too, as all parents raising kids with ADHD should.

But I didn’t consider that Ricochet’s needs would ebb and flow. I remind myself, “He doesn’t like crowds; he doesn’t do loud noises; he stinks at planning and organization; and on and on…” I work on teaching him lagging skills and I scaffold the necessary support. I educate teachers and others in his life about his constellation of needs. I didn’t consider the fact that his needs would change. Sure, I realized that he will get better at some things and grow and mature, but I didn’t think about some struggles disappearing altogether.

Life reminded me of this sweet possibility last weekend, though, as life does sometimes.

[Self-Test: Is My Child Autistic? Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder]

Ricochet was invited to a sleepover with his two closest friends. It had only been a month or two since once of these friends spent the night at our house. When his friend left that time, he turned to me and said, “I don’t want to sleep over at his house next like his mom said. I’m not comfortable with that. I want to go and come home for sleeping.” I was proud of him for coming up with his own compromise, and for self-advocating.

Last week, however, he was determined to spend the night with his friends and stay for the entire sleepover. He wasn’t determined that he would tough it out and achieve it, but he was determined that he was ready and able to do it.

I had my doubts. Big doubts. I told him that it was OK if we had to pick him up before he went to sleep.

“I’m 13 now, Mom! I can do a sleepover with my friends. I will be fine,” he answered.

Yep! He was determined all right.

[Free Friendship Guide for Kids with ADHD]

I let the host mom know that Ricochet has autism and that he’s generally uncomfortable staying overnight away from home because of it. I explained that I will be willing to pick him up at any time, should he need it. Upon hearing that, she wonderfully asked how she could help him be comfortable in her home! (I love her!). I knew if there was any time and place he could successfully make it to the end of a sleepover, this would be it.

But I still felt it wasn’t possible.

I watched my phone as we took his big sister to get sushi that night. I made sure it was on my nightstand, plugged in, and that the ringer was on and the volume was all the way up. I felt certain there was still a 70/30 chance he’d call me to pick him up.

I tossed and turned for a while, but exhaustion finally set in. Next thing I knew, it was 9 a.m. Sunday morning, and my phone had never rung.

He did it! He really did it. He showed this momma that he could get completely past some of his struggles. He renewed my hope for his future.

Of course, to him, he just had a great time with his friends, and made his momma proud. But it really was so much more than that.

[Steps to Independence]