Homeschooling, swimming up stream and ADHD.

16 09 2012

Do you rock the boat?  Do you question authority?  Do you discuss pink elephants? Do you swim upstream?

I pondered these questions for some time before I started this journey. For 37 years, I wondered what was wrong with me.  Why could I just not fit in. Then, I tweaked my perspective.

My children helped me see the light. It wasn’t until a year and 3 weeks later, that I realized how much they needed to be home-schooled.  They attended a local private school;one of the best in the state.  I felt a kinship to the author of “Waiting for Superman” each day, as I drove them to school. When I finally counted, we passed 12 schools just to get there. This school had a local artist running their art program. They had a well known choir, athletic department and a music department. Each and every graduate from their school earned a scholarship. Their graduating class historically garnered over a million each year in scholarships from universities. The alumni granted over a million in scholarships each year to children like mine to attend their school.  Not to mention the local botanist on staff and the country of study each year.  The school itself averaged 990 kids with a class size of 14 in each grade. I did my research. All this for $26k for both boys per year. Who could ask for more?  But my children were sinking. I did not realize how much until this past year.

Like my children, I struggled with depression, anxiety, an ability to focus, an inability to complete a task and low self esteem. Like my children, I knew I was different.  Often growing up, I spoke without thinking, I acted without thinking. Socially this can be a killer for a kid and even more so when middle school and high school are on the horizon. ADHD children and adults know they are different in every way. We see the world very differently. Colors, noise, music, even the weather can affect our mood. We live our life with much passion, our heart on our sleeves. Our desire to passionately express ourselves can sometimes limit our ideas.   We feel intense, big emotions on just about everything. Like my children, I tried medicine. But as time went by, those things that made me unique and blessed were toned down so much; I became a zombie in order to function within societies “normal” limits. So I am led to ask what on earth is normal?

For years, I spent time in therapy learning how to cope with my ADHD in a natural way. I created my own set of coping strategies. My OCD was off the charts at times. My poor hubby, I am not sure he could survive much more. For those of you unaware of this, ADHD people resent change. It is so not a part of our genetic makeup! There is an immense amount of comfort in structure.  It was through my current doctor, I learned about a new treatment called Neurofeedback. For a year and half, I went twice a week and played focus games. At times, I would end up emotionally exhausted and physically beat after a session.  Then all the sudden, it clicked!  One day, my anxiety was gone, my mood and energy were even keeled, my passion was still there as was my heart, but I could focus. And focus I did!  My self esteem  went up and it was here, with the help of some friends, I realized that I could finally do things I never could. I tried new projects, spent more quiet time with friends.  I went back to school.  My first year of graduate school, I earned a 4.0 pt while remaining on the Dean’s list! Through all of this,  I realized something very important. I realized that if I could do this… so could my boys. They started on their journey over a year ago. They are still doing it as well. 2 boys that once were on 27mg of Concerta , and 30 mg of Adderral respectively are dramatically different in one year. Two boys who could not sit still for nothing, could not focus, and were emotionally beat up from a system of “normal” are now actually thriving!

This path I meandered on saved three people! The epiphany, that I could help them, changed the course of an entire family.  I spent several years teaching in both public and private schools and I missed it immensely. I loved teaching children with special needs. Every exercise in my educational journey was shaped and molded by own personal experiences in the public school system.  I thrived on changed and being different! Like a ton of bricks, I realized I could change my world and my children by teaching them. I just needed to swim up stream, break free of the mold of what “should be”.

Fear and anxiety consumed my thoughts for some days prior to the onset of homeschooling.  I was not sure I was up for it. I had to believe I could do it. AS I mentioned before, self esteem and change are not my good buddies.  But if I could make a difference in the life of a child outside my family, what could I do with my own children? I could show them they are not abnormal. They are uniquely gifted; that they offer  a perspective that they should  share with others. They deserve the best gifts I have to offer. I know their walk uniquely and I am willing to stand by their side on this journey; to guide them. Unlike my parents, I will be next to them supporting them. I love them for who they are not what I think they should be.

One of my favorite quotes from Fred Rogers, inspired and encouraged my heart on this journey.

He states in Amy Hollingsworth’s book , The Simple Faith Of Mr. Rogers, “I think one of the greatest gifts that we can give anybody is the gift of one more honest adult in that persons life-whether (the recipient) be a child or an adult.”

I will give my honest self to my children. Fear and anxiety will not hold me back. They are tools of the enemy and have no place in our family.

For those of you that don’t know me, I do rock the boat. I value confrontation and want to share  in the beautiful friendships that result from two individuals growing together. As Amy Hollingsworth quotes Fred Rogers again, ” What is offered by faith by one person can be translated by the Holy Spirit into what the other person needs to hear and see. The space between them is holy ground, and the Holy Spirit uses that space in ways that not only translate, but transcend”.  ADHD is on the autism spectrum and ADHD  can grossly affect a child or adults social life. To be used by the Holy Spirit to grow is something we desperately need when our social interactions are minimal. I want my children to value social interactions  as well;to find strength in our differences, not weaknesses.  I have questioned authority from  time to time too. It is in my very nature. So much so, it saddened my parents that I did not seek a law degree. Pink elephants have no place in our home either.  They are too big and just take up much needed space in the all ready small space we occupy as a family. And lastly, I refuse to swim with the current. When you swim up stream, you gain more muscle and you know what is behind you. Knowing what is behind you can give you a perspective that allows you to embrace change;not run from it.

~m

The Shearin Academy.

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4 responses

16 09 2012
Jeff Shearin

I love you Michele! Great blog!! Very insightful and well-written.

16 09 2012
Jennifer

Wow! Beautiful, open, honest story!!! 🙂 You’ve created holy ground here…

17 09 2012
Ramblings of a military spouse....

Jeff, I love you and miss you. Jennifer.. I love you to my friend. Thanks for reading.

22 09 2012
Syd

Nice. Loved it, my friend!

Every comment is appreciated....

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