Monday, November 26, 2012

ADHD - the reality

I've been a bit absent here of late - been working a lot at the library, we are making some REALLY BIG decisions (which I may share if they look like becoming a reality), and I've been overhauling my lifestyle to be serious about losing some weight (check out my other blog if you wanna).

But last week (or was it the week before?), Video Boy had his checkup with the developmental paeditrician. All is going well - he has grown 6cm in 6 months!! I kid you not - the kid is turning into an adult before my very eyes. He has put on 3kg. And things are going well with his medication, which seems to be having the desired effect and helping him concentrate on his schoolwork and settling him down in many way. He is on a low dose for his body weight, and we will have to pay attention (ha! did you get my little ADHD joke?) to the effectiveness of his medication as he grows (even more).

I wanted to include this post and not shy away from this aspect of our homeschooling lives, because I not only do I want to demystify homeschooling and gifted kids, but I also want to demystify the controversial topic of ADHD.

I can't tell you the number of negative, thoughtless comments I come across from otherwise well-meaning people that belittle and demean this very real, very impactful condition. Things like "change your kids diet, and then they won't have ADHD and you won't need to drug them". Things like "labels are hurtful to children".

Things like this:

I think those comments and jokes come from a place of ignorance, rather than any malice, and for sure, there are some aspects of our modern lifestyles that could do with a bit of questioning, but I wonder if they would stop and think for a second how the parent who has researched and read and journeyed and consulted with doctors and has "drugged" their child might feel. I also get the feeling those comments perhaps come from a place of Facebook and YouTube research, rather than from peer-reviewed scientific information.

You see, although for us the drugs do not make a momental difference in Video Boy's everyday behaviour and we don't need them to keep our sanity intact (unlike many other families), they do actually have some benefits that help him and without them, he would struggle in many areas and perhaps not be achieving as much as he is. As he commented to the specialist: "I don't really notice the difference when I take them, but I do notice if I haven't."

Those drugs allow him to focus on work he doesn't find intrinsically interesting (maths, writing, comprehension, etc). They allow him to gather his thoughts and hold them in his head, instead of watching a dust mote float by. They minimise his reliance on the emotional centre of his brain to do his executive functioning - this means less tears, less stress, less anxiety. They allow him to manage risk better and make better decisions and to delay gratification (a very useful thing heading into the teenage years!). They allow him to make the most of his (not inconsiderable) gifts. They allow him to start to reach his potential in one piece, physically and emotionally.

Video Boy has Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder. It is part of who he is. I don't want him to feel ashamed about this or the fact that he takes medication that helps him manage better. Much in the same way his contact lenses help him see normally, the Ritalin helps him think and process normally. 

That is our reality.

Do you have kids or know kids with ADHD? 
What about twice-exceptional (gifted/learning disabled?
Do you have strong feelings about not giving young kids medication?
Have I made you stop and think (even just a little)?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Out and about - art and nature

OK, so I've been meaning to get to letting you know about a couple of homeschool "adventures" we've been on lately (which do not include my little bout with gastro...that's a whole other story).

First up, the kids went to a local artist for a Digital Photography/Art workshop. This will probably be an ongoing thing and we'll get there when we can, or at the very least use what we learn at home.

The general concept is a homeschool group of kids (aged about 10-13) getting together to take digital photos, dress-up, have fun, edit and publish. Video Boy was less enthusiastic than Wombat Girl ("I'm not good at taking photos" says the boy who has never really actually taken any), but he got into it after a bit of encouragement from me and seeing what the other kids were doing. He enjoyed using the iPad apps to play around with his photos...

I can't wait to see what else they are going to come up with!

And the next day they went adventuring. Again with other homeschoolers. This time in the bush. Back to nature. Out in the wild. Without their mother.

Did you hear that? I sat around all day, drinking cups of tea, talking to other homeschool mums and having fabulous, interesting conversations while my kids were off doing things without me!!! Unless you homeschool, I don't think you can appreciate how fabulous that was.

It was even fabulous-er because (unbeknownst to me) they were have a fabulous time. I was concerned they might not enjoy it, but I needn't have feared. They LOVED it.

Making fire, games, senses, plants, animals, cordage - they were dirty, tired and happy by the end of the day and can't wait to do it all again!

The guys over at Bluegum Bushcraft are very cool - Lee seems to have a knack of relaxing the kids into it, relating to them, mentoring them. The kids, and therefore I, are pretty happy campers:

Unfortunately since then, I've left vague instructions to "do Khan Academy" before rushing out the door. The kids are missing me and I'm missing them, and thank the stars they are largely "ahead" of the curriculum! But this work gig shouldn't last too much longer and things can get back to "normal". If normal includes art workshops and bushcraft days, that's even better!

Sunday, November 11, 2012



Was browsing through the 8th Annual Homeschool Blog Awards and voted for Deb at Not Inadequate the Funniest Homeschool Blog, because, well, she is the funniest writer evah! (go vote for her!).

And then I was perusing some Blog Designs because Erin at Seven Little Australians and Counting (who, BTW, has a lovely new header and looks pretty nice herself) (go check her out).

And I had some vague recollection that last year (or year before?) I was nominated in Best New Blog category, which obviously I'm not anymore ('cause, yanno, I'm super-experienced now!).

And I had a look around the other categories, and guess what???? I'm nominated in the Best Nitty Gritty Blog category!! How cool is that? I don't know who you are or when you did it, but thank you! According to them, this category is for homeschool blogs that are brutally honest and open about their mistakes and failures (guess my Keepin' it Real post qualifies me!). Apparently I make you feel better and I let you know that I'm not perfect! Well, duh! What would you do without me?

So maybe, just maybe, if you had a spare minute, you might like to pop over and vote for Defying Gravity - in amongst that huge list of other Nitty Gritty homeschool blogs. I'm one of the few Aussie ones as well :-) You've only got to 16 November as part of my extensive readership to get me over the line, so head on over - I'll wait!

And hey! There are prizes!! How much do you wanna bet I win the 2 night stay in San Antonio, Texas (transportation not included...bummer)? Or maybe the Branches of Eden DVD examining DNA evidence from a biblical perspective. Mind you, if I win the family registration to the Great Homeschool Convention in Cininnati, Ohio - I'm there (hi Jane!).

But it's not about the prizes! It's the honour! And I'm honoured that someone out there liked my blog so much they took the time to nominate me. Pretty chuffed!

The Homeschool Post

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Keepin' it real...

I know. I've been absent a bit, haven't I? You've missed me a bit, haven't you (go on, humour me).

You know what happens when you suddenly get over-loaded with busy (homeschool stuff, outings, meetups, work, work and more work - I'm suddenly drowning in "casual" work!)? This happens:

My dining table is under there somewhere...

Yep. The housework slides when you take your eye off the ball!

On the plus side, some of that mess is the worksheet-y stuff I left the kids to do while I was at work. Anyone know the difference between Action Verb Predicate and Linking Verb Predicate? I don't - so I will have to do some catch up reading. All I know is verbs are "doing words" and that's done me pretty well for 43 years, but you are never too old to learn something new!

OK. It's Saturday morning and I'm off to the library for 5 hours of borrowing and returning and shelving. I am rapidly running out of clean "work clothes" (apparently you can't wear track pants and t-shirts to work). Our fridge is empty. The house is a mess.

It won't be like this for too long (I hope). Whilst the money is nice, the workload is not sustainable! Hopefully I will be able to tell you about some cool stuff the kids did last week really soon. But I'm cutting me and you some slack while I get through one day at a time. That's real.

Embroidery Project - Blue Butterfly

I downloaded this pattern as a PDF from Hoop Embroidery Co on Esty as my first attempt at the technique known as "thread painting"...