I frequently get told, “I don’t know how you do it!”
My reply has always been “I don’t know any other way”.
My three beautiful little people were all born neurodiverse, all with their own differing additional very different needs, it would take years for us to understand exactly what those needs meant.
Being an additional needs parent has thrown at me the hardest, loneliest, scariest moments of my life yet it has also provided the happiest, proudest and most rewarding experiences I have ever lived through.
Parenting additional needs children each with different needs calls for me to be a mum who thinks outside the box who remembers at all times which strategies work in the case of each child and to apply them consistently and appropriately. All three of mine require a different approach from each other! It would have been oh so much simpler if one set of rules applied to all!
I am not going to lie to you though, there are times where it is absolutely overwhelming, completely draining and I know a level of exhaustion only those walking the same road know of.
It has been a difficult few weeks for one of my little people. School went back after Easter and it is like all the progress made the term before has been completely undone. The situation escalated to the point the other day where both myself and the child concerned couldn’t stand being near each other.
My child shouted “I hate you”, “It’s all your fault”, “bitch” to name a few of the onslaught of insults I have had thrown at me in the last week each delivered with venom and hatred.
This child is still really struggling to come to terms with a diagnosis of ADHD. I felt my child finally having a diagnosis a relief. For years I have fought their corner that they were not “bad”, they weren’t “choosing” to behave the way they do. For years I have argued something else was at play. My child has demanded since the age of 9 to know why they are different. At 13 we finally have an answer. Having someone actually confirm you are different and can never be typical is huge. It is frightening. It hurts.
Receiving that news as a teenager I think especially hard because it is a time of exploring identity and gaining independence. In some ways it brought more questions than answers.
It took me until I was 35 to ask my GP for an assessment although I had been sure for five years previous. No one had ever asked her for an adult ASD assessment and she didn’t actually know what to do with me in terms of where to refer me to! A few months later it was confirmed I have what is formally referred to as Aspergers. So I do know all to well how it feels even if it is the outcome you anticipated and expected.
Something I have personally struggled with since my child received their ADHD diagnosis is if they have it then so do I. I say this because for years watching this child grow and make mistakes often the same ones over and over again is like looking at myself in a mirror from 25 years ago. People used to joke there would only ever be one of me “they broke the mould when they made you” well they didn’t and now I am the mother to a child who appears destined for the same struggles I faced.
I am determined though with every fibre of my being they won’t suffer the same fate and pain I did. I know how vulnerable my child is. I know how much they need protection as much from themselves as they do from others. I hope and pray everyday this is enough to get us through.
The legacy of my own teenage years still causes me so much pain, shame, regret and remorse, there are moments I would give anything to go back and do differently. I would give anything to save my child the pain and hurt of similar experiences.
A book I have been reading about ADHD suggests it is like living a life with no inhibitions! On reflection of my own life and now as a mother watching their child grow up with the same condition I agree entirely that is exactly what it is like!
ADHD means living very much in the present, you don’t foresee consequences in the future for your actions and you are unable to consider your past experiences to inform your understanding of a new situation. So it is a case of hold on tight and hope everything ends well!!!
This last week I have been taking the insults and challenging behaviours from my child personally. I have become, frustrated, worn down and worn out.
The other day both my child and I hit rock bottom.
I forgot the single most important piece of guidance I always try to keep at the forefront in my mind, that being….
“The children who need love the most will always ask for it in the most unloving ways”
I lost my way. I lost track of viewing behaviour as communication. For a brief moment I am ashamed to say I forgot it was the behaviours I didn’t like and not the child.