Monday, February 28, 2011

I am so confused

Typical school day conversation, all said by Hassaan (my response to all of them are generally "I don't care, you're going to school."):

- I hate school
- I'm not going to school
- I'm stupid
- I'm dumb
- I hate school.
- You can't make me go to school
- I hate school work
- School is bad
- School is mean
- I won't go to school.
- I hate school
- School is stupid
- I don't want to do work

So then, twice now, the second time being today, this has taken place either on the weekend or after school -

- I want homework
- If Hammad has homework I want homework.
- Where's my homework?
- I like school work!

The first time had actually had a massive temper tantrum when I told him that I was sorry, I did not have homework for him.  He sobbed, yelled that he hated me and then ran up to his room and cried for half an hour.  His teacher sent home photocopies of an old grade one math book for him to work on.  Happy little clam. his brother finished the 10 sentence "speech" he has to give in a couple of weeks at school.  Hammad is writing it about our trip to the butterfly conservatory outside Niagara Falls, ON, last summer.  So Hassaan decided that HE was going to write a speech too.  He did a sentence and a half today and says he'll finish it tomorrow.

So far, it says:

J'aime des cheins.  Mon chein prefere est le dalmation parc qu'il a de....

Oh, and did I mention these speeches have to be in French?  Seeing as they're in French immersion?  So yes, my five year old "I hate school" son has decided that he must write a speech for school.

I am so confused.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New diagnosis

I came home today to a message my husband took that Hassaan's doctor had called.  After going through the tests so far he's now decided to relabel Hassaan from "severe ADHD with ODD" to "borderline ADHD with ODD."  Um...okay??  I really don't like this without discussion, but that will have to wait until our next appointment - March 10.

And so, we wait.  With a change in diagnosis.  But for now, I'm not changing my blog name.  Because for all I know, he'll change it again in March.  Frustrated much?

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Obsession

So you may have noticed a few new additions over there at the side of my blog.  You might have noticed one in particular, up towards the top.  You know the one I'm talking about.  Even if you don't want to admit you know, you know.  I'm sure you do.

I'm not sure when it started.  I'm not even sure how it started.  All I know is that Hassaan has an obsession.  This obsession, as well as other tendencies, has led his teacher, myself, and others to think that Hassaan might have Aspergers as well.  His obsession carries through everything in life, right down to his pillow.  Hassaan's obsession?

Dogs.  Hassaan LOVES dogs.  His pillow is a giant stuffed dog that is bigger than he is.  The dog's name is Rainbow.  The irony of the dog being named Rainbow?  Rainbow is a very plain, beige, dog with a black nose.  Not a rainbow on him.  Don't ask me why his name is Rainbow.  Don't even ask Hassaan, because every time he's asked the story is different.  Okay, ask him. And then ask him again in an hour.  It might give you a small bit of entertainment on a rainy afternoon.

Within our family, we also have Baby Fetch, Baby Bury, Daddy Dog, Bingo, Spot, Big Ears, Floppy, Icy, and literally about twenty five others whose names escape me because, quite frankly, I just don't care that much to know the names of about 30 stuffed dogs.  I love my son.  But I don't love him to the point of joining in his obsession.

Fourteen months ago, I caved in and - in a moment of a total, complete, and embarrassing loss of common sense - got the boys a puppy.  He was a rambunctious puppy - half pug, half Boston terrier.  I'm pretty sure there was a bit of kangaroo in there too.  The boys named him Fetch.  I had absolutely nothing - let me repeat: nothing - to do with  naming this dog.  Why do I make this clear?  Well, picture this.  Close your eyes.  No!  Wait!  Don't!  Because then you can't read this.  So figuratively close your eyes. You're standing in the driveway.  You're calling an absent minded puppy to come back.  You're chasing him through the back yard.  And what are you yelling this whole time?  "Fetch!  Come!  Fetch!  Sit!  FETCH!  STAY!"  I sounded like a moron.  But the boys loved Fetch.  And note that I have referred to Fetch totally in the past tense.

Nine months and three days after Fetch arrived at our home and just made the boys' hearts swell with pride, Fetch decided that chasing my father's car was a good thing to do.  He ran out into the road and was hit by a car coming up behind my father.  A neighbour a few doors down told me later that he knew it was bad by the type of scream coming from both Hassaan and Hammad.  I was at work.  I came home to a note on the door left by my husband (who was home for only the weekend) that just said "Fetch hit by car.  Call cell."  The next day, we had to put Fetch to sleep.  He had a spinal cord injury that left him unable to move one back leg and all and the other hind leg sometimes worked but mostly didn't.  We took the boys' to the vet's to say goodbye to him, and the poor puppy sat in my lap shaking, knowing something was desperately wrong, and there I was, two boys who were barely holding it together and all I wanted to do was fix it for them and I couldn't.

It's been just shy of five months since Fetch died, and every day Hassaan still talks about him.  For quite a long time Hassaan declared that he wanted to be dead because then he could be with Fetch.  The paediatrician told me that, at five years old, he wasn't concerned that Hassaan was actually suicidal because at that age they don't have the concept of the finality of death.  But it was still scary to hear your son talking like that.  And someone the absolutely ridiculous comes out of his mouth.  Like the night that he was fighting going to bed (again) and said he "couldn't wear pants because wearing pants reminded him of Fetch!"  It took every ounce of self control to wait til he'd gone up the stairs before I lost it laughing.

But dogs are Hassaan's obsession.  We have stuffed dogs, hard plastic model-type dogs, books on dogs, movies on dogs, clothes with pictures of dogs (that was just coincidence, not something I went looking for).  Heck, I even have a ringtone of dog barks on my phone just for Hassaan.

I'm pretty sure that if Hassaan could trade me in for a dog, he would.  And if he could trade in his brother for a dog, he'd be all over that deal!

The good days

Some days, we have entirely awesome days.  And some days these days start out horribly.  Or, at least, part of the good part starts out horribly.

Yesterday, Hassaan and I went to London to sign some paperwork for a new vehicle that I am getting.  The reason we are going two hours away for it is mostly because Abdullah has already dealt with them with good results.

Anyway, Hassaan hadn't left the house since he got home from school on Wednessday, so I decided that Hassaan was coming with me.  Hassaan, on the other hand, didn't think this was such a great idea.  Me, though, thought that 72 hours not leaving the house was a bit much.  Granted, it wasn't Hassaan's fault - Abdullah has had the chicken pox and couldn't go anywhere but the front yard, so he did have Hassaan and Hammad outside in the yard after school.  But Hassaan hadn't gone past the end of the driveway.  So off to London Hassaan was going to go.  Whether he liked it or not.

The first issues was getting Hassaan dressed.  That was easier than normal.  He was, at this point, in a good mod, even being rather tired for staying up goofing off the night before.  And then...and then he said "are we going somewhere?"

Upon being told that yes, he and I are going somewhere, he ran upstairs and yelled "I'm not coming down until you leave!"  Once again he appears to have forgotten that he is the child and I am the mommy.  Oh such fun we had getting him into the car.  Sobbing, crying, yelling he wasn't going even after getting his seatbelt on, telling me he hated me, telling me he wasn't going even after we'd left and were headed towards town.  Finally he stopped crying.  But he was grumpy and as we were taking the "squiggly" way into town before continuing to London, he started singing this song that just goes "the squiggly way drives me nuts" over and over again.  So I started to sing with him.  And he yelled that he hated me again.

So we get to town, I stop at Tim Horton's to get myself an iced cappuccino and him a hot chocolate and a cookie for the drive and within a mile I get "Mommy, I love you."  Dude - you have faster mood swings that a woman with PMS.  The kid talked about World of Warcraft from town through to a town an hour and a bit away.  And then he fell asleep through the next two towns, for about 45 minutes.  And when he woke up he was in a very good mood.

Hassaan was sooooo good all afternoon.  Through the two hours we spent at the car dealership.  Though he was a bit spinny through the grocery store, but as we went to an Asian grocery store, it was also a wonderful learning experience.  Had Hassaan been doing the grocery shopping, we would have come home with a cows tongue, cows lung, cows stomach, cows heart, mutton leg and a pigs snout.  Though he did say "we wouldn't eat the pigs' snout cuz we don't eat pig - bit it looks funny."

Hassaan was also so very, very good when we went to visit my brother in the hospital.  My brother has been there for nearly two weeks and is very sick, but the doctors cannot figure out what is going on.  It is to the point they had to give him a blood transfusion today, which he had an allergic reaction to. But I took Hassaan up to see him and my sister in law yesterday evening and Hassaan was so good.  In fact, he was so good he let his stuffed dog Bingo there to keep his Uncle I company to "help him with his bravery when he is all alone at night."  Though he was specific in the fact that when Uncle I gets out of the hospital, Grammy has to bring Bingo home.

I love days that he's so sweet that I have people tell me he's adorable.  I just wish we had them more often.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My other blog

Just for those that may happen to be following, I have a second blog.  This blog, Life with Hassaan, is dedicated to our ADHD/ODD journey that Hassaan is taking us on.  It is HIS journey.  We are just his followers for some parts, guiders for others.  But I have another journal that I have dedicated to life in general, and anything - random or otherwise - that might be going through my head.

It is - The Village Muslimah

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

To help or to hurt

Every once in awhile, I come across a situation that just gets me irritated and angry to the point that, well, smacking someone actually seems like a reasonable option.  Even though I know it's not.  Really.  I do.

One such situation is when a parent cannot accept that their child has legitimate difficulties and either ignores it to the point that it has long term implications on whether or not their child fails or succeeds, or, more often, blames it on the other parent. This is incredibly frustrating from the perspective of a parent who is accepting of what is going on, and is willing to move hell and high water to give her child the skills to help himself, to have a good, positive, life, being able to do whatever it is that his heart desires.  

My situation is not like this.  My husband knows - admits - that Hassaan has these issues and this is what is going on.  With the ADHD, it is strongly suspected that my husband has it as well.  In helping Hassaan, we are attempting to help him make better choices than his father has.  Much as I love my husband and my children love their father, he has made some decisions that have affected not only him but the entire family negatively.  So anything I can can do to help my son not make those decisions, I will do - be it behavioural therapy, drug therapy or a combination of both.

But I have talked to other parents, mothers mostly, who's husbands refuse to acknowledge that their child (usually son) has issues that he needs help with.  Maybe the father is feeling failure that his son isn't "perfect."  Who knows.  But whatever it is, it's doing not but harming the child.  But how do you get it through someone's head that to admit that there's a problem, to accept help, isn't to admit failure or defeat, but simply to admit a challenge?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

"You're Killing Me!!"

"You're killing me!  Get it off!  You're killlllllllllllling me!  Let me go!  YOU'RE KILLING ME! It's on my tongue! You're kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiilling me!  You're killing me!  YOU'RE! KIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLINNNNNNNNNNG ME!!!!!"

Any guesses on what was going on?  I bet you're thinking that I've done something totally horrible to my child and you should call CAS.  Or the police.  But that I've been totally horrible to Hassaan.


Know what I did?  Cut his hair.  Yup.  I gave the child a haircut.  Took twice as long as it should have because of all the screaming going on.  In the summer I will often cut his hair in the driveway because otherwise the windows are all open and all the neighbours sitting outside on their deck can hear is Hassaan screaming about how much I'm hurting him.  At least if I'm doing it in the driveway they can see for themselves exactly what I'm doing.  Which is giving the child a darned haircut!

Every once in awhile, it's exactly the opposite.  It's "ahhhh!  That feels niiiiiiiiice.  Oh Mommy, what a nice massage that is!"  But normally, I get accused of killing him.  Hurting him.  Just downright making his life miserable.  All in the pursuit of a decent haircut, especially like now when he had a most definite Eddie Munster thing going down the centre of his forehead.

So if you ever are walking past my house on a nice day when the windows are open and you keep hearing "You're killing me!" screamed over and over again - don't worry, I'm just giving the child a haircut.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

So you know other kids. And?

"Well I know lots of other kids who have ADHD or Autism and they don't act like that."

That is one of the most hurtful statements that someone can say to someone like me, who deals with a severely ADHD child or friends of mine who deal with children on varying levels of the Autism scale.  So you know other kids.  And?  Your point is?  Our point is, you do not know OUR kids.  You do not know MY child.  And I don't know a single other ADHD/ODD/Autism parent whose child hasn't had a public meltdown, so you obviously haven't followed every single one of these children around 24/7.

Hassaan can be the perfect child out in public.  Sweet, engaging, funny.  And that is most of the time.  But then there are those days when it's like he's possessed.  When he screams through the grocery store.  When he has to be removed from a restaurant.  When he thinks it's a good idea to keep hitting and/or biting my hands and arms. And the strangers that see this, some look at me with pity, some look at me with disgust, some look away, and some ignorant people like to make comments.  To them I say two things.  First,  you don't know me, you don't know my child, you don't know our situation, so do you really have enough information to be passing judgement on us?  And secondly, do you really think you're special enough for me to care what you think I should do to/with my child?  Seriously?  The only thing hearing strangers go on about my situation in that moment makes me want to do is, well, it would get me arrested, so instead, I ignore.

Yes, the above statement was sent in my direction yet again today.  I just wish people would realize that just because they claim to know "lots" of people with whatever, it doesn't mean that you know ALL of them throughout the world.  And no two cases are these same.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder links

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

American National Institute of Health - ODD

Mayo Clinic - ODD

Unfortunately, there is not nearly as much information on Oppositional Defiant Disorder as there is on ADD/ADHD.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder links

American National Institute of Health ADHD description

American National Institute of Mental Health - ADHD

ADHD Canada

The Canadian Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Resource Centre

Ch. A.D.D. Canada

Centre for ADD/ADHD Advocacy, Canada

Totally ADD (interactive site)

Sick Kids (Toronto) Health In Focus - ADHD

Canadian Mental Health Association - ADD

ADDitude Magazine

The Bittersweet Taste of Bedtime

Bedtime is an entirely bittersweet operation around here.  There is the anticipated sweet taste of the laying on Hassaan's bed with him, cuddling, talking about his day, and him giving me lots of hugs and kisses.  But then there is also the entirely too real, incredibly bitter taste of how we will get to that sweetness.

As much as Hassaan may deny he's tired, by 7pm he is very much ready for bed.  Especially on those lovely mornings when he's up between 5am and 6am.  (Please - note the sarcasm in that sentence.)  Since right now, Monday to Friday, we do not get home until  7pm, it is generally straight to bed for him.  And at least half the nights we end up in a power struggle.  Now, I always win.  There is just no exception to that.  I have to.  It's bedtime.  He's going to bed.  Whether he wants to or not.  As Gene Kranz (the mission control flight director for the Apollo 13 space near-disaster) said - "Failure is not an option."

Tonight was again one of those nights.  Not only is failure not an option, but he doesn't get a choice.  Some nights the only battle I don't fight is the toothbrushing one.  He has a very, very hard time brushing his teeth.  A parent with a child quite like mine has told me that it is a sensory issue, and since I have sensory issues myself, I totally get that.  But I also totally understand that I do not have the money for expensive dental work.  So six nights out of seven he'll have his teeth brushed almost by force.  Once a week, maybe, they'll be force.  And once a week, maybe, I'm just to tired to fight that battle.

Hassaan always get a warning of when bedtime is going to be.  "When the words come up at the end of this cartoon."  "In ten minutes when the clock starts with a 7."  "When you are doing doing x, y or z."  He always acknowledges me quite calmly.  But then he seems to think that I'm going to forget what I said.  My question (to both my children, actually) is when, exactly, have I not followed through on anything I've either told you is going to happen or have threatened you with?  (Threaten meaning "if you do not knock that behaviour off right now you and I WILL leave this restaurant and sit in the car while Daddy and your brother/Grammy and Grampy and your brother/etc enjoy their dinner."  And I have totally followed through, much to the child's shock.  And "if you do that again you will loose your computer privileges for x number of days."  and yet again, they look absolutely shocked that I follow through.  When have I never NOT followed through?)  Anyway, then comes the sreaming.  "I'M NOT GOING TO BED!!" Runs.  Either upstairs or in my bedroom.  But not the bathroom.  When it is the bathroom, then the screaming and fighting start.  And then the evening ends in much the same way as many mornings begin (to which I'll send you back to, I think it is post number 2 about mornings).

Some nights, I am so tired by the time I am done wrestling him that I tell him I love him and will see him in the morning and leave.  Sometimes, he is still screaming and crying that he doesn't want to go to bed.  Nine times out of ten, he's sound asleep within five minutes.  I love good nights though - the sweet nights, when I will crawl into bed next to him and ask him about his day and I'll get some sort of long story that every once in awhile has me wondering exactly what part of his day took place only in his imagination (a time or two, I'm grateful that I'm also friends with his teacher, because what he has said is highly suspicious so I'll give her a quick call to ask about his day!)  But I love these sweet nights.  And I hate that tonight was, yet again, a bitter night.

Monday, February 7, 2011


It's very quiet at my house right now.  Well, it would be otherwise seeing as it's 10:30 at night.  But tonight, Hassaan and Hammad are spending the night at their grandparents.  I forgot to tell them before they went to school this morning, so telling Hassaan over the phone this afternoon was a bit interesting.  I was met with silence and then "um, okay."  Normally, when he is told he's sleeping over at Grammy's he is very excited.  Hammad was still excited, of course.  But Hassaan didn't seem so excited.

Anyway, the reason for the sleepover on a Monday night is that I was at the district school accommodation review meeting.  For those not in the know, the (insert name here) District Board of Education is looking at how to redo the schools in our area.  One - the one my children attend - will be (as of September) over capacity and already has three portables on the playground in order to meet the demands of smaller class sizes in primary grades instituted by the provincial government.  My kids' school is a JK-grade 3 school.  Then there is a grade 4 to grade 8 school, and then one JK-8 school.  Now, technically, my kids should be attending the JK-8 school as it is their "home" school.  But I chose to stream my children into the French Immersion program to give them a challenge, since they'd done 4 and 3 years of preschool respectively and English junior and senior kindergarten would be too easy.  For Hassaan, being too easy would have created numerous challenges.  If he is bored, he creates more trouble.  If he isn't challenged, he tunes out.  So to challenge my kids, they are in French Immersion and therefore bussed out of their home school area to this particular over-crowded school.

I LOVE this school.  I do not like the school and the things I've heard about the school that they should be going to.  So the thought that two of the solutions to the over crowding problem would be to move the FI program to what should be the boys' home school pains me greatly.  For a few reasons.  One is that the child that was on the bus my sons were on for the first half of the school year (to accommodate my childcare - aka Grampy) that was terrorizing Hammad goes to this school (he told Hammad he had a knife in his backpack and he'd use it on Hammad - this other kid is SIX!)  Another is, like I said, I don't like what I know and hear about this school, the administration and my interactions with a couple of members of staff and school council (aka Home & School or PTA).  And finally - and to me, most importantly - the less we have to change Hassaan's routine and surroundings the better.  I already know that he's going to have to change schools when he goes from grade three to grade four, were things to be left the same.  But changing schools at that point, when it's made exciting for the kids to be going to the 'big kid school' is easier than to change him when he's going into first grade.  Where he knows the EAs already when he's having a bad day.  Where he's become (on one hand sadly, on the other fortunately) well acquainted with the principal and she knows how to gently handle him.  While the French teachers would be moving with the French kids, the rest of it is change.  The couple of mainstream kids that he is friends with would remain where they are, leaving him back with one whole friend.

I am having a hard time looking at this whole process in the big picture when I just want to look at it in terms of what is best for MY child.  And I don't even look at it in terms of Hammad - I know without a doubt that he will be just fine no matter what.  He's my social butterfly who makes friends where ever he goes (even if I say "so what's your friend's name?" and he says "I dunno, but he's my friend!")  So I am purely looking at it from a very biased perspective right now - and what is best for Hassaan is for him to remain exactly where he is.  But I'm getting this sinking feeling that's not the way things are going to turn out.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hassaan and the new kids

It's hard watching Hassaan doing a group activity with other kids.  Inevitably, he does not participate with the other kids - he'll end up off by himself, quietly going about whatever it is he wants to do.  He's not upset or seemingly saddened by this, but it saddens me because I see the fun that all the other kids - including Hammad - have with each other, but then there's Hassaan over by himself.

We went tobogganing today with a friend and her kids.  There were six boys in total, ages 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.  The five and six year olds were mine, the one, four and eight year olds were hers, and the seven year old she was babysitting.  At the snow hill (which was huge, by the way, to the point it was actually broken into three hills - low, medium and high) the kids pretty much all didn't play with each other.  Well, the one year old stayed with us grown ups anyway.  The four, seven and eight year olds mostly stayed together as they were sharing two sleds between the three of them.  Hammad talked to the others but pretty much just kept going up and down, sticking near us.  And then there was Hassaan, who went here and there, quietly going up and down, going to the very highest point and then speedily bouncing down the hill over all three levels to the bottom where he looked so small from where we were mid-way between top and bottom (and I swear this child has no sense of self preservation at the speeds he was going).  But sledding is, for all intents and purposes, an individual activity, especially when your sled is really a saucer that can't fit more than you.  The part that saddened me was afterwards.

When we had reached the point that fists were being thrown between the other three, Hammad looked exhausted and the baby's fingers were cold, we decided to call it a day and go to McDonald's.  I wish this  McDonald's had a playland, but alas, it does not.  It does have a couple of video games, though, so we went there so the kids would be inside and could play together.  Hammad played with the other boys, moreso after the seven year old's mom came and picked him up.  But Hassaan didn't even really approach the other boys maybe more than twice.  He didn't talk to them, didn't interact with them, it was as if they weren't even there.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that, yet again, in Hassaan's world, they weren't there at all.  He's teacher says his social skills are improving, but quite frankly, I'm not seeing that in the rest of his life.  And in fact, the kids who his social skills are improving with he's been in class with since September of 2009.  It's now January of 2011.  And it's taken this long (because in November his social skills were still an issue - they're just now "improving") for him to talk to or even acknowledge their presence beyond one or two kids.  And one of those kids he's known since they were both in preschool together from the age of two - so "improving social skills" doesn't really count with "No-mi" because they've been together for four years now.

What I see is a child who doesn't interact with people at all.  Not in the same "very shy doesn't interact."  We all know a child like that - who looks wistfully at the group of kids she wants to play with from behind her mum's legs but it too shy to go over and say hi and play with them.  No - with Hassaan, he doesn't even acknowledge they're there, and when he does, his behaviour can be so odd that they then just look at him like he's nuts and continue on with what they're doing.

Hassaan's teacher thinks he might have Aspergers.  Sometimes I think she's right.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Gorilla in the ice chest

It started out as a perfectly wonderful evening.  Dinner had been more than a bit stressful for me.  I admit that I don't mind not being home at dinner time.  And the disorganization in my house has usually lead to dinner not being eaten at the table anyway.  But today something got into me and not only did I make dinner (and a dinner that did not involve noodles), I made dessert and I cleaned half the kitchen, including the table, meaning that we ate dinner at the table for the first time in months.  Together.  Even when I am home Abdullah (aka Daddy) is normally in charge of meals (that usually involve noodles) and I admit to hiding out doing something else.  Because mealtimes with Hassaan are very rarely fun.  And, like many other occasions, dinner tonight ended with tears.

Scene: dinner table.  Mummy, Daddy, Hammad and Hassaan.  Everyone sitting nicely around the table, eating their dinner.  Everyone, that is, except Hassaan.

Up, down, up, down...Hassaan, sit...up, down, up, down....Hassaan!  Sit down!....wiggle wiggle wiggle cup of milk nearly gets knocked over...Hassaan.  Stop....up down wiggle wiggle squirm wiggle wiggle down nearly pulls table cloth off the table.  "HASSAAN!  Enough!"  Daddy yells louder than he should have.  Hassaan's face falls, the lip quivers and then he starts to sob.  Daddy did apologize for yelling louder than he needed to, which stopped the tears, but I'm sure my blood pressure was still up from the whole meal.  It's hard to enjoy a meal when someone's bouncing around like Tigger on steroids.

And then came after dinner.  Abdullah and Hammad had started out with a small game from a fast food kids meal that had been collected that really was far out of Hammad's range of ability - a here's some questions, what's the answer (and is kind of obscure).  And Hassaan really wanted to play too, but if it was too hard for Hammad, it was going to be too hard for Hassaan.  (Numbers, now, it might be the opposite, but play on words, not so much.)  So I got out the kids Monopoly game they got for Christmas from my parents.  The number of times I had to tell Hassaan to get off the table while we were trying to find batteries for the game (yes, a Monopoly game that takes batteries) was ridiculous (seriously - where did you get the idea that it was okay to climb onto the table?  If it wasn't okay before, it's not okay now!)

Now, he was actually really, really good at playing the game.  And it's a great game for counting and adding and subtracting.  (Monopoly: Crazy Cash)  And he didn't even have a temper tantrum when Hammad won by a landslide (the game ended when Abdullah went bankrupt and I had $2 left - and no, we were not letting them win in the least).  In fact,  Hammad could be taught a lesson in winning graciously, which we did try, though judging by the "I won" dance he was putting on I'm pretty sure the lesson didn't take.  And then....

And then I told Hassaan it was bedtime (not just for him, but for Hammad too).  And all hell broke loose.  He took off up the stairs and I ordered him back down and into the bathroom.  He refused to go.  Then he did come down but stood in the doorway to the kitchen with his hands on his hips screaming at me:

"I hate you"
"I'm never listening to you for the rest of my life"
"I don't like you"
"I'm not going to bed"
"I won't go"

Abdullah had his back to him for this because he was trying so hard not to laugh.  It wasn't the words that were amusing him (and to some extent me) it was the facial expressions and the body language and just the way it was being said.  He finally turned around and marched into our bedroom, where - after retrieving his pyjamas and night time underpants because the child still wets the bed most nights and nighttime underpants (Pull Ups) are cheaper than doing laundry every. single. morning. - I found him on my bed, looking very angry, but very silent.  Until he saw the jammies in my hand.


I didn't say a word.  I just sat down on the bed and cradled him in my arms and let him scream.  I asked him why he hated me at one point and he said "because you won't let me play Monopoly!" And then he punched me in the face.  At that point he got placed between my legs and I sat cross legged with my legs over his and my hands wrapped around his arms so that he was giving himself a hug.  Changing the child into his jammies then pushed us on to phase two of these meltdowns: the maniacal giggle.

If you've never heard the maniacal giggle, it's kind of hard to explain.  I put the giggle more to the ODD than the ADHD.  You're already fighting - for lack of a better word - with him and then it's almost like part of his brain now sees it as a game.  And he does this giggle right up until the point that he "loses" and then goes back to screaming and crying.  In this case, my successful attempt to get his shirt off of him. He fought a little while longer.  What seemed like forever was actually only a few minutes.  And then it was like the switch toggled to off and he stopped arguing.  And got his pants and underpants off.  Even put them in the hamper in the laundry room.  And then while he was in the bathroom, he started sobbing.  I opened up the door and asked him why he was crying.  He pointed to a drawing that Hammad had drawn him that for reasons I don't understand and can't be bothered to ask, he put on the wall above the toilet and said "There's a sun and a cloud in that picture and it reminds me of Fetch!"  Fetch being the boys' dog that was hit by a car last fall and we had to put to sleep.  Ooookay then.  He stopped crying.  I helped him get his nighttime underpants on.  I started helping him get his pants on.  We got all of one foot and ankle and he bursts into tears again.  "Wearing pants REMINDS ME OF FETCH!"  Seriously?!?!!  Dude - you are wearing pants whether it reminds you of Fetch, the snowman in the driveway or the man in the moon.  I had to send him upstairs to his room ahead of me so I could get the huge laugh in me out without him there.  Wearing pants.  Reminds him of Fetch.  Oooooooookay then.

And then I went upstairs and he was sitting on his bed with his shirt pulled up to his chest, his little boy belly sticking out saying "Mummy, get my giggle button!" and giggling hysterically.

So there's this gorilla.  And it lives in the ice chest.  And we all know it's there.  And we kind of hope we never see it.  But it seems that most nights, it pops out.  Just long enough to disrupt routine, or to create such an issue most nights there is no routine.  And then he goes back into the ice chest.  Where we all know he is.  Where we can't forget he is.  But that we wish wasn't there.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Overcoming misconceptions

One of the hardest things about dealing with the ADHD and ODD is people's misconceptions about the disorder.  There are quite a number of people that believe that it doesn't actually exist and it's just something that doctors label children with so parents don't have to discipline their bratty children.  To them I say: come visit my house for a week.  You'll want to go home after a day.

There are others who believe that, while it does exist, those parents that choose to medicate their child are actually doing their child a disservice and are using medications to cover up their failure as a parent.  To them I say: an actual disorder is not a parenting fail, and would you tell the parent of a child with diabetes, epilepsy or asthma to deny their child medication or they'd be a parenting failure as well?  Our children who truly have these disorders often need medication help in order to function in the world - in the classroom, on the playground, at home.  If you don't believe that, come live our lives for a little while; you'll probably change your tune.  And comments from parents of now-grown children who had either of these disorders of "well my kid acted like that and I didn't medicate him.  He'll (meaning Hassaan) be fine" also do. not. help.  In fact, these comments in particular are very destructive when I have a husband who waffles on the medication issue.  You did what you thought best for your child.  I will do what I feel best for my child - and for my child, medication combined with therapy IS the best option for him to be as successful in life as he is capable of being.

Some say "it can't be that - my friend/family member/kid down the street doesn't act like that and he's got that."  Well, no two kids are necessarily affected the same way.  ADHD/ADD is as much a spectrum disorder as Autism is.  My son is affected by not being able to focus unless he is almost obsessed by something, he talks constantly, he is never still, he has a very hard time with social skills.  But then there's me.  In college, while doing learning disabilities testing with the college psychologist, I was diagnosed with mild to moderate ADD.  I zone out, I do talk a lot, but I'm able to sit still and have never had a problem with social skills.  But I also can't always focus for things for very long but instead of bouncing off walls (figuratively, mostly!) I'd just zone out, so that my teachers just figured I wasn't paying attention - all the time.  But I also have so many half finished projects it's not even funny anymore.  I have obsessions that lasted for an amount of time and then I now haven't touched in years.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder are something that are very, very real. For those of us dealing with it on a daily basis, the hardest part is sometimes the looks (and COMMENTS) that we get when our child has a meltdown in public.  With Hassaan, I know that if I were to leave a store every time he had a meltdown, there would be days or weeks where I'd never get anything accomplished.  In the grocery store I have to put him in the cart still - he himself knows that he does better in the cart - he's not constantly touching things, running away, and I'm not constantly saying "Hassaan, don't do that!"  I have had to take him through the grocery store with him screaming.  Not screaming words, just screaming.  And I don't always know what sets him off.  But a complete strangers making comments about "controlling my child" or "I would have never let my child at that way" or "oh just give him what he wants" are NOT helpful.  (I often wish I could be or could have been around when these people's children threw a public temper tantrum to make these comments back at them - I highly doubt it would be appreciated, but they see no problem in saying them to other people.)  I'd also really wish these people could remember that, guess what - our children have ears too.  And usually their ears work just as well as mine or yours, and they hear these comments.  Our ADHD kids often have problems with self esteem - these comments aren't helpful to this either.

Anyway, that's my Public Service Announcement for today.  I'll probably have more to add to it at some point, but for today, that's just what's on my mind!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Does the child know his name?

I've often wondered, if I were to count, how many times a day would the word "Hassaan" come out of my mouth.  It's at least in the double digits, if not the triple digits.  I mean, seriously - I wonder if the child knows his name at all some days.  Take this morning for example...

"Hassaan, come get dressed."  (Amazingly enough, he actually appeared at this point.  He did, however, ask if he had to go to school - no, today is a Grampy day.  He is in senior kindergarten in an A Day/B Day system.  Not only was today supposed to have been a B Day (he's an A Day kid) but it's also a PD Day, so he'd be with Grampy anyway.)

"You know what?  There's a groundhog."

"Hassaan, pick a shirt."

"And the groundhog is gonna come out of his hole and..."

"Hassaan.  Pick.  A.  Shirt."

"...he'll see his shadow and say "aaaaaaaaaaaaaah!""  (Imagine that being said with giant eyes, mouth open wide and hands up by his head.  Oh, and did I mention the child is stark raving naked expect for his socks?  So this is quite the sight.)

"Hassaan.  Pick a shirt!"

He picks a shirt.

"I'm afraid groundhogs day was yesterday, Hassaan."

His jaw drops.  He puts his underpants on.  He leans on me.  "Are you serious?" he asks.  "Are you kidding me?"

"Nope - yesterday.  And was it sunny?" (Imagine me trying not to laugh.)

"Noooooo." This look of horror comes over him.  But he puts his shirt on.

"The ground hog did not see his shadow, so he didn't go "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!" like he could have."

"Are you kidding me?  Seriously?"

"Hassaan, put your pants on."

He starts to take his shirt off.

"Hassaan!  You already changed your shirt.  Put your pants on."

"But...but...the groundhog!"  Puts his pants on.

"Is just fine - he didn't see his shadow and spring is coming."  (I neglected to mention to him that spring is coming whether the groundhog sees his shadow or not.)

So, eight times in one conversation I say his name in just trying to redirect him to what he is supposed to be doing instead of whatever inane conversation he feels like having.  Oh, I have the conversation with him.  They go in some very unusual directions sometimes.  However, if we don't also do what we have to do while having the conversations, we'll never get anywhere!  But still - does he know his name?  Or does he just like to hear it being said over and over and over again?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hassaan, the Snow Day and Chicken Pox

The storm hit.  Oh joy, oh bliss.  All schools in the area are closed.  And I already had a scheduled day off.  So here I sit, in my always cold house (darn 135 year old small farmhouses!) with two children - one who doesn't handle changes in schedule well (Hassaan) and the other, who is also currently known as "Spot" - Hassaan's brother Hammad, who's now been out of school a week with the chicken pox.  I love my children dearly, but  I won't kid you - I've harboured thoughts of putting them upside down in a snowbank today already - and it's only 9am.  Instead, I've taken Hammad's computer time away for the rest of the week, which has gone over like, well, judging by the screaming and door banging, not well.

Hassaan, on the other hand, has been up since 5:15am, and hasn't stopped moving at all since 7:15am.  What did impress me this morning is that he crawled into bed, got under the blanket and even though I know he did not go back to sleep he laid quietly until he told me my clock wasn't working (whoops...forgot to reset it after accidentally unplugging it last night!). And since then, he hasn't stopped - moving, talking, tattle tailing.  And now he's even dancing to the radio.

So, let's take a kid who can't really handle changes in routine along with a kid who's bored because he's been home since last Thursday (and it's now Wednesday), add an exhausted mother, a massive snowstorm, and what do we get?

A very, very  long day.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011



The frustration is all mine in this case.  Hassaan is perfectly happy with the phone message tonight - no doctor tomorrow!  Me, not so much, since I now have to book an other day off work.  We were going to start with the medication tomorrow.  We're going the meds/behavioural therapy route, as soon as we have paperwork for insurance to cover the rather expensive therapy.

But tomorrow?  We're supposed to be hit by a rather major snowstorm.  So I totally understand why the appointment has been cancelled - the appointment is half an hour from where we are and two hours from where the doctor is.  So I get it.  But it doesn't mean I LIKE it.  Hassaan's thrilled.  And he was quite happy right up until I told him the appointment was just rescheduled, not cancelled.  When reality hit, he threw his head back on the pillow and I'm pretty sure he rolled his eyes.  But he accepts that we go to see Dr S so that Dr S can help Hassaan be an even better Hassaan that he already is - and he's a pretty awesome little boy.

But I'm still frustrated - because I was looking forward to trying to start getting somewhere tomorrow.

The Report Card

It's amazing the difference a year makes.  Last year's report card, while it said he could do things, I was seeing no proof of that at home when I tried to do the same things with him myself.  It also, unfortunately yet truly, described Hassaan at school.  An uncooperative yet sweet child who would run and hide (in and out of the classroom), could not keep his hands to himself, refused to participate in circle time and was just generally a distraction.  This year?

"He is a cooperative and willing participant in all of our classroom activities."  "He begins and completes tasks independently."  It's like a completely different child.  While I like his teacher last year as a person, her classroom style and Hassaan were just no where near even a slight match.  His teacher this year is very routine oriented and even says herself that she is OCD about how her classroom is run.

But then we get to his Health & Physical Activity mark.  Which is not his classroom teacher.  "Hassaan sometimes works cooperatively with partners.  Next term he is encouraged to listen to all instructions and to cooperate with partners."  Unfortunately, kids with ADHD often have problems in gym.  They're in a much bigger area, there is more movement, there is less structure.  While I have hopes that he'll improve in gym, I'm not holding my breath.

But for the first time, Hassaan was happy to hear what his teacher had written about him.  Which made for a nice evening.