Making Our Home Safe for a Child with ADHD
To be a champion, I think you have to see the big picture. It’s not about winning and losing; it’s about every day hard work and about thriving on a challenge. It’s about embracing the pain that you’ll experience at the end of a race and not being afraid. I think people think too hard and get afraid of a certain challenge.
I can still vividly recall the day when Lauren and I rushed our son Ethan to the ER following his fall from the sofa. He had sustained a bad gash on his forehead that would not stop bleeding. We were self-loathing and suffered from terrible bouts of guilt that was very painful. We were also worried that the injury could be serious.
I was 34 and Lauren 33 when we’d had Ethan. Lauren had put her career on hold for 4-5 years to enjoy motherhood, a luxury I not could afford as his dad. Yet, I made the best of the time I could actually spend with him by giving him all the love and attention I could. Even with all the love the care, Ethan was sometimes distant, sometimes inattentive and had more frequent falls than other kids I knew. Lauren often went through guilt that she may not be a good mother and may not be doing her duty the way she should have done. She was not fair to herself, but it was tough convincing her. I joined her club of doubting our parenting skills when we completely missed Ethan sneaking away from our dining table, climbing the sofa and falling. How could we not have kept an eye on him?
It was only when doctors diagnosed Ethan with ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) did we realize that our parenting skills were up against a special challenge. When we embarked on an extensive research regarding ADHD, we found answers to our questions. So far it was a mystery why Ethan had always had been a handful. Even as a preschooler, he would tear through the house like a tornado, shouting, roughhousing, and climbing the furniture. No toy or activity ever held his interest for more than a few minutes, and he would often dart off without warning, seemingly unaware of the dangers of a busy street or a crowded mall. Lauren had to struggle to get Ethan to settle down long enough to complete even the simplest of tasks, from the basic daily chores to homework. It was tough for her to even to get him to clean his teeth after dinner. We always assumed that he would grow out of his naughtiness. As he entered school, his teacher’s called us quite often to comment on his inattention and disruptive behavior in class. It was our friend Linda, a special educator, who recommended that we take Ethan for an evaluation for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A few days later, I walked into our living room to find Ethan entangled in the vertical blinds, not the cords, but the slats itself. I panicked and rushed to get him out of it. Without further delay, we got an appointment with the center Linda referred for help. Our doubts were confirmed.
We had to pay special attention to Ethan and also make our house safe for him. Lauren had not got back to work since she’d had the baby. Now she decided to continue her break for few more years to guide and help Ethan realize his full potential. I have always lived my life with a positive attitude. I always used to say, “When life throws lemons at you, make lemonade.” But now, I was lost. This was the real challenge I was facing, and it was as not easy. Without the support and strength Lauren showed, I would not have coped well with my child. Lauren was sure that with proper treatment, Ethan would learn to live successfully with and manage his life, as the doctor had said. She knew it would be challenging to raise Ethan but it was easier after knowing that he was not “bad,” “acting out,” or “being difficult on purpose”. She also got rid of the guilt of bad parenting she was going through. We knew that Ethan had difficulty controlling his behavior without medicine or behavioral therapy, so we religiously followed every instruction our doctors gave us.
We decided to change our home and lifestyle to accommodate the needs of Ethan. First we got rid of the fragile and delicate furniture in our home and replaced them with sturdy, stable, and stain- proof ones. Safety and durability took precedence over décor.
Lauren helped Ethan develop important organizational skills by providing toy bins that were easy for him to reach. She tried very hard in helping our son to learn to replace toys in their right place by labeling bins with photos since photo labels helped him focus and remember better. Since Ethan was the first person in the family to wake up in the morning, we made his bedroom secure and made sure that he would not venture out on his own from our home.
Next we took up the bathroom area for inspection. We secured all the bathroom cabinets with safety locks. Since we feared scalding, we adjusted our hot water to keep the temperature below 120° F. Our kitchen was made childproof even before Ethan’s diagnosis, so there was nothing much to do there.
Finally, we came to our window treatment. I was yet to recover from the shock of finding Ethan stuck in the blinds, though I was assured that he was completely safe. We decided to do away with old window treatments and replace them with motorized roller shades that could be operated with ease. We also made sure to move away all furniture from windows so that Ethan would not climb them. We preferred LightWeaves Graber Blackout Roller Shades for our bedrooms and LightWeaves Graber Light-filtering Roller Shades for the rest of our house. The new roller shades were convenient to use as they are extremely lightweight and durable as well.
I loved the enduring quality of the polyester and the vinyl fabrics that these shades are made of which ensured that they provide complete privacy, and we could achieve 100% darkness when we required by lowering down these shades using the cordless motor option. To my relief, there were no dangerous cords or chains hanging from these shades since I opted for motorization. The Radio Frequency operation of the motorized version of the shades helped us in operating these shades from any place of our home making it very easy to control.
Finally, we came to the most important part of the change that was our parenting itself. We learned how to help Ethan organize his environment, develop problem-solving skills, and cope with frustrations. We underwent training that helped us to respond to Ethan’s most trying behaviors with calm disciplining techniques. Through my son, I discovered a part of Lauren that I loved and cherished the most. With the progress I see in Ethan, I am very sure that Lauren will help steer our child toward success with her patience and dedication.