Thursday, August 7, 2014

Life with ADD

As I have been working on a number of blog posts (some posted and some for future posting), I found myself referencing the impact of ADD on S's life.  Hmmm... that might be something I could write about.  Guess what?  You are reading it!

As written in yesterday's post, S was diagnosed officially in the 4th grade.  He exhibited symptoms prior to that.  Because of his CP, our family and the school had made accommodations and adaptations for him that helped him function with his ADD.  It was when it was impacting his quality of life that we knew we had to do something else for him.  

This post isn't about the pros/cons of medication.  There are very strong views from both sides. We had to look at our son as an individual and do what was best for him.  For him, that path was medication, and it has been beneficial for him.  If it weren't, we wouldn't have him on it. Enough said...

What is it like for a child who has ADD (right-brained) to live in a household where everyone else functions left-brained?  What is it like for left-brained parents to parent and guide an extremely bright child who functions right-brained?  

We have done a lot of reading on the topic.  We don't want to "change" S.  We love the person he is; however, I wouldn't mind if he cleaned his room or could find his things occasionally.  We have worked with S through elementary and middle school to get his work done, to be aware of distractions, to organize himself, etc.  Some of our techniques were helpful.  Others may have been just as effective if we were trying to herd cats.  We would get frustrated.  He would get frustrated. Back to more reading.

Once S was in high school, we spent a lot of time talking to him about the future and how he is going to be responsible for himself.  What does that mean?  What tasks will he need to be able to do? [These will be addressed in posts starting next week.]

I was still reading and gathering information, talking to S, asking him how we can help him, etc. This past year was an epiphany for me, my husband, and J as I read "Secrets of the ADHD Brain".  One of the sections is titled, "Don't Turn ADHDers into Neurotypicals".  Oh. My. Word. The author was talking to us.  We, the three of us, realized that is exactly what we were trying to do.  That was not our intent.  Reading that article was a turning point in how we addressed S and his ADD.  

As a right-brained person, he does have to function in a world that is mostly left-brained.  That does not mean he has to function as a left-brained person.  He needs to develop strategies to help him get things done in his life that everyone needs to do - get schoolwork done, show up to work on time, get work tasks done, pay bills, meet various deadlines.  His strategies don't have to be my strategies, and my strategies don't have to be his.  My husband's strategies don't have to be his.  J's strategies don't have to be S's strategies.  His strategies need to be just that - his.

Ideally, conversations regarding organization or meeting deadlines or whatever now sound like this:  
Mom/dad:  Here is what I would do to accomplish _________.  This works for me.  Just because that works for me doesn't mean it will work for anyone else in this house.  What do you think would work for you?
S:  (Proceeds to tell me what part of my idea might work for him or why it wouldn't work.  Tells me what he would like to try. May or may not stray from the topic of conversation to share whatever tidbit of information is on his mind.)
Mom/dad:  Let's try that for a little bit and see how it works.
Again, the above script is an "ideal" conversation. They aren't always this nice and neat.  

As S told my husband one time, "It doesn't need to make sense to you." No truer words have ever been spoken.  It doesn't need to make sense to us.  It needs to make sense to the person who is doing it.  It needs to make sense to S.  If it helps him accomplish _____, then it was a successful idea.

Whew!  I will just be hanging out on the couch with chocolate.  That makes sense to me.

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