His brain is a blessing

It’s 8am and I have been saying prayers since I was awakened by my 9-year old this morning. It is quite literally the only thing I can do to keep my sanity. My beautifully made 9-year old son has ADHD. Before I continue, I want to be sure you understand ADHD. I was very uninformed about it before it entered our lives. ADHD/ADD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood and about 50% of those affected have other associated conditions (oppositional defiant disorder, anxiety, depression, etc. ). Children with this condition often have trouble developing friendships and struggle with self-esteem due to the negative feedback they receive from family, peers, educators.

We knew something was different about the brain of our first born at an early age. He would remain fixated on certain subjects (solar system, trains) to the point where stopping a project would appear painful to him. Melt-downs were very common in situations that wouldn’t trigger a meltdown in other children. He was very rigid in his thinking, making it difficult to have playdates due to the fighting that would ensue. As first time, naive parents, we attributed it to him being “bright”. Prior to kindergarten, before any formal diagnosis, I drove him to a university 3 hours away to have “gifted” testing performed. He did test in the gifted category and the test administrator noted that he had difficulty sitting still and completing the test. I, once again, just contributed it to him being a rambunctious 6-year old, especially since he was a boy.

He entered and completed kindergarten. The teacher made no mention of any attention or behavioral problems and he did well academically, so life continued as normal for us. First grade came and his teacher began to constantly tell me that Parker “had his own agenda”. After growing weary of our constant discussions about my sons “defiant” behavior we decided to have a whole battery of testing done on him. He once again tested gifted, but also tested as ADHD. The proctor said that the ADHD test was so miserable for him that he was trying to unplug the computer from the wall. We decided to proceed with medical intervention to help our struggling son.

There are many medications available for the treatment of ADHD/ADD (I am a pharmacist, I should note). It is a bit of “trial and error” when beginning children (or adults) on these medications. Over the course of a few years, we tried 5-6 different medications until we found the right fit.  It is truly amazing to me the difference in my son on and off of medication. The best treatment regimen for my son involves therapy too. We see a therapist who gives my husband and I strategies for helping him cope in school, socially and at home. She also directly talks through issues he may be having through “play therapy” with him.

To the skeptics that don’t believe ADHD/ADD is truly a medical condition, I invite you to spend a few days with a child with this condition. Their brains were made a little different than yours and mine. It is difficult for people to accept this as a medical  condition (and not bad parenting) since diagnosing the condition is not black and white. You can’t check a blood level to confirm “yes ma’am, the blood test confirms that your son has ADHD”. Like I tell my son, God gave him a special brain. He has a race car for a brain and I have a bicycle. God has never and will never make another Parker. My son was perfectly made with intentionality. He was put on this earth with his own set of gifts, talents and struggles just as each of us were. If we were placed on this Earth free from struggles, would we rely on God in our times of need? I think not. His path may be different than mine or yours, but each of our paths is directly guided by our creator, who has a special plan for each of us.

I have been trying to decided how to write about ADHD in my blog. This morning, after struggling with my son and his melt-downs, I sat down with them at breakfast to read to them from “Every Day a Blessing; A Year of God’s Love” devotional. Of course God has a sense of humor and the title of today’s devotional is “I Think…”. The first sentence reads “Your brain is another of those everyday blessings”.

For months my son’s ADHD felt like a curse and I doubted our skills as parents to do the best things for him. I struggled with the loneliness that accompanies having a child who is “different” from other kids and the shame of talking about it. I am now on the other side of that struggle. In my darkest moments, when I wanted to cry from the verbal abuse from my son and the inability to control the situation, I called on the name of my savior. No one on this earth could fully understand my struggles but Him. Sometimes, in the middle of the situation,  I would just close my eyes and pray. He always delivered and He delivered me this morning when I was at my breaking point. My faith has forever been deepened, just not in the way I would have envisioned. I have come to realize that this thing called ADHD has made us a stronger family, both in our connections and spiritually.

If you are struggling with an issue within your family, whether it be a mental disorder or a physical disorder and you are exhausted with trying to run this race alone, stop. Call on the name of the one who created you. You are not alone. God wants to walk with you in this journey.

I have said before that my favorite bible verse is Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. God doesn’t promise to help us with just our finances or in our marriages, but take note that this verse says “I can do ALL things”. I take my strength from the one who has an endless supply of it. Please know that you can too.

I can do

For additional information about ADHD/ADD, click the sites below

www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/facts.html

www.additudemag.com

-Remember to liveHislove,

Missy

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