Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Well. I've been gone for a while. We were running around dealing with occupational therapy and wondering whether or not Sam had some sensory issues. Long story short: Yes. Yes he does. It appear that about half of kids with ADHD also have some sensory processing issues as well, which ... is complicated. Sensory processing issues can look just like ADHD, but sometimes they co-exist, and sometimes they are mistaken for each other and ... you know what? I don't entirely understand it 100% myself. But the kind woman who evaluated Sam for SPD (sensory processing disorder) said her feeling was that he had some of each. I guess one of the big hallmarks of ADHD vs SPD is that the purely SPD kids will, occasionally, shut their mouth. As opposed to ADHD kids, where I frequently feel like my ears are going to spontaneously hemorrhage blood and brain matter towards the end of the day. I mean, what he is to say is interesting for sure, but MY GOD the talking is nuts. And I have a fairly high threshold for that kind of stuff.

But that's not actually what I want to write about today. The mister and I have gone on a liver-cleansing diet due to some health issues the mister is experiencing. A major part of this diet is giving up dairy. I've been sort of inching closer to this for a while. You'd be surprised, though, at the societal pressure to not stray too far from the norm when it comes to diet. Go vegetarian and you'll get some teasing. Go vegan, and people start getting uncomfortable but QUICK. Not everyone, of course, Not even most people I know. But some people, for sure. In fact, my own husband told me at one point that he would no way, no how support me going vegan--it was just too extreme and weird for his comfort level.

Then we gave up dairy for the sake of his health. And people. I have lost 7 pounds in 10 days. I feel SO. MUCH. BETTER. And after seeing me, my husband said "You needed to give up dairy. I completely support this for you. To see you looking and feeling so much healthier is totally worth it." I've also given up most processed foods. I'm basically trying to aim for eating raw fruits and vegetables for about 40-60% of my diet. Both of us have lost weight, but we've also lost INCHES. When you learn about the inflammatory effects of dairy and sugar, it's not really that surprising that we're seeing such a dramatic difference in such a short time.

There's that line that goes "Nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels." Which, to me at least, is kind of bullshit. I can think of a TON of things that taste as good as being skinny feels. But for me, nothing tastes as good as being healthier feels. Which isn't to say I will eschew all processed foods and sugars for the rest of my life. But seeing how incredible I feel cutting those things out of my life? It makes it so much easier for those things to be special, exceptional treats. Although to be honest, the idea of fast food and chips is just really quickly loosing its appeal.

Am I making this dietary changes for Sam? Not yet. At some point we very likely will experiment with elimination diets to see if cutting out dairy or gluten makes any difference in his behavior. But at this point, I honestly consider his eating to be pretty disordered (in terms of the fear and distress he exhibits around new food), and I want to fix that first. I don't want to encourage him in any way to give up any foods at this point. If a PROFESSIONAL who has evaluated him tells me trying an elimination diet will help at this point, I'll do it, but the issue is really closed for discussion from the peanut gallery. I mean, dude. My kid can't even HOLD a carrot without hyperventilating, let alone think about eating one.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Normal is boring, right? RIGHT???

So I am officially giving up home-based feeding therapy. My child will starve himself rather than eat pizza without pepperoni. He cried last night when I asked him to try a french fry. Going to other friend's houses is dicey: if they have little tiny ones I can usually count on there being something for Sam to eat, but otherwise I haul in my own food for him, mostly consisting of macaroni and cheese packets.

The constant fighting to try to get him to try new foods is exhausting, and it doesn't seem to be working. I've tried "chaining" food, and we make no progress. We were making some good progress with tolerating new vegetables on the plate, but it pretty much stopped there. I could get him up to licking the new food but no further.

It's the anxiety around food that is worrisome to me. He's not just picky--he has a clearly defined set of allowable and non-allowable foods, and attempts to add to that list bring about some pretty severe reactions. I know that lots of parents think you can just ask them to try a new food and as long as you keep presenting it that everything will work out, but dude. We are not there. We haven't been there. We've been working towards that for like, four years. And I. Give. Up. I am out of my depth with this.

Sam has an evaluation for occupational therapy in May, and they assured me that feeding therapy can be part of that. I've always thought he doesn't have sensory issues informing his feeding problems, because texture doesn't seem to be a problem for him. But there is something off about his reaction to food, and man. I just want someone professional to either say "This is all in your head, he's a picky eater and he'll grow out of it and he's fine" or "Yeah, you're right, he needs some help with this issue and here are the tactics we can use to help him."

Part of having a kid with special needs is you start to see everything through the special needs filter. Is he just a picky eater who gets dramatic about being asked to try new foods or does he have Food Issues? Is he just a kid who laughs at things that aren't that funny or is it Inappropriate Laughter? Does he just like to dance and contort his body or is he Having Sensory and Proprioceptive Issues? Sometimes I feel like I don't even know what "normal" looks like anymore.

I'm really looking forward to getting him into OT so we can figure out what we need to work on with him and what is just a normal part of being four.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Oh hai.

So instead of blogging I've been editing academic dissertations, which is evidently my new job. I've been trying to build up a freelance business for a while now and I feel like I'm starting to reach a tipping point where I can actually say "Why yes, I'm a freelance editor specializing in dissertations" rather than just every so often editing a dissertation for a friend of a friend. It's kind of awesome, because I love editing, and it is nice to have a little extra income, and it does my ego good to be considered an actual editor adult-type person. But on the other hand, being a Work Out of Home Mom kind of sucks. I like using my brain, I  like that my son sees me doing some productive work and sees me being a professional, but I hate spending so much time ignoring him while I try to meet a deadline. Clearly I need to do some work on finding balance with that. I try to do most of my editing while he's in school or on weekends or after he's in bed, but there inevitably comes the days when I'm trying to wrap up a job and the poor child is plunked in front of the television for four straight hours.

Yesterday I just threw him out in the backyard with a squirt bottle full of water and some kid-sized gardening tools and let him do his thang. It was great. He came in covered in dirt and starving. I'm hoping with the gorgeous weather we've been having that I'll be able to exercise this option considerably more frequently than the tv option.

Today he goes back to preschool after his weeklong spring break, and we'll see how that goes. We've been doing a lot of work on "good choices vs bad choices," which is something he really seems to respond to. Although he's been telling me that he's going to make bad choices and then change them into good choices. I'm trying to figure out a way to communicate that while it is always okay to make mistakes and that it is wonderful to catch yourself in the middle of a mistake and change course, it is not acceptable to set out to make a bad choice. Sigh. This kid is too smart for his own good sometimes. He can always find the loophole in any rule.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Don't rock the boat, baby, don't rock the boat.

So the little man seems to have hit his stride at school. I mean, it only took six months, but hey, who's counting? If he does well today he will have had two straight weeks of excellent days. Which I do not think has EVER happened. So what are we doing to achieve this magical event?

Sam goes to school with a LOT of extras. He has a special sit-upon cushion which provides some additional sensory input. He gets to hold a koosh ball during circle time to help calm him down. He has a series of charts that help give him some external order throughout his day. His awesome awesome awesome teacher Miss M. comes to school with him one day a week to help him focus. He has a sorting game for good choices and bad choices. We talk about when choices are hard and who he can ask for help. I'm giving him ridiculously expensive Omega-3 supplements because there's increasing research that indicates that may have a beneficial effect for kids like mine.

I'm not under the illusion that we've "fixed it" and it will be smooth sailing from here on out. Sam is a major limit-tester--he doesn't do it to be defiant or rude, but more like out of scientific curiosity. He is always going to have days when he wants to push the envelope and we'll have to smack him back down (metaphorically) so he knows exactly where those boundaries are. As he gets older I'm hoping it will be easier and easier to channel that tendency into more productive pursuits. We're already starting to do some "science experiments" around the house and I think I need to really buckle down and dedicate one day a week during the summer to those kind of projects.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Running might be your Prozac, but PROZAC is my Prozac.

So the whole fam-damily headed off to the gym on Sunday, to dump the little man in the kids center where he could run wild and scream at girls ("LOTS of us boys were doing it, mom. We thought the girls were ants.") and his father and I could hit the pool. On the way in I saw an SUV (because mini-vans are just so uncool) with this bumper sticker: Running is My Prozac.

Which. Like. Well. Yay for you. Seriously, I'm not being sarcastic there. If you can manage your mood through diet and exercise, that is great. That is WONDERFUL.

BUT. It doesn't work like that for everyone. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely use diet and exercise to help manage my depression. They make a HUGE difference. But unless I'm also taking the meds, I can't function at a high enough level to manage my diet and exercise. Hell, I can't function at a high enough level to do laundry. (Although sitting on the couch and watching The Real Housewives of Orange County and silently sobbing didn't seem to pose much of a challenge, oddly enough. (I lie. It was Wife Swap.))

And while I totally support the idea that there are a lot of steps you can take to help manage mental illness, I get so leery of bumper stickers like "Running is my Prozac," because part of me feels, rightly or wrongly, that it implies that if one tried a little harder one would not be depressed. Maybe if you just got more exercise, or helped others more, or went to church, or were a better fucking person you wouldn't be such a sad sack of shit all the time. And although I have no reason to think that is the message behind sayings like "Running is my Prozac," I think a lot of people take that message away, and it is not helpful.

Depression is not a reflection on who you are. It is not necessarily caused by an unhappy childhood, or unresolved issues, or being a repressed housewife. Sometimes it is just brain chemistry.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


So the last couple weeks have been, I don't know. Busy. A little nuts. Sam probably has a malfunctioning ear tube, so he's been murderous at school (ha ha, not really. I think the only thing he murders is his teacher's will to live) and a poisonous devil at home. Then we started bribing him with peanut butter eggs if he takes his ear drops, and suddenly all is well again. He heads to the ENT on Friday, and I have the sinking feeling we are going to have to replace at least one of those tubes, DAMNIT.

He went to the dentist on Friday, and I was expecting Sam-hijinks. But he was a MODEL patient. He held still, opened his mouth wide, and was great. It certainly didn't help that our hygienist was unbelievably good with him. She knew EXACTLY what he needed. It was amazing. I did some major prep work, talking a lot about the dentist and making a plan--he wouldn't have to lie down all the way in the chair, he could sit on my lap, he could wear sunglasses so the light didn't hurt his eyes, and he could hold a new angry bird plush that he could keep ONLY if he was a good patient (or at least gave it the old preschool try). But he really surpassed all my expectations. The only snag was when he puked because of the fluoride treatment. Next time I'll remember to bring another shirt to the office.

Friday, March 9, 2012

10 pounds of awesome

Having a child with ADHD is kind of like having 10 pounds of awesome in a 5 pound bag. Or, in our particular case, 66 pounds of awesome in a 33 pound bag. Yeah, there are times (a lot of times) when trying to contain all that awesome in a bag too small is a pain. You are scrambling around, picking up spare pieces of awesome here and there, trying to shove them back in the bag, trying to convince the bag it is time to hurry up already people are looking at us. There are often forgotten bits of awesome strewn about the house and left at the neighbors and the friends. All that awesome spills over in school, when the bag is supposed to be sitting still, neatly containing what you know is impossible to contain. There is no doubt it can be a gigantic pain in the ass.

But the thing about it? All those random pieces of awesome floating all over the place and complicating your life? They are made of awesome. Having a child with ADHD means you are never, ever, EVER bored. You learn more than you ever thought possible, not just about yourself and your parenting skills and stretching your limits and all that jazz, but about whatever insane thing your child becomes obsessed with this week. You learn because your child just will not take "I don't know" for an answer, and while that is not always ideal before you've had your first cup of coffee, it is a wonderful and amazing thing to discover new worlds with your child. ADHD kids are likely to approach things from a different angle, noticing things other kids might not, making new connections.

ADHD kids won't sit on the couch and cuddle with you quietly while you both enjoy a movie. They'll ask for a movie to go on, then grab their toys and act it out right along with the screen, often improvising and adding new details. You'll always know who is talking, because they have different voices for each character.

Your ADHD child probably won't color inside the lines. But they'll amaze you with their artistic vision. They are the innovators and the improvisors. They might not follow directions to the letter, but what they come up with is often astounding in its difference and creativity.

Make no mistake--ADHD is a gift. Unwrapping that gift is often messy and hard, leading to cut fingers, tears, and a lot of frustration as you figure out how to get past the paper and reach the child inside. But WOW. What's inside is amazing.