December 19, 2017 at 6:29 am #71097
I have really enjoyed reading over these forums and the supportiveness of this site! With this said, one of the largest struggles that my son is dealing with is finding a friendship group and as his parents, we have trouble finding parents we can relate to or want anything to do with us.
Sonny boy is 10 years old, in fourth grade and goes to a local private school. He is a gifted student and our options for a strong academic program are limited, plus the structure of private school has been very good for him.
In the years leading up to my son’s formal diagnosis last spring (ADHD Hyperactive/Impulsive type,) we have been through it all with our kiddo. He experiences HUGE sweeping emotions, from meltdowns to frustration screaming and when he was younger, throwing things and hitting. With time, patience and him maturing a bit, many of these things have died down if not died off completely.
Aside from the big emotions/impulses, my son is amazing. He is funny and generous, sympathetic and understanding. Not to mention he is extremely intelligent and picks up on many things, including rejection.
A job transfer required that we move to a new city in 2016, leaving his old buddies behind. At the old school, his dad and I were on the outskirts of the parent circle, but my son was included and invited to parties and playdates. He rarely if ever melted down and was generally happy! His school handled him well and as long as he was happy, we were happy. It was not nirvana and we knew that as a family we were slightly isolated, but he was too young to notice and we carried on!
Anyway, after arriving at his current school last year (3rd grade,) we came in as a whirlwind. My son was reeling from the move the previous july and we were constantly busy with work. Conditions were far from ideal when transitioning into the new school and we did the best we could. My son was SUCH a trooper and did quite well in the first few months of the school year.
To our delight, my son was invited to a Halloween party with the boys in his class (small class.) The party was 20 minutes from ending when I got a cryptic call from the hostess (mom.) Apparently my son got upset about candy being passed out to what he thought was everyone but him. He threw something and busted out a screen in the family’s sunroom, where the kids were playing! Mortified, I called my husband as the family wanted him to be picked up immediately. I tried to call the mom back to learn more, but did not receive a return call. My husband offered to fix or replace the screen and the family said “they understand, but no thanks.” Although humiliated, we thought the instance would eventually blow over and time would heal all wounds.
Instead, my son had effectively committed social suicide. Months later my son was overhearing his classmate (the boy who lived at the Halloween party house) saying “it’s a good thing you didn’t invite …. he just would break something.” Third grade wore on with no invites to parties, playdates or otherwise. I tried getting integrated into the school community, volunteering for hot lunch, going out for the PTA group/s despite my demanding work schedule. My attempts felt futile, but I kept trying for my son’s benefit.
My son and two other children with similar personalities fought on a weekly basis last spring and we received weekly emails, phone calls, etc. about our son’s behavior. For the end of the school year “field day” celebration, we were advised to let my son take the day off. When I pushed back, we were told that I would have to be there for the entire event. My mom and I attended and were humiliated to see that we were the ONLY parents there the ENTIRE DAY (which I had to take a day off for,) and my son had a PERFECT day. He was so happy to bring his large bear as his team’s mascot.
When summer came, we exhaled.
My son and I had an amazing summer!! During the last months of the previous school year, he received his ADHD diagnosis and we started medication (Vyvanse, 20mg) for the first time. We decided to go on medication holiday for the summer and just relax from the rigors of the last school year.
Toward the end of last year, a friend popped up who invited our son to hang out. This child was quieter and did not have a ton of friends either. He and my son hit it off and over the summer we invited the friend to hang out for most weekends.
As this school year approached, I cringed. We even went so far as to consider returning to our old town and school to not have to go through what we did the year before. We decided against such a move and continued at this current school. My son entered this school year like a dream come true! His dad and I were happy to show the school how well adjusted our son could be when he was not experiencing HUGE dynamic changes in his life.
Unfortunately, my son has made a name for himself. I can safely say that we know a handful of parents by name and our interactions are positive. A few weeks ago, my son was miserable because he was feeling alone. All of the children in his class were playing a sport at recess and, since he is not into sports, he did not play. He said he tried but was yelled at to get out of the game since he didn’t know what he was doing. One of the players included the close friend he had made, so my son wandering around alone during recess.
The same adversary from the year before was advising new students not to play with my son. Sonny boy’s grades were dropping and he was bummed. My son said he wanted friends and a close friend who has friends (apparently his close friend is also unpopular.) We propped him up by saying how proud we were that he tried to join the group and reminded him of all of his awesome qualities. We also pointed out that, as he told us, the kids at school like him overall. But, even this has its limitations. His teacher is a stern type and was using old school methods to handle our son when frustrated with him. When we went to our first 1 on 1 meeting of the year (please God let it be the only,) we noticed he was sitting in a group of four desks by himself. As kids got frustrated with my son’s frustration outburst, the teacher would move the children away from him. As the principal put it “last year, the kids would comfort … now there are like “oh GOD. Not again.”
That was a few weeks ago. After speaking with the teacher and the principal, things have turned around within the classroom, fortunately. We explained to the principal that we will do our part, but we can use all of the medication, do all of the CBT and 1-1’s we can muster, but if the environment does not change, we are paddling upstream.
Now, my son is sitting with a group of kids again and the entire class playing sports has died off, so he has someone to play with at recess. His one close friend is still close, but the playdates tend to be one-sided. For whatever reason, my son does not get invited to play at the friend’s house or go do things with him. We are the ones who call and set playdates and events for the kids. If that is what we have to do for now, so be it.
But, is this normal? Is this something we should continue with? This school would continue through 8th grade, which feels like a long time to be an outsider. A small school community means that memories are long (I went to a similar school environment growing up.) Our family is working class compared to the majority of the school population and my son is truly the “only one” in his class with the spotlight on his behavior. We cannot take the same trips and do not have the same resources as other school families to participate in the private clubs and events in an expensive city. I feel like life is too short to “power through” such circumstances. If academics are what we went to this school for and that is all that we have, there are strong academic programs elsewhere…
We want our son to make normal, healthy friendships and connections and clearly he wants the same. He has come so far and we are so proud of him. But unfortunately his past interactions precede him and judgement is the guiding light.
Do we change schools? Do we move back to our old town? We want to be settled somewhere when sonny boy goes into 5th grade next fall.
Can anyone relate?
How and where do we find our tribe.
December 19, 2017 at 10:30 am #71113
A few things came to mind as I read your post.
1. It is very hard for kids with ADHD to make and keep friends. In 4th grade, his social skills are probably more like 1st or 2nd grade, because ADHD is a developmental disability. If there is a guidance counselor at the school, I would ask him or her to intervene and help him create relationships. We’ve used guidance counselors to help with this several times over the years.
2. Since it’s a private school, you cannot force them to accommodate him (demanding that you be there for your son to participate should not have happened, but private schools get a very, very loose leash).
3. Stress is very detrimental to our kids. They are already more stressed in the school environment. Adding more circumstances that are additional stressors may be doing more harm than good. I decided long ago for my own son that his happiness, comfort, and self-esteem are my top priority for his school experience, not academics and not good grades. He has a gifted IQ, but he also has ADHD, ASD, dysgraphia, written expression disorder, and severe executive functioning deficits. All of that makes it extremely hard for him to make decent grades in inclusion classes. Basically, we decided that his mental health was our #1 concern and academics could fall where they may somewhere behind that. My son does learn, by the way, he just can’t show it in the ways mass education expects, so his grades don’t reflect it. Jerome Schultz’s book, Nowhere to Hide, is a fantastic read on school stress and the effects on our kids.
4. I also learned a long time ago that the grass isn’t greener in other schools. My kid is still a square peg trying to be shoved in a tiny round hole, no matter what school he attends (unless it’s a school for kids with ADHD/LD, but we don’t have that opportunity in our town). We tried 2 different charter schools and a small private school. All were the top 3 worst school years. After the last one (6th grade), where he was so stressed at school it was leading to self-harm for the first and only time in his life, I vowed that we would stay in public school and I would not consider any other schools, ever. He’s just not good at school, and that’s ok. So, I share that story to say that I did question if other schools were better and tried many over the years and it was never better. You have to be very mindful about your child as a whole when choosing a school for a child with ADHD.
5. Your son may not be able to connect with more kids at school. In the classroom, kids are randomly placed together. They may not have similar interests or congruent personalities. Getting involved in scouts or clubs in areas of interest for him outside of school will likely afford him a much easier time bonding with peers and forging relationships, because they start out with similar interests. My son didn’t have any real, true friends until 8th grade. 🙁 He’s really into gaming, technology, robotics, etc. When he started seeking out and connecting with those kids, he made a group of 4 other friends and it has been so rewarding for him. One day I asked how 8th grade was going and he said, “I finally have friends now. REAL friends who come up to me in the hallway and talk to me first, before I see them, because they WANT to talk to me.” I teared up. It was a long, hard road, but he did get there.
6. That birthday party outburst was so unfortunate. And it’s done — there’s no changing it. I think seeking out groups with shared interests will help turn things around in the friendship department. It’s not ideal that he doesn’t have friends at school day-to-day, but it helps. Studies show that happiness is somewhat dependent on having some quality relationships and bonds with others, not on the quantity of friends.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
December 19, 2017 at 12:40 pm #71151
I can sooooooo relate! Your son pretty much sounds like my son. I remember being told I had to go on certain field trips because my son was too much to handle. Penny gives such EXCELLENT advice.
We have sought out friends outside of school. Boy Scouts has been amazing. And can be an inexpensive option that provides a lot of opportunity to create fun memories. The things that do cost money, there are several options for fundraising to help defray the costs. My son doesn’t click with every boy in the group, but he does click with several. He was also able to make friends with a few kids in the neighborhood. Those kids are younger than him, but maturity wise are at his level. Those relationships grew organically but were easier to foster during the warmer months when you might see kids riding their bikes or scooters in the neighborhood. One Mom put a freestanding basketball hoop in her driveway and that attracted a lot of kids.
Those neighborhood friendships are also great when my son’s birthday party rolls around. We started just doing a home birthday party. We don’t make his friends bring gifts or anything, we just send him out into the neighborhood and tell him to gather up his friends. Last year he brought back 6 kids who were all to happy to eat hot dogs and cake. And for the first time EVER, my son had FRIENDS at a birthday party. I had a few confused parents call me wondering why my son was inviting them to a birthday party in 5 minutes …. but OH WELL. LOL. I will not forget one Mom “so just to be clear, it’s your son’s birthday party but he does NOT need a gift?” “No, your son’s presence TRULY is a present”
Helping foster these friendships outside of school has really helped ease the feelings of sadness over not having friends at school. My son doesn’t have friends inside of the school, but he has friendships outside of it. He has his tribe, it doesn’t always need to be inside the school walls.
December 20, 2017 at 5:02 am #71270
In the same boat really.
I have no answer to the question ‘why nobody likes me’
He has couple of good friends though. And many to play with. But hardly close. Just making up the numbers for the games.
We do some activities together sometimes though which do not necessarily need others like pajama party at home and drawing, colouring together that gives both of us a break from the routine and relaxes us. Some special plans without needing anyone else.
We need friends and social connections, agreed. However we all come alone and go alone!
Do we really need those judging and grudge carrying people in our lives? Maybe not!
Stay strong and hang in there!
December 20, 2017 at 6:55 am #71271
Good morning everyone!
My heart raced as I saw responses to this post over the course of yesterday. The TaurusMoon mind screamed “feedback! Yes! Allll of the feedback, please!” Lol. Now that I am sitting down with coffee and my keyboard, I can absorb what you have said. And I THANK YOU for being there and weighing in with compassion.
ADHDmomma: Thank you for a wonderful and comprehensive response. Although sobering, your words are what I needed to hear from someone else, as we really have had no guidance with this. We do have an excellent school counselor who has worked closely with my son since he has been at this school. We have also been through the “school musical chairs” including homeschool. Since my son is only in 4th grade, we are EXHAUSTED and reluctant to switch any more than what a relocation would require (which, again we may be experiencing.) Sharing about your son’s experience gave me food for thought for the future! I have heard that many close friendships are forged as kids get older, so this leaves us with hope. And I am so happy to hear that things have turned around for your son significantly! I teared up for you when you explained his experiences.
Pump2Duncan: You are our fellow scouting family! I believe we discussed the merits of the Scouting life in another thread and I will high five you on that!! My son is now a Webelo and my husband and I are den leaders. As a little Tiger, my son took to scouts right away and it was his first time being included in something and enjoying every minute of it. That is why I go ALL IN when it comes to Cub Scouts!! Thank you for your feedback and I love the “neighborhood birthday party!!” This is something that we think about as we prepare to purchase a home: getting to know our neighbors and researching a neighborhood with kids and welcoming personalities is huge. Our neighborhood in our old city was beautiful and we were close with our neighbors, but there were barely any kids!
leanz: Hi there and thank you for speaking up! I am with you 100% on finding things to do with my kiddo. I cannot tell you how many hours I have filled on the weekend finding random events around town to attend, going on adventures and finding games to play around the house to fill the hours on the weekend and over breaks. I do have to remind myself that when we are tromping around town and laughing it up, my son IS having a good time and we are enjoying each others’ company. Although it can be exhausting to fill in the gaps, I suppose that is part of the parenting process. And with an only child like ours, the lack of siblings and friends is made up for in experiences as I try to fill his world in other ways. For the sake of both of our children, I hope that they find their way as the years pass and I believe they will. As a mom I want to see the changes happen NOW, but that is unrealistic. Gauging his happiness and seeing to it that he has other things going on in his life that keep him feeling fulfilled works for me as we go down this road.
Please, keep the thoughts coming!! Have a great day!!
- This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by TaurusMoon.
December 28, 2017 at 4:22 pm #71675
I really feel for your child. The hardest part about it is as he goes he’s accumulating more & more feelings of rejection which compounds the issues. When you have ADD/ADHD you can tend to already feel rejected and then you begin to reject yourself. I have a website with videos for all kids – but especially those who are burdened with ADHD/ADD. It’s going to be a long road ahead and he’s going to need all the love & encouragement he can get. The website is http://www.tyanofsiam.com and click on Auntie Tyan’s Magic Wonder Dreamland Palace. My heart goes out to you but you are not alone: Many families are suffering as you are and the fact that he’s not working through it by himself, that he has your support is extremely important, your efforts are never wasted! Please let him know about the site and to check it out if you approve and, of course, if he wants to!
December 28, 2017 at 5:01 pm #71690
I work in a regular school with kid’s with difficulties in Québec. I am medicated. My kids have my difficulties.
School: I push public school, but what ever school, you need to always be positive and calmly honest, it REALLY works to get help from the school, even if we feel like screaming.
You need to find the person that can work with kids and your son in your school with the principale’s help (in class, outside, a small group…), on social abilities, role playing, referee a game of soccer (referee for sportsmanship), even talk about intimidation, how you’re happiest, differences, how people change, how to give a chance… And that person, would be the one that would be there on special activity days, not you. It’s the school’s job to teach subjects and team work abilities. They have to teach reality, every body’s different and we need to accept every body and help those who need it. Here, we have special budgets for that kind of work in schools.
There should be a specific procedure in the school for any kid that act up, so that they would be taken care of, and so that there would be a educative follow up with him, if necessary.
December 28, 2017 at 9:51 pm #71711
I’m so sorry for the struggle that you and your son are going through. The elementary grades were a nightmare for my son, who is also twice exceptional. Medication, maturity and outside help all helped and things improved as he got older.
In addition to my experiences as a parent, I’ve also been an elementary school counselor for 25 years. Several things stand out in what you have shared. First, it is bullying for a student to encourage other students to exclude or stay away from a particular student. I don’t know how that is dealt with in your school, but in my district, both the principal and I would be involved in stopping the bullying and helping the target if it was reported.
Second, most boys who aren’t into sports (including those who do not have ADHD) struggle with friendships–especially during recess. Since that included my son, we worked hard to find things that he liked that were popular with boys at school. For my son, it was video games, but for other kids I’ve seen it be Pokemon cards, Star Wars, Minecraft, Harry Potter, etc.
Third, I’ve seen a number of students whose behavior earned them a reputation, move past the “bad boy” (or girl) image they developed and make friends and be socially accepted–even in a small school. The key has been that whether through meds, therapy or something else, their behavior has become well regulated and they are no longer showing the kind of behaviors that put them in the spotlight to begin with. So there is hope.
You didn’t say what kind of feedback you’ve gotten about your son’s behavior since starting meds. I’m guessing that his focus has improved, but what about his hyperactivity and frustration tolerance? If those are still issues, you might want to share your concerns with the doctor you are working with. I had to be persistent with our doctor to get her to address my son’s frustration– but once she heard me, meds gave my son back to me and made his life so much better.
December 29, 2017 at 8:07 am #71726
I know it is difficult more so in the elementary years where Impulse control is so much more limited. My first reaction is why would you go on med holidays when you have these issues? The meds will help with relationships and give him a chance to manage the meltdowns. The meds are there for a reason.
The other thing is that he needs tools to employ when he feels like he is going to blow. A therapist can help identify the tools and you will help him remember to use them. Parties have a lot of triggers. You will just have to attend them. Sorry. No more dropping off and hoping for the best. I looked for a way to help the host mom so I could keep an eye on things. You are there to step in when you see him start to escalate.
Lastly, it gets better by high school. I had to do so much work in the younger years to help her find her niche. We tried every sport, art programs, theater programs, etc to help her figure out what was her passion. We did destination imagination, scouting, summer horse camps, so many things. Turns out it was theater and music. That is her tribe today. Good luck.
December 29, 2017 at 8:10 am #71727
Unfortunately I do not have a child with ADD/ADHD but upon reading your post I was moved beyond words. It must be so terrible to have a child suffer and be totally helpless to do anything about it. And moreover yours is an ONGOING situation. There must be times when you feel totally desperate and want to rail against all the powers or the Universe that brought this about. There must be times when you keep wishing that YOU had his problem so that he could be spared this pain.
I wonder if you realise your strength… and your power to do things out of the box…
If you keep doing the things you are doing you will continue to get what you are getting. Trying to get your son’s class/schoolmates to befriend him is like trying to drink from a poisoned well. Kids can be unwittingly cruel – it is natural for humans to be mean and selfish and it is for their parents to teach them to be different. what has happened to compassion and a bit of understanding?
So why not seek some outside source of friends for your son – I mean outside of school. May be send him for karate or one of the martial arts classes. It might be an outlet for all his surplus energy. Karate, Tai kwon do and the rest, apart from teaching self defence etc., also teach respect for others, self-discipline and nobility of manner. (I’m sorry, I live in India and have no idea of ho much such activities cost, so I could be shooting off my mouth). But do consider the PRINCIPLE of what I am suggesting: look elsewhere, let him expend his energy and meet new people who do not necessarily know of his ‘past’. Don’t change the your son’s school – that would be half a dozen of the other if you are getting six in this school.
Progress in such cases is very very very slow. If you compare your son to how he was three years ago you will see the difference.Then it becomes tangible.
All the best and Bless you.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by cliffadmi.
December 29, 2017 at 5:03 pm #71825
I’m so sorry for what you and your son are experiencing. I’m so sorry for it all. *Sigh* I feel like I just read something I wrote myself. My son is in 4th grade and has been going through the exact same stuff. He has been at the same elementary school since Kindergarten and before he had a diagnosis of any kind, he had frequent outbursts. The school did not handle any of it particularly well, actually doing “reverse evacuations” of the classroom. For example, if he had an outburst, instead of an adult removing him from the classroom and trying to calm him down, they actually took all of the other kids out of the classroom and brought them to a “safe space”! He was never a danger to anyone, he would just get so frustrated that he’d yell. Never once did he get physical with anyone! That practice has created a whole host of problems for him now. He hasn’t had an outburst in over a year (he’s currently on medication to help him) and still, he has trouble making and keeping friends and the kids and parents are always talking about him. My older son is in middle school and siblings of kids in my younger son’s class ask him if he has “issues” because he has heard his younger sibling or parent talking about my son. It’s terrible. The school counselor has done very little to support our family. My son’s current teacher actually said she “didn’t want to stop teaching to deal with” my son. She’s there to teach and that’s what she’s going to do. He has an IEP which allows him a shared aide, but this poor woman is not trained to handle kids with special needs. It’s comforting to know ours is not the only family dealing with this but it doesn’t make it any less heart breaking. I’m counting the days until he goes to middle school!
- This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by dmwalsh0308.
December 30, 2017 at 8:55 am #71842
Please get your son out of that school! He belongs in public school where they will care about his needs. We deeply regretted keeping our son in his Catholic school for an extra two years while his older brother got trough 8th grade. Public school will assign him a case worker who meets with his teachers on a regular and frequent basis (every week, where we are). My son’s confidence and happiness soared within a couple weeks, a phenomenon i was told is quite common for kids with ADHD arriving from private schools.
Find a different source for friends. Church youth group has been a godsend to us. Try younger friends…by at least two years. This can be tricky since other families won’t want their kids going to play dates with a kid two or three years older. Essentially, stop thinking your son will ever function appropriately in a system that is not designed for him. And NEVER EVER allow him to socialize without having his medicine. It is mean to everyone involved. I am never sure why people think “taking a break” for the summer or even a weekend is a kindness. It punished him, significantly and with long term consequences. What’s the need for a “break”? Would you stop insulin? Either you believe in ADHA or you don’t.
If he has afternoon or evening activities, get and give him a small dose booster and NEVER miss it. If you run out of it, KEEP HIM HOME. Same with school and his day dosage, btw. Sending him somewhere without meds will, at the very best, get him corrected over and over again, in front of everybody, and teach him only that he is broken.
Understand that these kids receive over 200 negative messages every single day. Sit down. Stay still. Sit separately. Spell better. Try harder. Write more neatly. Give him a much needed break from negative messages. No. It’s much more than that. Protect him from this. Do whatever is necessary to keep it to 20 or fewer negative messages a day.
One bad incident or not, your child should not be expected to succeed in a group of his peers at this age with his diagnosis, without medication (of course!) or even without medication. Our kids are 2-3 years behind others in emotional maturity. Period. Your family can be his safe friend place. Embrace it. He’s an eseential and cherished part or YOUR team, regardless of his popularity anywhere else. That’s the message he needs to internalize. Tell him you, too, had no close friends (even if not true) and express the true statement that some people are “good” with themselves. (‘Loner’ is a less positive word, but it is very true, AND OKAY, that some people do not need other people around them in order for them to be for happy and develop self worth.
Help him deal with not being invited to parties by instilling in him confidence in other arenas. Does he have an individual activity, piano, running, card building, lego runs, etc? Find something that “hooks” him, something that makes time feel like it flies for him. Then concentrate on that. If there is no one thing, then search for things that will provide this purpose for him for shorter terms. For example, my son spent a couple three weeks perfecting the exploding popsicle sticks thing. He got great attention for the accomplishments! Dad videotaping it…BROTHER playing back in slow motion:..mother sharing it with family and on social media. Your whole job, at this point, is to support him in who he is. Forget fitting in and popularity. Set aside all your previous understandings related to the importance of those things.
In my opinion, the phrase “sonny boy” is inappropriate, at best. Sorry. I know it’s difficult, but you must be on his side, always. The message that sends is that you detest him. Sorry, but that’s what I hear and you should know that at least some others think that, even if you disagree.
Sorry to be blunt. I have made the mistakes you are making. My husband and I deeply regretted the time we wasted and the pain we allowed him to continue to suffer.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by hjoysharp.
December 30, 2017 at 4:23 pm #71870
I think like you for MY son. But, I think society has to learn to adapt, accept, tolerate, and help others that are different then the group present. In a group of geeks, the jock will be different. In a group of jocks, the person that has trouble explaining himself will be frowned upon, because they’ll have to wait to play until they understand him. In a group of little bosses, the emphatic one that wants to think about it slows them down… The ADHD kid could not take his medication, and learn to say just that, and learn to apologize for his impolite impulsivities, and learn to put himself in time out (calming down period), and the others could help, by learning to dedramatize and learn to give a chance.
I can control that. I’m a teacher and that’s what I teach. And it works. All kids bring in to real life: strategies to deal with others, self awareness ans acceptance, and thicker skin to ignore annoyances. If I respectfully ask a kid to take a break in the hall, it is not a punishment, it the right thing to do for all to calm down before we can proceed with our work that might involve an adjustment period (discussion). Rules have to be very clear and often written down, including the consequence).
Those who watch Stranger things will see it. Geeks are often very rigid (not flexible). To avoid rupture, they have specific procedures for different events.
I don’t think it’s always the different person that only has to adjust.
But talking to others, we can’t be angry, we have to be accepting and loving.
December 30, 2017 at 9:21 am #71844
Sorry for the typos. I meant find something where time “flies.” Other typos I hope are clear.
December 30, 2017 at 10:36 am #71846
My daughter had a number of those meltdowns at elementary school parties, and was iced out by the “Mommy Mafia”. I lived through your shame and humiliation; my daughter lived through more. As transfer students into an elite public school district, we were in constant terror of being kicked out and never fit in with the upper crusty parent cliques, so I understand those pressures, too. Even our faith community labeled her as “special needs” in a shaming way.
We had to seek out faith alternatives that are “noise-and-motion friendly”; she is now a thriving teen mentor in that growing community. We kept her in the unfriendly school system because, unlike most public schools in our area, it had good art classes; DD has emerged as a gifted artist who gets lots of admiration for her creations. So I guess it was worth the years of awkward, apologetic participation in that community…
BTW, on Vyvanse (where was that wonder drug until two years ago?), my daughter marched into the HS counselor’s office, got the forms for the district’ independent study program, and is now pulling better grades with far less seat time. Of her own initiative!
And those kids whose parents iced her out? They spend their weekends getting drunk and high while my daughter is leading religious outdoor education for middle schoolers, many of whom have grown up emotionally volatile. Which child would I really rather have?
I guess my point is, kids grow up. I spent hours torturing myself, thinking that because my daughter was constitutionally unable to fit in with the “best” (ie, most elite) community in our area, she was destined for…well, I don’t have to tell you. We parents of ADHD kids all put ourselves through those horrible imaginings. But somehow, with medication, parents who love her, and enough art, outdoor time, and understanding community, things are OK for DD right now. The friends she has are supportive and even loving, and could care less that her parents never played tennis at the country club.
I hope this gives you some sense of light at the end of the childhood tunnel. It can (and even does) get better!
Blessings to you and your son!
December 30, 2017 at 12:56 pm #71858
Oof, reading your post broke my heart. I have ADHD myself, so I thought I would give you my perspective as someone who went through some similar things as a kid. I’m not a parent, so I don’t have any practical advice to offer, but maybe these insights will be helpful in some way.
Maybe encourage your son to think about how he defines “a friend,” and about the different roles people fill in his life. My mom always encouraged me to do that when I was down about friends. I would be heartbroken because Sarah or Emily didn’t want to be my best friend, and after I thought things were going so well! We always played together on the playground! My mom would tell me that, well, maybe that’s just the kind of relationship you’re gonna have with Sarah and Emily. They’ll be your playground friends. Mom would remind me that not all friendships have to be these deep, life changing relationships. We all WANT those kinds of friendships, but they’re hard to find, even for people without ADHD. I’m 24 now, and I have lots of people I can call to go out for a drink with. I have my work buddies. I have my old grad school buddies. But I only have two “real friends.” Two people I have really strong emotional connections with. As a kid, that would’ve really frustrated me, because I wanted that kind of relationship with everyone I met. Now that I’m older, I realize that most people only have those kinds of deep connections with a handful of people.
You mention your son picks up on rejection, and he sounds like a very empathetic kid. I am pretty similar. It’s really easy for me to pick up on peoples’ emotions. But it’s NOT easy for me to distinguish the cause. When I can tell someone is angry, uncomfortable, bored, annoyed, etc., I tend to always assume I’m the cause. And that translates into rejection for me. And sometimes I am the cause! But the truth is, someone could be feeling a negative emotion for any number of reasons. Is it possible your son is sometimes seeing rejection where it might not really exist? I notice this more and more in myself the older I get. There were times as a kid I would feel so disliked and unwanted by certain people. Then I would find out years later that they actually thought I was cool, and wanted to be friends, but I avoided them or was standoffish because I thought they hated me!
Good luck to you. I hope things get better soon for your son.
December 30, 2017 at 6:50 pm #71873
Wow…everyone. On this cold winter’s night I just want to give ALL OF YOU a tremendous group hug! Words cannot express how moved I have been by your responses, truly.
I cannot tell you how many tears I’ve shed, how many times I’ve wrung my hands in misery and upset at the universe for not seeing my son as the amazing boy that he is! For not seeing PAST the impulses or the frustration outbursts. How many times I have felt like a failure as a mother and that I am ruining his life. How alone I have felt in raising my son and living through the experiences we have had.
To hear all of your feedback, support, experiences…if I had known about this site years ago, if we had a diagnosis years ago…I would not have felt so alone. But I am here now and I am so very grateful for your thoughts and words.
I realize that, as we finish up winter break, my son is HAPPY here with us. And of course I want to rage when I hear he has been made unhappy, what parent does not? I try my best to fill his life with experiences and fuel his interests. My son is really into Cub Scouts and has been for years. This has been our biggest outlet!
For those that asked about the outcome of my son starting Vyvanse last spring. This medication has proven VERY helpful for controlling impulses, focusing, etc. in the beginning, one 20mg capsule was too much for him and he had severe appetite/weight loss, stomachaches and was overall miserable on the medication. At the start of this school year, an adjustment to the dose- one 10mg capsule 2x per day (once in the morning after breakfast, one after lunch before recess,) things have been EXCELLENT.
For those that asked about why we decided on medication holidays- again tying back to the side effects that he experienced when he first was taking Vyvanse, both us and my son’s psychiatrist decided that this was a great move. My son was in agreement! Additionally, over the summer and on breaks, without having to be restrained to a classroom setting, the frustrations and outbursts are MUCH LESS LIKELY to happen. Since I am used to my son being “high octane,” it was nice to let him be himself over the summer and all of us knowing that he would take his medication when we had an event where we needed him to focus. He tried many new summer camps and events and I was pleased to see him do very well without the medication, but we knew that in school Vyvanse would be the boost he needed.
I wish you all the best in your individual journeys, be it with your own children or yourselves. This arm of parenting takes a certain level of resilience and I think we have what it takes to boost our children up.
God bless and happy new year!
December 30, 2017 at 10:23 pm #71898
Best of luck. Does your son like imagination play? Or is he a big reader? In 3rd and 4th grades, homework time was a nightmare. To end the day on a loving note instead of on crazy mom getting upset about missing work or not handing in work, etc etc., I started reading Harry Potter to him. It sounds like a nothing but it was huge. We always sat together in the family room chair and a half. Eventually, my husband and older son got so they listened most days, too. Because it was in the family/tv room and took place in the evening, right after homework, tv did not play a big part in our lives. Anyway, my son could sit still and listen to me read for more than an hour, sometimes even up to two hours. When we finished the 7th book, he ran and got book 1 again. We read them all again. The second time through, sometimes he would chime in with certain sounds …like when I read that “hermione sighed,” he would sigh.
That evening ritual played a large role in holding the family together during very trying times. It was positive, it was communal, it captured his attention and ours, too. After we finished the second reading of the series, my son began reading them by himself, in bed at night. He read them all again, believe it or not, before moving on to so many other serieses. Today he is still an avid reader and that helps him a lot.
December 31, 2017 at 6:10 pm #71910
Just an idea, but maybe you should look into scouts for your son. I was a scoutmaster for 12 years and saw plenty of boys with ADHD. They mostly did well. First of all, the outdoors is a great place to burn energy. Second, there are scouts that are very accepting of others with challenges. Not all, but it’s a good environment. Given that your son is in 4th grade now is a great time to join. He’s the right age to join cub scouts, make some friends and learn the basics. In about a year he’d join a boy scout troop and do a lot more outdoor activities. Different packs and troops have different personalities, so ask around. If you like the outdoors then you can also participate.
January 2, 2018 at 4:28 pm #71984
I had undiagnosed ADHD until I was in my mid 40s. While growing up, I was socially awkward. Fortunately, my father was in the Air Force and we moved frequently. At the time, I hated it, BUT, it was great for me socially. With every move, I acquired a new set of classmates who had not experienced my earlier social awkwardness. As I gained skills, I was less far behind. 12 moves later (not equally spaced, there were 3 schools in 3rd grade!) I started 12th grade fairly equal with my peers. It was my best year of school! I fell in with a group of Christian students and spent the next 3 years with them before transferring from the Jr College to the university. I’m still in touch with some of them, and I graduated in 1971!
I’m on medicine now and would not think of trying to function without it. I home schooled my son and daughter. He has ADHD, OCD, Dyslexia and depression. She has ADD, OCD, Dyslexia, Depression and mild ODD. He scored so high on the AVSBAB, the military entrance exam, that he was eligible to join the most elite unit of the Oregon Coast Guard! She graduated from the university with high honors in German with an emphasis on linguistics! I was very blessed to be able to home school them.
So, a move may be the best thing for him. Smaller classes have less antagonists, but larger groups have more choices for friends. Only you can decide what’s right for him.
January 4, 2018 at 1:25 am #72160
I wish to say a big thank you to everyone in this forum. As a therapist I am learning SO much from you all. Especially from hjoysharp, fawn_hoof, leanz, dmwalsh and the rest. Just reading every post here was an eduction for me .And I hope to help a lot of people as a result.
I had only read about ADHD but never had a patient before. I got my first patient three weeks back and it was like stepping into another world. I felt totally helpless and failed professionally because I went into sympathy with the mother and was almost crying along with her! Oddly enough, I got another ADHD patient soon thereafter but by then I had begun getting this magazine – for which I am grateful. Just to say, I do not charge for ADHD patients (or Autistic patients or any patients who have a ‘condition’).
I think TaurusMoon, and jrbasm, mmedubuc, Friendshiplady, Pump2Duncan, ADHDmomma, hjoysharp and all those parents of ADHD kids as also the parents of fawn_hoof (and fawn_hoof herself) are incredibly incredibly brave and persistent. The going must be so hard at times but you somehow draw the strength from deep within you to battle on.
You have no idea what an inspiration you are to me. And i thought I had problems!
Thank you all very much and God bless you all
January 4, 2018 at 10:14 am #72177
I completely feel the pain that you’ve gone through with your son as I too had a very long rough and painful road with my son. From preschool age he was misunderstood and made to be the victim of less than compassionate teachers and parents of other children his age. We were told on where than one occasion to have him analyzed from age 3 on and we actually did meet with both a psychologist and then our towns evaluation staff both of whom said there is nothing wrong with our four-year-old gifted,compassionate, empathetic and delightful boy. We did not have him go through the complete a valuation for a AD HD until he was in seventh grade. We all suffered through our child’s exclusion from play dates parties and sleepovers for years. It broke my heart to see the neighborhood kids all congregating in the yard adjacent to ours-all boys of the same exact age -and our child not being invited over to join in . It went so far as an exclusion by one of the local mothers who blackballed him and would not allow him in her home for no apparent reason. Our son was never overly hyper active nor was he ever destructive or mean-spirited but yet he bore the brunt of misunderstanding for years. We moved him to private school in third grade . Unfortunately the school tended to be extremely rigid and he had it even more unfortunate teacher who had no patience for inattentive little boys . A few years into his schooling there I approach the principal who literally lsighed me out of her office when I suggested we have our son tested, saying that he was one of the top students in fifth grade and as she saw it I was just trying to get extended time so he would have an advantage . Anyway I could go on and on about the pain that he felt and that as a mother I felt knowing that our child was so misunderstood and swept the curb . I am happy to report that over the years things changed and now my 17-year-old son (Who by the way was diagnosed with ADHD inattentive type) has so many friends from in school, from summer programs, from sleep away camp. He is a loyal, dedicated friend. His friends appreciate him and love him. He will be entering a highly selective college in the fall where I know he will thrive . Take heart, those of you with younger children experiencing this struggle and heart ache. Do all you can to expose your child to multiple groups outside of school so we has every opportunity to make friends. Try hard not to let him see how much it pains you because I know how much it will and does hurt to see your child excluded, misunderstood,unhappy. get support where ever you can from psychologists school counselors and other parents but realize that everyone has a unique situation and try not to make comparisons . One final “by the way” is that my son only takes meds when he does his homework he refuses to be on anything while at school and, quite honestly, he has been doing incredibly well especially given the time and a half for testing.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by dperskieschwartz.
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