A Little Bit of Understanding

ADHD Parent Support - Portrait of father and son studying with laptop on a online class at home

It’s been a while! I find myself writing this a lot at the beginning of blog posts now. Where I used to push and push to write content, raise awareness and offer some ADHD parent support (something I still desperately want to do). I find myself now being a little kinder to ‘me’ and concentrating on the things that need to be done. Not beating myself up so much if things don’t happen. Giving myself a little ADHD parent support.

Yes, my house always looks a little messy ( a lot messy at times); yes sometimes I forget to make sure we have something for tea that night, and yes sometimes I can barely drag myself off the sofa due to overwhelm. But I know now why it isn’t because I’m lazy, it isn’t because I’m a rubbish mum or wife. It’s because my brain works a little differently than others.

The more I find out and work to understand the more I can also use this to help me understand my boys too. Especially Sam, I’m noticing so much of myself in him…

Dress to Impress

So a huge part of ADHD is fear of rejection and fear of failure. Whilst I used to attribute this to being bullied in primary school, it was always more than that, I felt it much stronger, and I still do, and I see this in Sam too. Now I know why. In fact, up to 99% of those with ADHD suffer from RSD (Rejection Sensitivity Disorder).

Masking can be a huge part of ADHD, and it is how many of us function for a long time before diagnosis, trying to ‘conform’ and fit in. Everyone used to always note that Sam always liked to dress for the occasion. If he went to the farm, he dressed as a farmer; if he went to watch cricket, he had to wear his cricket whites; when he took up ballroom, he had to have the shoes and the sparkles. We literally were the embodiment of ‘been there, got the t-shirt’.

But I suddenly started to remember that I was very similar. The time I went to an ice-skating rink in a matching woollen mini skirt and jumper thinking it made me look like a professional skater (despite wearing bright blue hire skates and not being that good LOL). It’s all about protecting ourselves, you know how looking the part is half the battle…

A huge big hug

Sam has this habit of preferring to sleep on the floor rather than on his bed. Making beds in the smallest of spaces with blankets, pillows, soft toys and anything else he can find. I was the same, making a makeshift bed between the end of my bed and the wall I think it was?! I also loved to coorie in any little nook or crannies I could find. And Sam is exactly the same, always building dens and snuggling into cupboards and under tables. Now I know this is a form of stimming.

Stimming is an activity that we all at some point do without realising. Repeating a movement, activity or sound to comfort us in times of stress. Twirling hair while talking, tapping your foot while studying, or rubbing your fingers together when nervous are just some examples. The difference for someone with ADHD is that these behaviours are more severe and occur more often. They may interfere with how they function socially, at school, or at work due to increased stresses.

Small spaces and comforting fabrics. And the materials around us, help us to relax and make us feel comforted in times of overwhelm. Removing outside influence and noise, and any other stimulation that we cannot deal with at that time. Allowing us to soothe and focus to ground ourselves.

Zero to 100

This is probably one of the hardest that we all find to deal with. Emotional regulation and ADHD go hand in hand. Emotional disturbances in ADHD are just that – emotions: short duration, provoked, and often situation specific. However for those looking on we very often appear ‘too’ sensitive, ‘too’ angry or simply out of control. I know my husband is on the receiving end of my emotional outbursts far too often, and it’s probably the part of ADHD he struggles with most in all of us.

Put alongside this, that emotionally, kids with ADHD are approx. 3 years ‘younger’ than their peers, then for Sam especially it creates a whole load of frustration and dysregulation. To most folk (neurotypicals), Sam’s behaviour can seem extreme, he can shout and scream, and there are a lot of slammed doors. I can do the same, but it’s not a learned behaviour as some believe. It’s because we lack the capability to regulate our emotions in the way that others do.

Whilst lagging on emotional maturity, quite often children with ADHD can be years ahead in terms of expressive language and cognitive abilities. So expectations from parents, wider family and other adults can be based on this. Which unfortunately feeds into the spiral of emotional dysregulation. Instead, a little parental support, we need to focus on their emotional age and base our expectations on this whilst also helping them to develop skills to increase their emotional intelligence.

Last Minute. com

Planning and organising are not one of our strong points at all, and we love to leave things till the last minute. This is because ADHD brains very much work on a reward-focused basis. Dopamine is the feel-good chemical we get when we do something we love, or get rewarded. ADHD brains in particular need this to function way more than a neurotypical brain. We are also not very good at open-ended tasks as there is no end point/reward to focus on. Timed tasks such as homework will be left until the last minute and open-ended tasks such as tidying your room just get left and left until the task seems too overwhelming to even start.

Both boys are very much like this. Homework will always be left till the night before, and room tidying will get done when pocket money is dependent or a friend comes around. Laundry… no chance! More recently though I’ve noticed that Sam is beginning to become over organised, for example, his residential isn’t for a couple of weeks yet, but he is already packed. I asked why and he said it means he doesn’t have to worry now.

It gives an insight into his head, that for him it’s one less thing to be flying about in his head causing overwhelm. I was exactly the same, until perimenopause when it all fell apart, I was THE most organised person around. For me, it was my coping strategy, like Sam said it removed something that would otherwise have been running around and around in my head, along with everything else. I still work by this, but also am a lot easier on myself when things don’t go to plan anymore. For the moment Sam has an all-or-nothing system, it’ll be interesting to see how it develops, but hopefully, I can help him to create a balance between the two that works for him.

ADHD Parent Support

This ADHD Awareness Month I’ve been a bit quieter than normal, but I’m having to focus on myself and the boys a lot at the moment. There isn’t a huge amount of parent support for ADHD round here. Thank god for good friends! F is in his GCSE year and Sam is in his last year at Junior School. F is still struggling with teachers who don’t get ADHD and think it’s just bad behaviour, or if they keep telling him off that his ‘behaviour’ will change #RollsEyes. It’s so frustrating the lack of real understanding or training surrounding ADHD and SEN as a whole (apparently some NQTs have no specialist SEN training, whilst others have approx. half a day of training, please correct me if I’m wrong, I really hope I am). These are the people who are in the classroom daily with our kids. How can we expect them to understand if they are not being trained to understand?

Sam’s EHCP has been approved which is amazing news. We are still awaiting his formal ADHD assessment (re-scheduled, again, to Jan), so hopefully, we can have that in place before his transition to secondary school. Now we just have to hope that the funding matches his needs and that we get his first-choice school #FingersCrossed

I hope to write a little more often, I find it helps me. I also hope it helps others feel less alone, offers a little ADHD parent support and understand a little more about ADHD.

Fay x

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Leave a Comment

  • Izzy says:

    Aw Fay, such an amazing blog, I learned a lot about how it’s affecting the boys and you. Much love 💖💖💖

  • Helen says:

    I trained over 20 years ago and unfortunately there was very little sen training. I still think there is very little now. Poor management of behaviour just creates even worse behaviour, teachers are not given the skills to manage sen or the time to train. It’s so clear to see now that I no longer teach.

    • Fay Stephenson says:

      Absolutely agree! It’s all well and good promising more SENCO, but actually standardising SEN training during PGCE/BEd instead of none or possibly half a day at most would be a great start. Teachers are the staff dealing with every single day and must be given adequate training and support to help children in their classes all day, every day.

  • […] it really difficult when things go wrong, not to focus on that. Ruminating for hours, then the RSD (Rejection Sensitivity) or Imposter Syndrome kicks in. I have started to try and look at the actualities. What will really […]

  • […] want to people please and not let others down can mean we often take on extra workload. And our fear of rejection means we also struggle to say no to things, even when we know we have too much on our plate […]

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