The ABCs of ADHD Redux

I wrote this post more than five years ago. These words were expressed when I was working full time and trying to raise 2 kiddos with ADHD, 2 with ADD, and 2 with RAD. I have cooled down a bit, and things have improved immensely. (I know many people are anti-medication for good reasons, but for me, my children would not have survived with out it.) I have nostalgia for several of the comments, and say “GOOD RIDDANCE” to the things I don’t have to worry about anymore!
And so, without further ado, The ABCs of ADHD redux!

I’ve read the articles and books on ADHD. I know the discipline methods, positive reinforcement, rewards and time outs, the methods of Ross Green, sensory diets, nutritional preferences and the medications that work best. But I also know the realities of ADHD. In real life terms, the ABCs of ADHD/ADD are:

Attention! Always on alert for dangerous situations due to impulsive behaviors, such as running across streets without looking, grabbing a butcher knife to cut the end off a banana, running up the down escalator, and grabbing the dog or any other animal roughly and the dog (or other animal) retaliating by biting (or scratching.)

Be careful! Be careful! Be careful” is the parent mantra.

Climbing climbing climbing: out of the crib at age 15 months, out of the bedroom window when a teenager, on rock walls and curbstones and couches.

Don’t touch that! Don’t do that! Don’t hit her! Don’t pull that! Don’t eat that! Don’t hurt it! Don’t break it!

Exhausted parents trying their best to keep up.

Friendships are difficult.

Go! Go! Go! They’re always on the go!

Helpless parents, unable to control their child’s behavior, especially embarrassing in the grocery store under the staring eyes of others, judging them.

If only he’d… If only she’d…. Parents dream for a different lifestyle.

Jumping Bean: he goes here and there from friend to friend to friend, never staying long enough to establish a real friendship.

Kitchen walls are written on, cupboard doors have nicks in them, curtains are ripped, bedrooms are messy.

LOVE. Parents give unconditional love, but the behavior doesn’t change because the ADHD remains…

Medication? Medication? Medication? Should I use it or should I not?

Not paying attention in school so schoolwork suffers: not paying attention for homework, so it’s a nightly fight: not paying attention to other’s feelings, so keeping friends is difficult.

Overload happens easily and tantrums result. Keep it quiet. Keep it simple. Keep it under stimulated for peace.

Psychiatrists have become my best friends!

Questions! Questions from them all the time! Especially hard to escape when you are stuck riding in the car together.

Rewards for good behaviors; cuddles, high 5s, stickers, ice cream, Playstation, tv.

Self-esteem is low; it seems as though parent’s and teacher’s patience is limited; always the troublemaker, always in trouble.

Time-outs in the seat till we’re blue in the face. All the time spent in time-outs would add up to a year in the life.

Understanding is needed from parents, family, friends and teachers; understanding is often in short supply.

Very draining on all, child and adults.

Whining, whining, whining until parent’s ears hurt.

X-rays, CAT Scans and emergency room visits: active behavior results in injuries.

YIKES! What has he done NOW?!?!

Zest for life would be a polite way of putting it…


To read more about those early years, struggling to raise children, please read my book. Here is a link:

The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane


Comments on: "The ABCs of ADHD Redux" (35)

  1. As someone who has ADD in my youth (but somehow was a lucky one who outgrew it) it irks me when people are anti-medication. First of all most of them don’t have ADD, they don’t know what it’s like to be fighting an unending war against your own brain, how painful that is and how medication, while not perfect, is a very useful tool and certainly has its place. It’s not for everyone but for the people it’s for, it can be a godsend.

    • joyoutsidethebox said:

      My husband has ADHD and always says the same thing. Medication saved his friendships, our marriage, his job. It truly changed his life.

  2. Ahh so true. Love this 🙂

  3. Wow, I’m exhausted after reading!!! But love it.. thank you for your take on this. My child does not have it officially but definitely has some tendencies. I’m always interested in learning how parents cope….

  4. I took my two to the park the other day and we happened to arrive just as the next-door elementary school let two grades out for recess. Most of the kids ran to play, but about 10 of them stood on the sidewalk watching the others, accompanied by teachers and aides watching to make sure they didn’t join the fun. Few of the kids on the sidelines looked embarrassed, just bored. It was obvious to me that the kids being punished in that way probably wen through the same routine of punishment every single day. They were all boys. And I knew for certain that if my son went to that school, that’s how he would spend every single recess.

    The strange thing is that those are probably the exact kids who need to burn off energy the most, for the sake of the teacher and the kids. How stupid people are!

  5. This is amazing! We recently decided to have our 6 year old seen by a psychologist because of behavioral and social issues and they diagnosed him as ADHD. We’ve been working with her for about 4 months now on the behavioral tools and are now looking at the possibility of medication. I’m happy to read that there are others having the same internal debates as we are. I don’t want to medicate but he’s falling behind in school because he can’t concentrate so the debate goes on. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  6. oh wow! you captured it! our latest experience: a child who flicked bbq sauce at the back of a principal wearing a light tan sport coat. non-malicious, completely unpremeditated. who does that!? a child with adhd…

  7. My child has ADHD and a couple of other things wee trying to address those before contemplating medicating as those things can cause similar behaviors too. It is tiring though he isn’t extreme. Thank you for sharing x

  8. Your book truly changed my life, and now I’m telling about it to everybody 🙂 I’ll never tell you well enough how much I love it, specialy without looking a weird, annoying stranger hehe..
    I always love your posts, too 🙂
    ps did you get that book from the RAK foundation then? 🙂

  9. I have a son with ADHD and a daughter with ADD. I’m also ADD and I could not function without meds.

  10. Reblogged this on Game On Everyone and commented:
    Some of you out there may relate to this version of the alphabet…

  11. Just purchased your book. I have two who are on the “bell curve” which is RAD, one much tougher than the other. I also suspect that my RAD son has ADHD and so now the testing/treatment cycle must begin. Any advice for an “only” parent who is parenting four born with medical special needs and finding that their emotional special needs are far more challenging and exhausting. We thought used to think “love cures all” too but now I know that is not true. I’m really tired. I need people around me who understand and I don’t have anyone, they all think that if only I did (fill-in-the-blank) things would be easier.

    I am looking forward to reading your book because I would like my sanity back. 😉

  12. Thank you for writing and posting. I like your ABCs. I am a teacher trying to understand and accomodate students, some of which I suspect present with symptoms for ADHD. I was reading Psychology Today, April issue…saw a plug for a book called ADHD DOES NOT EXIST. I am wondering if you are familiar with Richard Saul’s work and if so, would you be willing to comment on it?

    • It’s funny…I can say my kiddos have ADHD, but the label does not matter. I can say one of my sons has autism, OCD, ADHD and the labels do not matter. What DOES matter is that he cannot sit still for more than 2 minutes without his body moving around, (not behavioral, he can’t help it,) he cannot wear shirts with tags in them or socks with seams in them or he freaks out. (not behavior, he just can’t help it…kind of like how I freak out when I hear fingernails against a chalk board) He does not look people in the eye, does not have social skills, and gets obsessed with certain things, (like reptiles.) NOT his fault, he just can’t help it. We have worked on the things we can with redirection, discipline, rewards, positive reinforcement, good nutrition with no additives, and so forth. The fact is, I don’t care at all about the diagnosis. Maybe he doesn’t have ADHD and it doesn’t exist, (although I highly doubt it,) but what I am dealing with are the SYMPTOMS. If a child presents as getting distracted easily, forgetting things often, jumping from one activity to another, having trouble with directions,having trouble finishing tasks like homework or chores,loses things a lot, (especially school items,) fidgets and squirms a lot, talks nonstop and interrupts people, run around a lot, touches everything they see, and does NOT respond well to a reward system and positive reinforcement, my opinion is they have some type of problem; their body does not have the capacity to control their behavior. They are not ‘bad”. Punishment may be useless because they cannot help their behavior. (How would you feel if you punished every time you sneezed?) I don’t have to call it anything to know that it is a problem that needs a solution…
      Teachers have the thankless task of trying to educate such a child in a roomful of other children. NOT an easy task, diagnosis or not! God Bless You!!!

  13. This is so completely and perfectly and exactly everything that encompasses being the parent of an ADHD kid!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for sharing and I LOVE that you’ve moved beyond some of these. Gives me hope that maybe one day we will too!!

    • Yes, it has been a long and windy road…
      (It is probably a good thing that I wrote my book a few years ago when I had the time to and when my thoughts were more mellow!)

  14. hungryhungryhippo404 said:

    As someone with ADD who was only diagnosed as an adult, I really wish that I’d been diagnosed and medicated for it twenty years ago. Taking the medication has so completely changed my life that it makes me sad to think of how unnecessarily hard things were for me, and all the opportunities I’ve missed. People who are anti medication don’t know what they’re talking about and it makes me sad because it means there are other people out there missing out when there is no need to 😦

    • I completely agree. My daughter, Dinora, was not diagnosed with ADD until the seventh grade. Her elementary school years were a disaster…her teacher even called her a “spaceshot” and we spent hours trying to do her homework. Her grades were so bad she had mostly Cs and Ds. Once diagnosed, (which was a surprise to me because I’d only been familiar with ADHD not ADD,) and put on medication, she SOARED!!!!!!!!! On the honor roll in junior high! Better social skills and new friends! It was a “miracle” for sure. It was a miracle that continues on to this day…she is a young adult, and she actually called me the other day to bring her Ritalin to her work because she had forgotten it and she could not pay attention at work to do the good job to which they had become accustomed. Even as a adult, she finds it a miracle!

      • hungryhungryhippo404 said:

        It’s definitely the closest thing to a miracle I’ve ever experienced! I’m glad it’s helped your daughter so much, it sounds like it’s totally changed her life, which is so fantastic. And I’m really glad that you’re getting the message out there about how important medication is when it’s given appropriately in the right setting (just like everything else!) 🙂

      • I never want to get into the middle of political discussions, but medication is something I firmly believe in for OUR circumstance. The quality of life is sooooo much better. I wonder: how many people who are against medication uniformly have ever needed medication themselves?

      • hungryhungryhippo404 said:

        I don’t think it’s so much a political discussion, as about one that has a lot of emotion caught up with it which tends to outweigh the basic evidence of its efficacy. I doubt very few would actually have ever needed it. It makes me very sad because it’s people not looking at the facts properly, and as a result possibly make choices that are going to have such a negative impact on the ones they love.

  15. So well-written! I’m going to pass this on to my husband who’s finishing up a counseling internship. I think it would be a great encouragement to any of his clients whose kids have ADHD.

    • Parents of children with ADHD can have a lot of extra stress. Those decisions about discipline are magnified. Some parents give in a lot because it is easier, (but, believe me, not beneficial in the long run.) Some parents are extra strict, even when some of the behaviors are beyond a child’s control. The difference in parenting styles can be a HUGE issue with marriages! I strongly suggest a good counselor just to field those questions about what is appropriate, what is overkill and what is too little… Parents need each other and should work together, not against each other. There is a long lifetime with each child ahead, and parents need all of the love and support they can get, (i.e. it is better to work on the marriage so both parents are on the same page rather than continue with different parenting styles which is sure to lead to arguments and possibly divorce. No parents need that kind of added stress!)

  16. HI.

    this was a good post and clever to boot.

    Love the way you came up with a word for every letter.


  17. God bless… So true…

  18. I totally get the medication thing! But when it can be done I have found that in the recovery of our two boys essential oils have been paramount and we have been able to be off meds with them. Absolutely amazing!

  19. I read your post and coincidentally read this article on CNN soon after. I feel like there’s a connection between the two.

  20. Oh yes! You got it exactly EXACTLY right.

  21. Wow! That made me dizzy! Hehehehe, but honestly? It was excellent, brilliant insight! XXX

  22. It’s very comforting for other parents/carers/guardians to know they are not the only ones struggling with these feelings and situations. Thank you.

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