ADD and Athletics thread

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Reading these last few posts today have brought me to tears. My dinner almost bubbled over, I was so taken by the posts and especially to Linsul's reponse of every point I made. Linsul, your active interest in my situation is heart warming beyond words. If this is how you respond to someone you only know through the lens of a computer, I can only imagine the wealth of interest you shower over your athletes and all children you personally come into contact with.
Teaching has always been my career of choice. The impact I am due to make on the life of a child is why I became so interested in teaching. Every child is like a diamond in the rough. Polish them off and oh boy just watch them shine! Sometimes, my students blow the dust off me and make me think of things differently. Kids are remarkable that way!!
The ADD/ADHD child is so misunderstood. Long are the days that we should think that ALL children can be made to fit into one mold. We know too much of a child's development to fall to that excuse. Yet, this is a reality in many schools and gyms across the world. Linsul, Coach Molly, and all posters in this thread thank you from the bottom of my heart for your interest in this heavy matter. My son will perservere despite the troubles he has faced and will encounter in his future. His accountability with his own actions will make him the strong, determined, hard working, upstanding man I know he is destined to become.

Linsul, That "fire" is alive and well! I have already begun to make my intentions known at the school where I teach. Children need dedicated adults in their lives that believe in their potential at what ever capacity. Thanks again friend!:)
Thankyou so much for posting this topic. Several weeks ago I was a bit upset about several responses to a post and I responded with this post:

" Unhealthy Rivalry of Parents

I am a coach and a mother of three gymnasts. One DS with ADHD (medicated) and another DS with Tourettes Syndrome (with borderline ADHD - unmedicated) and one DS with no behavioural problems at all. I have at times been frustrated and embarrassed by the behaviour of my children who have ADHD.

My youngest child with ADHD (medicated) is now in level 6 and has been very challenging to coach. He has been medicated for almost 12 months which has drastically improved our family life. One of the groups I coach has two children with ADHD and one with Bipolar disorder. It is very hard work.

My son did not get ADHD because of the way I brought him up. He did not get ADHD because I failed to discipline him or because of the way I mother him. The mothers of the other two children also did not make their children that way. Mental illness and disorders like ADHD are real conditions caused by imbalances in the chemicals of the brain. My oldest son is very level headed and fantastic to coach and has absolutely no behavioural problems at all.

My brother had schizophrenia so I have a family history of mental illness and have experienced the stigma within society that goes with that. My experiences have shown me that if someone had a physical disability people show empathy and compassion if someone has a mental illness the person can at times be shunned and not understood.

At our club we make an effort to embrace children whatever physical or mental issues they may have.

It is essential when coaching kids with behavioural problems like ADHD that there are very clear discipline policies in place. These children generally need structure, they need very clear guidelines about what, where and how all things in the lesson will be done. They need to have explained exactly what will and will not be tolerated. If they do anything dangerous they need immediate discipline. There needs to be constant communication with the parents. Coaches need eyes in the back of their head! If their behaviour is a danger to others then this needs to be addressed. As a club we have banned gymnasts for periods of up to 2 weeks for doing something dangerous, violent or distructive.

Most children with ADHD also appear to react to a range of colours and preservatives (my children included) so this can also adversely effect their behavour. Last Friday my ADHD DS school decided to have a fund raising fete for charity (during school hours). The prizes at every stall were lollies and food full of colours and preservatives. He brought most of his prizes home and swapped them for food he could have but he did eat some! He is 9 years old! On Saturday at gym he was unsettled, active and bouncing around. He had bad attitude and defiance. It was not a good day for anyone associated with him. Yesterday and today our gym session was great. No problems at all.

Life with a child with ADHD can be very emotionally draining and can at times seem like one mountain to climb after another".

The arcticle about the research into ADHD/ADD was on the news last night. Thanks so much for posting the details.

As posted above my brother had schizophrenia and my ex husbands brother also had schizophrenia. I have always been terrified that one of my three children will have this illness. Given that one of my children has ADHD and another has Tourettes Syndrome it appears highly likely that there is a genetic link.

My youngest DS can be very challenging to coach on his bad days. He has had bad attitude and has been disrespectful to coaches on these days. I have ejected him from the floor for this behaviour on a number of occassions. It has been extremely embarrasing and very upsetting to see him speaking to other coaches in this way. I have at times been emotionally exhausted trying to sort out the problems caused by these bad days. I do not always know before training whether it will be a bad day. Sometimes a series of events can lead to a blow up at training, and it can turn from good to bad very quickly.

His impulsiveness can sometimes result in him saying things without stopping and thinking first. Then it is too late, it has been said. We then have to talk at length at home for him to understand the consequences of his actions.

He can at times suffer from a great deal of lack of self esteem when he realises the impact of the things he has said and done. This has been so bad at times that he has threatened to self harm.

The medication for my DS has been incredibly successful. It has changed every aspect of his life (school, social, sport, family). I put off medicating him until I felt I had no choice. I was frightened that his patterns of behaviour would adversely shape the person he would become as an adult. I feel very fortunate that the medication worked so successfuly for my DS. Not all children have the same success and I know some have to try a variety of medications and dosages until they find the one that works. Even then it may only improve not totally resolve all issues. As I said my DS still has occassional bad days. Some of this is dietry (colours and preservatives).

My DS now has a healthy degree of fear (inside and outside of gymnastics), so that is a relief. I do not think I could handle anymore of the jumping off the roof onto trampoline, climbing and jumping off anything high, and bmx bike jumps his teenage brothers were jumping. Certain to turn any mother grey!

When medicated he has not stopped doing skills which some other children I have coached have feared. He does however show care in doing these more dangerous skills, and he makes sure he stops and thinks before doing them to ensure the least chance of injury.

I have done a number of things as a coach to help classes:

. Separate stations while waiting (they all rotate through the stations). No two people at any one station. (ie; pushups, L sits, V snaps, stretches, presses, resting station).

. Discipline policy. Three strikes and you are out. On a laminated sheet that can be wiped off at the end of every session. Gymnasts know that I will contact parent if it gets to three strikes.

. Changing the order in the queue.

. Separate mats/block for waiting on so that no one is sitting with another person.

. Huge amount of communication with parents. Finding out what does and does not work for each child. This includes brainstorming and trying different things to see what works.

. Parent helpers.

Thanks again everyone for the comments.

Coachinkal I can seriously symphathize with you. What you said about your younger son's behavior was as if you were speaking of my son. He started out the year doing very well last year, then he did a 360. At this same time, his psychiatrist and I decided to rule out a learning disability and decided to begin testing him. He was obviously privy to this factor and his self esteem plummetted severely. This caused him to lash out when talk of him possibly receiving special help at school was heard. He did not want to be "labeled" as special ed. No discussion of that not being the case rang true to him. He has always had low self esteem and it exasperated at this time. He is very short for his age and has always been at the 3%-5% of the scale. As he has aged the size issue has become very prevalent. He is slowly coming to terms with it all. Thus far, he has been calmer and a lot more focused. We have had to make quite a few changes medically, etc.
My mother-in law mentioned to me the possibility of food colorings, diet, etc. being a possible problem. I made an appointment to have a nutrional doctor test him to rule out food allergies, and what we found was daunting. He is allergic to all food colorings, gluten, dairy, corn syrup, and a lot more. Adjusting his diet has made a world of difference. He now drinks and LOVES soy milk and takes two supplements above the Zoloft and Concerta. We give him zinc and B12 supplements; he was found to be deficient of both. Each has also shown to help with behavior and agitation ussually found in children with ADHD and ADD. I took him to a place called Vital Health. For the most part he is like night and day. I still worry, but we always talk about his being in control of his behavior is extremely imperative. He wants to do well. I can sense it when he voices how wrong he was last year and he never wants to repeat it again.
He now receives help in math at school and has an IEP. I am still battling with teachers about signing his pad so that he has everything he needs before he gets home. His focus is much better with the meds, but he does forget things from time to time. I ussually don't find out until the assignment has been posted with a zero on the computer. I really hope teachers at schools were as sensitive as you and Linsul are with your athletes. Schools are still so far behind when it comes to servicing emotionally disabled children. Thank you for posting your story. I have often felt guilty about my parenting of my DS. The counselor and social worker at his school have made some shotty comments. It'ss a miracle they hold the positions they do. Fortunately, I work in the same district as they do and have gone directly to the administrator of specialized services in our area. With their help, I have made some headway. I really hope we all can find resolution for our children and every child affected with any disability.
Thanks for your post lilgymmie7. It is always great to get feedback from other parents with ADHD children, and to know that I am not alone in my experiences. Since my son has been medicated his self esteem has really improved. Without medication he impulsively said and did the wrong thing. When it was explained to him the consequences of his actions he would feel really bad about it. This continual cycle was very bad emotionally for him.

For a year before my DS was medicated, I put him on a very strict diet without any colours and preservatives. This certainly improved his behaviour and activity level, but there were still too many bad days. He was causing problems at school, at gym, at soccer training, at home.

His current teacher and last years teacher have been very supportive. His grade one teacher would on occassion feed him the wrong food at school and then send him home (smarties, m & m's!). It would not take me long to realise he had been given something at school. In the end I wrote a long letter to the school principal. The school also brought in a strict policy of no sharing food. His current teacher sent home a note at the start of the school year advising parents that if they want to bring in cakes for birthdays they need to let her know first. Teacher then lets me know so I can bring in something for my DS on that day. He then does not miss out on something special.

Before he was medicated I also had a communication book with the teacher. This was very useful as I could talk at length about things that had happened at school when he got home. Sometimes he seemed to have difficulty understanding why something was wrong, almost a lack of empathy. When we have talked about it at length it then makes more sense to him.

His current teacher has only taught my son when he has been medicated and so has no hands on experience of his behaviour unmedicated. She seems to have good control and structure in the class and this is always beneficial to kids with ADHD. There have only been a couple of serious incidents all of this year. Last year there were incidents every week and sometimes every day. He had very few friends. Now he has lots. It took the kids in his class at least 6 months to change their opinion of him as he had such a long history of not playing nicely.

I took my DS with Tourettes Syndrome to see his neurologist last week. Dr was adamant that colours and preservatives do not have any effect on behaviour. I set him straight about my experiences. I was amazed that some medical professionals don't take the effects of colours and preservatives on children seriously.

In my experience with my ADHD son colours hype him up and preservatives make him angry/defiant. It took five days to calm down after having Hungry Jacks one time. Preservatives seem to stay in his system longer. Colours hype him. He will be climbing, running, fidgeting, very impulsive.

Thanks for suggestion on vitamins, will give this a try.
For a year before my DS was medicated, I put him on a very strict diet without any colours and preservatives. This certainly improved his behaviour and activity level, but there were still too many bad days. He was causing problems at school, at gym, at soccer training, at home.

In my experience with my ADHD son colours hype him up and preservatives make him angry/defiant. It took five days to calm down after having Hungry Jacks one time. Preservatives seem to stay in his system longer. Colours hype him. He will be climbing, running, fidgeting, very impulsive.

I bought Lucky Charms cereal the other day (my own craving) and dd had a bowl. She told me within 30 minutes that everything was blurry and jumbled in her head. We don't eat a lot of sweets or junk so I was amazed that cereal could cause such a big effect.

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