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!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Triumph for Sure: 22 Books in Less Than a Year

"Hi, this is Mary.  She is going to be in your class this year.  Believe it or not she is medicated, on the highest dose allowed by the FDA of two ADHD medications.  You can't really tell but trust me there is a big difference.  You should know that she is also dyslexic, she only sees out of one eye, she has a speech problem - you can't really understand a word she says.  She reads like she writes like she talks - it is all jumbled. Oh, and when she runs she leans farther and farther forward until she falls.  Have a good day!"

Turns out besides ADHD she has dyspraxia, an overall motor processing disorder.  It is a combination of all the dys' - dyslexia, dysgraphia, discalculia, etc.  She also has a language processing disorder - she doesn't separate all the sounds that she takes in - meaning that language has sounded like jumbled words to her most of her life.

Needless to say, despite her intelligence, she has really struggled to do the things that most of us take for granted like reading and communicating.  Her education has really been a constant struggle for her - she has had to work for every bit of knowledge she has.

Frustrated with the answers we were receiving in traditional school, tired of her sitting in class with most information flying over her head, we turned to a public charter home school program.  The program we chose was California Virtual Academy (CAVA).   They are responsible for the evaluations that really discovered the extent of her problems.  They have provided her with private speech and occupational therapy.  I could not talk about her successes with out praising their efforts and the system that really worked both for her and with her.

As hard and slow as the progress has been going to home school is a decision I will never regret.

When we started with CAVA Mary was in the 5th grade but reading at a second grade level.  She couldn't visually track well when reading, skipping large chunks in the text.  What she didn't skip she mispronounced or misread.  The amazing thing was that while she was at a 2nd grade reading level her comprehension was at grade level and beyond.  Some how in the fragments and chunks she was able to read she was masterful at finding meaning.

When Mary was about 10 years old she described it this way to her Aunt Anita, "It's like there is a beautiful picture and everyone can see it but I am stuck behind a fence.  I have to look through the cracks and holes in the fence at little pieces of the picture and guess what the rest looks like."

How profound.  How troubling.  How true.  How beautifully put. 

After years of hard work reading finally clicked.   She really started to make some progress about 2 years ago.  First, we got her books on CD,  her interest and drive to read  were finally there but her ability and stamina weren't.  We didn't want her to just rely on audio books so we made a deal with her - she would read a book and then we would buy her one on CD.

Then last April Mary came across a book she could not resist, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.  No more audio books.  She is 14 now and since last April Mary has read 22 novels.

Just like I have always said about her, she is still reading like she writes like she talks.  With her improvement in reading we have seen an improvement in her writing and her speech.  Just a couple weeks ago she felt and heard the difference in making the right 'R' sound for the first time. Her occupational therapist says her visual tracking is improving and she crossing mid-line spontaneously more regularly.

Last night I sat and watched her conduct a Young Women's program, she was distracted for sure; but, she was confident and pretty clear as she emceed the event and read aloud from printed materials.  Most of the time we are so deep in the trenches that progress really seems slow.

Most of the time our view is centered on the length of the long row we still have ahead of us.  Last night was one of those moments when I get a better clearer view.  Instead of just seeing how far there is to go I could see how far she has come.

This tenacious young woman is really starting to see the pay off a lot of hard work.  She has been strong when it was embarrassing, when she felt alone, and out of sync with her peers.  Plank by plank she is tearing down the fence and with each board she pries loose the view is getting clearer and clearer.  No more cracks and holes, she is after a better view.

I am proud of her.

* special thanks to Lisa Martin, her speech therapist, Goodfellow Occupational Therapy at The California Learning Connection, and her CAVA teachers, Mrs. Falco who has been with us all the way and Mrs. Shea

1 comment:

Jeanne said...

I love the beauty of Mary's explanation, using the imagery of peeking through a fence. She's a remarkable young lady who's really had to overcome a lot! And you've made some great choices to help her!