Monday, October 3, 2016

What Does ADHD Mean?

What does ADHD mean?

If you Google ADHD, you will learn that the acronym stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and you will read about distractibility, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

If you go to a medical professional for answers, chances are you will be given pamphlets, and told of medications that might help.

Educators and friends might tell you that ADHD is way over-diagnosed, and often a parent’s made-up excuse for a child who is undisciplined at home.

The best place to go for a true understanding of ADHD is into the home of a family who lives with it. My twelve-year-old daughter has ADHD. I’d like to tell you what ADHD is like for us.

For my daughter, ADHD means waking up in the morning with no desire to linger in bed or stretch and rub her eyes. ADHD means waking up in the morning and jumping out of bed, eyes wide open, and ready to run a race. ADHD means she believes everyone in the house should also be up and ready to run beside her. ADHD does not believe in sleeping in.

ADHD means she might forget to take her pajamas off before she pulls her clothes on. Or she might remember to pull the pajamas off and forget to put the clothes on.

ADHD means not being able to sit still long enough to eat a bowl of cereal, tie her shoes, or even go to the bathroom.

ADHD means she strives to fill every moment with noise and movement. If she runs out of things to say, then she will sing, bark, moo, or even cluck like a chicken. There is no room for calm or silence.

ADHD means playing too rough, spilling things, breaking things, knocking things over, and constant apologies. But then repeating what she just apologized for.

ADHD means never knowing what page the teacher is on, and wondering how the other kids always seem to know.

ADHD means she asks half a dozen questions in rapid succession but never waits for an answer, because she cannot stop her mind from wandering from one topic to the next.

ADHD means she forgets to bring her homework home every single night.

ADHD means she is often distracted from the task at hand by things the rest of us do not even notice: a squeaky chair, a dripping faucet, the flicker of a light, a voice in the hall, a movement across the room, or a dog barking outside.

ADHD means that other kids avoid her because she is a lot of work to be around.

For me, ADHD has meant constant interruptions, visual schedules and reminders, going over the rules repeatedly, hoping this time she will remember, while knowing she probably will not. 

ADHD has meant I have to model a quiet voice and talk often about volume. ADHD does not believe in whispering.

ADHD has meant pulling the car over to put my child back into her seatbelt, holding on tight to her hand when we go out in public, and constant reminders about safety.

ADHD has meant awkward explanations to family, friends, and acquaintances for my daughter’s behavior.

ADHD has meant medications that were hard to afford, but even harder NOT to afford. And getting those meds into her mouth as soon as possible in the morning.

ADHD has meant dreading the first hour of the day and watching the clock, waiting for the meds to kick in. Then, indescribable relief when they do, because my daughter is going to be able to organize her thoughts, have real conversations, follow multistep instructions, and learn for the next few hours. And there will be bouts of quiet. Oh how I used to take quiet for granted. 

ADHD has meant meetings with teachers and requests for help and understanding. And apologies.

ADHD has meant losing my patience over and over again, and having tremendous feelings of guilt for not being more understanding. 

ADHD has meant lots of giggles, silly misunderstandings, fun games, made up words, a huge imagination that never stops, hugs and back rubs.

ADHD has meant learning to parent differently, realizing that no amount of discipline can fix ADHD. ADHD has helped me to find buckets and buckets of perseverance and compassion I had no idea I had. ADHD means I work harder and longer, knowing that she is worth it all. 

                                (By the way, Riley is a doll.)

If you liked this post, you might also like to read what it is like to go shopping with my little girl. The Air Freshener Incident

1 comment:

  1. Very heart touching and inspiring blog that you have put up your experiences here, it’s nice to see you coming forward. I really like the point by point explanation of ADHD and toilet training autism. Keep posting more.