raising bipolar child — 5 Minutes for Special Needs

raising bipolar child


Well hello there stranger! I’ve been MIA for a month and I’ve missed your posts and interactions. But as of today, I’m back, and can’t wait to catch up on some great posts here!

What have I been doing all this time? (Besides doing the happy dance upon the arrival of my new escape Kindle?)

I was apparently re-enrolled in Special Needs Parenting 101: Moving Forward Often Means Moving Backward. And it was like that dream I used to have in college – the one where I wake up in class on the day of finals and realize I didn’t attend lectures or read the book. But for this one, I couldn’t wake up.

Here’s the syllabus for my recent refresher course:

  • Revamping my oldest daughter’s medications (always a joy…) because her moods had plummeted in recent months.
  • Repainting her room to cheer her up (and also as the next installment in the Reclaim My Home From Craziness project).
  • Working through her 2 week meltdown after I painted the room in colors she picked. Because attachment disorder is just like that. Even 8 years later.
  • Discovering that she’s failing math, after doing great until a month ago.
  • Realizing the math grade coincides directly with the moment the IEP team decided she was doing so well she could stop receiving pull-out support for math.
  • Living through hell every day because of the homework battle for said math.
  • Watching her self-esteem plummet, and friendships start to strain…. because of, you guessed it, the math.
  • Reinstating pull-out services with the IEP team today.
  • Reeling from the mind-numbingly easy change that seems to have instantly cured my daughter.
  • Feeling relieved (and I have to admit, a little annoyed) at the unbelievably perky child who’s replaced my brooding-for-the-past-month one.

It’s a class I have a feeling I’ll be taking over and over and over and over again as a parent of special needs.

You’ve probably audited this one more than a few times too. Who knows? Maybe we can get honorary doctorates in it someday.

One can hope, right??



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A Homework Miracle At The Kitchen Table

She looked up at me, wrapped tight in the blanket that was holding her together. Thirty minutes she’d been yelling at math problems on crumpled paper in front of her. Pencils strewn around, nerves frazzled. Now she sat quiet. Smiling with those big brown tear-soaked eyes. Oh, she was so proud of her work! She finally got it – this long-division beast!

But even more amazing (as you can imagine if you saw my last homework post!) was HOW she got it.

Since her learning disabilities relate to auditory processing and mood, it often seems the moons and stars have to align perfectly for us to have a shot at explaining a math concept or vocabulary word without the interaction ending in a giant meltdown.

Read the full article →


The (Not So) Fine Art of Negotiating With My Tween’s Bipolar

We’re getting ready to go to the beach. It’s New Year’s Day. (Yes, I know I’m lucky. Truly grateful!) While I’m packing, my daughter with anxiety disorder and Bipolar is escalating. She follows me around the house as I collect towels, bathing suits, beach shoes.

“You threw out my old swim suit?!” She accuses, screaming at me.

“Last time you wore it, I told you the suit was finished. It had holes.” I reply.

“It was FINE. And you KNOW it! You want me to look ugly and all my friends are going to laugh!” She yells.

(None of her friends are coming, but you and I know that’s not really the point.)

“I’ll talk to you when you’re calm and respectful, honey.” I remind.

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Well THAT explains a lot! (New Neuroscience Research Findings)

“Did you notice how angry your sister is getting when you talk to her like that?”

“Can you see that mom is frustrated when you’re not listening?”

“What do you mean, you didn’t think she was sad? She’s crying!”

These might seem like things only parents with kids on the Autistic spectrum may say to their kids. But as a mom with 2 children who have Bipolar Disorder, it’s the same here… just unpredictably. One day (or week) things seem neurotypical, the next, eye contact is gone and the stimming behaviors are back. My least favorite of the behaviors is how my oldest daughter doesn’t seem to be able to read emotions accurately in friends and others around her.

Read the full article →


Helping Kids With ADHD Make Friends

“They don’t want to play with me!” She yells, stomping up the stairs and throwing her book bag down the hall. As is my daily habit, I wait until she blows off steam and it’s calm in her room again. Then I walk in, plop on the floor next to her where she’s creating an angry-looking art project, and prompt, “Tell me about that.”

The details are different each time, but the gist is this: my daughter who has bipolar and ADHD really struggles to have friends.

  • She misses social cues
  • She gets in people’s personal space
  • Her mood swings leave friends confused about her
  • She’s loud and demonstrative (and because of development issues, seems a little clumsy)
  • She’s chronologically, but not developmentally their age.
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Homework Strategies for Moody Kids

A few weeks back in school and all the old frustrations are in full swing.

The pencil-breaking. The paper-ripping. The weeping. The gnashing of teeth. You’d think schoolwork was, in fact, hell on earth. But really it’s just hell to a child with a learning disability. Especially one that’s at the mercy of bipolar mood swings.

My 4th grader, on an IEP for auditory processing and working memory difficulties, made great strides last year with her resource specialist’s help. That was after 3 years of working with her on homework, only to have her shred her assignment and stomp off, screaming, to her room.

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What To Do When Your Rope Breaks

My little girl is finally safe in a hospital – a mental hospital – and I’m losing my mind about it. I know some of you have kids with special needs of the neuropsychological kind, too. This post is for you.

You know those moments when you wonder where God went? Because if He was here, your life would look decidedly different than it does right now?

Last weekend, my husband and I made a decision regarding one of my daughters we’ve dreaded for over a year. As we followed through on it this weekend, it took everything we had to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

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Our Bipolar Happy Hour

It’s always the same. Like Bill Murray’s movie, Groundhog Day. It’s the same in our home every single day, no matter what we do, what medications we try, what therapies we employ. My 9 year old just lives on the relentless Bipolar mood roller coaster. Every. single. day.

Every day:

The Brooding Beauty Shows Her Sweet Heart

…I wake her gently, quietly… and she roars at the family for the next 30 minutes until it’s time for school.

…she gets home from school smiling, then lashes out at people because since she often misses social cues, and struggles to make friends.

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Staying Sane While Raising a Bipolar Child

She stomps out of the room, each firmly-planted step shaking the floor. Tear-stained, she plunges her face into the pillows on her bed, where she screams and cries. As she starts to calm down, I feel the adrenaline retreating into the places from which it flooded my body. Breathing, relaxing myself, I tend to her little sisters, who’d scattered to their usual safe zones with the toys, blankets and coloring supplies we set aside for these moments.

Ten minutes later, visibly calmer, she emerges, walks to me and throws herself into my arms.

“I’m sorry, Mom. I wish I didn’t have my brain!”

As I hold her, I’m thinking Sometimes I wish so too.

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