I Know About ADHD
I graduated from college a teacher. I paid my way through school life guarding and teaching swim lessons. I know about ADHD. People who work around kids for any length of time, we can pick them out. Or so I thought….
My Child? Really?
Flash forward a few years and I was struggling to work with my own daughter. She was in first grade and “homework” was more than a battle – it was an all out war. And I was losing. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I was winning each battle-but at what cost? I was losing the war. First grade homework time involved screaming and things being thrown at me. It was an all out battle of wills. And while it got somewhat better over the next few years, an eruption was always on the verge. Eventually I drug her to counseling.
It was there that a thought struck me. I still don’t know where the idea came from, but I asked to have her tested for ADHD. When the answer came back I was stunned. Even though I asked for it, I still couldn’t believe the answer was yes.
ADHD and GIRLS
Frequently ADHD in girls looks different. It’s missed a LOT. Most girls don’t fit what ADHD “looks like” because they don’t have the hyperactivity. Their minds wander, they’re just not running around, or squirming in the seats. And many of them are highly intelligent too, so it’s easy to miss that they are under-performing their potential. It’s a very slow-growing understanding, and one that most people are still learning the long-term effects of dealing with this on their own, undiagnosed.
To Medicate or Not To Medicate
I didn’t choose medication at the time. It was 4th grade and she was doing okay. But it really changed the way I thought and how I operated with her. I developed a whole new level of patience and understanding. Checklists went up everywhere. And I mean everywhere. If you walked into my home then you’d have seen the checklist by the front door, reminding her where to leave shoes and backpack. There were checklists for what to do in the morning when she got up, checklists for what to do getting ready for bed, even a checklist to make sure everything got done in the shower! Checklists for everything we did on a daily basis. That and lots and lots of patience, because she needed lots and lots of reminders for everyday tasks.
It’s A Learning Curve
It’s been more than a few years since then, and things are different, but we’re in a different place: high school. I still remember those first few months. It blew me away. And I’m so thankful for that impulse to have her tested, for the diagnosis, for the insight into how her brain works. Not everyone gets that. And I can use it to help her be the best that she can be. I wish we’d known about ADHD when I was a kid, but that’s another story for another day. I know some people are very afraid of having their child labeled. Me, I’m thankful. Otherwise, I’d still be sitting across the kitchen table doing battle with someone who was never going to get there doing it the way I’d always known. She needed something different, and there’s a whole world of tools out there, now that I know she needs them.