As Mother’s Day approaches, I want to thank all the special moms who supported me through the years. Parenting a neurodiverse child is challenging and makes it difficult sometimes to find understanding friends. When I was struggling, long before my child’s ADHD diagnosis, two moms stepped forward and gave me hope and the gift of friendship. This blog is in honor of them.
My Cup of Tea- ADHD Ways to Cope
When a child is diagnosed with a mental disability, there are solid strategies to help them cope. And some of these coping mechanisms can also become a way for a young adult to move forward, functioning in a challenging world.
My new blog looks at some of the ways my 22-year-old is coping, although one of them is definitely not my cup of tea.
Finishing a cup of chamomile tea, I gazed out the window at the rosy sunset, trying to take the edge off a stressful day. The sun dipped below the horizon, and I glanced at my watch. Time to get dinner started. Moving to the sink, I rinsed my grandmother’s delicate cup.
“Honk! Honk! Honk!”
I jumped, catching the cup at the last second before bone china shattered on porcelain. My eyes shot daggers at my 22-year-old, relaxing in front of me on a couch. “Lee! Can’t you find another sound?”
“Nope.” Lee crawled out from under a new, soft-weighted blanket, holding up the offending phone with its equally offending reminder: “Take your pill, fool!”
“Well,” I muttered, still shaken, “…that’s one hell of a way to remember your medication. Good coping mechanism.”
A weighted blanket and pill alarm are just two of the many coping mechanisms my neurodiverse young adult relies on to function throughout the day. They are much-needed, as well as other strategies, to relieve the stress of functioning in a neurotypical world. When Lee was diagnosed with ADHD, SPD, and anxiety, I barely knew about medications, let alone physical ways for her to cope. But I would learn, through occupational therapy, there were strategies we could use.
A rubber sensory pillow with spikes grounded Lee in first grade, so she could focus. She also made friends as everyone begged to try it. When her therapist encouraged Lee to crash her shoulders and hips from one hallway wall at home into the other, it was painful to watch. But, it always calmed Lee down. Using the swings at recess increased the blood flow to her head and created a soothing rhythm which helped when she returned to the classroom.
Then the teenage years came along, and Lee’s anxiety became more internalized and intense. Taking a longer walk to school eased her hyperactivity and lowered her heart rate. In the classroom, she had to sit still for longer periods, and paying attention was the path to success. Desperately seeking a way to cope, Lee pulled out her pencil during lectures and doodled, finding a way to focus. If a teacher was amenable, she could also use headphones during independent study to drown out distractions.
As I dried the teacup, Lee ran into the kitchen and took her ADHD medication. She moved back to the couch and slid under the weighted blanket, holding up a corner for me. “Want to give it a try, Mom?”
I stepped over, slipped in, and felt the deep compression of the weights pushing me down. No wonder this eased Lee’s anxiety, I thought, as my bones relaxed. She had found a coping mechanism that was exactly my cup of tea.
Over the years in my quest to help my child with ADHD and now complete a memoir about it, I accumulated many books on the subject. Maybe it’s the teacher in me or just my passion for books, but I ended up with a pretty good collection. This month’s blog focuses on some of my favorites.
Even though I’d heard that communication is a skill we learn and practice, no one told me how important that would be in raising my child. Between Lee’s inability to focus, a lot of hyperactivity, and emotions that were hard to regulate, it became my challenge to find a different way to communicate. In this month’s blog, I put together the tips that worked for me over the years. Hope you’ll find one that works for you!