I distinctly remember taking my son to the pediatric neurologist the day he was diagnosed. He was 10 and the appointment, frankly, was overdue. His kindergarten teacher was the first to mention his inability to focus. During circle time the sun shone a bright ray through the classroom window. This illuminated the “sun fuzzies” (shout out to Ni Hao Kai-Lan for that delightful terminology) and he would become fixated on their gentle dance towards the ground. She found difficulty engaging him in classroom activity and thought his need for hugs and closeness was excessive.
She was the first and every year after there were many more carefully worded suggestions that he be seen by a doctor. His pediatrician agreed with me that he was simply a young boy. I was relieved for this assurance and sought comfort in it for too many years. By age 10, in 5th grade, he was consistently inattentive, could not finish any testing on time, highly disorganized and occasionally would sleep during class. My heart sank imagining my child being held back. Where did I go wrong?
The common guilt of parenting. Despite having teachers sign his agenda, ensuring he did all work, manually organizing his binder for him, he was not going to make it. Handsome, funny, insightful, he is many things, but unintelligent he was never. The brilliance of my child was stuck within his head. Getting him to write down sentences or show work for a math problem was impossible. All the answers were correct but he solved and processed things in his head thoroughly and with more accuracy than he could every express through a pen and paper.
Perhaps he was gifted and these teachers are so stuck in traditional teaching they couldn’t allow his talents to shine. It was best to do as I was told and seek a neurologist to be sure. I firmly believe in the power of positive thinking. I put out into the universe that he was gifted and I was sure that was to the case. The neurologist is busy and it took four months to get an appointment for an evaluation. We sat in the rather large office with a large oak desk and a clinical reclining bed. She took a look at the responses we filled out on her assessment form and without much look at him she confirmed what every teacher told us.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was cast on him like a scarlet letter for him to bare. How oddly simple that she could glance at a form to diagnose. No bloodwork, physical assessment, evaluation of pediatrician notes were required. Just one assessment. I would later learn that neurological disorders are not like disease, there is nothing to “test” for in the traditional sense.
This bought us time, sweet and precious time. Medication was prescribed, but I was pretty forth coming about my intentions on not filling that script. We earned him more leniency in class and more resources. All so his true genius would be able to dig a way out through the cloud of perceived ADHD. We altered his diet and followed many recommendations online. Sadly, by the following school year and annual follow up with the neurologist, things had regressed further. Okay, I gave up. The universe was not on my side and the script was filled. I cringed every morning as he swallowed that pill.
I felt vindicated when it made no improvement, but conversely guilty for putting him and his body through different drugs and increasing doses over the 16 months we medicated. He was going to fail math in 7th grade at this point and I was fed up. Natural solutions had no impact and neither did the best medical solutions.
That hopeless frustration that brings you back to their infancy, when every cry led to a guessing game of what do they really want. Why couldn’t we break through? What did he need from me as a parent to help him succeed. I was certain he was stuck within himself.
I started a new position as a dental hygienist in a pediatric dental office. The doctor was well versed on many neurological disorders and alternative approaches to treatment. I soaked up as much as I could and yearned for more as I dived deep into the rabbit hole.
Ten minutes into a story about my struggle, I’m sure you’re wondering where to find those 7 steps. It’s important to know my journey and why I know these steps will help you and your child. In less than a year I was able to reclaim my child from under the rubble that was that ADHD diagnosis. Since then I have helped many others overcome in a similar manner.
I’m sharing these tips with you so the cycle of denial, fear, frustration and guilt stop here. When implemented correctly this proven process can elevate your child to new heights. While I was incorrect about my child being a genius, he was bright when lifted from the burden of those outward symptoms of ADHD. ADHD wears a mask of symptoms that mimic many other disorders.
So unmask the real enemy and restore your child with these 7 simple steps:
1. Get informed
Never enter a battle unarmed. Make no mistake, this is definitely a war. There will be many battles along the way and most important is to be able to identify and understand the enemy. Arm yourself with all the information you can about ADHD. What does it mean to have ADHD? What is the top treatment? How does the brain work during ADHD? It is impossible to compete against an enemy whose movements you are unsure of. Acquire all information available.
2. Know your options
Once you have all of your information, compile a list of all the options you have for attack. In football there are playbooks with many options for the team to advance the ball down the field. You can’t win a football game running down the field with the same play every time the whistle blows. You need a variety of ways to approach of ADHD treatment if you are going to be effective. What worked for my son was not the first, or even the fourth, thing we tried. Know the options and have them available in your playbook.
3. Plan defense and route
Information ✔️ Options listed ✔️ With the playbook filled it’s time to pick your play. What will be your first route? There is a holistic, traditional, blended or independent route, or the ever present option to do nothing. You may know your options and have them all laid out, but which route is it going down? This is important to know because your defense should be consistent. In battle, if you shoot out arrows, then throw a rock, then throw a grenade, you have two many methods to effective hit the target. Your aim is different for each option, and your target is mobile. Plan out a specific route for this battle. This is your use of your mental Waze app to lay out all the options and know which way you want to go to get to your endpoint.
4. Be resistant
My pediatric neurologist neglected to do a truly comprehensive exam. We wasted so much time and lost out on his growth and potential in the time we laid victim to the concept of the diagnosis. There are a variety of professionals that can diagnose ADHD and a variety of masking misdiagnosis disorders. Don’t accept the first diagnosis and lay down on the sword. Be resistant and make appointments for alternative providers to do second opinion evaluations or test for alternative disorders. *There is also the missed child genius who exemplifies similar symptoms. Not every misdiagnosis is negative.
5. Be vigilant
Dedicate some time to purchasing a notebook, journal, or some apps to keep track of symptoms. Things will change and with a dynamic system of providers, methods, and tools being used in the path, it is difficult to know what is working without tracking. You will reach the end much quicker with the data in black and white.
6. Get support
Who’s in your army? I informed you earlier that this was a battle, which means you need to assemble the troops. Any route, any options, any action taken against the enemy will fail if you attempt it without support. We are mere humans and we are vulnerable to our minds. Consider your mind as a beautiful garden. Doubt, fear, insecurity, many weeds will start to pop up and you need to be supported when they do. Your support team is that backbone during those times for not just you but your child. Most important is the home team, be on the same page with the plan of action and you will succeed.
7. Have tricks up your sleeve
You may have all the information you could find online or in a library. You may have everything planned, but there are little known secrets that can greatly impact ADHD symptoms. Myofunctional therapy, breathwork, and cranial nerve work are just a few examples. Make sure you dig long enough to uncover all the extra tricks to make a greater impact.
Most recently I had an old friend from college ask me how to free her child from ADHD. I gave her these same steps, but there is so much more to know than can fit in this post. Researching all the information, options, and alternatives has already been done and implemented successfully for dozens of families that I worked with personally. It is time to spread that knowledge to help more families reach the level of fulfillment I have when I see my son thriving in school. That is why I have a detailed guide that is yours to download for free. Just click the link above and the guide is yours to keep forever.