Queen of the Distracted

Imagine life in a house with 6 kids - now imagine if 5 of those kids and their father have ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) - that is our house! Welcome to an inside view of my life and our home dominated by ADHD... THERE IS NEVER A DULL MOMENT!

Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and Girls!

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls!"

Those were our oldest daughter Rachel's first words, from the time she was a toddler she would belt them out proudly standing on the arm of the couch. At the time we had no idea what ADHD was or that it would play such a central roll in our lives.

Since then we have learned a lot, not the least of which is how many individuals and families suffer in silence. We have experienced first hand how misunderstood and misrepresented a disorder can be.

As a family we decided to take action - to risk embarrassment and labeling to get this important message out to the world. Come join our family, share in our lives, and see ADD/ADHD as we see it...
A gift with a heavy price tag.

WELCOME to life in the ADD/ADHD House!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Picture of ADHD

Here are my boys, Hunter and Jaren! They are a couple years apart in age and about the same size in stature. They are often confused for twins. Some people ask me HOW to tell them apart. I tell them it is easy Jaren always looks very put together and Hunter always looks disheveled, like he just walked out of a tornado.

I couldn’t help but think about how individual ADHD can be when I looked at this picture. Believe it or not both boys are ADHD, both take medications (though not the same meds) but clearly there are some differences in how that ADHD comes out in their personalities.

Jaren obsessively fights his inattentiveness and Hunter is overrun by it.

Jaren has responded wonderfully to medication, Hunter has struggled on a journey of trial and error with little patches of success here and there (luckily we are in a good place right now).

Hunter is often drowning in his own thoughts and has a hard time expressing them. One night I asked him if he was swimming in thought. He cried and insisted, “No, there is no room to swim.” Jaren finds expressing them easy, almost effortless and charming. At four he serenaded his pre-school teacher with Phantom of the Opera. He has charm and wit and catch phrases.

Hunter misses nothing, often memorizing books and movies with one exposure reciting them with ease. Jaren has to work at it and often repeats things over and over to learn them.

It would be SO easy if there were a simple way to diagnose and treat ADHD, if you could measure it scientifically like diabetes and give a proportional response. It just doesn’t work like that, it is so much trickier. Each person having their own struggles and reaction to how their brain functions, to this neurobiological disorder called ADHD.

We have always tried to approach each child individually even before we knew anything about ADHD. Teaching, disciplining, guiding, encouraging in a way that works for that individual. We have sought out doctors that are interested in treating our children in the same way that we raise them; treating the child not necessarily the disorder alone. As our psychiatrist now says treating what is in front of you. This is especially important because ADHD in not usually a stand alone disorder, it likes company. My husband Mark often calls it the buffet of mental health issues. A virtual smorgasbord, “I’ll take a little OCD and anxiety with my ADHD, throw a little ODD on there for desert.”

So when the kids piled out of the car for church on Sunday Hunter’s outside so completely reflected his inner struggles I called out to Mark, “Quick, get a picture!” It’s a picture of two brothers who share so much. A picture of how unique ADHD can be.


Mark said...

I want to comment on this picture for those that may think that this was staged. It was not! The funny thing is Hunter (right) was pretty much oblivious when I took the picture... he just did what I asked.
So take a minute... look at them... Jaren (left) chose that haircut, chose the suitcoat, bow tie and pin on the tie, the shoes and I believe he asked his mom to get him pants that matched his bargain suitcoat. Hunter, wears what you make him put on... he lost his shoes, we were going to be late, so he picked shoes that didn't fit him. Every week we tell him SOCKS! Well he wore socks... My socks! I am 6' 2" and where a 14 shoe... he is still in kids shoes... we eventually cramed his feet into the shoes, but had to take the socks off to do it... he walked funny at church. I would like to say that he will learn his lesson from this, but it will take more than that I am afraid.

loamo2007 said...

I KNOW where you are I have two girls both ADHD one is neat and organized and always on time. My youngest hasn't worn a pair of socks that match in about 4 months when I decided I just couldn't continue to buy more. The oldest ADHD w/LD and the youngest ADHD possible Asperger's syndrome. Love to ya mom and dad stay strong and love those boys....


I'm a Ninja!!! said...

This was so Funny, even the way they were standing was so different from each other! Jaren was standing up straight while Hunter slouch and looked uncomfortable.

Lisa Aro said...

Thanks so much Julie, for your comments! It is wonderful to know I am not the only one in the boat! We'll keep rowing and see where we get!