Happy December 1st!
If you have a child(ren) you know the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a little chaotic. Now take that chaos, multiple it by 100, throw in some high caffeine coffee and a couple of Mountain Dews and you have……my son. When I reference determination, it is not the kind of determination you think of, it is not that gritty, I won’t stop until I learn how to read mom or until I get my homework done mom. No, nope, that is not it at all. The kind of determination I am talking about is the kind that is bull-headed, strong-willed, and well quite honestly, exhausting. I have told you that my son was diagnosed with dyslexia, I mentioned depression in my last post. What I have not told you is that my son is also diagnosed with ADHD. Now, I know what you are thinking, this is a hot freaking mess. Well it is and it isn’t. You see it is kind of complicated. My son has always been a goer, a talker, a doer, a mover, and a shaker. He wakes up at the crack of dawn, like I cannot even open one of my eyeballs yet, and he is the cheeriest little firecracker you will ever meet. Seriously, sunshine literally radiates from his heart, soul, and every other little crevice on his body AT 5:55 AM. No joke! Are you thinking, oh man, this is great I would love to have a cheery, early riser? Or, are you like me and need just a few moments of peace and quiet to reflect and breathe before you get going? Let me tell you something, I would love to have this kind of energy. I would love to bottle shit up and we would be the richest people on the planet. I feel guilty saying this, but a lot of times I struggle with his boat load of jolliness. It is hard to get that pumped up everyday. I sleep horribly, have a ton on my mind, and honestly, I struggle with sensory overload to the max, especially first thing in the morning and then later in the evening. Noise, lights, smells… I cannot stand any of it. So to have this cheery little cherub is H.A.R.D, hard. Understand that I am beyond BLESSED, but if you are here and we have found each other, than you get it. I would even bet to say you have not found a blog like this out there. Believe I have looked for 3 solid years.
Back to the topic at hand. Another factor to my son’s determination is our schedule, or should I say the schedule he creates for me to, well our whole household, to live by. Understand, my son is not a bad boy, he is not aggressive, he is not a behavior issue. He is tenacious, he holds you to your word, and he has high expectations of everyone, including himself. So I often wonder, is it the dyslexia that forces his to want control because so much is out of his control? Is it the ADHD that winds him up and again, he needs to control something because everything else is out of control? Or is it the anxiety and depression that forces him to have this determination to control situations? I don’t even know if that makes sense, but I think if you have experienced it, you know what I mean.
Now here come the research, which you will find isn’t all that helpful. The brain is a crazy and mysterious creation. While there have been studies on the brain, some which include brain scans and professionals trying to find the connection between dyslexia and ADHD, there is not a lot. Why? Well from what I have read, we have come a long way with dyslexia over the last 100 year, but remember dyslexia is a very individual experience. Same goes for ADHD, depression and anxiety. How can you measure something that is so individualized? I can understand why there is not a lot of money set aside for this type of scientific research. It is hard to justify the manpower for this sort of thing.
In my personal opinion, I believe my son’s brain is wired differently. I see it when I am around other kids his age. Colton is just different. He asks way more questions than every other kid in the room. He would rather hang with the adults and have serious conversations about politics, the price of gas and the weather. His vocabulary is impressive, but he harbors a lot of toddler like quirkiness. There are times when he is just like all of the other kids and then at times, you wonder if he is an 80 year old man stuck in an 8 year old’s body. He reads two years below grade level. He cannot do simple things like tie shoes or use buttons. Jeans, forget about it. We are living the sweat-pant life over here.
Zasiekina (2018) statement sums up every article I have encountered and consumed over the last three years, but more specifically since April 2020 when I began the masters program. Zasiekina (2018) stays “Developmental Dyslexia and ADHD are some of the most complex developmental disorders that affect children population” (p. 135). As a parent, what do you do with that information? To complicate things even more, it is hard to tease out what should be considered the “primary” disability. (There is a video from Understood.org I want you to watch, click here or hop over to our resources page
If you are in education, especially special education, or a parent of a student with a disability, you know that classifications matter. Want to muddy the water a little more? Burden (as cited by Carawan et al., 2015) state “the empirical literature not only suggests that children and adolescents with dyslexia are at risk for low self-esteem” (p. 284). Pardon my French, but WTF!?!?! Like I said, it is complex, and if you found me, I am here for you. How do you maneuver around a reading disability, ADHD, and depression/anxiety? How?
There are no right answers. It is a day to day experience and the only choice you have is to embrace it and try not to get too worn down that you become frustrated and take it out on your family. Some days, that is easier said than done. Trust your instincts, your gut, that feeling you get when you know something is off. I don’t have all of the answers. We are doing hard work and learning as we go. We want to help others and we want to shout from the rooftops everything we have discovered about dyslexia. Thanks for hanging out with me a bit for tonight. I have so many other stories I want to share with you, like the worst night of my life (EVER), I want to tell you about my son’s visual processing delay, Oh! and I want to tell you about that stupid elf letter and how I cannot get ANYTHING past my child, and so much more. Stay tuned and check back often because there is more to our story of discovering dyslexia.
Carawan, L. W., Nalavany, B. A., & Jenkins, C. (2016). Emotional experience with dyslexia and self-esteem: The protective role of perceived family support in late adulthood. Aging & Mental Health, 20(3), 284–294. https://doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2015.1008984
Zasiekina, L. (2018). Neuro-cognitive underpinning of co-morbidity between developmental dyslexia and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Психолінгвістика, 24(1), 134–148. https://doi.org/10.31470/2309-1797-2018-24-1-134-148