How My ADHD Little one Discovered to Settle for Himself
Fourth grade. Home from school. In my lap Crying uncontrollably.
“Mom, why am I different from everyone else? I do not understand. I don’t want to have any problems. “
I was wondering when that would happen. When he was 6 years old, Ryan took ADHD medication and underwent behavioral therapy. He had also been seen by multiple doctors, had several rounds of tests and screenings, and was taken off class twice a day for special tuition and occupational therapy.
I had no idea when or where he would really realize he was different. We’d never sat him down and said, “Hey, look, your brain works differently. You learn differently, and that’s the way it is. “
I held it while I cried. It broke my heart too. (Damn it, I only cry now when I remember it, even though Ryan is now a 22-year-old college student.) Painful as it was, this was a big, necessary step in our lives. Ryan knew he had ADHD and other learning differences, but that was when it really hit him.
So I sat down with him and explained everything to him. I told him that his brain was like a speed tunnel – that it worked faster than other brains and therefore had difficulty processing things in a steady, coherent way. That it worked faster than he could get his words out. That what he thought he heard and understood did not always match what was actually said.
[Get This Download: Overcoming Common Learning Challenges]
Letters and words, I continued, don’t always look right on the page. And the weight vest he wears is supposed to help his body, which doesn’t always know where it is in space. His drugs are said to help slow the brain down so it can process things better.
“But why?” he asked. I had to tell him there was no answer; that’s how he was made. And sometimes it is a gift to be different – a difficult but incredible gift that one day he would accept. Of course he didn’t want to hear that. His heart was broken. But I think it had to break so that he could learn how to heal.
Since then, we’ve worked hard to help Ryan be proud of who he is. While Ryan has to live with his brain and body around the clock (and I’m sure he sometimes wants to scream and run away), we’ve done our best to remind him all the time that he’s not alone .
But it is difficult. He faces the reality of his challenges every day. Ryan had to work twice as hard as most people in his entire life.
[Read: “My Life as a Standard Deviation From the Norm”]
But through therapy, school housing, and family help, he became better at representing himself and accepting his differences. His educators and doctors have also encouraged him along the way, giving him tools and an extra boost to face his challenges and not be afraid to ask for help. Since then he has learned to speak openly about himself and his challenges. And he encourages others like him to do the same.
When Ryan stumbles through new hurdles, the reality of his life sometimes still hits too hard, forcing him to endure another heartbreaking fight. But we try to remember that each of these hurdles is a new learning opportunity.
It’s hard enough for typical kids to excel in school and in life, but Ryan plays an entirely different field. In his field, we never leave Ryan alone to face his struggles. I’ll never stop being Ryan’s mom and I’ll never be off his team.
Being Different With ADHD: The Next Steps
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