Homeschooling ADHD Baby Throughout a Pandemic: What We Discovered
When we entered our son’s classroom for the parent-teacher conference, we immediately noticed that the headmaster was waiting for us – not typical for a kindergarten conference.
I knew there had been a few problems with Noah, but the extent of his problems was never clear. “Noah is such a sweet, sweet boy, but he has a really hard time playing with friends,” his teacher said. “He used to hide under his desk every day and cover his ears. He cries every day. “
I had no idea. My husband and I sat stunned. His teacher and principal suggested that Noah get a psychologist screened for autism and ADHD.
The mere suggestion blew me away. Could you really talk about my son? There is nothing wrong with him! As a nurse, I had a good understanding of ADHD and Noah didn’t fit the picture. I kept jogging in my mind, wondering if I had done anything about it. I sat in the car after his meeting and yelled my eyes out. There were no answers to my questions.
Noah was eventually diagnosed with ADHD, sensory processing disorder, and anxiety. His diagnoses marked the beginning of a really tough road for us. I have delved into all of the research into its conditions. I wanted to try everything BUT medication. Oh, the judgment I got from both sides of this discussion. I did not feel comfortable giving medication to my child when I was 5 years old. I wanted to try everything else first.
[Read: Release Your Fears – a Post-Diagnosis Guide for Parents]
We eventually moved and enrolled Noah in a smaller school with only 12 children in his class. He had an IEP and we met twice a year to evaluate. The IEP included speech therapy, occupational therapy (OT), and a pediatric behavioral psychologist whom we saw twice a month for a year. At the suggestion of his OT, Noah wore a weighted vest and noise-canceling headphones, and he used other resources to help him around the classroom. I also bought an indoor trampoline and eventually an outdoor trampoline, changed his food, and learned my own way of raising Noah.
First and second grades went well. It flourished and we continued to use all the tools and support available. Then we got into third grade.
A switch is thrown. It seemed to be getting worse for him. Noah got more emotional and his grades began to slide. In response, additional tools and support have been implemented. Noah eventually reached a point where he wore a weight vest, used headphones, and used a rocking chair in the classroom.
My heart almost stopped when I saw my son drag his rocking chair into a meeting in front of the entire school. My blood boiled immediately. This was wrong. He had done well without him for so long. His self-esteem fell and he knew he was different. I told his teacher that I didn’t want him to use the chair anymore – period. I was thinking a lot about homeschooling him at this point.
[Read: 20 Classroom Accommodations That Target Common ADHD Challenges]
Then the pandemic hit. So I got my chance.
It was’nt easy. I worked full time, graduating, and homeschooling Noah and his younger brother, all in the middle of a pandemic. We were so scared of the virus that I didn’t leave the house for months.
I was pretty strict with my two boys. I didn’t accept excuses. No exceptions, no whining, no “I’m too tired” or “I don’t understand”. We found out that sometimes we didn’t do school work until 9:30 p.m. because that was the only time we had.
I learned a lot about Noah while teaching him at home. He loved the personal attention and learned better with background music and video tutorials. We learned a lot of math from YouTube videos and he didn’t need any of the tools he used in class. They were with me all day, every day. I was exhausted – emotionally, mentally, and physically – but we learned to be together.
Not so long ago we were fortunate enough to be able to go back to school in person. His fourth grade teacher recently told me that Noah is a different kid now, even though she didn’t know what I was doing while homeschooling. He uses almost no tools in the classroom; he doesn’t need them.
My mind wonders what middle school and high school will be like for Noah. Will he be ready? I’m not sure, but I know we’ll find out together.
Homeschooling ADHD Students: The Next Steps
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Updated June 9, 2021
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