Our Journey Raising Two Children with Special Needs

This blog chronicles our life raising two children, Nicholas 15, diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome and Weston 18, diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's/ADHD. It's the ups, the downs, the joys, the sorrows and most importantly, the beauty of living a life less perfect, a life more meaningful.




Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Masking" ADHD

Weston is filled with energy up to his ears and was diagnosed at 5-years-old with ADHD. He struggles every day to control his excess energy and impulsivity. In an effort to help Weston control his symptoms, we have tried diets, supplements, meditation, behavior management and several medication trials.

What has worked best by far, is medication. However, since Weston has also been blessed with an extremely high metabolism, long acting doses of these medications do not last throughout the day. In fact by 5 pm he is once again, hyperactive.

So, as a result, dinner and bed can be very stressful times for Weston as he struggles to control his hyperactivity. Usually it is Nicholas and Muffy who bear the brunt of Weston's excess energy level. Weston struggles too since he is not happy with his inability to keep his hands to himself.

Weston has however, become very good at finding his own coping tools. One of them you may remember is his IPOD, which he uses now as a tool to help him focus during dinner.

I am happy to report that Weston has discovered yet another unusual tool to help him to focus. It is believe it or not, a gas mask he purchased at the Army Navy store. That's right.....a gas mask! He discovered this cool military gear while we were vacationing in New Hampshire, and begged us to purchase it. He uses this mask almost every day. He even wore it as a costume for Halloween. It is only recently however, that he has discovered it's ability to help him to control his impulses.

One night after dinner, I was clearing the kitchen. Weston was his usual self... jumping around me like a jumping bean and terrorizing poor Muffy, who ran for cover into her crate.

"Weston, I said,"We have to find something to help you control all this energy at night."

"Why can't I stop it Mom?" he asked. I struggled to answer his question as I thought about how awful it must be to feel this way.

"Wait a minute," I know!" He shouts and runs to the living room to get his mask.

"This will help," he says, and puts on the creepy army gas mask.

I am amazed, as he puts on the mask and instantly collects himself.  His energy is subdued.  His spirit is calmed. He walks over to the living room and sits in the chair, a first for Weston.

The mask works like a charm.

I have absolutely no idea why the mask works so well. Is it because he can assume another identity? Is it because it is uncomfortable and it is simply the discomfort that helps him to focus? Honestly, I do not know. And while I must admit, it is a little unsettling to see my child walk around our house as if the end of the world is fast approaching, I am also incredibly happy just adding it to the list of unusual tools that truly help my son. I am indeed, thankful.

Perhaps someday I will write a best seller on the hidden benefits of IPODS and gas masks to mothers of young boys diagnosed with ADHD.

2 comments:

Luvmypeanut said...

i wonder if it works much as a weighted vest does?

Hey my motto is, if it ain't broke, don't fix it! LOL

Lisa said...

You know, you may be right, I never thought about it working like a weighted vest!

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