Tuesday, August 13, 2013

All About the Afternoon Meltdown...

"J is the most amazing kid I have ever met," Mrs. K, his Kindergarten teacher told me during our first parent-teacher conference. "I can't believe how helpful, empathetic, and sweet he is! If only every child was as great as he is, our world would be an amazingly calm place."

I just smiled and nodded, all the while re-creating his afternoon meltdown yesterday that lasted 2 hours, had our entire house in chaos, the dog shaking, and all of us on edge and ready to snap. For years I have never completely understood how my child can create such complete chaos at home after school but during school, he is this different child- full of compassion, sweet sentiments, and perfect behavior. However, after talking to some other parents whose ADHD kids also have afternoon meltdowns, I think I understand it a little bit better.

See, ADHD uses Serotonin and Dopamine faster than regular brains do. Even though some ADHD medications help increase these two chemicals, kids with ADHD have been shown to use these chemicals twice as fast as usual. These two chemicals are responsible for many different responses and reactions, including happiness and attentiveness and when these levels drop, kids can experience a multitude of reactions such as out of control emotions or "zoning out."

My kid's response is out of control emotions. This results in afternoons and evenings of crying and tantrums from different results than expectations, flailing arms and legs after saying "no" to what he wants, and screaming and hysteria over situations that are relatively minor. I always shook my head, convinced that this was simply a behavioral issue, but I think it is a response to low Serotonin and Dopamine levels in his brain. I don't think he can control these emotions any more than I can control the need to correct someone's grammar- is a compulsive activity that he needs to emote out or else lose control of himself completely.

scream and shout 

The exception of such reactions is during school. During those 8 hours, he is such a great kid! He follows directions, cleans up after himself and other children, tries so hard to follow the rules and learn what he needs to in order to be on level with everyone else. I think that since he tries for eight hours straight, never letting himself break down over a disappointment or different results, he needs to let it go somewhere and what better place then at home where everyone will continue to love him regardless?? Unconditional love and a feeling of complete safety are apparently the necessary elements to complete breakdowns and chaotic evenings.

*Big long deep sigh* 

I love the kid. He is my life and my little boy, but man-oh-man, these nights are difficult to deal with day after day. Honestly, I am surprised my neighbors haven't called CPS yet with the way he screams sometimes. But I guess if it had to happen somewhere, at least it can happen here at home where, when it ends and he calms down, we can dry his tears, tell him that no matter what, we love him, and we hope tomorrow can be a better day...
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