Sunday, June 3, 2012

Falling Behind

I don't know about you and your children, but every now and then I tend to forget just how behind my son is in terms of his emotional development. My brain knows that kids with ADHD tend to be 2-3 years behind their peers in this area, but I guess I've just become used to his behaviour. And with nothing else to compare it to, Bear seems "normal" to me. His normal. My normal. But sometimes I am reminded that what we consider normal, well...isn't. You wouldn't think this would be a surprise after almost seven years, yet somehow, it still comes as a shock.

Take this morning, for example. Bear has two friends who live right across the street from us: a 6 1/2-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl. These kids are very used to Bear and his behaviour, and they very rarely so much as bat an eye when he starts to get upset. The fact that they have a 3-year-old brother might help, because they're still used to temper tantrums.

This morning, as often happens on Sunday mornings, Bear and his two friends were playing downstairs. Stitch is sick and was asleep, so I had warned the kids that too much noise would find them outside. After the fifth warning (they really weren't being too loud, but I figured the more warnings, the better), I decided it was time for the two kids to go home for lunch. In all fairness, they had been here for about two hours and it really was lunchtime, so I didn't think this was going to be a big deal.

Guess what...I was wrong.

Bear promptly dropped to the floor and began to wail, tears streaming down his face. You a 3-year-old. What followed was a full-blown my-heart-is-broken you've-ruined-my-life how-will-I-go-on tantrum. Because I sent his friends home for lunch. Not for the day. Just for lunch. With the understanding that they would be back as soon as they finished eating. Which they were.

And as I watched Bear's friends, one only a month younger than he is, happily trot off home without so much as a "just five-more-minutes???" it struck me that he's falling further and further behind his friends in terms of his social development.

So far it doesn't seem to be interfering with his peer relationships, as evidenced by the seven kids happily playing street hockey in front of our house (a second set of Bear's friends just came over from down the street), but it's just a matter of time.

Soon they're going to start to notice, and what then? Will he become "that" kid, the one no one wants to play with because he's "weird"?

This could get a whole lot harder before it gets better.


  1. My daughter Aidan has ADHD. When we moved to AZ, she started to have a neighborhood friend come over to play. When her friend had to go home, she would do like your son did, throw a massive fit, scream awful things at us, and just generally have a huge meltdown. What it took was 1) give her (and her friend) advance warnings instead of springing "time to go" on them, and 2) lots of education. We worked and worked and worked with her, telling her that Madison would be back. Just going home for lunch or the end of the day wasn't the end of the world, she'd have another playdate. Within a few days, she got to where she shows Madison out on her own and doesn't bat an eye. Most of getting her to react appropriately takes a great deal work on our end.

    1. I completely agree, Tara. We've always done that as well. That said, I didn't do that today because I was kind of at the end of my rope, so that was probably part of the problem. But these kids live across the street...and they see each other all day...and going home for lunch and then coming back is a pretty normal pattern. Turns out that what really set him off (because there's always a trigger, isn't there?) was that they had asked if they could bring their lunches back here to eat and I had said no. Bear was invited to eat at their house a few weeks ago and he really wanted them to eat here, but he didn't share that nugget of information with me. He was able to calm down once I promised that we would have them over for lunch one day and we would BBQ hot dogs.

  2. The fact that he does have friends who do overlook that is awesome. Just keep reinforcing him that he is no different than anyone else.
    His real friends will shine through during his moments and the ones he should let go are the ones that walk away.
    I know, this has to be so tough on you. xo

    1. Thanks, Kimberley. I guess my fear is that these friendships won't last once they get a little older. This parenting thing is really tough!

    2. If they are truly his friends, you won't have to worry about them turning on him when he is older. When they are older, they will likely be able to understand his condition much better than they do now. They are fairly young and probably don't know too much about the condition right now, but yet they still enjoy his company. Most likely as he gets older, he'll mellow out as well.


    3. I really hope you're right, Joel. Thanks for the encouraging words. It's nice to hear from people who have been there. :-)

  3. Kids have an amazing capacity for acceptance. My Godson has trouble with multi-tasking (I know there's a name for it but I can't remember what it is). When he was small, if you told him to brush his hair, brush his teeth, get his coat and wait by the door, he didn't know what to do first. My cousin researched, went to the children's hospital in Ottawa, attended workshops...and then sat the older brother down to explain about his brother. Older brother looked at his mom and said "didn't you know that mom?" He'd figured it out and told his brother in clear terms, one word at a time, not to touch his stuff!