My son, Ricochet, had a birthday last week. He’s officially a preteen, now twelve years old. As we do each birthday for both of our kids, we asked him where he wanted to eat on his birthday. But, unlike his sister, he hemmed and hawed and couldn’t make up his mind. He kept answering, “I just want to stay home.”

This bothered the momma in me — I wanted to make a big deal of his birthday. I wanted him to feel extra special. I realized that I needed to step back though, and listen, really listen, to what Ricochet was telling me. I discovered that he was telling me that he recognized that his ADHD and sensory processing disorder meant he’d be more comfortable at home, where there’s predictability and the ability to control his environment. He was telling me that a night at home with his family, a sausage and mushroom pizza, and a game of Monopoly were all he needed to feel celebratory and happy.

And that’s what we did. We got his favorite pizza from his favorite pizza place, and we gathered around the table to have pizza and play Monopoly together, as a family. We laughed together and enjoyed some low-key fun. Ricochet didn’t win Monopoly that night, but he was a very gracious loser, making the whole family proud.

My little boy is growing up, not just in an ever-accumulating number of days on this earth, but in his self-awareness and consideration of others. Three years ago, he would have asked to go to Chuck E Cheese or a similar loud arcade, without realizing he was putting himself in an uncomfortable situation. Three years ago he would have melted down when he lost the game. All our hard work with this disorder, this ADHD, is finally paying off now. Today, he is beginning to self-advocate and keep an eye on the bigger picture.

Today, he gave me another glimpse that he’s going to be a-okay.

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Penny Williams
Author. Parenting Guide. Journalist. Speaker.
Penny Williams guides and mentors parents raising kids with ADHD and/or autism. She’s the parent of a son with ADHD and autism, and the author of three award-winning books on parenting kids with ADHD. Penny is the current editor of, Founder and Instructor for The Parenting ADHD & Autism Academy, and a frequent contributor on parenting and children with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications.