It’s been an eventful few months here in our house, and I had to put writing this blog on hold while I completed chapter two of my dissertation. I’m glad to report that it has been approved by my dissertation committee and I’m currently working on chapter one. It feels great to have made it through what I’d perceived as the first major obstacle in the process, which was to get a chapter completed and approved! It’s likely that I will post part of the chapter, which is the literature review, but first I’ve got to make some design changes. I plan to reorganize the menu bar, and separate the topics that have and will be discussed on the blog, for easier navigation and ease of obtaining information.

I’d like to give a quick update since the last post. It’s been fantastic having Jack at home and out of his former school, although we’re still figuring out the best way to work with him.… Click to continue

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I stopped writing for about a week and a half because I’ve been experiencing some cognitive dissonance. Our lives have changed drastically during the past few months, things have been so stressful – and now they aren’t. It’s really fantastic that life is good around here now that the chronic stress is gone, but it’s caused me to question my beliefs about things I thought were obvious and true. Things that clearly seemed to be the right thing to do. Like sending Jack to school, or employing a parenting  style that doesn’t suit me but is recommended for parents of children with ADHD. It feels overwhelming – like everything I know has been flipped upside down – but it also feels great.

Jack learning

Now that I’m not trying to hold on to separate beliefs and try to make them fit, I feel better. But it’s still disconcerting because now what I believe in is at odds with what the majority of people believe, to the point that it feels like my thinking is so radical I don’t even want to share with others.… Click to continue

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Researching parenting stress is helping me become a better parent to Jack, and I share what I learn with Jason and my mom. We make adjustments based on what we’re finding out about how children’s outcomes are influenced by specific parenting behaviors. I think that what I’ve been learning about unschooling (specifically from Danya Martin’s book: Radical Unschooling: A Revolution Has Begun) is going to dramatically impact the way I parent in a way I hadn’t thought possible.

Parents of children with ADHD often struggle with feels of doubt and incompetence. Feelings of low self-efficacy sabotage our relationships with our kids and contribute to an environment of stress and uncertainty. I spend the first six years of Jack’s life feeling like a crappy mother. It seemed like every other mother in the world parented their children with ease, their kids weren’t out of control like Jack, and I believed there was an obvious correlation between my poor parenting ability and my son’s wild behavior.… Click to continue

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Our homeschooling adventure begins!

by psphd on October 25, 2013

This blog wasn’t originally meant to be a place to talk about homeschooling Jack, but that’s mainly because when it started I never imagined he’d be anywhere but at his school this year. We had faith that the best thing for Jack would be to attend his neighborhood elementary school, and our goal was to figure out how to get him to fit in and conform to the way he needed to behave and learn in order to succeed there. In retrospect, that seems like it was a ridiculous plan.

My first instinct when we were considering homeschooling Jack was to enroll him in an online school, which would be very similar to being in a traditional school as far as oversight and workload are concerned. I started reading about homeschooling — books and blogs — and I joined a local secular homeschooling group and posted an introduction, letting the members know what our situation is, where we live, etc.… Click to continue

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It’s not in my nature to keep secrets when it comes to my own issues or the issues I face as a parent. I’ve always been open about my own problems—even publishing two books about my story. My history is complicated and I struggled for years to get my own symptoms under control. I don’t have any problem being honest with people and telling them that I have bipolar disorder, ADHD, and anxiety issues, and I’m also willing to share with people that Jack has ADHD and dyslexia. If people think less of either of us because our brains work differently, I don’t care. Stigma is never going to go away if people don’t share their stories with others, and I think that the best way I can do my part is to be honest.

Through honesty I’ve met other parents who also have children with ADHD, dyslexia, or other learning and/or developmental disorders.… Click to continue

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Jack at Arches National Park, 2013

Let me start this post with an honest confession—I never imagined I’d ever homeschool my child, and couldn’t understand why so many people choose that route. I assumed that it was just for people who were unhappy with their kids not having religion as part of their public education and yet didn’t choose private school. It seemed like a crazy idea to me, especially since my son has ADHD and the idea of trying to teach him at home sounded like legitimate torture for all parties involved. I scoffed at the thought of it.

But here I sit, working on a plan for homeschooling Jack. Writing this post counts as working on a plan, because it’s helping me process the whole situation. I’m sad that Jack won’t be going to his elementary school anymore, because we used to love it and as recently as a month ago we wouldn’t have imagined why we’d do anything different.… Click to continue

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As I grapple with the decision of pulling Jack out of his public elementary school and enrolling him in an online state charter school, I’m trying to determine both whether the move will be right for Jack and how it will affect my parenting stress. Obviously there are many other considerations, but those are the ones on my mind today. Right now, I know that I’m struggling with increased parenting stress and Jason is as well. He’s also dealing with higher than normal work-related stress, so these last few weeks have been especially difficult for him. My mom is such a big part of our lives that this is stressful for her, too, because she plays a significant role in Jack’s caregiving.

Today I’ve been working on the parenting stress section of my literature review, the parts where I’m defining it and discussing the difference between the everyday parenting stress that all parents experience compared to the higher levels of parenting stress that parents experience when they have children with disabilities.… Click to continue

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Things are not going well with Jack’s school, and I’m not sure how long we’re going to keep him enrolled there if major changes don’t take place to improve his likelihood of success. He and his teacher are not connecting, and I’m not sure if it’s a simple personality clash or something deeper, but it’s bad enough that we don’t feel okay with him remaining in that class for the rest of the school year. I don’t think that the people at his school are trying to make things worse, but that’s what’s happening. When Jack ran away from school last week we began to realize how much he doesn’t like it there. He was hesitant at first to tell us why it’s upsetting him, but from what he’s saying we can tell that he feels different and like an outcast. He said the kids that were his friends don’t talk to him anymore and that everyone (adults) watches him all the time.… Click to continue

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Yesterday I was working on my literature review and began to pull out the symptoms and behaviors listed in the articles I’m working with for the ADHD section. It’s turning out to be a huge list, and not everyone has all of these symptoms, of course, but it’s still a good illustration of why people with ADHD struggle and why parenting stress increases in this family dynamic. The behaviors that children with ADHD display create a transactional effect with parents, where a cycle develops of parents reacting to negative behaviors and children reading negatively to parental reactions (Keown, 2012). We’ve definitely experienced that transactional process here with Jack at times.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, by any means, and I’m sure that as I continue my reading I’ll be adding to it. Note that some of the symptoms, such as daydreaming and hypoactivity/lethargy are seen more frequently in the predominantly inattentive type of ADHD.… Click to continue

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Neurobiology of ADHD – Journal articles

Research

by psphd on September 29, 2013

I’ve been working on my literature review since July, and I’ve decided to share some sources with links when they’re freely available on the Internet. Many peer-reviewed articles are available using search engines, especially Google Scholar, but I’m not sure that people who aren’t in grad school seek out scholarly work when they want to find information. I could be wrong about that, but most people seem to refer to popular books or websites when sharing information. It appears that most of the articles I use as sources are not available to the general public, but I’d be glad to help people find research – just contact me and let me know what you need. I’m going to start sharing this type of resource on a regular basis in order to bring the academic world to the lay people who visit this blog.

Today’s links:

The neurobiological basis of ADHD by Curatolo, D’Adati, & Moavero (2010)

Neurobiology of ADHD by Tripp & Wickens (2009)

[California State University, Chico has this handy PDF document available to explain what scholarly sources are, including peer-reviewed journal articles.]

These are the two articles I’ll be reading this morning as I wrap up my section on the etiology, prevalence, and symptoms of ADHD.… Click to continue

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