Relationship Between Anxiety and ADHD

What is ADHD?

ADHD Definition

ADHD Definition

To clarify the relationship between anxiety and ADHD, lets first define each.  Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that begins in early childhood, usually between ages 3 and 6, and may continue into adulthood.  It affects a child’s ability to focus or concentrate and may affect their ability to be still.  The most common symptoms of ADHD are:

  • hyperactivity
  • inattention
  • impulsiveness
  • fidgeting or inability to sit still
  • difficulty completing tasks
  • disorganization
  • forgetfulness
  • careless mistakes

The cause of ADHD is still unknown but research suggest some possible causes include genetics, premature birth, and environmental toxins.  Anxiety does not cause ADHD.  Let me say that again, anxiety does not cause ADHD.  In other words, children do not develop ADHD due to anxiety in their life.  One common misconception about ADHD that I’ve heard time and time again is that it is an anxiety disorder.  This is absolutely false.


What is an Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are a form of mental illness where people feel stressed, panicked, uneasy, or scared when those feelings are unwarranted.  They may experience shortness of breath, panic attacks, nightmares, tremors, sweating, insomnia, etc.  The symptoms can get so severe that it impacts their daily activities, relationships, school, or work.  The most common symptoms of Anxiety Disorder are:

  • fear with no apparent cause
  • inability to control worry
  • irritability
  • trouble sleeping
  • headaches
  • stomach aches

Relationship Between Anxiety and ADHD

Relationship Between Anxiety and ADHD

Relationship Between Anxiety and ADHD

ADHD and Anxiety Disorders are two very different types of medical conditions.  ADHD is a neurological disorder, things are wired differently in the brain while Anxiety is purely mental.  Anxiety does not cause ADHD, nor does ADHD cause Anxiety Disorders.  However, the conditions can coexist and ADHD can cause some anxiety.

In fact, the Anxiety Disorders Association of America estimates that almost 50% of people with ADHD also have an anxiety disorder.  This may present in the form of “obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, social anxiety, or panic disorder,” according to clinical psychologist and clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School, Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D.

ADHD can be highly intrusive and cause many more negative situations than normal.  For example, children are often judged for being fidgety or impulsive.  They may forget their homework frequently and therefore get into trouble more often.  They find that adults are frequently angry with them or disappointed in them.  These negative situations often cause some overwhelming stress and anxiety, especially for those sensitive children that hate to disappoint.  Children with anxiety may have trouble concentrating when they’re feeling anxious.  But children with ADHD have trouble concentrating almost always, no matter how they feel.  Children that avoid situations that cause them fear typically feel anxiety.  Children with ADHD are typically impulsive and act without thinking about it so much.


Anxiety vs. ADHD

Anxiety vs. ADHD

Accurate Diagnoses

Another thing to consider with the relationship between anxiety and ADHD is that both show similar symptoms that can be mistaken for another underlying condition.  For example, when my son was 3 he was afraid of airplanes flying by.  We lived in a third floor apartment just blocks from the airport.  This fear seemed to be anxiety related and we questioned a possible anxiety disorder, we called them irrational fears.

What we later found out was that my son had Sensory Processing Disorder, he was sensory defensive toward sound and it was the loud noise of the jets flying by that bothered him and caused the fear.  Another example, my son would often twitch or jerk randomly.  Suddenly his leg would kick out while sitting on the couch watching TV and he didn’t know why that happened.  His pediatrician associated that with ADHD fidgeting.  ADHD was his first diagnosis.  However, after more testing and more specialists, we found that my son actually has Epilepsy.  What we were seeing was seizure activity.  Epilepsy is his primary diagnosis.  According to his neuropsychologist, the ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, chronic tics, Narcolepsy, etc. are all secondary conditions that are exacerbated by the Epilepsy.


How Can You Help?

The problem with these disorders, like the relationship between anxiety and ADHD, is that they all share similar symptoms and mimic each other.  Common people and pediatricians alike have trouble distinguishing which symptoms belong to what medical condition without extensive testing.  We see the smoke and try to put out the fire before determining what is causing the fire in the first place.  While Anxiety and ADHD can share symptoms and can co-exist, they are two very different disorders and treating them incorrectly can make the problem even worse.

Educate Yourself

Educate Yourself

Concluding that ADHD is a made up label for children that are simply experiencing anxiety can cause many problems.  Being misunderstood, children experience many more negative situations and without teaching them how to understand and address them appropriately, situations can get drastically worse and lead to much more dire situations such as chronic depression and suicidal thoughts.

You can help by raising awareness on these different conditions and being more understanding with both children and parents when you see what appears to be misbehavior in public.  These invisible conditions cause some really harsh judgements that only make situations worse for the children suffering with the condition and the parents trying to help them cope with it.  Don’t be so quick to dismiss the labels we use when we attempt to gain a little understanding.  The conditions are real.  The suffering is real.  Put yourself in their shoes.




If you’ve experienced similar issues and would like to share, please let us know what you’ve experienced!

Quiz: Do I Have Narcolepsy?

What Is Narcolepsy

What Is Narcolepsy

What is Narcolepsy?

Quiz: Do I have Narcolepsy?  What is it exactly?  Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by the brain failing to regulate sleep-wake cycles.  For most people, it takes about 90 minutes after falling asleep to reach the first stage of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep which is when we dream and our muscles are paralyzed.  Throughout the night, people alternate between REM and non-REM sleep.  With narcolepsy, REM sleep happens almost immediately and also occurs involuntarily during waking hours.

A common misperception of Narcolepsy is that people with the disorder are excessively sleepy.  However, Narcolepsy does not affect the amount of sleep the person needs, they sleep a normal amount of time in comparison but are unable to control the timing of their sleep.  This is where there are instances of falling asleep at work or school, or while driving.  That is not to say that all people that fall asleep behind the wheel are narcoleptic.

Narcolepsy affects both sexes and typically begins showing significant symptoms in adolescence or early adulthood.  The symptoms tend to gradually get worse over time.  Researchers recently found that there may be a link between Narcolepsy and a hypocretin production deficiency in the brain.  Do you think you may have Narcolepsy?  Ask yourself the questions in the below quiz: Do I have Narcolepsy, answer honestly.  If you answered yes to multiple questions, you may want to talk to your doctor.


Narcolepsy Symptoms

  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
    Nap Attack Sitting in Office Chair

    Nap Attack Sitting in Office Chair

    • This is the most common symptom.  A big differentiator between this symptom and those without the disorder is that for Narcolepsy patients, this can occurs even when they’ve gotten a full night’s sleep.
    • They may fall asleep while conversing with others, eating, driving, working, or other inappropriate times.  My son once fell asleep during a conversation sitting at the table in Denny’s while eating meal.
  • Cataplexy
    • Sudden loss of muscle tone (going limp) which can be triggered by emotional stimulation such as laughing, being surprised, or angered.
    • May result in the person collapsing.
    • May only affect certain muscle groups.
    • May cause the knees to buckle.
    • May cause slurred speech.
    • Does not lose consciousness as they sometimes do with seizures.
  • Hypnogogic Hallucinations
    My Son Hiding From Hallucinations

    My Son Hiding From Hallucinations

    • Scary and weird dream-like experiences that happen during the transition from wakefulness to sleep and include the person’s actual environment.
    • My son, when he was in second grade, described this as the items hanging on his walls moving and the family pictures turning into terrifying monster faces.
  • Sleep Paralysis
    • Temporary inability to move while waking up.
    • May last a few seconds to a several minutes.
    • May accompany hallucinations.
  • Disturbed Nocturnal Sleep
    • Inability to sleep through the night, waking up repeatedly.
  • Leg Jerking
  • Nightmares
  • Restlessness


Quiz: Do I Have Narcolepsy?

If you suspect you have Narcolepsy, ask yourself the following questions.  Write them down along with your answers.  If you answered yes to multiple questions, start a sleep diary.  In your sleep diary, record the symptoms you experience, when you experienced them, when you slept, how long you slept, what dreams you remember, any hallucinations you experience or paralysis.  Do this for a few weeks and then take it to your doctor.  Your doctor will ask want to know your complete medical history as well as that of your family.  You will likely then be referred to a sleep specialist to begin testing for a sleep disorder.

  1. Do your muscles go limp when you laugh or get excited?
  2. Do you fall asleep in inappropriate places such as work or school?
  3. Are you clumsy or prone to accidents?
  4. Have you had to pull off of the road because you were sleepy?
  5. Have you ever fallen asleep while driving?
  6. Do you have trouble focusing or concentrating?
  7. Do you have vivid dreams as you’re falling asleep?
  8. Do you have vivid dreams as you’re waking up?
  9. Do you fall asleep during movies or at other events such as reunions or parties?
  10. Do you ever feel like you’re paralyzed when in bed?
  11. Do you ever have nap attacks and need to lay down during the day?

Please note, answering yes to multiple questions here does not necessarily indicate that you have Narcolepsy.  It simply indicates that you may have some sleep issues that should be addressed by a sleep specialist.  For example, I experience many of these myself.  I have Sleep Apnea which is not the same as Narcolepsy.

Narcolepsy Treatment

Narcolepsy does not have a known cure.  It can be treated to help the symptoms, though.  Typically, doctors will prescribe stimulant or anti-depressant medications to help treat this disorder.  Behavior Therapy may also be prescribed.  If you’ve taken the above quiz: Do I Have Narcolepsy, and determined that you might, rest assured that there are treatment options that can help your symptoms.  But do talk to your doctor you need an official diagnosis to gain effective treatment options.

Narcolepsy Diagnosis

Narcolepsy Diagnosis

Changes in lifestyle can help reduce some of the symptoms.  Behavior Therapy will help to set the appropriate changes such as taking scheduled naps during the day and not eating heavy meals.  They may also work with you to set a sleep schedule and advise you to strictly adhere to it.  You’ll want to be on a routine exercise and meal schedule free of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine.  While not always effective, these practices may help with some of the symptoms of the disorder.

Counseling may also be recommended to help you cope with the disorder.  The general public has many misconceptions of this disorder and it is not widely understood.  I can’t tell you how many times I was told to “make” my son go to sleep.  How do you do that?  I made him go to bed at a certain time each night but I had no way to make him go to sleep without drugging him and I don’t believe in that, in fact, I believe…last I checked…it was a felony to drug people?  Maybe I missed a memo.

Where medications are concerned, there are several different types of medications that may help reduce Narcolepsy symptoms.  Stimulants are used to help eliminate the excessive daytime sleepiness and improve alertness.  Antidepressants can help with the cataplexy, hypnagogic hallucinations, and sleep paralysis.  Sodium oxybate may be prescribed to help induce sleep, reduce daytime sleepiness, reduce cataplexy, and improve disturbed nocturnal sleep.  As with any other medications, the goal is to improve symptoms without significant side effects.  However, before agreeing to and implementing these treatments, be sure that all appropriate testing was done and you feel in your gut that the doctor is correct.  Especially when it comes to your children.  Narcolepsy is yet another medical condition that mimics ADHD symptoms and other neurological conditions.  In my son’s case, he can’t be treated with Narcolepsy medications because that would make his Epilepsy worse.  Therefore, we treat his Narcolepsy with Behavior Therapy only.


Narcolepsy is one of a very long list of medical conditions that has symptoms which mimic ADHD.  The big problem with this is that children with Narcolepsy may go undetected because ADHD medications help some of the symptoms.  This can lead to injury from accidents and heightened fears in your child from the paralysis and hallucinations.

With an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment, many narcoleptic people grow up to be very successful individuals.  There have been many:

  • Aaron Flahavan (Soccer Player)
  • Arthur Lowe (Actor)
  • Dr. Claire Allen (Research Scientist with the British Antarctic Survey)
  • Franck Bouyer (French Cyclist)
  • Gabe Barham (Drummer, Percussionist)
  • George Church (Harvard Professor and Molecular Geneticist)
  • Harold M. Ickes (Politician, Lawyer, White House Deputy Chief of Staff for President Bill Clinton)
  • Harriet Tubman (Abolitionist, Activist, Humanitarian, Union Spy, Writer)
  • Jimmy Kimmel (Comedian, TV Producer, Film Producer, Screenwriter, etc.)
  • Jinkx Monsoon (Stage Performer)
  • Kurt Cobain (Guitarist, Songwriter, Musician, Lead Singer of Nirvana)
  • Lenny Bruce (Comedian, Screenwriter, Actor)
  • Louis Braille (Inventor of Braille)
  • Nastassja Kinski (Model, Actor)
  • Nicole Jeray (Pro Golfer LPGA)
  • Teresa Nielsen Hayden (Editor, Essayist, Teacher, Author nominated for 5 Hugo Awards)
  • Thomas Edison (Entrepreneur, Film Producer, Scientist, Inventor of the Light Bulb, etc.)
  • Winston Churchill (Statesman, Painter, Politician, Journalist, Oretor, etc.)

As always, with accurate diagnosis and effective treatment, narcoleptic individuals can bring an abundance of creativity, compassion, and brilliance to society.  While it’s easy to get caught up in blaming parents, vaccines, or poor decisions for their child’s disabilities, criticizing labels and other methods of raising awareness, and theorizing about healthcare conspiracies, these people are part of our everyday lives and we owe them understanding at the very least.  They give us the same in the best ways they know how.

Raise Awareness

Raise Awareness

Yes, there is an epidemic of misdiagnoses that causes annoyance and frustration surrounding children with ADHD, Narcolepsy, and many other conditions and disabilities.  The problem is that the very labels that society criticizes us for using are the ones that lead to our children getting the help that they desperately need.  Ignorance is bliss.  It’s easy to judge when it’s not your problem.  How about we educate ourselves and raise some awareness instead?  Be part of the solution, not the problem.

Talk soon,


Epilepsy Symptoms in Children

Epilepsy Symptoms in Children

Epilepsy Symptoms in Children
Copyright: radiantskies / 123RF Stock Photo

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is commonly known as a condition where a person has unprovoked seizures more than 24 hours apart.  However, a task force of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) redefined epilepsy in 2005 as “a disease characterized by an enduring predisposition to generate epileptic seizures and by the neurobiological, cognitive, psychological, and social consequences of this condition.”  The emphasis here is that a seizure, by itself, is an event whereas epilepsy is a disease involving recurrent unprovoked seizures.

Epilepsy is diagnosed when they have multiple seizures that were not caused by some known and reversible medical condition like alcohol withdrawal or extremely low blood sugar, according to the Epilepsy Foundation.  While typically the cause is completely unknown, epileptic seizures may come from a brain injury or a family history of epilepsy.

People with epilepsy may have one or many different types of seizures and may demonstrate other neurological problems.  Many of the epilepsy symptoms in children mimic that of ADHD, Autism, Tourette Syndrome, and many other neurological disorders.  With epilepsy, though, one’s safety can be significantly impacted so it is vital that an accurate diagnosis be obtained so that the most effective treatment can be implemented.

Types of Seizures

Different Types of Seizures Copyright: rob3000 / 123RF Stock Photo

The Epilepsy Foundation reports that the human brain is the source of all epilepsy.  While the condition may impact several different parts of the body, the electrical events causing the seizure occur in the brain.

A seizure is a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain caused by complex chemical changes occurring in the nerve cells.  Usually there’s a balance of brain cells that either excite or stop other brain cells from sending messages.  Seizures cause an imbalance between the exciting and stopping activities which causes an imbalance and triggers electrical activity.  How a person’s seizure presents itself is dependent upon which messages were impacted by the seizure activity.


Epilepsy Symptoms in Children

Like most other medical conditions, seizures affect different people in different ways.  Not all seizures are noticeable or stereotypic, meaning they don’t all do what people expect them to do based on historical cases.  Different things can happen during the different phases of a seizure, but again, symptoms vary from person to person.

Also, epilepsy symptoms in children come in a wide variety that closely mimic ADHD and other neurological conditions.  The ADHD type symptoms that parents see may be side effects of other conditions, such as epilepsy.  For example, my son would not sleep through the night for many years and would often come to my bed at night and then would fall asleep in class each day.  A sleep specialist determined he was having hallucinations at night causing fears.  A sleep study found that he was having seizure activity and not reaching REM sleep at all.


Some people can feel a seizure is coming.  They may feel it days or hours before it happens which gives them some opportunity to prepare for it.  Not all epilepsy patients can feel it coming though.  Prodome is considered the beginning of a seizure but it isn’t actually part of the seizure.  This is where a person may experience feelings, sensations, or changes in behavior that may indicate a seizure is coming in the days or hours ahead.  It gives the person an opportunity to find safety, take their medication, or use a rescue treatment to try and prevent the seizure.  An aura is considered the very beginning of the seizure as it is actually part of the seizure.  Not everybody gets auras.  Like prodome, an aura is a feeling, sensation, or change in behavior that is similar each time a seizure occurs.  Auras can often occur without a seizure following and are considered to be a partial seizure.

Common Auras:
  • Headache

    Epilepsy Symptoms

    Epilepsy Symptoms
    Copyright: ralwel / 123RF Stock Photo

  • Smells
  • Sounds
  • Tastes
  • Nausea
  • Dizzy or Lightheaded
  • Fear/Panic
  • Racing Thoughts
  • Strange or Pleasant Feelings/Sensations
  • Numbness or Tingling
  • Visual Loss or Blurring
  • Loss of Ability to Speak
  • Deja Vu (a feeling of being there before)
  • Jamais Vu (a feeling that something is very familiar)


The ictal phase, or middle of the seizure, correlates with the electrical activity in the brain.  It begins with the first symptom experienced, including the aura, and lasts until the end of the seizure activity.  The visible symptoms of the seizure may actually last longer than the seizure itself.  These may be aftereffects of the seizure or may be unrelated entirely.

Common Seizure Symptoms:
  • Any symptoms listed for Auras
  • Confusion
  • Memory Lapses or Forgetfulness
  • Daydreaming/Zoning
  • Blackouts/Loss of Awareness
  • Pass outs/Loss of Consciousness
  • Distorted Sounds/Loss of Hearing
  • Unusual Smells (i.e. Burning Rubber)
  • Unusual Tastes
  • Loss of Vision/Blurriness
  • Flashing Lights
  • Visual Hallucinations
  • Feeling Detached/Out of Body Sensations
Common Physical Symptoms:
  • Automatisms
    • Repeated Non-Purposeful Movements
      • Chewing
      • Dressing
      • Lip Smacking
      • Running
      • Undressing
      • Walking
      • Waving
  • Convulsions
    • Loss of Consciousness
    • Body Becomes Rigid/Tense
    • Fast Jerking Movements
  • Loss of Movement or Muscle Tone
    Epilepsy Symptoms in Children

    Epilepsy Symptoms
    Copyright: AlienCat / 123RF Stock Photo

    • Head may fall forward
    • Body may slump or fall
  • Rapid Blinking or Staring
    • Eyes may roll, look sideways, or look upward
  • Speech Difficulties
    • Garbled Speech
    • Nonsense Talk
    • Abrupt Stop to Talking
  • Tremors
    • Twitching or Jerking Movements
      • Arms
      • Legs
      • One/Both Sides of Face
      • Whole Body
      • May start in one place and spread
      • May stay in one place
  • Rigid Muscles
    • May fall suddenly
  • Drooling/Unable to Swallow
  • Sudden Loss of Urine/Stool
  • Sweating
  • Loss of Skin Tone
    • Looks Pale or Flushed
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Clenched Teeth
  • Biting Tongue
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Breathing Difficulty


The postictal phase, or end of the seizure, consists of the recovery period.  How long this period lasts and what symptoms occur depend on the type of seizure and which part of the brain it impacted.  This varies from person to person.

Common Post-Seizure Symptoms:
  • Anxiousness
  • Confusion
  • Delayed Response
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Exhaustion

  • Fatigue
  • Fear
  • Frustration
  • Headache
  • Injury from Falling
  • Lightheadedness
  • Memory Lapses
  • Nausea
  • Sadness
  • Shame
  • Sleepiness
  • Thirst
  • Weakness

Epilepsy Treatment

Often, the first step to treating epilepsy is through medication.  This is the most common method of treatment to control or prevent seizures.  Many different anti-epilepsy drugs (AEDs) help control seizures and you and the doctor will discuss types of seizures and other factors in order to pick the most beneficial for you and your circumstances.  Be sure to always talk to your doctor before starting a stopping a medicine as this can cause very severe seizures that can lead to death.

You will also want to learn about seizure first aid.  Basic seizure first aid will help you determine what actions to take when you or someone you know is having a seizure in order to be safe and comfortable.  Knowing these steps could save a life.

Epilepsy Diagnosis

Epilepsy Diagnosis
Copyright: designer491 / 123RF Stock Photo

When medication does not effectively control seizures, and more than one medication has been tried, doctors may consider surgery as the next treatment option.  Like AEDs, there is no guarantee that the surgery will control the seizures so the doctors will work with you to weigh the benefits against the risks of doing surgery.

Dietary Therapy may also be considered to try to help control seizures.  Specifically, a Ketogenic diet or the modified Atkins diet have been shown to be effective.

There are new devices being developed to help control and prevent seizures, such as Responsive Neurostimulation and Vagus Nerve Stimulation.  There are also seizure alerting devices to help detect seizures for those that don’t have the more obvious symptoms during seizures.

Herbal Therapy and Medical Marijuana are currently being investigated for treatment of epilepsy.

Cause of Epilepsy

In many cases, a cause for epilepsy cannot be found.  There are two primary types of seizures: generalized seizures and partial seizures.

Generalized Seizures: These types of seizures affect both sides of the brain at the same time.  Doctors believe hereditary factors play a role in these types of seizures.

Partial Seizures:  These types of seizures affect only a limited area of the brain.  For example, my son’s seizures affect only his left frontal lobe.  There are many causes for partial seizures, though may not always be identified.  Genetic factors may play a role in these types of seizures.

Epilepsy Conclusion

Epilepsy Conclusion
Copyright: tashatuvango / 123RF Stock Photo

Common Causes:
  • Brain Infection
  • Brain Injury
  • Cortical Displasias
  • Stroke
  • Tumor



It is so easy to get ADHD diagnosed, that children are often receiving the incorrect diagnosis and being ineffectively treated and/or medicated without further evaluation.

Epilepsy is one of a very long list of medical conditions that has symptoms which mimic ADHD.  The big problem with this is that children with ADHD are treated with medications that tend to make seizure disorders worse.  Stimulant medications are a definite no-no with Epilepsy as they tend to cause seizures.

With an accurate diagnosis and effective seizure control, many epileptic people grow up to be very successful individuals.  There have been many:

  • Agatha Christie (Writer)
  • Alexander the Great (Ancient Greek King)
  • Alfred the Great (Anglo-Saxon King)
  • Alfred Nobel (Swedish Chemist, Engineer, Innovator, Manufacturer, and Inventor)
  • Aristotle (Greek Philosopher)
  • Bud Abbott (Producer, Comedian, Actor)
  • Chanda Gunn (Ice Hockey Player)
  • Charles Dickens (Novelist)
  • Charles V of Spain (Ruler of Holy Roman Empire)
  • Danny Glover (Actor)
  • DJ Hapa (Executive Director)
  • Edgar Allen Poe (Author and Literary Critic)
  • Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky (Russian Writer and Essayist)
  • George Frederick Handel (Composer)
  • Hannibal (Military Commander and Tactician)
  • Hector Berliouz (French Romantic Composer)
  • Hugo Weaving (Film, Stage, and Voice actor)
  • Isaac Newton (Scientist)
  • James Madison (POTUS)
  • Julius Caesar
  • Leonardo Da Vinci (Architect, Botanist, Musician, Scientist, Mathematician, Engineer, Inventor, Painter, Writer, etc.)
  • Lewis Carrol (English Author, Photographer, Mathematician, Anglican Clergyman, Logician)
  • Lord Byron
  • Louis XIII of France (King)
  • Margaux Hemmingway (Model and Film Actress)
  • Martin Luther (German Monk, Theologian, and Church Reformer)
  • Michelangelo (Sculptor)
  • Napoleon Bonaparte (French Military and Political Leader)
  • Neil Young (Musician)
  • Nicolo Paganini (Italian Violinist, Violist, Guitarist, and Composer)
  • Paul I of Russia (Emperor)
  • Peter Tchaikovsky (Russian Composer)
  • Peter the Great
  • Pythagoras (Greek Philosopher)
  • Richard Burton (Actor)
  • Robert Schumann (German Composer)
  • Sir Walter Scott (Scottish Historical Novelist and Poet)
  • Socrates (Greek Philosopher)
  • Theodore Roosevelt (Soldier, Historian, Explorer, Naturalist, Author, Governor, POTUS)
  • Truman Capote (Writer)
  • Vincent van Gogh (Artist)

Clearly, with accurate diagnosis and effective treatment, epileptic individuals can bring an abundance of creativity, compassion, and brilliance to society.  While it’s easy to get caught up in blaming parents, vaccines, or poor decisions for their child’s disabilities, criticizing labels and other methods of raising awareness, and theorizing about healthcare conspiracies, these people are part of our everyday lives and we owe them understanding at the very least.  They give us the same in the best ways they know how.

Epilepsy Awareness

Epilepsy Awareness
Copyright: tzeyrek / 123RF Stock Photo

Yes, there is an epidemic of misdiagnoses that causes annoyance and frustration surrounding children with ADHD, Epilepsy, and many other conditions and disabilities.  The problem is that the very labels that society criticizes us for using are the ones that lead to our children getting the help that they desperately need.  Ignorance is bliss.  It’s easy to judge when it’s not your problem.  How about we educate ourselves and raise some awareness instead?  Be part of the solution, not the problem.

Talk soon,


Chronic Motor Tic Disorder Treatment

Chronic Motor Tic Disorder…What is it?

Chronic Tic Disorder

What is it?
Copyright: radiantskies / 123RF Stock Photo

Chronic Motor Tic Disorder, much like Tourette Syndrome, is a condition in which people experience fast, unvoluntary movements in various places on their body or sudden vocal outbursts.  Unlike Tourette Syndrome, they will experience either motor tics or vocal tics, but not both.  When more than one motor tic AND a verbal tics are present, the condition is referred to as Tourette Syndrome.  Transient or Provisional Tic Disorder is when the person experiences the tics for a year or less.  When the tics  breach a full year, it then becomes chronic tic disorder and can be referred to either chronic motor tic disorder or chronic vocal tic disorder, dependent upon which type of tic the person is experiencing.

It is believed that this disorder is caused by physical or chemical abnormalities in the brain such as neurotransmitters misfiring.  Though doctors are not entirely sure what causes this condition as of yet.  Previously, doctors thought that chronic motor tic disorder was being triggered as a side affect of medications that were used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  Though recently, studies have shown that this is not the case.  It seems to be more common in boys and typically lasts 4 to 6 years.

Tics usually start around 5 years old and typically don’t start to improve until the child reaches the age of 12, sometimes carrying on into adulthood.  Chronic tics may be a form of Tourette’s Syndrome, although Chronic Motor Tic Disorder is more common.

People are usually aware of the tics they are experiencing but may not associate them with being tics.  Children especially do not understand why they are happening, they just sort of feel the need to do it.  Tics are unvoluntary, so the person doesn’t have much control over it.  They can sometimes postpone the tic for several moments but will not feel relief until the tic is carried out.  Sometimes people experience abnormal sensations in the area where the tic occurs until it is carried out.

One of the most heartbreaking stories for me to recall for my son is related to his tic disorder.  My son was sitting in church one Sunday and just could not stop clearing his throat.  His tics were worse at the time because he was visiting family out of state and so was out of his normal routine.  My son was told several times during church to stop clearing his throat and when he couldn’t, he was told that he was disturbing everybody.  He was only about 5 years old at the time and could not yet verbalize his feelings to the extent that he could explain a tic.  The family member that told him that did not understand that he couldn’t help it so it left him feeling embarrassed and hurt.


Symptoms of Tic Disorder

Much like other developmental conditions, the symptoms of Chronic Motor Tic Disorder vary from person to person.  The type and intensity of tics varies from person to person and each person may experience varying levels of intensity.

Motor Tics:

chronic tic disorder

Another Tic Disorder
Copyright: radiantskies / 123RF Stock Photo

  • Facial grimacing
  • Lip smacking
  • Rapid blinking
  • Jaw popping
  • Nose twitching
  • Head jerking
  • Shrugging
  • Sudden jerking or stretching of the limbs
  • Contractions of the abdomen or diaphragm

Vocal Tics:

  • Throat clearing
  • Groaning
  • Grunting
  • Sudden verbal outbursts


While triggers are not always present, tics may get worse with:
  • Stress
  • Heat
  • Excitement
  • Fatigue
Tics may also occur during various levels of sleep.

Diagnosis of Chronic Motor Tic Disorder

Chronic Motor Tic Disorder Diagnosis

Chronic Motor Tic Disorder Diagnosis
Copyright: gunnar3000 / 123RF Stock Photo

Doctors and Pediatricians usually diagnose Tic Disorder during a regular examination without the need for any specific tests.  The disorder is diagnosed when the tics have been present for a year or more and when the periods of time where tics haven’t occurred do not last more than 3 months at a time.  They also must have started before the child turned 18.

Chronic Motor Tic Disorder Treatment

Much of the time, tics do not need to be treated as they will eventually be outgrown and don’t have too much of a negative impact on the person.  But sometimes the tics are more severe and can affect daily activities such as social life, work and/or school.  In these cases, doctors may prescribe medications, such as dopamine blockers, to help reduce or prevent tics.  But these medications can have negative side affects like movement problems or stunted thinking, such as confusion or paranoia.

Children may also be referred to a psychotherapist or behavior therapist for treatment.  Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT) has been shown to improve the symptoms in children, according to a 2010 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  This approach teaches children to recognize the internal urges of tics and replace the tic with a more acceptable response.

Children who develop this disorder between ages 5 and 8 typically recover on their own within 4 to 6 years.  However, if the disorder develops when they are older and continue into their 20’s, they may or may not outgrow the condition.

One key aspect for proper chronic motor tic disorder treatment is an accurate diagnosis.  Other disabilities can mimic this disorder, such as Tourette’s Syndrome or Epilepsy.  So getting an accurate diagnosis is vital to treating the disorder most effectively.  Medications often tend to have negative side effects so it is always important to ensure that the most effective prescription is ordered when medicinal intervention is necessary.

Also, don’t be too quick to dismiss labels on children.  Remember that there is a huge difference between negative labels and medical labels.  The medical diagnosis that you might consider a label just might be the exact thing a child needs in order to get the help that they deserve.

If you’d like to help me raise some awareness on these “invisible” conditions that are often largely misunderstood, please hit share and get the word out.

Talk soon,


Sensory Processing Disorder – Toddlers

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

Sensory Processing Disorder

What is it?
Copyright: lwphotography / 123RF Stock Photo

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) used to be called Sensory Integration (DSI) Dysfunction.  It causes sensory signals to not get organized into appropriate motor responses and behaviors when the sensory messages are received by the nervous system.  In other words, the sensory messages are misinterpreted by the nervous system.

A study done by the SPD Foundation found that 5% to 10% of children without other disabilities experience SPD while it is prevalent in 40% to 88% of children with various other disabilities.  It is believed that there may be a relationship between Sensory Processing Disorder and the atypical behaviors associated with pervasive developmental disorders like Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Fragile X Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy.

The study also found that while symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder overlap with other conditions, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in particular, the empirical data in the study proves that the two conditions are completely distinct from each other.

Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) p. 249 – 250 by Lucy Jane Miller, PhD, OTR lists ten research-supported statements about SPD:

  1. It is a complex disorder of the brain affecting both adults and developing children.
  2. Tools used to identify children with the disorder include: parent surveys, clinical assessments, and laboratory protocols.
  3. The prevalence of SPD in the general population is at least 1 in 20 people.
  4. The occurrence of SPD in children who are gifted and those with ADHD, Autism, and fragile X syndrome is much higher than that of the rest of the general population.
  5. A significant difference has been found between the physiology of typically developing children and those with SPD.
  6. Likewise, a significant difference has ben found between the physiology of children with ADHD and those with SPD.
  7. The disorder has unique sensory symptoms unexplained by other known disorders.
  8. Heredity could be one cause of the disorder.
  9. The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems of children with SPD are not functioning typically, according to laboratory studies.
  10. The theory that Occupational Therapy is an effective intervention for treating SPD symptoms is supported by preliminary research data and decades of anecdotal evidence.


Symptoms of SPD

Much like other developmental disabilities, the symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder vary from person to person, as well as age group.  A person may experience only some symptoms and at varying intensities.  Additionally, symptoms tend to vary by age group:

Infants & Toddlers:

  • Difficulty eating
  • Refusal to go to people other than parents
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Discomfort in clothing
  • Lack of toy play
  • Difficulty shifting from one activity to another (Resistance to change)
  • Slow to respond to pain or injury
  • Resistant to physical affection or cuddling
  • Unable to calm self with pacifier, toys, etc.
  • Poor balance or clumsiness
  • Little or no babbling or vocalizing
  • Easily startled
  • Extremely active (constantly moving)
  • Delays crawling, standing, walking or running


  • Difficulty potty training
  • Overreacts or overly sensitive to stimulation (touch, nose, smells, tastes, etc.)
  • Unaware of being touched or bumped
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills (fastening buttons, using crayons, eating with utensils, etc.)
  • Clumsy and awkward (unsure how to move body in relation to space)
  • In constant motion
  • Touches everything around them
  • Gets in other people’s personal space
  • Difficulty making friends
  • Overly aggressive or passive and withdrawn
  • Difficulty with transition
  • Difficult to calm, intense
  • Unexpected temper tantrums or mood changes
  • Seems inappropriately weak, slumps or slouches
  • Speech is difficult to understand
  • Difficulty understanding verbal instructions

School Age:

  • Overly sensitive to stimulation (touch, noise, smells, taste, etc.)
  • Easily distracted in the classroom
  • Fidgety or squirmy, in constant motion
  • Easily overwhelmed in social settings (Recess, playground, classroom, etc.)
  • Slow to perform tasks
  • Difficulty with motor tasks (handwriting, tying shoes, etc.)
  • Clumsy, stumbles often, slouches
  • Craves wrestling and rough housing
  • Slow to learn new activities
  • Difficulty making friends (overly aggressive or passive/withdrawn)
  • Hyper-focuses on one task, difficulty transitioning
  • Confuses similar sounding words (misinterprets questions/requests)
  • Difficulty reading (especially out loud)
  • Stumbles with words, speech lacks fluency, hesitant rhythm

Adolescence & Adulthood:

  • Over-sensitive to environmental stimulation (not liking to be touched)
  • Avoids visually stimulating environments and/or sensitivity to sounds
  • Slow and/or lethargic starting the day
  • Often begins new tasks at one time and leaves many unfinished
  • Uses inappropriate amount of force handling objects
  • Clumsy, bumps into things, unexplained bruises
  • Difficulty learning new motor tasks or sequencing steps of a task
  • Needs physical activities to help maintain focus throughout the day
  • Difficulty staying focused at work or in meetings
  • Requires more clarification than usual, misinterprets questions and requests
  • Difficulty reading, especially out loud
  • Stumbles over words, speech lacks fluency
  • Must read material multiple times to absorb the content
  • Difficulty forming thoughts and ideas in oral presentations


Diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Diagnosis

How is SPD Diagnosed?
Copyright: designer491 / 123RF Stock Photo

SPD identification typically starts with a screening by an Occupational Therapist.  In my son’s case, his pediatrician referred us to the Occupational Therapist due to his delayed motor skills.  I sat in the lobby and filled out the parent checklist while the therapist evaluated my son.

She was able to tell me that day that he certainly had sensitivities to audio and tactile sensory input.  Of course, she would need to review the results of her evaluation and would be in touch.  Her highly detailed 9 page report on the results confirmed SPD.  We started occupational therapy immediately.

Sometimes the evaluation may warrant additional evaluations.  But often times, the Occupational Therapist is able to make the determination using standardized assessment tools.  These tools often include:

  • Bruinlinks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency – Second Edition
  • Goal Oriented Assessment of Life Skills (GOAL)
  • Miller Assessment for Preschoolers (MAP)
  • Miller Function and Participation Scales (MFUN)
  • Movement Assessment Battery for Children – Second Edition (Movement ABC-2)
  • Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests (SIPT)


SPD Treatment

As with Autism and ADHD, early intervention is important with SPD.  The symptoms of the disorder are not manageable by the child, the parents, the teachers, or anybody else alone.  Children often come across as different, weird, or awkward as a result.

Unfortunately, most children are not taught that everybody is unique and that they shouldn’t judge those that are different.  As a result, children with disabilities such as SPD, Autism, ADHD, etc. tend to be made fun of or negatively labeled as difficult, problem children or badly behaved children.

Sensory Labels

Build a Support System

These negative labels placed on children does cause years of suffering needlessly, exacerbates their already low self-confidence and self-esteem which steers them further and further down the rabbit hole.  Labels such as hyper, weird, aggressive, withdrawn, and different only adds to the child’s feelings of failure from not being able to do what other kids can do effortlessly (such as tying their shoes or riding a bike).

By getting an accurate diagnosis and beginning early intervention, we can provide the correct labeling for their “unusual” behaviors and help to stop the undeserved judging, stereotyping, and punishing of behaviors that they are simply unable to control.

We are able to help these children gain understanding and empathy from people and all around better treatment by giving them a positive label that identifies that the behaviors are due to an undesired and uninvited neurological condition.  It’s not the child’s fault, and it’s not the parent’s fault.

Early intervention also allows treatment to begin early on in life, while the child’s brain is still developing.  This lessons the impact of the disorder on the child later on in life.  It allows both the parents and the child to understand certain behaviors so that they can learn appropriate coping skills and reduce the stress caused by such behaviors.

If you have a child that seems to be displaying one or more of these symptoms, talk to your child’s pediatrician quickly.  Early diagnosis and intervention will help get your baby understand what is happening with them and why they are sensational.  If you have children that don’t have these symptoms, please educate your child on invisible disabilities and teach them to be accepting and understanding of those different than the norm.

Lastly, don’t be so quick to dismiss labels on children.  Remember that there is a huge difference between negative labels and medical labels.  The medical diagnosis that you might consider a label just might be the exact thing a child needs in order to get the help that they deserve.

If you’d like to help me raise some awareness on these “invisible” conditions that are often largely misunderstood, please hit share and get the word out.

Talk soon,


Autism – Signs, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment


What is Autism?
Copyright: radiantskies / 123RF Stock Photo

What is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disorder that typically appears in early childhood.  It is characterized by a certain set of behaviors that affects people in various ways and varying degrees in regards to interaction with others and ability to communicate.

According to the ADDM autism prevalence report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in every 68 births in the United States is affected by ASD.  Children can be evaluated and diagnosed with the disorder as early as age 2, however most are not diagnosed until after four years of age.

While many disagree with putting labels on children, especially at such a young age, the proper diagnosis and treatment of conditions like Autism and ADHD opens opportunities for the nation to learn how to serve families and children affected by these disabilities.  That is, while you may see it as a label, I see it as another justification for scientists and researchers to continue testing theories and finding ways to help our children live somewhat of a happy, healthy life… in spite of their disabilities.

Autism Awareness

It’s not just a label!
Copyright: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo

The Autism Society estimates that the costs for autism in the United States, per year, is almost $90 billion dollars.  That’s ten zeros, folks.  These funds go toward medical research, insurance costs, uncovered medical expenses, Medicaid wavers, educational expenses, counseling and other therapies, housing, caregiver expenses, transportation, and employment.

A study conducted by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the London School of Economics found that expenses for people with autism alone range from $1.4 million to $2.4 million for those who may also have intellectual disability.  That is, the lifetime cost of caring for JUST ONE person with autism can top $2.4 million.

These costs include everything from medical treatment, school support, therapies, employment accommodations, and lost wages from the patient’s and caregiver’s struggles to maintain employment.  The biggest contributors to such a high price tag, according to the study, include special education costs, housing during adulthood, and indirect costs such as lost productivity.  It is believed that early interventions that are specifically aimed at helping adults with autism and approaches early on in may help reduce the need for long-term care.

Autism Piece

True Gifts to Humankind
Copyright: greatnotions / 123RF Stock Photo

Like ADHD, there is no cure and people don’t outgrow it, but symptoms are treatable.  Individuals with Autism may exhibit any combination of symptoms while not necessarily all of them.  Some symptoms may be more intense than others.  Early diagnosis (labeling) and intervention lead to much more improved outcomes as individuals with ASD reach adulthood.  For this reason, the CDC encourages that we know the signs and act early.  The symptoms of autism can worsen without early intervention.


Symptoms of Autism

  • No babbling or cooing by 12 months
  • No gesturing by 12 months (e.g., pointing, waving, grasping, etc.)
  • No single words said by 16 months
  • No two-word phrases by 24 months
  • Any loss of language or social skill at any age
  • Difficulty making and/or maintaining eye contact
  • Difficulty maintaining conversation
  • Lack of interest in peer relationships
  • Delays in spoken language
  • Repetitive use of language mannerisms (e.g., hissing, growling, etc.)
  • Repetitive use of motor mannerisms (e.g., rocking, tapping, twirling objects, flapping hands, etc.)
  • Difficulty with executive functioning
  • Difficulty with reasoning and planning
  • Intense interests
  • Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
  • Sensory sensitivities
  • Poor motor skills
  • Persistent fixation on specific parts of objects


Autism Treatment

ASD is very complex and treatment options for the condition are not equal.  There is no “one size fits all” approach to treating Autism, just like there isn’t for ADHD.  The symptoms vary from person to person and in varying degrees of intensity, so the treatment plan must be aimed at the strengths and weaknesses of each individual person.  It is important to remember that there is no cure, the treatments are aimed at addressing many of the challenges and symptoms associated with the condition.  The overall goal of any treatment option for Autism is to improve the quality of life for that individual.

Autism Help

It Takes a Village
Copyright: greatnotions / 123RF Stock Photo

In order to select the appropriate treatment approach, the family should first consult with the child’s medical team.  This may include a developmental pediatrician, neurologist, psychologist, speech therapist, learning consultant, occupational therapist, and any other professional knowledgeable on ASD.  The family and medical team can then try a combination of approaches in regards to education, vocational training, community living options, and support systems until they find what works most effectively for that individual.


Cause of Autism

While a single known cause of ASD has not been identified, it has been commonly accepted that abnormalities in brain structure or function are the cause of the disorder.  Differences in the brain’s shape or function have been identified in brain scans of patients with Autism.  Researchers are investigating links to heredity, medical problems, and genetics.

Autism Causes

Quit Trying to Blame Parents!
Copyright: mattz90 / 123RF Stock Photo

Some theories being researched hypothesize that problems during pregnancy and/or delivery or other environmental factors may be related.  These might include exposure to chemicals, viral infections, or metabolic imbalances.  In fact, a new epidemiological study from Sweden came out in December 2015 finding that “exposure to sex hormones early in life may be important to the development of autism in both sexes” which means that there is a higher risk of developing ASD for children born to mothers with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).  I’m thinking this debunks the myths about anxiety levels and bad parenting cause these “behavioral” problems in children.

Other medical conditions that may create a high risk, based on the frequency of autism development related to these conditions, are:

  • Congenital Rubella Syndrome
  • Fragile X Syndrome
  • Tuberous Sclerosis
  • Untreated Phenylketonuria (PKU)

Genetic theories are based on a pattern of Autism or other related disabilities running in families.  Irregular segments of genetic code are being sought after by researchers, though no single gene has been identified.  Some believe that it is related to an unstable cluster of genes may be interfering with brain development under certain conditions.



It is so easy to get ADHD diagnosed, that children are often receiving the incorrect diagnosis and being ineffectively treated and/or medicated without further evaluation.  Autism is one of a very long list of medical conditions that has symptoms which mimic ADHD.  The big problem with this is that children with Autism Spectrum Disorders need early intervention.  Treatment needs to start right away in order to help them function more effectively.  Treating them for ADHD instead may help some of the symptoms, but it hinders medical evaluations that could allow medical professionals to make an accurate diagnosis and delay much needed intervention.

Autism PeopleEarly intervention is key for Autistic children to learn how to thrive in a society that very much misunderstands them, in educational and social environments which don’t naturally accommodate their needs.  With an accurate diagnosis and early intervention, many autistic people grow up to be very successful individuals.  There have been many:

  • 50 Tyson (Rapper and Autism Activist)
  • Albert Einstein
  • Alexis Wineman (Miss Montana)
  • Alonzo Clemons (Clay Sculptor)
  • Amadeus Mozart
  • Amanda Baggs (Autism Advocate)
  • Andy Warholl
  • Bhumi Jensen
  • Birger Sellin (Author)
  • Caiseal Mor (Author, Musician, Artist)
  • Charles Darwin
  • Christopher Knowles (Poet)
  • Courtney Love (Frontwoman of Hole)
  • Daniel Tammet (British Autistic Savant)
  • Daryl Hannah (Actress)
  • Derek Paravicini (Blind Musician)
  • Dylan Scott Pierce (Wildlife Illustrator)
  • Elisabeth Hughes (Author)
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Evgeny Kissin (Russian Pianist)
  • Gary Numan (Singer and Songwriter)
  • Hans Christian Andersen
  • Henriett Seth F. (Autistic Savant, Poet, Writer and Artist)
  • Hikari Oe (Japanese Composer)
  • Isaac Newton
  • James Durbin (American Idol Front-runner)
  • James Hobley (British Dancer)
  • James Henry Pullen (British Carpenter)
  • Jason McElwain (Basketball Player)
  • Jessica-Jane Applegate (Paralympic Swimmer)
  • Jim Sinclair (Autism Rights Activist)
  • Jonathan Jayne (American Idol Contestant)
  • Jonathan Lerman (American Artist)
  • Leslie Lemke (Blind American Musician)
  • Luca Brecel (Belgian Professional Snooker Player)
  • Lucy Blackman (Educated Author)
  • Marty Balin (Singer and Songwriter)
  • Matthew Laborteaux (Actor)
  • Matt Savage (Jazz Prodigy)
  • Michelangelo
  • Michelle Dawson (Autism Researcher and Rights Activist)
  • Peter Tork (Musician)
  • Richard Wawro (Scottish Artist)
  • Stephen Wiltshire (Architectural Artist)
  • Temple Grandin (Systems Designer and Author)
  • Thristan Mendoz (Marimba Prodigy)
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Tito Mukhopadhyay (Author, Poet, Philopher)
  • Todd Hodgetts (Paralympic Shot Putter)
  • Tony DeBlois (Blind American Musician)
  • Vincent Philip D’Onofrio  (Actor, Director, Film Producer, Writer, Singer)

Clearly, with accurate diagnosis and effective treatment, autistic individuals can bring an abundance of creativity, compassion, and brilliance to society.  While it’s easy to get caught up in blaming parents for their child’s disabilities, criticizing labels and other methods of raising awareness, and theorizing about healthcare conspiracies, these people are part of our everyday lives and we owe them understanding at the very least.  They give us the same in the best ways they know how.

Autism Awareness

Help Raise Awareness
Copyright: splinex / 123RF Stock Photo

Yes, there is an epidemic of misdiagnoses that causes annoyance and frustration surrounding children with ADHD, Autism, and many other conditions and disabilities.  The problem is that the very labels that society criticizes us for using are the ones that lead to our children getting the help that they desperately need.  Ignorance is bliss.  It’s easy to judge when it’s not your problem.  How about we educate ourselves and raise some awareness instead?  Be part of the solution, not the problem.

Talk soon,


Overcoming Resistance to Change in Children with ADHD

Overcoming Resistance to Change

Overcoming resistance to change in anybody is a rather complex task.  For the ADHD child, the key is to start early.  It can be a bit tricky to pinpoint when your young child is resistant to change, though.  My son was about 3 years old when I began to figure it out.  There were a few major events that helped me pin point it:

  • #1 – Due to trouble getting him to go to sleep at night, we quickly developed a bedtime routine when he was two years old.  Take a bath, put pajamas on, brush teeth, ready a story, tuck in time, and goodnight.  After tucking him in, I would say, “I love you.”  He would say, “I love you too.”  I would say, “Sweet dreams.”  He would reply with the same.  I would say, “Goodnight.”  He would respond, “Goodnight.”  Then we would repeat each, twice, as I left the room.  This was absolutely the exact way it had to go every single night.  If we messed up any part of the routine, for example if I accidentally said sweet dreams first or if I only repeated it all once, we would have to start completely over or he would have a meltdown.
  • #2 – I took a different route home from work one day when he was three years old.  I was travelling on an
    Overcoming Change

    Table Color Matters!

    expressway that I usually didn’t take but wanted to save time that day.  All of a sudden, my son looks out the window and starts screaming at the top of his lungs.  I pulled over thinking he got his finger stuck in a toy or something in the backseat or something.  He had gone into a full meltdown.  I calmed him down and asked him what was wrong.  He said, “This isn’t the way home, we’re lost!”  I explained to him that we weren’t lost, that I had taken a different way home today and I knew exactly where we were.  He calmed down but he was very emotional and fearful the rest of the way home.

  • #3 – That same year, while he was 3, the day care called me at work because he had went full meltdown mode and was hyperventilating.  I asked them what triggered the meltdown.  They explained that they needed to move some kids around and they moved him from the Green table to the Blue table.  That upset him so bad, he was hyperventilating.

Once I figured out that it was all related to an unexpected change to his routine, I started trying new strategies to help him with overcoming changes.


Step #1 – Get On the Same Page

Believe it or not, this is a very important step, possibly the most important.  Any immediate family spending time with the child on a routine basis should understand they’re resisting change and should work together with help in overcoming it.  Using my son as an example, he and I lived alone so there weren’t family members in house that we had to work with.  However, we went to visit my parents almost every Saturday when they lived close.  At first, when we thought of fun things to do with him or fun places to go, we would tell him the plans.  The intentions were good, we wanted to get him excited about doing something fun the following weekend.  But then we found that when something happened and the plans fell through, it caused major meltdowns.  Over time, we learned to stop telling him our plans and start getting him used to being surprised.  That way, when an unexpected storm comes through and ruins the plans for a day at the beach, it didn’t devastate him.


Step #2 – Don’t Set Plans in Stone

As parents, it’s only natural for us to want to get our kids excited about something.  Unfortunately, it’s not natural to plan on plans failing.  We don’t often consider how it will impact them if plans do fail.  It simply isn’t necessary to let them in on all of the plans…even when they are resistant to change.  I learned to only tell my son the plans when they pulled him out of his regular routine, such as doctor and dentist appointments.  My son quickly learned that when we went to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, sometimes we’d end up going somewhere fun.  But other times we would simply stay for lunch and visit.  He never knew which.  And he learned to value the fun times as well as the quality visits all while not relying on plans.

Step #3 – Give Advanced Warning

Obviously, we can’t prevent change from occurring.  Sometimes it happens.  When it does, or when our plans

Overcoming Resistance

Communication is key!

fail, it causes serious anxiety in those that are resistant to change.  Children have to be taught to cope with change.  We can’t just wish them the best.  We have to teach them the importance of overcoming it as well as the coping mechanisms to accomplish such a feat.  One of the first things I tried was very simple, talk to him.  Communicating the change as soon as you become aware of it may just be the most effective method of helping them get through it.  When we took a different way home from school, I would tell him as he got in the car.  That way he knows before he sees anything unfamiliar and feels fearful.  I asked the teachers to start doing the same.  If you need to move his table, just talk to him.  Give him the reason and the timeframe.  Give him a few minutes to adjust to the change before expecting normal behavior.


These are the big three strategies  I used.  Here we are ten years later, my son is 12 now, and he handles most changes very well.  Moving desks became normal at school because teachers were doing it regularly to try finding a place in the classroom that was more effective for him.  I’ve made our home very spontaneous.  Routine, but spontaneous.  We don’t go grocery shopping the same day each week.  We don’t have a set schedule unless we have to.  Certain things are routine, such as bed time.  When we do make plans, I always give a disclaimer that they could change.  If the weather is nice, if you finish your chores, if nothing comes up, as a few examples.  This seems to work very well with him.  Find what works, and stick with it.  But always remember that communication will be one of your biggest keys to overcoming resistance to change.


Talk soon,



For additional strategies for helping your children in overcoming change, check out this book by Deborah M. Plummer which is packed full of creative ideas to help children cope with change, stress, and anxiety.   It gives a lot of explanation behind their feelings along with over a hundred fun activities to help teach healthy stress management strategies.

ADHD Diagnosis – The Difficult Child

The Difficult Child

As recommended, I took my son to the Pediatrician and followed my best friend’s advice to the tee. “Doctor, I’m sooo tired. This kid hardly sleeps at night and, and, and….” I vented all of my frustrations to him and he sat there nodding and smiling and just listened. When I finished, the doctor told me that it sounds like my son may be a little ADHD. He gave me a couple of assessment forms to fill out before our next appointment. One was for the teacher at the preschool to fill out and the other was for me to fill out. He also wrote me a prescription for a book. The book is called The Difficult Child by Stanley Turecki, M.D.  He scheduled an appointment for us to come back the following month and sent us on our way.

ADHD Diagnosis

The next month, I brought back the completed assessments. The doctor reviewed them and now my child gets the ADHD diagnosis. He gave me the Understanding ADHD – Information for Parents About Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder pamphlet. I had already read the book that he had prescribed the month before. It was a good book and it answered some questions for me. It put everything in terms I could understand and relate to. And it gave some advice on how to handle certain situations. It mostly confirmed that I was already doing a good job.

Stimulant Medications


Medications must be used appropriate…if at all!

So upon being diagnosed with ADHD, my son was prescribed Vyvanse. This is a stimulant medication prescribed for ADHD to help with impulsivity and focus. We were looking at putting my son into Kindergarten the following year so we wanted to get him prepared for school and under control. I went home with the prescription and called my mom as I often do to discuss issues with my son. She was adamantly against putting him on ADHD medications. “I know people who put their kids on that Aderall stuff and it severely stunted their growth. Doctor’s are prescribing ADHD so easily these days and just stuffing drugs down the child’s throat when all they need is better parenting.” Whoa…hold up…ouch Mom! Oh she wasn’t referring to me as a bad parent…just the others she’s known that gave their children Aderall. Okay, whatever.

The bottom line is, my son is about to start school and he is out of control. He’s been expelled from various daycares and I really don’t know what else to do. He’s not going to succeed in school as is and it’s my job to give him the best possible chance for success. So…as much as I don’t like the idea either, we’ll try the meds. We’re just going to have to agree to disagree here. My kid is violent, destructive, and out of control. And I’m exhausted and becoming desperate.

So we start Vyvanse. He calmed down….a lot. It was like day and night. I was kind of worried about him he was so calm. Once I got used to the difference in behavior, it was really nice. He wasn’t bouncing off the walls all the time. Let me throw in a little disclaimer here. Anytime someone starts a new med, it takes time to build up in their system and become fully effective. So every time my son tried a new med, it was for several months at a time so that we could really see the full picture of how he was adjusting to it.

Negative Side Effects

Child running

Fight or Flight Response

As the weeks went by, my son became more and more scared of things. He would start crying and trembling when he heard a strong gust of wind outside. One day, we were at my parents house visiting. Grandpa was watering the garden and often sprayed my son with the water hose. My son would laugh and they’d get in a water fight. It was fun…and funny to watch. But after being on the Vyvanse for awhile, Grandpa sprayed my son with the water hose one day and my son went ballistic!

He started screaming bloody murder and bolted toward the front of the house. Grandpa and my son were in the back yard and my mom and I were sitting on the back porch watching. Grandpa didn’t understand what happened, well, really none of us did. As soon as my son bolted toward the front of the house, I jumped up and chased him. He was running toward the street and if you’ve ever had experience with an ADHD kid, you know they don’t think to look before running out in the road.

My son was four years old. I took off after him, called out to him and he ran faster. He did a full lap around the house and kept on running, screaming all the while. My disabled mom who can barely walk jumps up and runs the other way around the house. Grandpa is running after us now. You would think 3 adults could easily catch a four year old boy. Let me tell you…this kid had invisible jet packs attached to his little feet that day, he was flying! I finally catch him and scoop him up and hold him tight. He’s trembling from head to toe and crying. He was absolutely terrified. Grandpa was close to tears himself and felt horrible because none of us understood what had just happened. Grandma and I were dumbfounded, this was so out of character for my son. It took several hours to recover from that and get my little boy back. Grandma and I looked at each other and said “The Vyvanse isn’t going to work.”

In hindsight, we now understand exactly what happened. The stimulant heightened his senses and the cold water hitting him from the water hose sent him into a sensory overload. His brain said “DANGER DANGER!” and he panicked. But we know this now, after 5 years of doctors, meds, specialists, tests, and research. Once my son was put on medication, he had to have lab work done every 6 months and he saw the Pediatrician every 3 months. I informed the Pediatrician of the recent behaviors and they agreed that the Vyvanse was not a good fit for him. So he was taken off Vyvanse and prescribed Strattera and Concerta. Strattera was to help with the hyperactivity and focus problems. Concerta was to help with the irrational fears and impulsiveness.

Starting School


Don’t miss a thing!

It was 2009, my son was five years old, and he started Kindergarten. I explained the issues to his teacher and she fully understood. I told her I was still struggling to understand a lot of it. She told me, “I live with my boyfriend who also has ADHD. Imagine your standing in front of 27 televisions and they’re all on different stations and you’re watching them all and trying not to miss a single thing. That’s how my boyfriend describes ADHD.” I had never heard an analogy like this. It was brilliant! I knew she was the perfect teacher for him to start his journey through grade school. And he totally adored her. He even wanted to marry her…until he met the Pharmacist at Walgreens. Anyway, Kindergarten went well, there were only a few significant events.

There was one day when they were working on arts and crafts and the teacher put a pair of scissors on his table next to him for him to use. He didn’t want them so he picked them up and launched them across the room hitting another student in the leg. Okay…now these are the safest of scissors with the rounded tips and the kid didn’t get cut. But yeah…that was kind of a big deal. He was given a referral to the principals office who warned him and threatened suspension. I had a talk with him when he got home and reasoned with him. How would you have felt if someone did that to you? How would you have felt if you threw those scissors at your friend and they cut him? He understood. It never happened again. The only other incident I remember from Kindergarten was the referral to the principal’s office for starting a food fight in the cafeteria at lunch. I’m not going to talk about that further because I happen to think that’s kind of funny. He started young. My mom didn’t do that until like high school. LOL At any rate, I told him, “That’s against the rules. You have to follow the rules.” He understood. It never happened again.

The Strattera and the Concerta combination seemed to be working really well. He did fantastic in Kindergarten and his behavior was much better. It was this year that I realized I was doing a real good job as a mom and I had a very well mannered, well behaved little boy. He’s a very compassionate kid. He can’t stand to see anybody hurting. Very sweet. It looks like the medical is calming down again….maybe. Ha.





Remembering a similar story?  Please share it with us below!

There Are ADHD Symptoms In Adults Too? Really?

Yes!  Really!  In fact, about 4% of adults in the United States have been diagnosed with ADHD…that’s about 10 million people!  But that’s just the people that have been diagnosed.  There are tons of adults out there with ADHD that have not been formally diagnosed.  Many that possibly don’t realize they have it.  Many, like myself, probably just think they’re…different.  When I was growing up, ADHD was just starting to be really researched and there weren’t that many kids that were diagnosed with it in comparison to today.  They were just seen as bad kids.  (Just ask my mom!)  😉  If you think about it, who takes their child to the Pediatrician and says, “I just can’t get her to clean her room!”  Normally, parents wouldn’t put the two together.  So today, there are many adults that have ADHD and weren’t ever diagnosed as a child.

Okay, so…if there are ADHD symptoms in adults…what are they?  How can you tell?  I read somewhere that ADHD adults tend to have lower incomes.  This isn’t a symptom, by the way, just a bit of knowledge.  It may be true that the standard is that ADHD adults have lower in comes, I can’t speak to that really.  My suspicion would be that they have lower incomes because of trouble keeping jobs.  That’s just a guess though.  I have Adult ADHD and I do not have a low income.  I also read that adults have a higher rate of accidents.  Well…I’m not sure if they were referring to car accidents or just accidents in general.  I’ve been involved in 3 car accidents in the entire 18 years that I’ve been driving.  I wouldn’t consider that a lot by any standards.  However, I cut my finger, stub my toe, drop stuff, run into walls, trip, knock stuff over…ALL THE TIME!  And each time, it’s purely accidental, I promise.  Just today I spilled half a bowl of hot chili all over my hand, the table, and the floor.  (Sorry Mom!)  Oops.  My brain was looking at one bowl and trying to set it down without spilling it while my other hand was holding a second bowl and spilling it everywhere.  See how that works?  ADHD.  Gotta love it!  The other bowl was out of sight…out of mind.

I’ve heard that ADHD adults tend to have unplanned pregnancies.  Well, I have one child.  He wasn’t planned around the time that I got pregnant because by that time I had given up on having children.  It was about 3 years prior to that when we were planning on getting pregnant.  So…I don’t think this really applies to me.  There is also a tendency for substance abuse problems in ADHD adults.  Okay, let’s be real here.  I do have a substance abuse problem.  I absolutely have to have my Mountain Dew everyday.  Period.  It’s my coffee.  I wouldn’t say I can’t live without it…but there’s a good chance people wouldn’t want me to.  Okay, on a serious note, I will say that when I was 19…I drank…heavily.  I was in the military and I was stationed overseas and miserable.  But then one morning, during that year, I woke up in my bed fully clothed, feeling like a train wreck, and couldn’t remember how I got there.  I haven’t drank since.

So anyway…what are the ADHD symptoms for adults?


RestlessYeah…this is a big one for me.  In children, hyperactivity is noticed by constant movement, lots of energy.  ADHD kids tend to run, jump around, and climb on things constantly.  My son was forever climbing on things.  He still does sometimes.  It’s also seen when they are in school.  They squirm or fidget a lot in their seats.  But for adults, it’s a little bit different.  It’s more like the inability to sit still.  When I’m laying down, my foot is shaking back and forth at a hundred miles an hour.  When I’m sitting down, my knee is bouncing up and down at a hundred miles an hour.  When I’m watching a movie, I get up several times, reposition several times, or just go to sleep.  I can’t just sit there and do nothing.  I’m restless, always.


ADHD Children

Child with ADHD

It’s true.  In many cases, adults with ADHD find out they have it when their child is diagnosed with it.  Why is that?  Well, because it’s fairly new research.  I mentioned before, when I was growing up, you didn’t see a lot of kids being diagnosed with ADHD.  And yet, I was diagnosed with it by my son’s Pediatrician…the same day he was diagnosed with it.  ADHD is a hereditary condition.  If your child has it, there’s a high likelihood that either you or your spouse has it as well.


Relationship Problems

Relationship ProblemsCheck.  I’m divorced.  Go figure.  There’s a lot of reasons and ways that relationships problem occur with ADHD adults.  I’ll speak to mine because that’s the experience that I have.  One of the biggest issues when I was married was that the two of us rarely spent quality time together.  As much as I would like to say we would have if we got along more often, I don’t think that would be true.  My ex-husband was into watching movies, watching TV, sports, typical man stuff.  He would get super frustrated with me because I wouldn’t sit down to watch anything with him very often.  Remember that restlessness thing?  Yeah.  Totally.  It’s the inattentive thing.  We would talk and my mind would go off in 50 other directions and it would make him mad.  It comes across as self-centered and lack of interest.  Oops.  Sorry!  Really can’t help it.



SmokingTobacco.  It’s estimated that 26% of the U.S. population smokes…how about 40% of ADHD adults?  Yep.  Really.  There’s a reason for that.  Nicotine is highly effective in the focus and concentration area.  I’ve been a smoker for 22 years.  I’m ashamed to admit that.  But it’s true.  I hate that it affects my son.  And I hate that it’s unhealthy.  But I do enjoy it.  I’ve tried to quit several times.  My next quit date is set for January 1, 2014.  Not because it doesn’t help, but because my son really wants me to quit.  And I really do enjoy breathing.  I kind of rely on the ability to breathe.  So I must quit.  And I will.  At any rate, that’s why smoking is more prevalent in ADHD adults.  It helps with concentrating.


Academic Problems As A Child

Academic ProblemsDoes coloring in class during high school history count as an academic problem?  I suppose not.  But I’m sure skipping almost every day of my Junior and Senior year probably is.  I skipped a lot in middle school too.  But I didn’t skip high school history because he let me color.  (Thanks Mr. Bixler!)  And you know, I retained so much more knowledge in that class.  Passed the tests even!  My teachers may not have recognized me when I went to class, but I passed the classes because I had no problem doing the work.  I just couldn’t stand sitting through class and being scolded for falling asleep, bouncing my leg, tapping my pencil, throwing my test tubes (that detention was awful!), etc.  My grades were inconsistent.  I was never really a straight A student.  I would make A’s and B’s one semester and D’s and F’s the next.  I did make honors a couple of times though. Yay me!


Procrastination Mastery

ProcrastinationCheck.  Yep, that’s me!  (Just ask my mom)  “How many times have I told you to clean your room?”  “I WILL!”  Hey…that wasn’t my fault…she didn’t set a deadline.  Totally her fault!  Oh and at work…I never start a task when it’s assigned.  I start it either the day before or the day of it being due.  (My mom’s reading this right now and I’m sure she just laughed a little and shook her head!)  But you know what, the quality of my work is over the top compared to anybody else I work with.  I’ve earned “exceptional performer” status 4 years in a row now” and there’s nothing my boss ever has to tell me about my performance other than “Keep up the good work.”  Not to brag or anything, but I got the procrastination thing mastered.  Another example, my doctor ordered lab work for me back in August…I wonder if they’ll still let me do it in January?  Oops.  The thing is, ADHD adults focus better when the pressure is on to get it done.  That’s just the way it is.


Stimulation Seeking


Yeah…okay so it’s said that ADHD adults are known to get involved in highly stimulating activities.  This could be gambling, love affairs, driving fast, skydiving, etc.  This can be a source of job problems too, which we’ll talk about a bit later.  I can’t say I’m much of a thrill seeker.  I do have a tendency to drive fast though.  And I do like challenging things that test my limits.  I don’t jump off of anything unless it’s only a few feet off the ground.  If I had easy access to gambling, I would probably do that…a lot!  Love affairs…not so much.  I try to stay out of situations that would cause high anxiety.  That would be one of them.


Losing Things

Losing ThingsYep.  Totally.  Some doctors call it an “underpowered state of awareness.”  When you’re not focused on setting your keys down, your memory doesn’t write it into the event log, so there’s no record of it.  This also ties into being organized…which is not something ADHD adults are often accused of.  But we’ll talk about that more in a bit.  I lose things when I don’t make a mental note of them when I set them down.  I remember where things are by scanning through my photographic memory and pulling out the picture that has the tag line titled whatever it was that I was setting down at the time.  True story.  A little self discipline helps with this.  I don’t lose my keys because I make it a point to set them down in the same place, every time.  Same for my phone.


Quick Tempered

Quick temperedThis is not to be mistaken for “hot tempered.”  With ADHD adults, the temper is quick.  For example, I can be irate and yelling one minute and then be cool and calm the next.  Personally, I think this is a good trait to have.  However, this symptom can often represent Bipolar disorder.  In fact, ADHD and Bipolar are often mixed up.  I’m very careful with this because both of them run in my family.  However, I don’t have the full on mood swings and anxiety and stuff.  And I’m a classic ADHD case.  My son is as well.  Don’t get me wrong, I can get mad and stay mad if it’s something that means a lot.  But, for example, when I’m mad at my son…I can yell at him in one breath and then love up on him the next.  I don’t stay mad long.


Task Completion…or lack thereof

Completing TasksIt’s true, ADHD adults tend to have trouble completing tasks.  I refer to it as the “begun and never done” pile.  I have tons of examples of this.  I enjoy crafting.  I started decorating candles and I expressed interest (to my mom) about learning how to make candles.  So for Christmas last year, she bought me a complete candle making set.  One day I’ll take it all out of the bag.  (Sorry Mom!)  I have a total of five blogs…that I rarely ever post to.  When I do, it’s in spurts that last a few days or so.  I created a movie for my family this year and made 13 copies to give to specific family members for Christmas.  Today is the 14th of December and the movie was finished in October.  I have a week and a half left to wrap them and ship them.  (Yikes!)  And there they sit.



Impulsive Shopping

Guilty!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to rob Peter to pay Paul simply because I bought something on the fly before thinking it through.  I’m definitely an impulsive shopper.  Aside from that, my impulsiveness really shines through when I’m angry.  I’ll tell someone off quick like if they strike that anger switch.  And then later I’ll regret everything I said…because I’m vicious.  But it’s very rare that I get that angry.



No Relaxation

Can't relaxAnd by no, I mean none, unable to, almost impossible.  For real.  Many adults with ADHD would find it impossible to do something like meditate.  I’ve tried…and failed miserably.  The problem is that relaxation and meditation requires the mind to be quiet.  And it’s not.  When I try to relax, my brain goes to all of the things I should be doing instead or oooh a butterfly!, oh I left the lawn mower out and it’s going to rain, let me go put that in…oops it made a mess on the patio, let me just sweep that up real quick…I need to remember to call about the warranty on the vacuum cleaner, speaking of warranties…the truck needs an oil change…see how this works?  Relaxation doesn’t happen, no matter how hard we try.  I’ve found that I suddenly start to remember things…while I’m failing to relax.



ButterflyRemember that butterfly?  So let me walk you through a typical day of house cleaning.  The kitchen is a mess.  I go in and rinse out my soda can to put it in the recycling.  I take it out to the garage and throw it in the recycling bin.  Oh look!  There’s the squigee I was looking for last week!  I pick it up and clean the windows on the truck like I wanted to do last week.  Open the door of the truck to put the squigee away.  Wow man, the truck is a mess.  I grab my son’s toys from the truck and take them up to his room.  Look at all that laundry!  I get the laundry and take it downstairs to start washing.  I turn the washer on.  What was I doing again?  I don’t remember but I need to water the plants…  Now here’s the thing about ADHD, white noise tunes the brain out.  If I would’ve remembered to turn the stereo on first, the kitchen would’ve gotten clean.  But that wasn’t on the task list.


Problems at Work

Trouble on the jobADHD adults often have problems at work because of a lot of the symptoms I’ve listed here.  Disorganization, losing things, procrastination, restlessness, getting distracted…they can all affect job performance.  I’ve taught myself how to accomplish what needs to be done in spite of all of these.  However, there is one that has plagued me in the past.  Repetitive tasks.  When I started the job I’m currently at, my job was to sit and take phone calls…all day…every day.  I didn’t last three months.  It drove me absolutely bonkers to do that.  I need stimulation, remember?  It was so mundane.  So I worked my way out of that position, within the first three months on the job.  My first promotion got me into a position where there were real challenges and a lot of different and somewhat interesting things that needed to be tackled.  And here I am, 5 years later, in the same position…accepting new challenges but taking no phone calls.



Desk RightDesk 1

Remember those keys?  They are actually in the picture on the left.  So is the Christmas lights timer that my mom gave me two weeks ago.  And a book I started reading last year…and haven’t finished yet.  This is my desk.  This is how it looks as I type this post.  Obviously it’s disorganized.  But it’s functional.  I know exactly where everything is on it.  And to the right is the other side of my desk.  The Pop Tart box has been there for about a month and a have (don’t ask me why).  And that shirt was from when I got home from work on Monday…two weeks ago.  I clean off my desk once a month.


So there you have it…those are the ADHD symptoms that adults have to learn to live with.  Personally, I find ways of coping with each.  Such as setting my keys down in the same place every time.  Because I know if I don’t, I’m searching the entire house for them.  I found my debit card in the trash once.  I have no idea how it got there.   It’s kind of crazy.  I really wish there was a way for people without ADHD to live for just one day in the shoes of someone who does.  Otherwise, it’s real hard to understand.  ADHD is a neurological disorder.  It’s a wiring issue in the brain.  It’s not something we can really change.  All we can do is accept it and teach ourselves how to be successful despite the disorder.  I’ve done that.  I’m successful for the most part.  Therefore, I want to share with those that may be struggling to find their own way with the disorder.  That’s why I’m here.

So if you can relate to this post and you have some questions or just want to say, “Yeah! That’s exactly what I go through!”  Please do leave a comment and share your own experience.



If you have any questions or would like to share your personal experience, please be sure to leave a comment below by clicking on the response link next to my name.  I welcome all feedback and will respond to each comment.