Mr. Bee sent me this chart about the average adjusted executive functioning age for children with ADHD, and it blew my mind. Charlie is 8, but according to this chart, he has an executive functioning age of 5.33, which is younger than Olive!
It really made sense to me because when Charlie and Olive have a disagreement, I always ask Olive to give in, despite her being two years younger. ADHD often causes problems with executive function, which is your brain’s ability to regulate things like impulsivity, flexibility, behavior, and emotions — all things that Olive is much better with managing than Charlie. Knowing this has greatly affected how I parent because I would often get frustrated with Charlie’s behavior, but now I can see how a lot of it is beyond his control and I am much more understanding. That’s not to say I don’t get mad at all – I’m only human!
These are some of the things that has helped Charlie’s ADHD:
1) Homeschooling. I think living on an island has had the most beneficial impact on Charlie out of everyone in our family. He has a simple life without stress and pressure. He gets frustrated easily and has trouble focusing when he doesn’t want to do something, like worksheets. I think if Charlie were in school for 7-8 hours a day, he would definitely need medication. In kindergarten and first grade he always struggled with staying in his seat and talking out of turn, things he still struggles with. With homeschooling he only has to study a couple hours a day, there are less distractions, and he has tons of free time.
2) Martial arts. Charlie started taekwondo a couple of months ago and it has had an incredible impact on him. We go 4 times a week, and he would go every day if he could! It provides exercise, discipline, and a great avenue for him to hyper focus his energies. People with ADHD can have trouble focusing, but they can also hyper focus on things they love!
3) One on one time. Kids are so different when they are away from their siblings. With less distractions when it’s just the two of us, I am able to super focus on Charlie. I think regular one on one time with each parent is essential for every kid, but perhaps even moreso for kids with ADHD. Even when we’re running mundane errands like going to the grocery store, for some reason it’s more special when it’s just the two of us!
4) Changing my behavior. I have some experience with ADHD as my brother has it and took medications as a child to manage it, but it’s completely different when your child has it. As I learn more about ADHD and change my expectations and manage my own behavior, the better it is for both me and for Charlie. Often he reacts to my reactions, so I need to be very cognizant of my own behavior!
Do you think this chart holds true for your child with ADHD?