By Stephenie Craig, LCSW
Our 10 year old son, Will, suggested our monthly article should be an interview with him about ADHD to help other kids who might be struggling. We decided to turn it into a two part series addressing the perspective of both kids and parents. The following interview took place while Will was dancing, throwing a ball, playing with the dog, and generally wiggling, all while actively engaging in the conversation.
What is it like to have ADHD?
ADHD makes it hard for me to focus and stay still and sit in my chair at school.
What are the positives of having ADHD?
I am very musical, artistic, funny and have a lot of ideas to invent things.
What are the negatives of having ADHD?
I work really hard to sit still and focus. When I’m supposed to be focusing on one thing, my mind drifts and gets interested in something different and I completely forget I was supposed to be focused on the first thing. School is especially hard because there often isn’t a time to move around when I need to let out energy. Sometimes I take bathroom breaks to move and pace around so I can try to be more still in class.
How has ADHD challenged you at school?
I have so much energy and have trouble sitting still and sometimes teachers get onto me alot. Kids noticed I was getting negative reports on my communication card and started saying I was a bad kid. Every day I started thinking I didn’t want to go to school because it’s going to be another bad day. I’d go to the nurse most days thinking I was sick but really I was stressed because I got in trouble alot. This turned into a loop until I found a medication that worked for me.
How has ADHD challenged you at home?
I’d be asked to do homework, chores, or take a shower several times and I would get distracted. It would take an hour to finish things that could take 15 minutes because I would forget what I was doing and would start playing. My parents would get frustrated from asking me over and over to do things. I felt stressed because I was in trouble at home and school alot. It felt like there wasn’t a place where I wouldn’t get in trouble or people weren’t annoyed with me.
What does NOT feel supportive to you in managing ADHD?
When kids are mean to me because of my struggles, that doesn’t help. When teachers made my behavior charts public in the classroom, that felt bad. I felt like I could never get ahead in behavior points and the whole class could see that I didn’t have as many points. Some people don’t really know or understand what ADHD is and they end up thinking I’m just a kid who doesn’t behave right and judge me. When my parents get frustrated, raise their voices, or get firm, that doesn’t help.
What DOES feels supportive to you in managing ADHD?
My parents apologizing for getting frustrated and helping me calm down with deep breathing and restarting my day. Taking medication before school helps me focus, sit still, and I started getting good reports on my school communication card. I forgot to go see the nurse and didn’t feel stressed and sick every day. Medicine didn’t eliminate all the effects of ADHD, but it made them much less noticeable to me and others. My teachers told me how much better I was focusing and sitting still. We do daily lists at home that remind me what I’m supposed to do each morning, afternoon, and evening. Now I check off what I have done which keeps my parents from having to repeat themselves and keeps me on track. Instead of taking an hour to do my jobs, I can sometimes get them done in less than 15 minutes. I talked to adult family members or family friends who struggle with ADHD. They helped me know I’m not alone and other people think like me and are figuring out ways to manage ADHD. It helps when my teachers understand ADHD and encourage me.
What’s one thing you want people to know about having ADHD?
ADHD is a problem with focusing, sitting still, and managing impulses. It doesn’t make someone a bad kid. And kids that struggle with ADHD mostly aren’t trying to be disrespectful when they are moving around and having trouble following directions.
Stay tuned next month for Life with ADHD Part 2: In the Words of Parents. As you’re navigating life’s twists and turns, connect with us at journeybravely.com.