Thursday, September 28, 2017

Walking for the Kids

I don't know exactly when I first decided something about Boo was "different" from "the norm," but it was certainly some time in infancy. He was beyond fussy, hated to sleep, would only settle in MY arms. He was a "high needs" baby in an extreme sense. As he grew a little older, the term "spirited" began to be attached to him by a few of his caregivers. He was wild and reactive and defiant. Parenting him was rough. Traditional discipline methods had no effect on him. I read tons and tried different approaches in hopes of finding something that would get through to him. When he was four years old I began to demand answers and help from the health care system. Our family doctor referred us to an ADHD clinic.

That was the beginning of a new lease on life for us. There were initial assessments, follow-up appointments, a referral to behavioural therapy. And then, when Boo was six, he was referred to the ADHD Clinic at the Hospital for Sick Children for a full assessment. The assessment was a day-long affair, with a team of paediatric specialists working with both child and parents. At the end of it all, Boo was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), and flagged as gifted. That assessment finally set us on a path that allowed Boo to start taking back control of his actions and reactions, and allowed us as parents to gain a better understanding of how he is wired and why he is the way he is. He's not a bad kid. He's just wired differently and needs help to stay calm and in control.

It's been 5 years now, and Boo is still seen regularly by his Sick Kids psychiatrist. He still needs to work on his self-regulation, but he has come leaps and bounds over the years. Some of that I'm sure is simply becoming more mature, but without the care we've received from the team at this amazing hospital, I know we wouldn't be nearly where we are today.

Because of our experience there, plus knowing so many other families who have received excellent care there, we are strong and regular supporters of the Hospital for Sick Children. Last weekend, for the second year, we participated in the Canacord Genuity Walk for Sick Kids, raising money for the highest need areas of the hospital's work.

Leaning in for a smooch generally gets him to giggle, which makes for a good smile.
The walk is a "challenge by choice," which means you can choose to walk anywhere from 5km to 20km. There are campsites every 2.5km, and shuttles to bring participants back to Main Camp when they are ready. In 2016, Boo and I walked 12.5km, and I had really hoped to best that this year, but it was not to be. The walk took place during our September heat wave. It was about 40 degrees Celsius with the humidex when we gave in at the 7.5km point. Brutal!!
My T-shirt. Can you see where I was wearing the backpack? So hot!!
Each campsite has a variety of activities, as well as snacks and hydration. At Camp Messy Hands, the first stop, participants can add their hand print to a Sick Kids sign. 

Camp Messy Hands

The sign is taken back to Main Camp and displayed proudly for all to see. It's a great photo opp.

Boo found his hand print.

There's tons of activities at Main Camp, including music, a craft area (tie-dye T-shirts!), and the Canacord Genuity Fun Zone. Boo and I raced in those big, blow-up hamster balls, and he did some wall climbing and foam-tipped archery. We also played a game of giant lawn checkers. For the record, I won.

It was a lot cooler at Main Camp, which is located near the lakeshore, so we played there for a while before grabbing supper and heading home. In spite of the heat, and having to stop early, it was a great day. We've registered again for next year. Let's just hope there's not a heat wave again!!

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