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.
The CHADD Conference, a Lifeline!
The Annual International Conference on ADHD, sponsored by CHADD, takes place this month, from November 17th-19th in Dallas, Texas. If you or someone you know is affected by ADHD, this is the place to find resources, support, and community. In this month’s blog, I share how going to the conference was an invaluable help for my child with ADHD, changing our lives for the better.
It’s fitting that the annual CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) Conference takes place in November, a time of gratitude. I will always give thanks for the support, knowledge, and education I gained from attending throughout the years.
I first heard about the conference just after my daughter, Lee, was diagnosed with ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, and anxiety. At the time, I needed help on how to raise a very hyperactive child who was struggling in school, unable to do her homework. Even though I could Google for advice, it didn’t come close to seeking it in person.
At that first conference, the keynote speaker welcomed us, and the man in front of me stretched out his legs on the empty chair to his right, lying back on the chair to his left. Wow, I mused, he must be tired. Two minutes later, he sat up again, and did the same thing on the other side. His body, like Lee’s, was in perpetual motion. I pulled out my notebook and scribbled, “Lee could use a few chairs in class to stretch for hyperactivity, a good way to cope with sitting through a lecture.”
That was just the beginning of a weekend crammed with researchers, educators, and leading doctors and psychologists. By the end of the morning, I’d found another mom who’d also adopted a child with ADHD. The two of us spent lunch getting to know each other and sharing notes from different lectures. She had the answer to the homework problem. “You’re lucky Lee has an IEP. You can hold an addendum meeting. You have every right to bring up why you think she’s falling behind. It sounds to me like she needs extra time to do homework in the resource room.”
Then our conversation moved from school to home. No matter how many times I asked Lee, my direction to “Clean your room,” was ignored, despite the consequences. My new friend offered a solution she’d just heard from an ADHD parent coach. She explained that Lee’s executive functions were affected by ADHD, making it hard to organize. Instead of saying, “Clean your room,” the workshop leader had given a tip to make it more manageable and fun. Have your child pick up all the red things, then the orange, and so on through the rainbow.
I came home from the conference loaded down with tips, strategies, and information for myself and Lee’s educators. It was knowledge that would turn me into my child’s advocate, or “warrior mom,” as Lee liked to call me. Best of all, I found community and a way to give back. In the exhibit hall, I ran into the representative for ADDitude magazine. It was not long after that I established a running blog for them, bringing together my love for writing with my passion to help my child.
Every November when the CHADD conference rolls around, I feel grateful for the wonderful ADHD community that changed my life. Now that the conference is both in-person and virtual, I hope many other struggling parents can take advantage of this lifeline!
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!