A reminder

My kid has ADHD. He is mostly inattentive (forgetful, easily distracted, loses focus during tasks, can't follow instructions and so on) and impulsive but he also has a touch of hyperactivity (talks a mile a minute, can't sit still, has facial ticks and more).

Though Javi takes medication to help control his behavior and curb his impulses, he is definitely not a "zombie" or "soldier" as a result. And boy can the child still get in trouble. I have to remember that it's all relative, though. For instance, where Javi talks out of turn and can't resist talking to a child who'll talk to him, there are others in his class who hit and curse and defy authority. Javi's problematic behavior is nothing in comparison.

Unfortunately, his teachers don't (can't?) ignore him and he often winds up with some type of punishment. It's not always fair (because he has a neurological disorder that precludes perfect behavior) but we don't rail against the school (because they do cut him a lot of slack and I know he needs to understand consequences). Our system works well and everything rolls along smoothly...

Until I read something like this (click to read):
It just makes my heart ache (right beside the rush of pride that my boy wrote so eloquently all on his own). My child is so smart and sensitive and utterly aware of what makes him different from his peers. Yes, he's hot chocolate and a third-grade girl expert. He's also the first-grade scapegoat and a second-grade nuisance. I pray that he doesn't spend so much time apologizing for what he can't control that he loses sight of what's good about his little self. I worry that he'll get so tired of prostrating and begging his teachers (and parents?) for compassion that we'll lose him in the same way his biological parents were lost.

I tacked this letter up (with the appropriate Spider-Man tool) where I can see it every day. I want it to serve as a reminder that he knows what he's supposed to do and that he really strives to be the child we want him to be ... but his brain works differently than ours do and he needs more than discipline. He needs understanding and empathy and a damn break sometimes.

Let this be my reminder, as his mother, to make sure he gets it.


  • Anonymous

    Javier is such an amazing young man. I'm sorry he keeps getting in trouble. Hopefully this letter made his teacher wake up a bit more and helps her to be more patient with him. He deserves nothing less than everyone's best and he definitely has the best mom. :)

  • Janine

    This post really touched my heart. I am fairly new to your blog, so I'm playing a little catch up with your family. We will be praying for Javi...for his mind, and his behavior...but I think his heart is right where it needs to be. = )

  • Kelly Miller

    @Janine - Dude. His heart? It's amazing and bigger than the world.

    @Anjie - I know. He tries, but traditional school just isn't designed for a neuro-atypical child. The rules are everything his brain struggles with. It made me so sad to see him constantly saying "I was wrong" and "I was bad" and "I will try harder" when really he did nothing "wrong" -- he's starting at a disadvantage.

  • amber_mtmc

    I hope his teacher read that and realized his good heart. Sometimes I get so frustrated with teachers (I have quite a few friends who are teachers) because they are more willing to punish than discuss. But, as you said, they must teach about consequences, I guess.

    He really has BEAUTIFUL hand writing!! My handwriting looks like chicken scratch.

  • Kelly Miller

    Oh, Amber, he'll be so proud to hear that someone complimented his handwriting. He works really hard on it and has been perfecting it for a year or so. He writes everything in cursive now!

  • The Drama Mama

    This is an excellent reminder. Some days it is REALLY hard and this kind of reminder really helps. I think sometimes I overdo the "she can't help it" part though, because she does seem to be able to control some things when she really wants to. Perhaps that is normal for ADHD kids, too though.

    As for his handwriting, it is fantastic! His is SO much better then Jellybean's!

  • Kelly Miller

    Oh yes. That is the balance! I *know* he is capable of understanding right from wrong, and that he needs/deserves discipline.

    I get tired of the punishment with no solutions, though. I try to use mistakes as learning lessons and coach him on ways to avoid that mistake in the future (operative word here is try. I'm not perfect!). His teachers just punish and send him out of the room.

    What's amazing is that he's had really great behavior this week and last (this letter was written on the last big trouble day). He seems older somehow after his trip. I am trying not to be too hopeful that his ADHD will mellow out with age.

  • heather@actingbalanced.com

    I found your blog through the LBS tea party and am glad I did... I'm also the mom of an adopted child and a special needs child (although my special needs child is my biological child) I too struggle with making sure he's happy and safe and also learning good behaviours and coping skills in the world... he's not old enough to be that eloquent, heck he's not even talking consistently yet, but I know that as he gets older we will face similar challenges and issues... I hope that this letter opens up dialogue with his teacher to find more strategies for better actions on the school's part...
    I'm looking forward to reading more of you blog as a new follower...

  • Cheryl

    I'm completely blown away by his letter, Kelly. I hope his teacher was, too.

  • Penny Williams

    This letter breaks my heart! I was angry at first, thinking the teacher made him write it but it doesn't seem like that's the case from the comments here. But it makes me so sad to hear him feeling like he doesn't measure up, like he can't get it right. The expectations in the classroom need to be different for our ADHD kids!


  • Janet

    He sounds so much like my son who is 5. When he was 4 and we had to pull him out of public PreK due to behavior (this was before he was dx with ADHD and placed on meds), he told my mom when she was keeping him alone that his mind wants to be good but his body won't let him. Your son sounds very mature in his reasoning. I know you are so proud of him.

  • Kelly Miller

    @Penny - It broke my heart, too. I asked him why he wrote the letter and he said his teacher said to write down what he did wrong and what would be a better thing to do next time. This letter is what he came up with. I know he wants so badly to be the "good" child at home and at school, but that label is elusive ... especially when he can't control much of his behavior. He's learning, though, and I've spoken with his teacher about how to acknowledge that.

    @Janet - I used to hear that a lot from Javi, especially when we first started giving him the language to explain that disconnect. Before that time, he would just cry about being bad. When we started seeing a therapist and giving him ADHD language, he was able to verbalize what was going in his head. Give your son a hug from us -- he has a long road ahead, but being able to put his feelings into words is a huge step!!!

  • Anonymous

    Big giant hugs. He won't lose sight of the good that is in him, you won't let him. Kids (at all ages) look to their parents for reassurance that they are good and while I know it doesn't feel so simple, love and acceptance goes a really long way in the long run. I am 34 years old and recently found out that I have Asperger's (as does my 6 year old son). For 34 years my adoptive parents tried to change me. They never heard my worries or the fear or the sadness and they never just reassured me with a simple "you are a great kid" or offered help on how to function in this world as me. Instead they tried to make this round peg fit in the square hole and met every difficult situation with anger and lectures on what I had done wrong and how I never do anything write. It took raising my son, my husband, and a few important people who make up my family, as non traditional as we are, to make me realize that I am different, I'm not fundamentally bad, I'm different. I am just so sad that I spent 34 years trying to please people who wanted a blank canvas or a robot when they adopted, rather than a person who could succeed in this world but it might require some thought and compassion from their end. I'm glad I know better now, and if nothing else it has taught me what not to do and say when raising a kid with a different set of needs...

    Sorry for the vent. I just want to reassure you that love and acceptance go such a long way in keeping the good heart happy and healthy, even when the rest of the stuff is challenging (what an understated word when raising our kids!)...

    Big hugs. (and I am very impressed by Javi's written language and handwriting! You have an amazing kiddo on your hands but you knew that already!)

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