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Christmas Craziness: Not Just for Kids with ADHD

Holiday stress isn’t just for families who have children with ADHD. The excitement of Christmas and the upcoming vacation has all school kids acting out.

It’s not just the kids with ADHD now: the excitement of the holiday season has permeated Natalie’s entire school.

Natalie has never had a major problem with her behavior at school. Trouble focusing, yes. Serious acting out, no. (She saves that for me.)

But, last week, from her reports, there was a disturbing change. She was getting “strikes” and “warnings.” Teachers were “yelling” at her.

Oh, no. Is her new ADHD medication not working after all?

I stopped in one morning to touch base with Natalie’s special ed teacher, Mrs. Carter. She hadn’t heard that Natalie was getting into any trouble. She’d check with the other teachers.

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She called me later that day. The music teacher asked Natalie to take the string from her shirt, which was supposed to be tied behind her back, out of her mouth. She hadn’t yelled, or given her a strike or a warning.

In fact, no one had yelled. No one was seeing any changes in her school behavior.

When Mrs. Carter talked to Natalie, even she denied any problems. (She later told me that she’d “fooled” Mrs. Carter.)

But, the kids throughout the school were wired. The special ed room was loud, the hallways were loud, the lunch room was loud. Mrs. Carter, personally, had experienced the hardest week of her entire teaching career.

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The day-before-vacation-craziness had taken hold of all the kids — two whole weeks early.

Added to that, Nat’s regular classroom teacher was gone a couple of days. First, to a meeting, and then out sick. Natalie has always reacted to the uncertainty of subs with weird behavior, so her false reports, and her “fooling” of Mrs. Carter fit. As did the day Dad had to pick her up after lunch because she had a bad headache.

Last night, she started angling to stay home sick today. Her ear hurt. Her throat hurt. She woke up this morning with cold sores bubbling up on her bottom lip.

I sent her to school anyway, with the reassurance that her classroom teacher will probably be back today. Do your best, I told her. If the teachers seem stressed, look around you. Could they be reacting to the other kids, not you? You don’t want to miss your party at religious ed Wednesday night, or your class party at school on Friday.

Winter break from school — Christmas — then readjusting to school resuming in January.

Ho, ho, ho! Looks like this joke’s on the teachers and parents.

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