NAPLAN testing in the schools is happening in two weeks, and although for some kids it can bring a bit of anxiety, for ADHD children, it can be a game changer and a one-way route to a meltdown!
I had spoken to Sarah's* teacher about NAPLAN and told her that we hadn't even breathed the word in our house. I didn't want to put any pressure on her; I knew that this sort of thing could cause her ADHD anxiety levels to raise!
Even though we hadn't focused on NAPLAN, Sarah was aware that it was happening, and this made her hyperactivity worse.
Walking to school now meant doing cartwheels all the way there, and Alex* and Belle* had missed a couple of kicks in the head by a hare's breath! Her ears once again had stopped working and our old friend 'defiance' was back. I had also started to notice that Kyle* and I were losing our cool a bit more! We were aware that all this was happening because of the change. NAPLAN was a change to the norm, and that for us meant that Sarah would have increased hyperactivity, more defiance and more meltdowns!
As I put Sarah to bed tonight, she had a major meltdown! She started to become scared of spiders in her bed; her eyes were wild, her feet and fingers clawed, and she began gasping for breath! Her legs and arms were flying everywhere, and she was totally losing it! A year ago, I would have panicked; I would drove her to the paediatrician the very next morning and pleaded with him to fix things. I would have worried about the future and stressed about what was wrong with her. But tonight, I just laid there with her and said nothing. I stroked her arm, did lots of shushing, stroked her head and her hair, and told her how much I loved her.
"think of something else, think of a happy word", I said.
"I can't all I think of is spiders, they are in my bed, they are everywhere."
"Relax Sarah, it's ok, Mummy loves you, I am here".
These are things that no psychologist or paediatrician will tell you to say; these aren't the things that you will read in ADHD books or on Google searches. A few days before a memory popped up on my Facebook feed. It was a picture of Sarah when she was nine months old. Her gorgeous little face, my happy smiley baby, sitting so comfortable and being so cute. Looking at that picture brought back all sorts of happy, loving memories.
Tonight Sarah needed me to be as tender and loving with her, as I was in that picture. I couldn't do this for a long time because I was finding her behaviour so hard to deal with, but the more I pushed her away, the worse her behaviour became. Tonight I didn't push her away, I shushed her like a baby, just like I did when she was that cute, smiley, happy little 9-month-old baby.
Her kicks and screams became less, her tears stopped rolling, her screams faded, and she calmed down.
"Have you got a couple more kicks left for me?" I said.
She started laughing and straight away her anxiety-filled state had gone. I kissed her goodnight, told her how much I loved her and then closed the door behind me. No medication, no paediatrician, no psychologist needed.
Just an abundance of love and an understanding that when change happens, so does Sarah's behaviour. But that's ok; I just need to go with it and believe that everything will go back to normal soon, as it always does.
* All names have been changed to protect identities