Jennifer Gay Summers
Author | Journalist
2023 is here, and a good opportunity to improve communication with your child! With the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder comes the “dis” label. A label we parents need as an explanation to get help. Sometimes, we have to use it in our communication with our kids, along with a slew of other “dis” or “dys” words. This blog took place when Lee was in high school, a time when many teens have fragile egos, and “dis” words were the last words my teen needed to hear. Join me as I learn a more loving way to communicate:
Welcome to my blog!
I’m a mom and an ex-public school teacher who’s been in the ADHD trenches for the last 20 years, navigating the school system and standing up to those who use judgment as their weapon against differences. At the same time, I’ve watched the gifts of ADHD help my daughter, Lee (pseudonym), blossom into a creative, intuitive, wise young adult.
Raising a child with ADHD is like living on a rollercoaster, riding to the top with your hopes soaring and racing down, holding on with all your strength. In my blog, I write about my crazy and not-so-crazy mom moments to offer encouragement, what insight I’ve gained, and some laughs along the way.
In December, I celebrated seven years of blogging for ADDitude magazine, my favorite national resource for people with ADHD. I’ve been called “Mom’s the Word” for many of those blogs, a name I hold dear to my heart. So often, I’ve felt anything BUT “Mom’s the Word.” My blog is dedicated to all you moms and dads struggling with that same frustration. Together, I believe we can raise awareness and help our children with ADHD succeed.
Last November, I attended the CHADD conference, the annual international conference on ADHD. As promised, here’s a blog with my take-aways from some of 2022’s valuable workshops, along with a heartfelt reminder of why the conference is so important to me.
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...
This month’s blog might sound familiar to parents of a child with ADHD. It was the moment in time I was spurred to advocacy, thanks to a teacher who didn’t believe ADHD was real. His disbelief was my wake-up call, a true gift for the years ahead. For many parents...
When Lee was in elementary school, I dreaded the holiday play. Expecting my child with ADHD to memorize lines or sit still on stage was next to hopeless. Talk about feeling like a bad mom! But in high school, her ADHD challenges were exactly what she needed when she volunteered to help a second-grade class make it through their holiday play:
Reunions can be tricky, especially if you’re raising a child with ADHD. As Lee grew older, I felt as if I had less and less in common with my old friends and their more typical kids. In this blog, our reunion showed me how to let go of my fears:
Finding a good Mommy and Me, then Preschool, for Lee brought me face to face with both the struggles and gifts of ADHD. Here’s a blog where I learned what she needed:
From Every Child with ADHD Needs a Miss Ellie:
Middle School arrives with a host of challenges for our ADHD kids. Lee’s forgetfulness caused multiple problems. Here’s a blog where the IEP team came to our rescue…almost:
From If Only Little Robots Could Keep my ADHD Child on Track!:
In my more recent blog, I talk about the scary transition to middle school, when we parents face the huge challenge of taking a giant step back:
From What No One Ever Told Me About the Middle School Transition with ADHD:
“Despite the September heat, my friend, Melanie, and I set off for a morning walk down one of the steepest hills in our neighborhood. As we left, I could feel she was on the verge of tears and put my arm around her, giving her a quick squeeze. “Josh?” I said.” Read more…
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When Lee was in middle and high school, one of the things that drove me crazy was the emphasis on grades. I was more focused on helping her learn the material and do her coursework, despite the challenge of ADHD and learning disabilities. The last thing she needed was for me to raise the bar and expect her to get all A’s. But, when Lee went to college, I couldn’t fight my curiosity:
Children with ADHD:
- Homework time: Lee always needed a break after school to decompress. Other children might learn better by tackling homework immediately. In either case, it’s best to establish a time that works for your child and stick with it.
- Homework corner: Lee preferred the kitchen table, big enough for me to join her with snacks and keep her on task. Two separate folders, one for homework she brought home, and one for homework when she completed it, were left at the table to take to school. And, a file box for completed assignments the teacher returned on a nearby bench, in case we needed to refer back to them.
- Scheduled breaks: Lee needed a five-minute break every 20 minutes due to her hyperactivity. Setting a timer helped bring her back to the kitchen table.
- Respecting Limits: When Lee grew too frustrated to finish her homework, we stopped and wrote a note to the teacher, explaining the situation. Most teachers worked with us to limit the workload, but if they didn’t, we stopped anyway. Homework, to me, wasn’t worth Lee losing her self-confidence, the most precious gift for a child with ADHD.
High School for Lee was like climbing Mount Everest. In this blog, she finds a volunteer job that helped her cope, giving her a much-needed sense of confidence:
From Writing Fix: How my Daughter Got Beyond Dysgraphia: