One of the things I haven’t really posted much about is the fact that Colman suffers from ADHD. It’s thought that more than ten percent of children who have complex congenital heart defects also have ADHD, which is a much higher percentage than children in the normal population. I’ve been told they think there’s some correlation between open-heart surgeries, repeated stints on heart bypass, extended intensive care stays or all of the high-powered drugs given so early in life, but they’re not sure what the culprit is. Maybe Colman would have ADHD regardless of his heart defects. That’s certainly a possibility.
Colman’s always been a tad…difficult. I can remember several times Kevin and I looking at each other, like, What the hell?
Then from the time Colman was about five years old on, we’d visit Dr. Rogers, Colman’s cardiologist. And after reading Colman’s EKG, checking blood pressures, oxygen saturations, listening to his heart, checking pulses and palpating his liver, Dr. Rogers would say, “Now, you know, Mrs. Collins, children who have complex CHDs like Colman are much more likely to have ADHD.”
“Really? That’s interesting,” I’d say, as Colman climbed all over Dr. Rogers, invading his personal space by hugging him, kissing him and wiping his nose on Dr. Rogers’ tie.
(This is one of the reasons I think pediatricians should not wear ties. If heart moms ruled the world, I can tell you all pediatric doctors would go tie-less or wear bow ties.)
Of course, I knew Colman had ADHD. We’d already been to a child psychologist and were practicing behavior modification. But as Colman began to get bigger, his inability to focus only got worse. ADHD medication was a hard decision for us because, one, he was already on daily medications for his heart. And, two, I felt like the last thing he needed was a stimulant. But Colman was constantly in trouble–at school and at home–and I told Kevin that if we weren’t going to medicate him, then we had to quit yelling at him to focus because that’s like yelling at someone who has a broken leg to run faster. It isn’t happening. Kevin and I really talked about it and decided that if it came to our attention that Colman needed glasses, we wouldn’t not get him glasses. (Nice double negative!) To me, it’s the very same thing. Finally, with help from Colman’s second grade teacher and our pediatrician, we put Colman on medicine, and it’s worked wonders for him. That’s the thing, though, you don’t know if it will work until you try it.
It’s not perfect. There are still times that Colman has a difficult time. And that’s what happened this morning. Colman hopped on the bus to summer school, excited about his field trip to the Toyota Plant today. Then I noticed I had a missed call from his elementary school at 8:10. It was Colman.
“Mom, I didn’t get to go on the field trip because I didn’t wear the right kind of pants,” he said, his voice on the verge of tears. “Can you come pick me up? Bye.”
I called the school and spoke to the woman in the office. Colman had been instructed to wear long pants and closed toe shoes for the field trip. (He had on tennis shoes, but he was wearing shorts.) The bus left without him.
I swung by school and picked him up. Colman was sitting in the office crying. I said, “Hey, buddy. I didn’t know about the pants. I’m sorry.”
“I’m just so stupid,” he said.
“You’re not stupid, but I hope this is a lesson to you that there are consequences to not paying attention to the things you want to do. As you get older, you’re only going to have more things you’re responsible for. Not less. I was asking you this morning, ‘Is there anything you need for the field trip? Lunch? A snack?’ That would have been the time to speak up and say, ‘You know, Mom, I’m supposed to wear long pants.'”
Poor guy. I’m kind of at loss on what to do to help him remember the important stuff. I always ask about his day. And by asking about his day, I always ask “What was your favorite part?” and “What was the worst part?” Because if I just ask, “How was your day?” I will get a quick “Fine” in typical boy fashion. No details. No insight. Unless I ask that question of Kevin. Then I get a minute-by-minute account. Sometimes more than once. 🙂
I don’t know. I was thinking of getting him some Post-It notes for reminders, but he’d probably just lose the stacks of Post-Its. Or telling him if it’s something he’s supposed to remember to tell me, that he can write it on his hand in ink?
I’m open to ideas. Anything to not have to see those big blue eyes brimming with tears of disappointment like I saw this morning. What have other ADHD moms found to be helpful? What are some good ways to help children remember who are constantly forgetting?
We’ve already taken the word “forget” out of our vocabulary and tried to put more emphasis on the word “remember” because I think that’s a more positive way to look at it.