Feb 7, 2013

Pour Your Heart Out: My 9 year old is really smart, and also, he has ADHD

Linking up with:
My son has ADHD (Attention Deficit - Hyperactivity Disorder) - Inattentive type.

I am sure that there are a huge number of readers who have the same "disorder" living in their home.  I haven't written about it because it's a new diagnosis (just 3 weeks old - my son is 9 almost 10), and because I wasn't sure I wanted to, or should, or if it would be too personal...

Dori makes me laugh...
she reminds me of ... me!
You see, I'm pretty sure I had, and may still have, ADHD.  I've never been diagnosed, and don't need to be, because I have created systems that work for me so I can function.  But I am so easily distracted it's not even funny, I struggle with impulse control and I look at him and I see some of the same struggles happening inside his head... and I feel bad... and maybe responsible.

I'm currently making a laundry list of all the genetic malfunctions I am likely passing on to my kids.  I should've been taken out of the gene pool. 

I jest...  Sort of.   {Poor eye sight, crooked teeth, heart disease, a menagerie of mental illnesses, including a family history of addiction... the list just goes on and on.}

Many people who know him may be somewhat surprised by the diagnosis.  Or not.

He's a really intelligent kid.  He's in the self-contained Academically Talented and Gifted class (GATE) at school.  He's creative, constantly thinking "outside of the box" {it's a struggle to get him to think "inside the box"} and he's known to be bright, cheerful, exuberant and funny.  He was counting to 20 at 21 months old;  talking in full paragraphs at 2 years old;  reading 100-200 page books in a single sitting when in 2nd grade; and until last year, he has never struggled in school.  

So what would make me take him to the doctor? 
Why would I ever consider getting him screened for ADHD??

Because he was unhappy.  Deeply unhappy.  This kid who never struggled in school, never complained about his teacher (who is fabulous), never even said "I'm bored", was riding a roller coaster of hurt and anger.  He was getting Fs on tests.  He was forgetting homework.  He was saying that he "hated" school.

He wrote me a note saying that he wished he didn't have to live anymore and slipped it under his bedroom door.

My heart pounds even now. 

He's nine.  My baby boy.

I can still remember him at 18 months picking flowers and following butterflies...

and at nine years old he was tired of being alive.

{We've since talked this out (at home and with a therapist), he said it because he was feeling overwhelmed... no true intentions}

When you take that heart stopping moment and his struggle with trichotillomania (obsessive hair pulling), where he pulled nearly all of his eyelashes out over a 2 month period... I was done.  {And crying}.

So, I took him to the doctor to find out if he was struggling with depression or anxiety or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

I was a little bewildered when the doctor told me she wanted to have him screened for ADHD.

What? He's fine.  He is on honor roll.  He's already 9 years old.  He can sit and read, or build with legos, or play video games, or watch t.v. for hours ... if we let him. (BTW that's called "Hyper-focus.")

The good news: he doesn't have anxiety.  He isn't depressed or suicidal. Or a have a brain tumor.  Or OCD.  He just has ADHD.  Potentially for the rest of his life.... or until puberty (apparently some children with ADHD catch up in that area of their brain development around the onset of puberty).  Whichever.

My son has ADHD, but I don't want it to define him.

This is me at about 5 months into this journey. Just 3 weeks since we got the official diagnosis. <Smiles>.   It's all good.  God is still good, He is still taking care of us.  He has got my boy in his hands... and He's NOT letting him go.

I will write  a follow up post about why we are choosing to not medicate him at this time and what we are doing to help him learn to cope with his disorder ... but until then... enjoy Dug and the reason why we shout "SQUIRREL!" in our house to get a certain child to re-focus.


  1. You are great helping your son with this now. I live with an adult who didn't realize He had ADD until much later in life, and it's much harder that way. Your son sounds like a lovely boy. I sincerely wish the best for you both!

    1. I have unconsciously been doing cognitive therapy on myself for years... schedules and positive reinforcement... :) It's not always easy, and I struggle with feeling like a failure or a screw up... but I know I have it better than a lot of people. I graduated from college... I have a wonderful job...

  2. How scary it must have been to get that note. I'm glad that he is okay now. xo

    1. It was a little scary and a little bewildering. Thank you. Me too.

  3. Awww, my heart hurt for you when he said he wished he didn't live anymore. Good job getting him help. My 9 year old has some weird quirks and I talk to his doctor about them every six months or so--she always tells me that if they don't bother HIM (not me) than he's just being himself and is okay. And they don't bother him at all. But if his quirks every bothered him, like your son was bothered, then get help. So I give you a lot of credit for being strong enough and brave enough and knowledgeable enough to help him.

    1. :) My son is super quirky too... But when it got "dark" it was time to seek help... :) I like that your doctor drew that line in the sand for you guys... :) thanks for the nice comment!

  4. AJ,

    My heart was sad to hear of your son's note under the door. Poor guy. He sounds like a bright, happy, smart young man too. I'm glad that you found some answers, and so glad that our God makes and knows us intimately, smiling at us.

    Re your comment at my post "A Coffee Break with the Stars," I agree, those are sobering questions. I don't think our blessings need to be material (and in fact those may lead to us not learning other great treasures that those in other circumstances do). Hmm, I can tell that we would have good discussions over coffee. :)

    Jennifer Dougan

    1. Thank you!

      I agree... with your response and with the thought that we would have good discussions over coffee... ;)


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