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Back-to-School for Kids with ADHD

Nat, like many kids with ADHD, has a hard time with change.

Three weeks before school started, Natalie started falling apart, behavior-wise, apparently anticipating the thing she dreads most: change. Now, three weeks into third grade, she’s finally starting — just starting — to settle in. Three seems to be her magic number.

Oh, my gosh, it’s been tough. Nat, like many kids with ADHD, has a hard time with change, with transitions. Even change that’s positive, or that’s neutral at worst, wreaks havoc with her emotions. And this particular change, the start of school, is on the surface, no biggie. Nat likes her teacher, Mr. Sibbel, and I’m getting really good vibes from him on my mama radar. Bobby, one of her best school friends, is in her class. She’s in a familiar environment — she’s been at Sawyer elementary since kindergarten. Same principal, same office ladies, same school nurse, same special ed teacher, Mrs. Carter. So what’s the big deal? Change. Any kind of change.

It was like someone flipped a switch, or substituted placebos for Nat’s ADHD medications: Three weeks before school started, she somehow sensed the change to come. Was the smell of sawdust from sharpened pencils wafting through the air? Did she see back-to-school commercials on TV? I’ll never know. But she became triple impulsive, thrice as naughty, three times as needy.

Okay, Miss Natalie Naughtily, you’ve had your three weeks since school started. I want my sweet girl of summer back. Flip that switch, switch out the placebos for the Ritalin. Let’s pack in three months of relative calm before the next big anxiety-provoking triad — the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s holiday season hell!