Growing Up With ADHD – Have Things Changed…?

Last updated on June 15th, 2018 at 11:39 pm

As a child raised in a time where not much was known about this “affliction” I went through many years of feeling ‘less than’ and ‘inadequate’ in every sense of both words. My sister Stefanie put my growing up years in very accurate detail in The PedREST Story section. The only thing missing was the ‘help’ I dunceboy-finalreceived along the way in believing I was stupid (teachers, other kids..etc) Every school book I had was filled with my doodles and drawings, but not many notes. I couldn’t understand how to decipher important facts from filler words. Therefore, frustration would set in. When I’d look back over my “notes”, either I had captured one full sentence (including the conjunctions) and missed the next five said, or I had words here and there that made no sense. No wonder I hated school and played sick as often as possible! Every report card said, “Suzanne is very smart, but does not work up to her potential.”

And yet, what is so sad is that I saw a lot of professionals! From school counselors straight on up to a specialist in Manhattan! To emphasize what I said before, this “affliction” was not known to the kind of doctors I went to. Many years later I heard the story from my Mother that she had a friend whose child was diagnosed with hyperactivity. She brought me to my therapist’s office (a child psychologist) and asked him, “Is she hyperactive? Does she need to be on medicine?” He looked at me, crawling under the chairs, than climbing on top and jumping on the seat, than jumping onto my Mom’s lap and hanging from her neck… and said, “It is just a phase she is going through.”

 And to make matters worse, the hyperactivity part of the acronym ADHD is usually found in boys, more than girls. So for years I got to hear what everyone was telling the boys – “what, do you have ants in your pants”- and not the girls- “stop daydreaming” – which definitely didn’t help things. Kids who had problems in school back then went to “study hall” which again, translated to being stupid. It was an embarrassment because it was generally known that the ‘dumb kids’ had to go there. (It was literally termed the ‘retarded group’.) Schools were set up in three categories… the advanced, remedial, and slow groups, and being thrown in the slow group meant humiliation.

 When I was first diagnosed, at the age of 21, it was as if a huge light went on over my head. But still, information regarding ADHD was still very limited. (Pre-Internet Days) A few years later, a book was recommended to me: Driven To Distraction, by Edward Hallowell MD and John J. Ratey,MD. It was the ABC’s of “growing up Suzanne”. It focused (no pun intended) on all the mislabeling, and explained very clearly the disorganization I felt all of the time. Not only did it give a clear explanation of ADHD, (when I was told I had Attention Deficit Disorder, I took it to mean I hadn’t gotten enough attention growing up) but I was finally able to put some humor and levity to something I had found to be so emotionally painful; all of the projects I had started with such good intentions and enthusiasm that led to my feeling like a failure yet again because they were “one more thing on the uncompleted pile” finally had an explanation.

Unfortunately, once this problem came more into the public eye a few years ago, it seemed like every other child was diagnosed with it, and over-medicated, even when it may not have been necessary.

In the years since my diagnosis I have learned quite a bit regarding this issue…for example, that a huge percentage of kids that go undiagnosed end up turning to drugs to self medicate (…I would be one of them.) I have also learned that people (quite often, teenagers) who are not diagnosed and treated are prone to quite a bit more speeding tickets and accidents than others (…again, I used to fit that bill.) And, I also understand that quite often it is inherited. (Thanks Dad!)

As an adult, I discovered new tactics, or “tricks” to circumvent the problems. I knew I could never sit at a desk for 9 hours; I would go crazy, as well as probably make everyone around me nuts! My early experience with school made going back to one for a career terrifying. So I had to figure out what really caught and held my attention. What kind of career would help me be who I am…not who I should be in others’ eyes. And that was when my career as an EMT formed. That was where my creativity shined!

 Recently, while talking to my Mother regarding my nephew, and seeing his inability to focus, and sit still, she said something I have heard so many times before, “if I only knew then what we know now…” Over the years, I finally came to the realization that there really is no point in dwelling on the “what if’s” and “If only’s” (ie: What if I had been diagnosed earlier…how different would my life have been?) The fact is, I can’t change what was or wasn’t done back then, but I have a voice now, and it is so exciting for me to watch my nephew (who, by the way, appropriately, is my Godson) receive special education and get the extra help he needs to enable him to reach his true and full potential.

And so, when I think about my own story, I am quite curious about parents today, who have a child that has ADD or ADHD, and the advances and help they receive now, and the process of how they were ‘properly’ diagnosed. Who picked up on the signs and how early was the child tested? And lastly, those of you who have children with this, did you see early signs because you recognized some of your own traits as a child in him or her?

Laura R. | Bronx, NY; Sun., Aug. 23, 2009

Last updated on March 5th, 2018 at 07:55 am

I’m studying to be a teacher and know that in the case of an emergency where an ambulance is called, we need to take everyone’s safety into consideration, and children should be the priority! They are very weak and cannot fend for themselves, so we must keep them safe. The #1 cause of death in children is ACCIDENTS that could’ve been prevented!!

Lisa G. | Beaufort, SC; Sun., Aug. 23, 2009

Last updated on March 5th, 2018 at 07:55 am

This is a cause that is very dear to me. Children should be our number 1 priority.

Solby M. | Cape Coral, FL; Sun., Aug. 23, 2009

Last updated on March 5th, 2018 at 07:56 am

It is very important that the child is being transported safely to the hospital since the ambulance is the first step to getting there when it is a very serious emergency.

Carnival Cruise Lines Contest Looking For a Child Ages 7 to 12

Last updated on March 5th, 2018 at 07:57 am

Cruises are becoming more and more popular with families and as a great way to reconnect with family members that may be scattered across the country carnival comeaboard2with inter-generational vacations. Of course this includes families that include special needs kids. Carnival Cruise Lines is fully equipped to make guests with special requirements and disabilities relaxing and enjoyable. Carnival Corporation was recently awarded the “Access Freedom” award, which is presented by the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality and is given to individuals and organizations that have made the greatest strides in advancing opportunities for persons with disabilities.

Now Carnival Cruise Lines is gearing up to debut a brand new ship, The Carnival Dream. The new ship comes complete with an outdoor theater, a 24-hour pizza place and its own on-board water park.

To christen the ship on its maiden voyage, Carnival is going to choose a godchild for the water park, WaterWorks, in the Book of Dreams Contest. The lucky child and family will get a trip to New York to embark on a 3-night voyage. Plus, for every entry into the contest Carnival will donate $2 to St Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Carnival will also donate $1 for every vote in the contest. Entry details are here

For more info: Carnival Dream Fact Sheet

Carnival Special Requirements Info Sheet

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Pediatric Safety Addition:

Rules of Contest from Carnival Cruise Website are located here. 

Of key importance – entry must be submitted between August 18, 2009 12:00:01 a.m. EST and no later than September 18, 2009, 11:59:59 p.m. EST on the Sponsor’s website located at www.bigbookofdreams.com, to be entered into the Virtual Book of Dreams Contest. 

Don’t let A Predator Make Your Child a Victim

Last updated on January 12th, 2018 at 10:49 am

As Parents we want to protect our children from all harm and evil! We can’t! But we can be informed and keep our children savvy and enlightened!

Predator pic1There are predators out there and our children are their targets. What I’m going to talk about will shock and horrify you. It will make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. Some of you might even want to stop reading here because this is the subject of horror movies and nightmares. This is something most of us would rather die than imagine happen to our children. But I implore you to continue, this is too important to ignore.

As a medical professional, I have seen firsthand the toll something like this can take on a child. The effects are devastating and life long. The incidence of crimes against children is on the rise. I’m sorry to have to tell you that unfortunately the times we live in are too dangerous to turn a blind eye.

I have some staggering statistics that are probably going to make you sick. I also have some tools to EMPOWER YOU and your CHILDREN! You do not need to be a helpless victim!

According to family watchdog an online Sex Offender Registry

  • 1 of 5 girls and 1 of 6 boys will be molested before their 18th birthday.
  • 90% of all sexual assaults against children are committed by someone whom the victim knew.
  • The typical sexual predator will assault 117 times before being caught.
  • The re-arrest rate for convicted child molesters is 52%.
  • That your child will become a victim of a sex offender is 1 in 3 for girls & 1 in 6 for boys. **Source: The National Center for Victims of Crime
  • Over 2,000 children are reported missing every day.

Background on Registered Sex Offender Laws:

The U.S. Congress has passed several laws that require states to monitor registered sex offenders; the Jacob Wetterling Crimes against Children Act, the Pam Lychner Sex Offender tracking and Identification Act and Megan’s Law.

On March 5, 2003, The Supreme Court ruled that information about registered sex offenders may be posted on the Internet. Good for us!

Let’s take advantage of these laws!!! This is Not about Vigilantism! This is about being INFORMED! This is about KNOWING where REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS in YOUR AREA LIVE and WORK!!

Here are some excellent places to start:

  • National Sex Offender Public Website where you can search by name
  • National Alert Registry
  • Search for Sex Offenders in your area if there are offenders in your area there is a key to show you where they work and where they live. You can click on these boxes and a picture of the offender will pop up.
  • iTouch also has 2 great applications! 1 is free. It allows you to download 3 free searches of Registered Sex offenders in your Area. For a Small one time fee you can download the full program which lets you search whatever zip code you want! This would be very useful while traveling!
  • The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children “NCMEC” is a WEALTH of information!! As the nation’s resource center for protecting children they have NUMEROUS free online downloadable publications that EVERY parent needs to take advantage of! Their prevention and safety education programs and materials contain information and tips that will help you keep your children safer.  I suggest you go to this site at your leisure and READ READ READ!! It could very well save you some heartache!

For decades, children were taught to stay away from “strangers.” But this concept is difficult for children to grasp and often the perpetrator is someone the child knows. It is more beneficial to help build Children’s confidence and teach them to respond to a potentially dangerous situation, rather than teaching them to look out for a particular type of person.

Here are some tips to help you take some first steps to help them avoid becoming a victim:

  • Make sure you know where each of your children is at all times. Know your children’s friends and be clear with your children about the places and homes they may visit. Make it a rule for your children to check-in with you when they arrive at or depart from a particular location and when there is a change in plans. You should also let them know when Predators - NCMECyou’re running late or if your plans have changed to show the rule is for safety purposes and not being used to “check up” on them.
  • Never leave children unattended in a vehicle, whether it is running or not. Children should never be left unsupervised or allowed to spend time alone or with others in vehicles as the potential dangers to their safety outweigh any perceived convenience or “fun.” Remind children to never hitchhike, approach a vehicle, or engage in a conversation with anyone within a vehicle they do not know and trust. Also they should never go anywhere with anyone without first getting your permission.
  • Be involved in your children’s activities. As an active participant you’ll have a better opportunity to observe how the adults in charge interact with your children. If you are concerned about anyone’s behavior, take it up with the sponsoring organization.
  • Listen to your children. Pay attention if they tell you they don’t want to be with someone or go somewhere. This may be an indication of more than a personality conflict or lack of interest in the activity or event.
  • Notice when anyone shows one or all of your children a great deal of attention or begins giving them gifts. Take the time to talk to your children about the person and find out why that person is acting in this way.
  • Teach your children they have the right to say NO to any unwelcome, uncomfortable, or confusing touch or actions by others and get out of those situations as quickly as possible. If avoidance is not an option, children should be taught to kick, scream, and resist. When in such a situation, teach them to loudly yell, “This person is not my father/mother/guardian,” and then immediately tell you if this happens. Reassure them you’re there to help and it is okay to tell you anything.
  • Be sensitive to any changes in your children’s behavior or attitude. Encourage open communication and learn how to be an active listener. Look and listen to small cues and clues indicating something may be troubling your children, because children are not always comfortable disclosing disturbing events or feelings. This may be because they are concerned about your reaction to their problems. If your children do confide problems to you, strive to remain calm, reassuring, and nonjudgmental. Listen compassionately to their concern, and work with them to get the help they need to resolve the problem.
  • Be sure to screen babysitters and caregivers. Many jurisdictions now have a public registry allowing parents and guardians to check out individuals for prior criminal records and sex offenses. Check references with other families who have used the caregiver or babysitter. Once you have chosen the caregiver, drop in unexpectedly to see how your children are doing. Ask your children how the experience with the caregiver was, and carefully listen to the responses.
  • Practice basic safety skills with your children. Make an outing to a mall or park a “teachable” experience in which your children practice checking with you, using pay telephones, going to the restroom with a friend, and locating the adults who may be able to help if they need assistance. Remember, allowing your children to wear clothing or carry items in public on which their name is displayed may bring about unwelcome attention from inappropriate people looking for a way to start a conversation with your children.
  • Remember there is no substitute for your attention and supervision. Being available and taking time to really know and listen to your children helps build feelings of safety and security. 1

In conclusion, YOU HAVE A RIGHT to keep your children safe!

  • You have the right to know if Registered Sex Offenders are in your neighborhood! Be aware! Predator pic-addl
    • Check the registry by location for sex offenders located near Daycare centers, Schools, Camps, Church or anyplace you may be leaving your children, even Grandma and Grandpa’s house.
    • Check the registry by name for Church Officials, Teachers, Neighbors, Counselors, Private instruction Tutors, Bus Drivers, after school Activities leaders, Coaches etc.
    • Check them often. Take nothing for granted. Everyone is suspect.
  • Consult NCMEC’s prevention and safety education programs and materials for additional steps you and your children can take to help them feel empowered, and to know what they can do if they find themselves in a situation where they feel scared or compromised.
  • Finally, observe and listen; and TEACH CHILDREN to recognize and respond to anything that scares them. Children are very perceptive by nature. You are not ruining their childhood by talking to them when they are young. You may just be saving it!

Sex offenders place themselves in situations where children are! They make themselves appeal to children. This is NO Accident! Be SAVVY. We have the tools to fight these predators! LET’S USE THEM!

Leslie Mayorga R.N. BSN

1 “Know the Rules…General Tips for Parents and Guardians to Help Keep Their Children Safer” National Center for Missing & Exploited Children