The Doctor Ordered a Dog…

by Janice

I came home with a very different kind of prescription last week…

beagle-silhouette-illustrationMy doctor suggested pet therapy for my son, Jackson. Yes, she wants me to get him a dog!

Jackson has been begging and pleading for a dog since he was able to speak, so the fact that my doctor suggested I get him a dog made me laugh — and finally give in.

I have always planned on getting Jackson a dog eventually. I know he needs one. My son is so loving and relational. He lives to love. And I know he will adore his dog just as much as he adores his little sister.

But, I have always told him that he had to wait until I was finished with diapers. I have to much poo in my life as it is!

Now that Olivia is well on her way to being “housebroken” herself, and now that Jackson is about to turn eight, I had been thinking that it might be time to start considering getting Jackson a dog.

When I told my doctor about how bad Jackson’s anxiety is getting and she insisted that I get him a dog, I realized that it is the right time and the right decision for our family.

Jackson struggles with ADHD and anxiety. He is a wonderful, compassionate, bright child, but he has a rough time with his “challenges,” as he calls them.

I haven’t written too much about Jackson’s issues here or at 5 Minutes for Special Needs, although I could fill a blog for sure with my unwritten posts. Parenting Jackson is a roller coaster that leaves me exhausted and blessed at the end of each day.

But, I struggle with how much to share about my children’s medical and personal issues. I want to talk freely with you about them, but I also want to respect my children’s privacy. It is a tough call — one that I haven’t figured out yet.

This last month has been an especially difficult month with both of my children’s medical concerns and I have wished that I could pour my heart out here.

But for now, I will say that we are on the hunt for the perfect dog for Jackson. I have spent the last three days researching breeds and looking at thousands of rescued dogs.

Hopefully soon, I will be showing off pictures of a boy and his dog.

P.S. I would LOVE to hear YOUR advice about finding the right dog. Tell me your story!
If I do decide to get a Jackson a new friend, I may consider using Dogtra dog collars to help with house and bark training.

UPDATED: Want to meet our new dog? Here he is…

Written by Janice, 5 Minutes for Mom co-founder
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Email Author    |    Website About Janice

Janice is co-founder of 5 Minutes For Mom. She's been working online since 2003 and is thankful her days are full of social media, writing and photography. You can see more of her photos at janicecrozephotography.com.

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

1 The Lumberjack's Wife December 21, 2009 at 9:01 am

We have a Golden Retriever. She is a great family dog. The kids pull on her, sit on her, ride her, dress her up and she loves all the attention she gets. She was really hyper as a puppy, but now she is 9 and she is pretty mellow.
Good luck!

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2 Kelly December 21, 2009 at 9:23 am

Just last month, I wrote about the (long and dramatic) story of our family adopting a dog. The saga started this week last year, actually.

Here’s a link to a post with the whole story.

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3 Erin Pyle December 21, 2009 at 9:42 am

My grandfather had two black labs when I was born. Those dogs were my best friends. They laid me on the rug and the dogs would lay around me and ‘protect’ me, as they called it. I grew up loving them. I even rode them around the house! lol Our dogs could open and close the doors, do the laundry, answer the phone, get you objects you asked for (whether it be a soda or a slipper) They were trained as a full helper dogs by my grandfather.

I don’t recommend a full blood lab, I recommend a 80-95% lab mix with something else. Pure labs tend to have more health problems due to the breeding. But I do recommend a lab of some sort. When trained properly they are amazing dogs!

I hope you can find one you guys love!

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4 Angela December 21, 2009 at 10:04 am

Janice, I too, struggle with respecting my son’s rights to privacy with wanting to blog about them for the support. We seem to have similar issues – my son is 7 so close in age too. Anytime you want to talk, I can relate. And I’m just an email away.

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5 Deb - Mom of 3 Girls December 21, 2009 at 10:48 am

That sounds a lot like Hannah – she was born wanting a dog, I think. She’s stopped asking Santa for one since we’ve explained to her that right now 3 kids and 3 cats in one (small) house is more than enough, but we’ve promised that we will get her a dog someday. When she’s at least 8 years old, and can show she’s responsible enough. We’ve got at least a year left to go on that one, so we’ll see what happens.

Good luck in your search for the perfect furry friend to join your family! :)

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6 Shari December 21, 2009 at 12:29 pm

Labrador Retriever! But get one that’s out or almost out of the puppy stage. Years ago my little brother was very timid and shy, terrified of dogs, and a friend of ours found a 17 month old black Lab and gave her to us. That dog did wonders for my brother — brought him out of his shell and made him much more confident. And, he hasn’t been afraid of dogs since.

Labs are great with children, so very smart and easy to train. Our Molly was a great dog, the most loving dog I’ve ever seen, until she died when she was thirteen.

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7 just sarah December 21, 2009 at 1:39 pm

I can relate to much of your post. I never realized that there was more to you than the blog and all you do for it. (no offense please, just saying you and your sis go go go… so it seems like a challenging child would be the last on the list of things)

My oldest son is 8. At 5, once he started Kindergarten, his teacher suggested he have him evaluated. She thought it was a sensory intergration thing… but the doctors would only test for ADHD… which he had along with ODD. We choose to medicate him because he literally could not sit still or keep his hands to himself in class. He also has alot of anxiety (over anything he cannot control) to the point of vomiting. All was ok for a while then over the summer he started having crazy jeckel and hyde outbursts so I had hime evaluated again and its pervasive development disorder, along with the adhd and odd. Its a struggle… every single minute.

But he got a dog when he was 6… thinking it would help teach responsibility and such. Sadly, my son wants nothing to do with the dog and she is pretty much my baby. Even the dr’s were surprised by this as pets do help kids alot. I work with him alot and the dogs… during nighttime ritual… sit on the bed with him and dogs… just letting them all get used to each other.

I researched dogs also… so tough and the thing I found the most is that many rescue centers will not adopt to families with kids under 10 (or 12). We ended up buying our dogs and have been happy with the result as we were able to train them ourselves. I have soft coated wheaten terriers, who dont shed and are good for kids/adults with allergies. They do grow hair so brushing is a must and haircuts. They are gentle for the most part but do love to jump up and kiss. You can train them not to.

Anyway, good luck and I would love to read more on your blog about this and your son. I talk to a few other online moms who have similar kids but we are all at the same stage and dont have any answers. I have even debated created a private forum for this so private conversations can be had.

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8 Shaun December 21, 2009 at 1:50 pm

We have a black lab/cocker spaniel mix. She is the BEST dog! Even as a pup (she’s 1.5 yrs now) she was so gentle with my oldest (1.5 when we got the dog). She has never jumped on either of my kids and is always really really gentle with them. Here’s a blog post I wrote this summer when a fawn happened to wander into our yard

http://asthedaysgoby-shaun.blogspot.com/2009/06/deer-and-dog.html

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9 Stacey December 21, 2009 at 2:08 pm

We have a Boxer who is just 9 months old. We got him as a puppy and has really been a great dog…so far :) Of course having a puppy in the house is a lot of work, especially with a toddler and preschooler also in the house. However, if you’re up for the challenge, I would recommend getting a puppy so the dog can grow up “knowing” and being used to your kids. Rescue dogs are great but you need to be careful when you have kids in the house. Just because a rescue dog is listed as being good with kids doesn’t mean that it will be good with your kids.

Our Boxer is so laid back and loving when it comes to my girls. My youngest daughter can sit on him and bounce on him and he just sits there and lets her do it. My oldest often uses him as a pillow. He loves my girls. However, he doesn’t seem to be as laid back with other kids. He would never hurt them but he also wouldn’t let my niece lay on him.

Just food for thought! Have fun on your dog search. Can’t wait to hear all about it and, of course, see pictures!

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10 Megret December 21, 2009 at 2:16 pm

I searched for a dog of the same breed of my beloved childhood dog, Airel. (Wheaten Terrier) After 2-3 months of searching online, I found one for adoption via PetFinder.com, about an hour south of us at a dog rescue kennel. We drove down one hot day in July and picked him up. He’s 2 years old, great with kids, and is learning to get along with our kitties. :) We got him mainly to help our kids get over their fear of dogs. So far, it’s working….slowly. My husband and I have fallen in love w/ him. :)

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11 she December 21, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Janice, this is so wonderful to hear! I’m an adult that suffers from bipolar disorder & post-traumatic stress disorder. Although meds control most of that, I still have stress & anxiety that I’m unable to control. I grew up with dogs in our house and that was a FABULOUS way to help me get through those tough times as a child. Today, at 32, I own my own dogs (2 cocker spaniels) and they make my life so much easier! Yes, I have to take them outside to use the bathroom, BUT I can be having a horrible day, and just petting them and seeing their wagging tails relieves a lot of my stress!

You and your husband are wonderful parents!

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12 Erin December 21, 2009 at 3:42 pm

We have english bulldogs and they are not the breed for everyone, but they are super sweet and laid back. They do have a lot of health concerns and can be stubborn, but if you find a good breeder, they can be wonderful pets.

My daughter has ADHD and anxiety as well (we adopted her through our state foster care system at 6 and she is 9 now) and honestly, I think she is more bonded with our cats than our dogs. She loves the dogs and plays with them, but the cats are the ones she wants sleeping on her bed at night and the ones she looks for when she is upset. Cats are easier in general when it comes to care and training – would Jackson possibly want a cat/kitten? If not, we had Golden Retrievers when I was younger and they were great family dogs. A good golden rescue group may be able to find the best dog for your family!

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13 Lindsey December 21, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Oh lucky lucky Jackson! :-) I was a fairly anxious child myself and having a dog did WONDERS for me. It was definitely a form of therapy. Another thing that helped was being able to express myself through journals. Does Jackson like to write at all? I think my mom made it a part of our homeschool that we write a little something in our journal every day. She didn’t really stick with it, it was just an encouragement and eventually I took it up myself.

You should check into collies, they have AMAZING personalities and although a bit hairy are totally worth it. The best dogs I’ve ever had have been collies. They have those eyes that seem to look into your soul. And if you’ve ever read Lad, A Dog or Lassie, it really is like that – they are so intuitive and intelligent.

Good luck choosing a dog! :-)

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14 Jennifer, Snapshot December 21, 2009 at 5:02 pm

My sweet pound puppy is looking at me right now. We’ve gotten two dogs from the pound, and they’ve been great.

Mine is a “shepherd” mix — probably border collie. Amanda was 2 when we got her, and she was a puppy.

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15 Jen December 21, 2009 at 5:04 pm

So glad to read that you’re looking at adopting a dog! :)

A number of years ago we adopted our dog Foster from an Aussie Shepherd rescue. I know Aussies tend to be VERY energetic, but he was super mellow and the sweetest dog ever with our kids. He was always watching over our baby, making sure I was doing my job!

I grew up with a Cockapoo and she was a terrific dog. Super smart. And a Cheetoh fiend.

Good luck on your search!

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16 Louise December 21, 2009 at 6:51 pm

Golden Retrievers are very gentle around children,

We used to have a German Shepherd and it was perfect around the kids

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17 Lissa - Whooo's that Girl? December 21, 2009 at 6:57 pm

Our Shiba Inu is FABULOUS with children! Good luck!

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18 Kim December 21, 2009 at 6:58 pm

We are a dog family. Actually we are a two dog family. Right now we have a 13 1/2 year old Golden Retriever who has always been wonderful with the kids and a 21 month old Great Dane who has also been great with the kids. The only issue with Great Danes is that they get very big very fast and can knock down littler kids, but they are so lovable and very family oriented.

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19 Julie Gillies December 21, 2009 at 7:14 pm

When my kids were young I did a lot of research before deciding on a Golden Retriever. They’re gentle, easy to housebreak, and have sweet dispositions. I clearly remember my (then) 9-month old baby daughter sticking her finger into our dog’s eye, while the dog just laid there and let her. THAT’S the kind of dog ya want for kids.

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20 Jen December 21, 2009 at 7:15 pm

West Highland Terrier hands down. My whole family suffers from Acute Anxiety/Panic disorder and Westies seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to panic attacks. Our dogs have both been Westies and have on many occasions predicted a panic attacks before I even realized it was happening. They love attention, giving and receiving. Extremely loyal. Their only down fall is sensitive stomachs. They need lamb dog food instead of regular.

Just my two cents! :)

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21 Katie December 21, 2009 at 8:11 pm

I understand what you mean about writing about your children’s “issues” as we call them in this house. My oldest son (age 9) has Cerebral Palsy and when we had dogs (I left them with my ex-husband during the divorce and he found new homes for them), our lab and our newfoundland were both wonderful with them. Newfs are especially wonderful, if you don’t mind the grooming, which I found can be relaxing for a child.

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22 Linda December 21, 2009 at 8:43 pm

I think rescuing dogs is wonderful, but my experience and that of friends is that the dogs are often not good with kids. We were told that the beagle we adopted was good with kids and they wanted to put him with a family. My kids were 10, 7 and 5. He was not good with them. He easily startled and would snap at them. One son got a big tooth scratch on his neck Christmas morning. We loved him until he died, but I don’t recommend adult rescue dogs if you have young kids.

There are many good breeds. We have two mini Australian shepherds now. They are family dogs. Shepherding dogs usually are and generally stick close by even if they get loose. The thing is you can’t just go by breed because like people, each dog has its own personality. That’s the drawback with getting a puppy, you don’t know the personality yet.

If you do get a puppy, don’t get it from a pet store. They are generally not well bred and housetraining can be difficult because they have been forced to go in their crates/cages.

Good luck. I think it’s a great move. I have three boys and they love having dogs.

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23 Kerry D December 21, 2009 at 9:46 pm

Our dogs are great for our family! One of my kids, with mild Asperger’s-ish symptoms and anxiety, especially relates to the dogs. He spends a lot of time with them, and appreciates how we help them learn appropriate behavior. They’re German Shepherds and one of them has his own anxiety which we’ve helped him through, with much kindness and patience–our son appreciates that the dog feels worried sometimes even though we know that he’ll be ok. (Our son also takes anti-anxiety medication which has helped greatly, just making life more manageable for him.) German Shepherds are very loyal to their family, and protective, but maybe not the best if small children are likely to be rough with them.

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24 Christy December 21, 2009 at 9:55 pm

With all the advice that you are bound to get here on different breeds, let me recommend that you talk to an experienced dog trainer before you make a selection.

Some children’s hospitals also have pet therapy dogs come to the hospital. It might be worth checking with their coordinator to see if they have any recs.

Good luck, and have fun!

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25 Amanda December 22, 2009 at 12:23 am

We have a beagle that is a wonderful size and temperment for kids. Our lab is still a puppy in the chewing stage, but she is more loyal and loving than any dog that I have ever had.

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26 NessWorld Magazine December 22, 2009 at 1:19 am

We have a labrador, and she is the sweetest, kindest moving loving and child friendly dog I have ever met. We had her for 6 months before my first child was born, and she just knew from the moment the baby was in the house (and the second one 3 years later) that her job was to protect them. She will purposefully step between them and any visitors, and eyeball the visitors until she knows they can be trusted around ‘her’ kids. She has had her ears pulled, tail pulled, eyes poked by both kids (before I’ve been able to intervene) and she just licks them, because she’s knows they’re just being kids. Now that the kids are a bit older, they *LOVE* her (the tail pulling etc has stopped) and they regularly use her as a pillow if they’re lying down etc. It is a beautiful relationship to observe.

She is very protective of our whole family, and regularly tries to rescue my husband when he’s in the swimming pool. You can often see her expression, and she’s like, “What is that darn human doing in the water? He’s not supposed to be in the water! Must get him out of the water!” It’s gorgeous. I would highly recommend a labrador as a great family dog.

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27 Cassie December 22, 2009 at 7:40 am

As far as dogs go, it really depends on what you want… I’ve seen them all. I really like a smaller dog, but not a “yip” dog. one that you could play around with. Irish Jack Russells are really great little dogs. Great temperment for families and they are easily trainable. My friend owns a few who are even service and therapy dogs! They travel well too! Good luck with whatever you decide

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28 Penny December 22, 2009 at 8:35 am

How wonderful that you are researching what type of dog to get. Too many people just jump into a cute little puppy with out any research to see if this dog will work for their family!
We have raised Golden Retrievers for 12 years and recently started breeding Goldendoodels. Golden Retriever/Standard Poodle mix. They are WONDERFUL dogs. They are low to no shedding and are great with kids. If you are not worried about allergies, the Golden Retriever is also perfect for a family with small children. They are both easy to housebreak and live to please and be with their people. The Goldendoodle has a little more energy than the Golden Retriever, but both breeds are very smart and loving. I would really recommend checking out both breeds and considering one for your family. We have raised our Goldens with our three children and they are a part of our family. I did research before we adopted our first Golden, Sam. I found that they were highly recommended for families. Goldendoodles were first bred for Therapy dogs, they are SMART and loving and most people with allergies can tolerate them well. If you would like any more information feel free to contact me! Good luck with your search and be ready to fall in love with your new pup!

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29 Eileen December 22, 2009 at 10:08 am

There are a lot of people who are going to encourage you to get a certain breed of dog, but even though certain breeds have certain traits…they ALL have their own personalities, just like people.
It’s a good thing you are highly researching your pet, as we did not. We chose a breed I had as a teen and also was not a high allergen dog considering we had kids with allergies. BUT, we went to LOOK at a litter and of course came home with a puppy. Liberty, our mini Schnauzer was a train wreck!! Yappy, jumpy, and like a little grey tornado who still, at 8 will not bark to go OUT… she has US trained. She CAN however, sit, speak, toss a treat from her nose, high five, play dead, fetch and roll over. Go figure!
We bought her for our kids, who we promised a dog when we got a house, but “Libby” is my baby who has been my best friend through years of medical issues. The past year she has sat by my side while mostly bedbound. She does help with anxiety and makes me feel very lucky to have such a great friend and protector when my kids are in school and hubby at work. Pets become family. Your family is lucky to be adding to your FAMILY!! If your son cant relate to your dog right away, no matter. He will still be blessed with a friend who gives unconditional love for many years and that will surely supply a lasting memory of love and security for a lifetime.
Can’t wait to see how is all turns out. You HAVE to keep us posted!

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30 Piroska December 22, 2009 at 12:35 pm

My middle child, a boy, was finally diagnosed with severe ADHD when he was 9 (after almost 9 years of me thinking it was “just me”).
I could write chapters of all that we went through–the trouble he got into.
Until we finally had enough–moved to the country and bought a dog.
My son was 10, and I can’t tell how much difference the dog made. For the first time in his life, he was calm. He burned off his energy with the puppy. Became more responsible (feeding, cleaning up after…and looking out for…Chewbacca).
The gentle nature of my son emerged.
I wish we had thought of a dog years earlier.
Chewie was a pound puppy–part border collie, part who knows what else.
Definitely a miracle-worker.
:o)

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31 Amy December 22, 2009 at 12:53 pm

I recommend a mutt, they are loving, loyal and truly know that they were given a second chance. We have a labrador retriever whom I love with my heart and soul but I feel that a large dog for a child is not necessarily a good choice. A medium sized dog from a shelter who is 2yrs + would be your best bet for Jackson in my opinion. After 2yrs the puppy years are through, there isn’t chewing to worry about and you can most often find housebroken dogs in this age range too. Another option is to talk with local rescue groups who can help to pair Jackson and your entire family with a dog who is right for you all with the qualities that you are looking for.

One thing I will say is try to avoid buying in to the hype of designer dogs like the labradoodle, they are mutts just as much as any dog you will find in the shelter and you won’t end up paying an arm and a leg for them. In my experience a mixed breed dog from the shelter is affordable, grateful, and generally tend to be in better health than most purebred dogs you will find.

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32 Ma21cuteboy December 22, 2009 at 1:03 pm

I think that is how a lot of us moms feel- Should I shouldn’t I? But if you sit back and think about it for a minute, your hints, tricks, and aides to help your son could also help another mom with the same “challenges” that her child is having, or another mom could have some great hints, tricks, and aides to help you and Jackson;} Just remember one thing YOUR NOT ALONE!!

Now onto dogs- My son Chucky has a lot of “challenges” we inherited a black lab puppy when my son was a toddler. This dog has been amazing, my son would open the dogs mouth, look in his ears,lay on him, everything that you could think of to irritated a dog and the dog would just lay there. As Chucky got older and could go outside in the yard to play, the dog would watch him {almost like a babysitter}. Now that Chucky is able to go outside the fence and ride his bike, scooter etc, the dog will freak out if he is out of sight, or if he can see him at his friends house, the dog will bark and bark until I tell him that Chucky is ok but he will stll wait by the fence for him to come back;}
Sometimes Chucky gets “busy” and forgets to get his dog food or water and the dog will let him know- he will push his bowls to Chucky until he gets him either food or water. The dog even likes Chucky’s hermit crab snoopy! LOL
They are really smart, and easy to train.
Good luck with your search in finding the “perfect” doggy for your family!

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33 Jill December 22, 2009 at 6:11 pm

STAY AWAY FROM PET STORES. Avoid backyard breeders like the plague. Do your research and pick the breed that is right for you and your family. You might consider a rescue organization to get an adult dog that is housebroken and has been temperment tested.

I personally love my Golden Retriever and my rescue boy who is a Golden mix. I highly recommend a rescue as well as a reputable breeder.

You can find breeder referrals generally on a breed website (for instance, The Golden Retriever Club of America is http://www.grca.org) and they will list breed standards, what to look for in a breeder, health clearances, etc.

Feel free to contact me if you’d like more info.

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34 Tarasview December 23, 2009 at 11:04 pm

I just wanted to tell you that my oldest (age 7) also deals with ADHD and anxiety with some high-functioning autism thrown in for good measure. I have struggled with how much to say on my blog… but decided I NEEDED to talk about it :) It just helps not to feel alone sometimes!

Praying for you Janice.

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