Resources We’ve Found Helpful

You may know we both live in Florida. We’ve both had our kids seen by April Green, ARNP, and we wish services like this were available to everyone because the level of care is extraordinary! Focus of Tampa Bay offers comprehensive ADHD evaluations & treatment for children, adolescents, and young adults, as well as adult ADHD evaluations. But you know what they really do?  They live and breathe ADHD and won’t stop until treatment really is working.  Treating ADHD and ADHD+ isn’t a job for them, it’s a calling. They transform lives.

Now, if you’re one of our friends who lives outside Tampa Bay, we suggest:

  1. Search out providers who specialize in kids with ADHD/ADHD+ and enjoy treating them. 
  2. Find clinics that treat a lot of kids with ADHD/ADHD+ but haven’t lost their personal touch.  
  3. Keeping up with all the latest drug formulations is important because the solutions aren’t always so simple. You KNOW that!
  4. If it doesn’t feel like the right place in your gut, sit and think about why. Is it because you’re tired and raw or because the doctor really isn’t a good fit?  
  5. Don’t forget that if the clinic doesn’t take insurance, you can submit for out of network benefits, which often cover 60-70% of the fees.

Two Moms and ADHD is not compensated by any entities mentioned. 

Resources We’ve Found Helpful

Kids in the Syndrome Mix, by Martin L. Kutscher, MD

We see you, parents of complex ADHDers. We’ve got you covered on this one.  Here you go, we would give you our copy if we could. The all-in-one guide covers the whole range of often co-existing neurodevelopmental disorders in children. This is THE book for those of us with ADHD+ers. This author gets us. He should come over for coffee!

Parenting ADHD NOW!, by Elaine Taylor-Klaus and Diane Dempster

What we love about this book is that it is full of strategies.  If you’re looking for a book on what to DO, this is one we highly recommend. The authors have a terrific parent coaching practice and they’ve seen it all.  What we especially appreciate is that this isn’t a book about fixing your child, but rather building your capacity to be a good parent to your ADHDer. We see you and we are cheering you on!

Two Moms and ADHD is not compensated by nor affiliated with any entities or products mentioned. 

Resources We’ve Found Helpful

For those of you (geeks) who love a good source of in-depth information, this is an awesome resource! The Child Mind Institute is an independent, national nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders. We’ve found the information under “Topics A-Z” useful as well as the page “For Families.”

Two Moms and ADHD is not compensated by nor affiliated with any entities mentioned. 

Resources We’ve Found Helpful

This is truly a phenomenal all-in-one resource. ADDitude is a website and on-line magazine (you can also order print versions) for parents, ADHD adults and professionals that offers everything from ADHD self tests to clinical analysis for physicians. You’ll find a wealth of information here for every stage in your journey and we love that the content is presented from different angles – written by doctors, patients and parents. They cover all the bases: diagnosis, meds, home, school, behavior, nutrition and everything in between. Strategies and support can also be found through valuable tools they offer like free downloads, webinars and a podcast. Many of their resources can also be accessed via their Facebook page.

Two Moms and ADHD is not compensated by nor affiliated with any entities mentioned. 

Resources We’ve Found Helpful

Ryan Wexelblatt delivers a phenomenal approach to tackling ADHD-related challenges like executive functioning, emotional regulation and lagging social skills. He is incredibly relatable and practical in his instruction, which is a breath of fresh air, but he also uniquely provides insight into the male ADHD brain. Boys communicate differently and Ryan addresses this really well. His webinar series on executive functioning is immensely helpful!

You can join his private Facebook group ADHD Dude Facebook group and subscribe to his YouTube channel to catch all of his latest content. Look for the “Dude Talk” playlist on his YouTube channel for videos specifically made for kids. He is also a contributor to ADDitude Magazine where he has recently started a new section ADHD in Boys providing weekly videos on ADHD-related topics in boys and young male adults.

Two Moms and ADHD is not compensated by nor affiliated with any entities mentioned.

“Just” an ADHD Diagnosis (part five)

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Norrine and I have often talked about how beneficial it would’ve been to have known other parents with complex ADHDers as we’ve been on this parenting journey. Neither of us had the benefit of heartfelt and telling conversations with other parents who’d traveled before us. There’s much that can be learned from another’s story. At the very least, it can remind us we’re not alone. On some days, that would’ve been more than enough.

Nor’s Story: Never Have I Ever (felt so alone)

Fast forward a few years in the Russell household and my husband says to me, “There’s still something more. I don’t know what it is. But there’s something that is going on.” He looks at me because I’m supposed to know things. I look at him because I don’t know anything. To be fair, no one really gets this kid so the fact that I don’t is nothing to beat myself up about. 

He says, “It feels like autism.” I say, I don’t know anything about autism. He says, “I think it’s autism.” I know enough to say that we need an evaluation.

We get an evaluation and yes, he has autism. Eight months later, I’m STILL trying to understand. I email the psychologist, “Are you sure?”

My son’s therapist says to me, “It doesn’t feel to me like you embrace the autism diagnosis.”  I look up, startled into awe with her observation.  I reply, processing slowly, “I guess I don’t. Because it doesn’t feel like autism is the place we belong either. Where’s the place for parents who have kids with sensory issues, ADHD, anxiety, depression, and autism?”  We just both look at each other, because there’s not really a place and we both know that. We are alone.

There’s power in sharing your story and we invite you to share yours too. If you haven’t already, join our Two Moms and ADHD private page on Facebook today. It’s the perfect place to share and you never know who your words may help or whose words may help you.

“Just” an ADHD Diagnosis (part four)

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Norrine and I have often talked about how beneficial it would’ve been to have known other parents with complex ADHDers as we’ve been on this parenting journey. Neither of us had the benefit of heartfelt and telling conversations with other parents who’d traveled before us. There’s much that can be learned from another’s story. At the very least, it can remind us we’re not alone. On some days, that would’ve been more than enough.

Ali’s Story: The Long and Winding Road

Watching the severe struggles of third grade made it easy to give meds another try and despite a handful of typical side effects, the next school year was mostly a wonderful victory. I have tears as I type those words because it was the very last school year of its kind. The last school year I saw my kid be his confident, hilarious, friendly, book-loving, experiment-making, entrepreneurial, adventurous self. But that will be for another post. For now we’ll just focus on the fact that meds stopped working. The very same med that helped in fourth grade set him off the edge at fifth grade’s start.

And that put him on a merry-go-round of med sampling and horrible side effects that led to going completely med free at the doctor’s orders. We were desperate for someone to figure out why meds were giving bizarre and a-typical side effects. So we switched from our pediatrician to a psychiatrist with a specialized pharmacology degree. He was baffled. No answers. Another doctor switch led us to a new diagnosis: anxiety. It took only minutes of him reading over notes I’d kept over the years. ADHD was a secondary diagnosis to anxiety. My son’s life flashed before me and I was connecting dots like crazy. His soaked school shirts and missing buttons throughout the first grade…HE WAS CHEWING HIS SHIRTS! I’d thought it was water fountain mishaps. His inability to sit still and constant walking around the dinner table and classroom – HE WAS PACING! His complete meltdowns and tantrum-like behavior during homework time – he was experiencing a FIGHT OR FLIGHT response. How could I miss all of this? How could I not see what was now so obvious? My own childhood anxiety was now coming into clear view. It was an avalanche of realization.

This was the reason stimulants were setting him into orbit. This explained so many behaviors. This broke my heart because missing this diagnosis early on created such hardships at school. And that fifth grade year when he was med-sampling then med-free was such a disaster. It set a new trajectory for all school years that would follow. I still can’t let go of the guilt on the one.

So here we were with our handful of diagnoses by the end of sixth grade: dysgraphia, ADHD and anxiety. The SPD was dropped during the elementary years and we’d go through several more doctors in our search to get things evened out and figured out. As high school began, depression was added to the list and, though I never knew it was even possible, PTSD was added in junior year. You never expect school to become such a source of trauma that it could cause PTSD.

Actually, I never expected any of this. I always feel like I’m playing catch up – never fully grasping it all – even now as we continue to consider adding labels to new behaviors. It’s been a very, very long and winding road. I’m exhausted, so imagine how my seventeen-year-old feels. What an amazing and resilient kid. He only ever missed ONE day of school while battling severe anxiety/depression/PTSD. His bravery amazes me. He is my hero.

Join us this week on the blog as we continue to unfold our diagnosis stories. There’s power in sharing your story and we invite you to share yours too. If you haven’t already, join our Two Moms and ADHD private page on Facebook today. It’s the perfect place to share and you never know who your words may help or whose words may help you.

“Just” an ADHD Diagnosis (part three)

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Norrine and I have often talked about how beneficial it would’ve been to have known other parents with complex ADHDers as we’ve been on this parenting journey. Neither of us had the benefit of heartfelt and telling conversations with other parents who’d traveled before us. There’s much that can be learned from another’s story. At the very least, it can remind us we’re not alone. On some days, that would’ve been more than enough.

Nor’s Story continued: Never Have I Ever (been so confused)

Age five and we love him so. He’s tender and caring and loving and oh so smart. He’s adorable and melts our hearts and teaches me more about love than any human being ever has before. He’s been evaluated and tested and he’s smart and has ADHD and is getting treated and in a good school. I thought that meant we had it under control.  

Why, oh why then the endless crying and inability to tolerate change and constant emotional vibration? Why the MELTDOWNS?  Why the shoe throwing and the food throwing and the dishes throwing? Was THIS a part of ADHD? We are all so confused, including our son, whose world doesn’t make sense to us, much less to him.

Age five and we have our third diagnosis, only this time the new doctor doesn’t say to me, “All of these symptoms fall neatly into one diagnosis.”  Diagnoses like anxiety weren’t enough on their own.  Generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety, childhood bipolar, and a new one, Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, all get discussed. The difficulty of making accurate diagnoses is stressed to us. The difficulties of effective treatment for mood disorders at age five is also stressed to us.

How did we get here from there?  

Age five and we are so confused.

Join us this week on the blog as we continue to unfold our diagnosis stories. There’s power in sharing your story and we invite you to share yours too. If you haven’t already, join our Two Moms and ADHD private page on Facebook today. It’s the perfect place to share and you never know who your words may help or whose words may help you.

“Just” an ADHD Diagnosis (part two)

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Norrine and I have often talked about how beneficial it would’ve been to have known other parents with complex ADHDers as we’ve been on this parenting journey. Neither of us had the benefit of heartfelt and telling conversations with other parents who’d traveled before us. There’s much that can be learned from another’s story. At the very least, it can remind us we’re not alone. On some days, that would’ve been more than enough.

Ali’s Story: The Long and Winding Road

It was in the toddler years that my eyebrows began to furrow more and more often. My easygoing, love bug of a baby was now exploring and adventuring in curious ways, but he was also continually pushing limits and testing me. In his pre-K classes he was loved by teachers but they would often also tell me “we’re praying for you.” He wasn’t disruptive or disrespectful – he just pushed limits constantly. He’d also walk in circles around the room a lot of the time. He did that at home also during meals. I didn’t know what to make of it.

Plans to hold him back after a stellar year of kindergarten evaporated when his teacher said he was just too smart and if he were bored it’d surely lead to trouble. He’d had an excellent year and despite some mornings of not wanting to leave me, he seemed like he was growing up in big ways. I figured his teacher, who we all adored, knew better and off to first grade he went. He had the quintessential first grade teacher we all dream of and our older child had already had her so we trusted and knew her well. Quickly we noticed major differences in drawing and writing abilities with the other children and it wasn’t too long before she called us in to say: “In my thirty plus years of teaching I’ve not seen a student with ADHD this severe.” We didn’t know what ADHD was but we listened intently because it was unheard of for teachers at this prep school to approach parents in this way. She gave us the name of a neurologist.

How could I know this would be the first of many, many doctors we would see over the next decade? We left that initial appointment being told our child was exceptionally bright and probably had ADHD. We were offered a prescription. We opted to go to our area’s flagship practice for ADHD for a second opinion. There we found the same questionnaires, a computer test for him and again were offered a prescription. We read books to gain understanding but overall I kept feeling that my child wasn’t reflected on the pages. He wasn’t hyper, destructive or overly physical and that’s what kept leaping off the pages to me as the picture of ADHD.

I remember giving him his very first ADHD stimulant. He said it made him feel like he “wanted to read a book.” Not many days later he said he felt like he “wanted to go to heaven and just live with Jesus now.” They’d said suicidal thoughts COULD be a side effect but to hear my tiny first grader talk like this was horrifying.

We’d also already begun occupational therapy after an initial consult seemed to indicate sensory processing disorder. He loved his exercise play there and it became apparent he had severe dysgraphia and some coordination issues. How did I never notice he couldn’t do a proper jumping jack? I could tell he enjoyed the giant swing and even the skin brushing the OT did but I had little understanding as to why. Later that year we moved to a neighboring city and he began second then third grade without ADHD meds after our scary side effect. Maybe continuing the OT would be enough? His super friendly and fun personality attracted lots of friends and his teachers really loved him and worked hard to keep him engaged.

He continued to work with an occupational therapist throughout elementary school. She’d never had a student go through her handwriting course more times than he did. At the end of third grade it was apparent he desperately needed to try meds again. His pediatrician started him on a new med and the side effects did NOT include suicidal thoughts so that was a welcomed plus. He saw a therapist regularly, as per the pediatrician, and after the first eval we were told: “If there were a brochure for ADHD your son would be on the cover.”

I still didn’t really understand ADHD. I didn’t even know what executive function was yet. I felt like I was relying on strangers to understand my child. The ADHD books I kept buying and reading never really reflected what I saw in my child. But here we were at our third diagnosis of ADHD.

Join us all week on the blog as we unfold our diagnosis stories. Sometimes it’s not easy to think back and recall it all – but it’s worth it to us to share it with you. We invite you to share your stories too. If you haven’t already, join our Two Moms and ADHD private page today. It’s the perfect place to share and you never know who your words may help or whose words may help you.

“Just” an ADHD Diagnosis

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Norrine and I have often talked about how beneficial it would’ve been to have known other parents with complex ADHDers as we’ve been on this parenting journey. Neither of us had the benefit of heartfelt and telling conversations with other parents who’d traveled before us. There’s much that can be learned from another’s story. At the very least, it can remind us we’re not alone. On some days, that would’ve been more than enough.

Nor’s Story: Never Have I Ever (Been So Tired)

I’m at a loss as to how to begin talking with you about this. It takes me back to the beginning of our story, which quite frankly is only encoded in my mind in fuzzy snapshots and distant memories. From the beginning, our son was a high-needs baby. He came out of the womb as a fussy baby. As if that wasn’t enough for first-time parents, he rapidly developed an extremely severe case of eczema which then activated severe food allergies. 

By age one, it was obvious to me that this wasn’t typical development. He was hyperlexic, hyperactive, and hypersensitive. This was also the first time I heard from someone, “Oh he’s just a boy” which started my spiral of self-doubt as a mom. “Why was this so hard for ME if he’s just a regular boy?” Friends, when I say listen to your own self, it’s because external affirmation has escaped me but self-doubt has plagued me. 

Our first diagnosis was sensory issues at age two. If someone had handed me the manual of complex ADHDers at this point, they would have done so with a knowing look about what that usually portends, a long hug, and told me to listen to myself and to my child.  

Our second diagnosis was ADHD at four years and two months old. Our son busted through the doctor’s office door, climbed over the reception desk and ran down the hall. We did testing, but it was clear. The doctor said all of his symptoms fell into the ADHD realm. The boy had ADHD. It made us tired.

Join us all week on the blog as we unfold our diagnosis stories. Sometimes it’s not easy to think back and recall it all – but it’s worth it to us to share it with you. We invite you to share your stories too. If you haven’t already, join our Two Moms and ADHD private page today. It’s the perfect place to share and you never know who your words may help or whose words may help you.