How Photography Helped My Child with ADHD
By: Holly Awwad of Holly Nicole Photography
If you follow my work, you have likely noticed that subject of the vast majority of my photographs is my 7 year old daughter Maddie. Maddie, or as I lovingly call her – Miss Maddie Mess-Maker, is my wild child. She has become my Muse. She also has a severe case of ADHD, coupled with serious middle child syndrome. Don’t get me wrong, she is a wonderful kid. I love her to pieces and wouldn’t change a thing about her, but she has challenges we’ve had to deal with as parents. It has by no means been easy for us or for her. But she is worth it.
If you have a child with ADHD, then you know what it’s like. They don’t focus. They have no sense of personal space. They are unaware of how loud (I’m talking LOUD) or disruptive they are. They won’t sit still. You can talk to them and they don’t hear you. They don’t make eye contact unless its forced… the list goes on and on. It’s not easy having a child that CAN’T focus or follow instructions. Many of her behavior issues are out of her control, and I have to remind myself of that when she makes mistakes. She was also the baby of the family for 6 years, when her baby sister came along… lets just say she didn’t handle it well. Her behavior got worse as she acted out to get more of the attention that used to be her’s. And to top it all off… she is very gifted academically, yet I get phone calls frequently from the teacher about her disruptive behavior. She is bored in school so she acts out.
So what is a mom to do? Pull out my hair? Scream into my pillow? Run away and hide for a while? I’ve wanted to do all of these things a time or two. We’ve had her evaluated but we don’t want to use medication. I’m not a therapist or a doctor, but I’ve done some research and know that kids with ADHD can often focus for long periods of time and follow instructions on tasks that they really enjoy. Well, one thing that Maddie loves is being the center of attention. She has been asking me since she was in pre-school to make a web site for her so she could go online and be famous. So I put on my thinking cap and thought about what I could do with her as a form of behavior therapy.
Naturally, photography came to mind first. She has always been my photo buddy, but now it has taken on a new meaning. She comes up with ideas for a lot of our photo walks and portraits. She chooses the outfits and accessories. She tells me when she wants to do it. And most importantly, she gets one-on-one time with Mom… no sisters allowed. This time that we have together is priceless for the both of us. It’s helped with her behavior in school, her jealousy at home and we are creating beautiful art that she will treasure forever. I know I sure will.
Holly is a stay-at-home Momtog of three girls ages 10, 7 and 18 months. She has been married to her high school sweetheart for 14 years and they live with their kids and fur babies in Michigan. She is passionate about everything photography, but mostly about documenting the life of her family. Holly is very blessed to do what she loves, with the people she loves the most. Facebook