Hi Mary Kay,You've already done one of my recommendations which is to reach out to others who've had a similar experience! Community is so important. It might be supportive and satisfying to connect with an ADHD and/or ODD parent group to see what's working for others or to survey different ways to understand the diagnosis. Maintaining it building a self care routine, whether in community or solo, is key!
I assume you have a formal eval. Does it list strategies or recommendations for your child? In my experience kids who've been diagnosed with ADHD or ODD respond positively to occupational therapy because there can be sensory integration overlap.
Next, I always teach Collaborative Emotion Processing (for all children) to pair up with other strategies because our caregiver nervous systems are always communicating with the child's system. Sometimes our nervous systems have a pattern of getting heightened when there are signs that the child is approaching dysregulation. Adults who bring their calm will have more success supporting a child who is dysregulation or approaching dysreg. Co-regulation can be appropriate when kids haven't yet developed emotion processing skills no matter their age. Teaching and learning are effective when the child and adult can activate their prefrontal cortex (they are regulated and capable of higher level thinking). With big expressions there is often a big emotion underneath and if we engage early and calmly (pre-dysreg) then there will be an opportunity to help your child identify the emotion and develop coping strategies as opposed to coping mechanisms.
Finally, whichever strategies you end up using be sure to design them collaboratively, communicate them with all of your child's caregivers, and Connect teachers with specialists. Teachers should be able to name strategies that they are implementing in the classroom to scaffold and support your child's access to relationships, curriculum, and meeting basic needs.
Our education systems (including teacher training programs) have not caught up with our values, so advocacy is always part of raising a child who doesn't fit the traditional and limited perception of what a student is. Your child is lucky to have a parent who is proactively working to understand and support their approach to learning!
Tina:Excellent points and suggestions. It's always good to consider anxiety, stressors, and how to lessen stress. Of course each child will have different stressors and different things that help them to lesses stress. For some it might be a tight hug; others might need more physical space around them. And we don't always get to know the cause. A child might have a wonderful home life and supportive family and still carry a high internal stress load. For some of us, anxiety, not necessarily as a diagnosis but as a feeling, is biological and inborn.The work of Dr. Stuart Shanker and Mona Delahooke has been helpful to me in thinking about stress, how to mitigate it, and how to support self-regulation in each child (and adult).
Hi Mary Kay,
Since there was so much interest in this post I wonder if you might consider sharing any successful strategies in the future with us.
My thoughts are that many suggestions here might be helpful. In addition, just like when you go to a doctor for an issue the first thing is a good diagnosis before the treatment. This is how I've approached issues like this over the years. First assess, then address. Once it's clear what is happening, and understanding why, as much as possible, then the treatment plan including strategies, people involved, methods can be tailored to the situation. I thought the questions you have received as helpful, such as is it sensory processing, or what other possible cause there might be. With a good thorough evaluation with good evaluators then you and the family may be able to zero in on an effective treatment plan. In my experience I have seen many misdiagnoses, wrong diagnoses, under treatment, over treatment and more. I know that many people are pro special ed and many are con. My suggestion is to use services available, free ones like special ed. I work in Special Ed and see many amazing therapists and of course there are those that are not amazing. Whomever you work with my suggestion is to do your best to find competent and effective diagnosticians and therapists. I have seen so many amazing success stories when I child is properly understood (with a good diagnosis), and then with effective intervention. I've seen those who never were understood and suffered without progress. Ping me offline if you want to run anything by me. All the best on this very important moment in this child's life. You can make a huge difference. As we say, the earlier the better.
I keep hearing "diagnosis." We need to be careful that we don't miss understanding the child when we label them in any way. Yes, we need assessment, but we need to reconsider diagnosis in my opinion.