My Cup of Tea- ADHD Ways to Cope

My Cup of Tea- ADHD Ways to Cope

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.

 

Blogs

Related

My Cup of Tea- ADHD Ways to Cope

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...

read more
The Boothbay Playhouse

The Boothbay Playhouse

As August’s dry heat envelops me and I long for some relief, I wander into my garden.  A sudden breeze kicks up, soft whispers of summers gone by.  I’m back on an old wooden bench in front of a grey, weathered cottage where foghorns call me out to sea, and lobstermen...

read more
Summer Camp, Hands-On!

Summer Camp, Hands-On!

...Camp seemed like a given for my child with ADHD.  What could be better than the freedom to chase lizards on a nature trail, splash in a pool, or do arts and crafts with other campers?  At least, that’s what I thought until Lee’s first day. Join me in a blog where...

read more

The Boothbay Playhouse

The Boothbay Playhouse

The Boothbay Playhouse

As August’s dry heat envelops me and I long for some relief, I wander into my garden.  A sudden breeze kicks up, soft whispers of summers gone by.  I’m back on an old wooden bench in front of a grey, weathered cottage where foghorns call me out to sea, and lobstermen pull up their nets as seagulls gather for scraps.  My mind drifts, like it does every summer, to how my parents met. 

“When I was nineteen, I went to a place as familiar as my own skin, a place I had visited in memories so many times around the dinner table that I knew it by heart.  The director at the Boothbay Playhouse, the same theater where my mom and dad had met twenty-five years ago, called and offered me a summer internship and I grabbed it without hesitation.  I flew to Maine and took a taxi far from the city, deep into the Boothbay Harbor woods.  As we turned into the driveway of the Playhouse, my heart skipped a beat and, in that instant, I knew how my mother felt. 

In my mind’s eye, I could see my father, in the old yellow robe, on a ladder painting the weathered garage door.  My mother’s mind in mine, her excitement raised in goosebumps on my skin.  A featured actress… a summer rehearsing one show in the day, performing a second at night.  Anticipation pounded in our nineteen-year-old hearts in unison and just why was that handyman on the ladder staring so hard at her as she swung her Barbizon perfect legs out of her parents’ car and into the beginning of the rest of her life?

That day was my beginning, too, not as a featured actress, not even close to finding my husband, but my first day in Boothbay Harbor, the town I would call my summer home in years to come.  I suppose I needed to relive their romance, to find the true magic that spun around the three of us kids at the dinner table as Dad recounted the playhouse days he and Mom had courted, when he had acted as leading man to her leading lady, really kissing his lovely ingénue with all the passion an actor could give.  Years sweetly remembered as the best years of their lives before television and film gave them their fate.”

When my parents came to see me on stage that summer in my first leading role, they fell in love with Boothbay Harbor all over again.  Renting at first, then purchasing a cottage on Southport Island, they gave their children and grandchildren many happy summers.  Twenty-two years have gone by and both my parents have passed on, as has the Boothbay Playhouse, leaving its rich legacy. 

-Excerpt from the Foreword to Any Way I Can; 50 Years in Show Business by John Gay and Jennifer Gay Summers, BearManor Media, 2009

 

 

 

Blogs

Related

My Cup of Tea- ADHD Ways to Cope

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...

read more
The Boothbay Playhouse

The Boothbay Playhouse

As August’s dry heat envelops me and I long for some relief, I wander into my garden.  A sudden breeze kicks up, soft whispers of summers gone by.  I’m back on an old wooden bench in front of a grey, weathered cottage where foghorns call me out to sea, and lobstermen...

read more
Summer Camp, Hands-On!

Summer Camp, Hands-On!

...Camp seemed like a given for my child with ADHD.  What could be better than the freedom to chase lizards on a nature trail, splash in a pool, or do arts and crafts with other campers?  At least, that’s what I thought until Lee’s first day. Join me in a blog where...

read more

Summer Camp, Hands-On!

Summer Camp, Hands-On!

Summer Camp, Hands-On!

Camp seemed like a given for my child with ADHD.  What could be better than the freedom to chase lizards on a nature trail, splash in a pool, or do arts and crafts with other campers?  At least, that’s what I thought until Lee’s first day. Join me in a blog where Lee and I discover what it takes for a camp to engage a child with ADHD

Dust rose as I nosed my car into a tight space in a small dirt parking lot. Day one of nature camp in the Santa Monica Mountains, advertised as a place “where children could interact and learn about nature” had come to an end.  Rolling up my windows, I sat in the quiet, thinking of a year ago.

My husband and I’d enrolled Lee in a day camp that emphasized hiking, arts and crafts, and swimming in the community pool.  It had seemed the perfect fit for our hands-on 11-year-old daughter with ADHD who loved nature.  Then she returned from her first day, and our bubble burst.

“Mom, I tried, I really did.  But they wouldn’t let me leave the trail, even to catch a lizard.  They said it’s against the rules!”

“Maybe if you give it time…”

“I won’t go back!”

Another casualty from Lee’s sensory processing disorder, commonly associated with ADHD.  Her hyper-tactile sense, that desperate need to hold lizards, skim her fingers over rosemary bushes, or inspect a toad, had ruined camp.  She spent the summer in our back yard, on her hands and knees, free to explore.  Still, I wanted her to experience camp and the greater outdoors, as I had done in the Sequoias so many years before.  

I left my car and walked over to rickety stairs that led into an old historic house, the camp’s headquarters.  Lee caught sight of me and ran over, her hands full.  “Mom, mom!  Look what I found.”  She opened her hands to reveal a tiny skull.  “It’s a vole.” 

Connie, the camp counselor and conservationist in charge of the kids. walked over, her boots clomping on the old wood floor.  “Your daughter is something else,” she said. 

I tensed.  Had Lee lost control of her impulses?  Had she wandered off the trail away from the group, found the skull, and stuck it in her pocket?

“She showed all of us things on the trail we never would have seen otherwise.  A hawk’s nest, a praying mantis case high in a tree, snake tracks…you name it, Scout found it.”

My shoulders relaxed.  “Scout?”

“Come on, you never thought of it before?  She’s Scout, from To Kill a Mockingbird, sure as I’m standing here.”

“Mom, we dissected owl pellets,” Lee exclaimed.  “And there were pieces of mice in the pellets the owls had eaten!”

By the end of camp, Scout was assisting the group, shoulder to shoulder with Connie.  She’d made emergency shelters from wood branches for survival and helped clean up a Malibu beach.  Her backpack held a jumble of bones, rocks, feathers, and turtle shells or treasures, as she called them.  With a summer full of hiking in the mountains and swimming in the ocean, Lee was in her element.  In the years that followed, she became a camp counselor there.

If your ADHD child is also hypertactile and you’re struggling with finding the right camp, consider looking for one which allows her hands-on learning and discovery.  Here’s a link for The Complete ADHD Camp Guide from ADDitude magazine:

https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-camp-and-school-guide/?src=embed_link

 

Blogs

Related

My Cup of Tea- ADHD Ways to Cope

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...

read more
The Boothbay Playhouse

The Boothbay Playhouse

As August’s dry heat envelops me and I long for some relief, I wander into my garden.  A sudden breeze kicks up, soft whispers of summers gone by.  I’m back on an old wooden bench in front of a grey, weathered cottage where foghorns call me out to sea, and lobstermen...

read more
Summer Camp, Hands-On!

Summer Camp, Hands-On!

...Camp seemed like a given for my child with ADHD.  What could be better than the freedom to chase lizards on a nature trail, splash in a pool, or do arts and crafts with other campers?  At least, that’s what I thought until Lee’s first day. Join me in a blog where...

read more

From Denial to Acceptance

From Denial to Acceptance

From Denial to Acceptance

…A letter her birthmother had sent me came into my mind.  The words, “ADHD runs in the family” jumped out at me, like a snake, coiled and ready to strike.  No, I told myself.  I wouldn’t accept any labels besides curious and energetic. ​…”

The day I set foot in my daughter’s first grade class, I saw my world shift on its axis.  All of the children were quiet, noses in their books.  I scanned the room, but couldn’t find Lee.  The teacher turned from the whiteboard to me and pointed under one of the tables.  There was my child, crouched like an animal, rocking back and forth.  Kneeling down, I held out my arms, and she moved into them.

“I want to go home, Mommy.”  Her voice dropped to a whisper.  “I’m the dumbest person in the class.”

My heart splintered, and I hugged her close.  “You can do this,” I whispered, helping her into a chair.  But the truth was she couldn’t, and it was time for me to seek help.

I’d done my best for years to deny that my child had ADHD and kept myself in blissful ignorance.  I was a pro at making excuses for her atypical behavior, until something awful happened.  The differences between my child and other children were noticeable when Lee was only eighteen months old.  At a Mommy and Me class with a ball pit and slide, she had no intention of joining circle time.  When Lee rode down the slide right into the circle, we were scolded and sent outside to sit in a chair for time-out.

As Lee struggled to get out of my lap, a letter her birthmother had sent me came into my mind.  The words, “ADHD runs in the family” jumped out at me, like a snake, coiled and ready to strike.  No, I told myself.  I wouldn’t accept any labels besides curious and energetic. 

I put more time into choosing a preschool and found one with optional circle time and lots of play.  One day, I was helping in the art corner when a mom, who’d been volunteering outside, came over to me.  She looked down, clearing her throat. 

“Your daughter reminds me of mine.  The two of them were wildcats on their tricycles today and wouldn’t listen to the dad trying to get them to stop.”

“Sounds like Lee,” I said, shaking it off with a hollow laugh. 

 “Oh hell, I don’t know how to say this, but maybe you should consider that she has ADHD.  Our daughter’s been diagnosed with it, and she’s seeing a child psychologist.  I can get you a name if you want.” 

I stood still, feeling like I’d been slapped.  When I recovered, I added strong-willed to curious and energetic and did my best to let it go at that. 

Even though the preschool director recommended another year, I enrolled Lee in Kindergarten at the age of five.  She’d catch up, I told myself.  After a couple of weeks, I signed up to volunteer and went to the classroom.  I heard the teacher tell the kids there was a hidden “B”, and if they saw it, not to point it out until she was done talking.  She said, “Here are some words that start with B: boy, boat…”

“I see it…the B!” Lee shouted.  Her body trembled with excitement as she pointed at a card on a high shelf behind the tables. 

The teacher gave her a stern reminder that she was not to be interrupted.  Lee’s trembling turned to cowering. 

What was wrong with this teacher, I thought.  How could a kid help themselves from calling out when they found the buried treasure?  But somewhere inside myself, I knew I could have when I was that age.  And the other kids in her class seemed to know how to wait, also.     

There were other moments when the truth fell into place like a stack of dominoes.  If you have a child with ADHD, you’ve probably felt them, too.  Accepting your child’s ADHD and finding help is a gift of love for her that you’ll never regret.  There is a world of organizations that can help.  Here are just a few of them:

CHADD is a national nonprofit organization that improves the lives of people affected by ADHD through education, advocacy, and support.  I highly recommend their annual conference!

The nation’s leading source of important news, expert advice, and judgment-free understanding for families and adults living with attention deficit disorder.  And, the home for most of my blogs. 

ADHD Aware empowers people with ADHD while raising awareness and changing public opinion about this serious disease.

The Attention Deficit Disorder Association provides information, resources and networking opportunities to help adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder lead better lives.

Totally ADD liberates people from fear, shame, and stigma.  Through education, humor, and social interaction, Totally ADD provides the tools and support people need to create a life they love.

Blogs

Related

My Cup of Tea- ADHD Ways to Cope

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...

read more
The Boothbay Playhouse

The Boothbay Playhouse

As August’s dry heat envelops me and I long for some relief, I wander into my garden.  A sudden breeze kicks up, soft whispers of summers gone by.  I’m back on an old wooden bench in front of a grey, weathered cottage where foghorns call me out to sea, and lobstermen...

read more
Summer Camp, Hands-On!

Summer Camp, Hands-On!

...Camp seemed like a given for my child with ADHD.  What could be better than the freedom to chase lizards on a nature trail, splash in a pool, or do arts and crafts with other campers?  At least, that’s what I thought until Lee’s first day. Join me in a blog where...

read more
Written in the Stars

Written in the Stars

Written in the Stars

Today marks what would have been my mother and father’s 72nd anniversary.  Talk about a love story!  They met acting in summer stock at the Boothbay Playhouse in Maine.  As Dad put it in his memoir, Any Way I Can; 50 Years in Show Business:

“My third summer at the Playhouse required the usual mundane chores before the season began.  One morning, while painting a garage door on a ladder in my ragged old yellow terry cloth robe, a car appeared in the driveway.  Out of it stepped a knockout blonde ingénue, Barbara Meyer.  Her parents had driven her up from New Jersey to be certain it was a safe environment for their daughter.  Having already seen her black and white publicity photo hung on a wagon wheel in the lobby, I eagerly awaited her arrival.  She glanced briefly at me and assumed I was a maintenance worker.”

Together they starred in many plays that summer and the next, and married on May 7, 1949.  But Ozzie, my mother’s father, and his friends had some reservations: 

“In the men’s room at the reception, one of Ozzie’s friends actually came up alongside me at the urinal and asked, ‘How do you intend to support Barbara?’  It really floored me.  Together, Bobbie and I had saved a few hundred dollars.  I don’t remember what I muttered in response, but I thought the question on this night, on this occasion, at this place, was insensitive.  The truth is all of her family’s friends were concerned that Bobbie was marrying an actor.  The poor girl.  God, what a terrible thing to have happened.”

After cutting their honeymoon short for my mother’s appearance on a television show, John and Bobbie continued to audition and cross their fingers.  It wasn’t long before their dreams came true: 

“Harvey Marlowe, the man who saw our audition in New York, called to say WOR, Channel 9, had signed us to do a domestic comedy in the fall.  They wanted a fifteen minute show, five nights a week.  ‘Who will write them?’ I asked.

‘You will.’

Fifteen minutes?  Five nights a week?  All we had was the ten minute audition sketch.  Impossible.  And I’m not really a writer.  I called Harvey Marlowe immediately.

‘We’re thrilled with the offer.’”

After a few years on television with many scripts under his belt, Dad started getting writing jobs, which replaced acting as a means of support.  Eventually, a lucrative Hollywood offer brought my parents out to California.  Dad wrote the film, “Run Silent, Run Deep,” and his career turned into solid gold.  Mom left acting to have me, then my brother, Larry, and then my sister, Liz.  But as soon as we were all off to college, she went back to the stage, performing at the Nine O’Clock Players children’s theater in Hollywood. 

Through it all, Mom and Dad held on to each other as soulmates.  They believed their stars were meant to collide.  On their anniversary, I step out into the clear, dark night and feel their love for each other illuminate the sky.

 

Blogs

Related

My Cup of Tea- ADHD Ways to Cope

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...

read more
The Boothbay Playhouse

The Boothbay Playhouse

As August’s dry heat envelops me and I long for some relief, I wander into my garden.  A sudden breeze kicks up, soft whispers of summers gone by.  I’m back on an old wooden bench in front of a grey, weathered cottage where foghorns call me out to sea, and lobstermen...

read more
Summer Camp, Hands-On!

Summer Camp, Hands-On!

...Camp seemed like a given for my child with ADHD.  What could be better than the freedom to chase lizards on a nature trail, splash in a pool, or do arts and crafts with other campers?  At least, that’s what I thought until Lee’s first day. Join me in a blog where...

read more