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, May 30, 2011

Mum, I Think I Might Have ODD

It's not like I haven't thought it a million times; but, I will have to say I was stunned when my daughter brought it up herself.

We were talking about ADD/ADHD and all the many co-occurring conditions when she just put it out there, "Mum, I think I have ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder).  I can't help it!  If someone tells me to do something -- even if I want to do it -- the moment they tell me to I would rather die than do it.  I just instinctively don't want to do anything I am told to do."

Many, many moments flashed through my head.

I thought about when she was three and would tell me that I was, "following Satan's plan,"  every time I made her stand in the corner.  She would clinch her little fists, "Heavenly Father is not pleased with you!"

I thought about when she wouldn't read Accelerated Reader List books (AR books) and got in trouble for not having enough AR points.  Turns out she was reading tons of books, some were even on the list; but, refused to take the tests or let anyone know that she was reading books on the list while she was a part of the AR program. 

Maybe, the time she had the whole school sign petitions to allow backless sandals in elementary school because she thought it was wrong that the school was dictating what shoes she could wear.  How many pairs of backless sandals did she own?  NONE.  It wasn't the point it was another way she was being told what to do.

How about this for a ODD moment?  In junior high there was a line painted on the cement that the students weren't supposed to cross during lunch or break.  My daughter would stand right over the line...because...she had to.  The fact that the line was right there, painted on the cement, and the lunch monitor was right there watching made it irresistible. 

Pick a moment, any moment really, because if you told her what to do in any way you can bet that she would dig her heals in and oppose it.  The flip side has always been that left to her own devices she would self regulate pretty well.  It has always been a better option to present her with the information, the standards, the consequences, and let her choose.

Consequences being the key.  She had to know what each path would yield in simple immovable terms.  

No tug of war in our house, that has always been the goal and actually the advice my husband has given in dealing with the kids.  With her that has been even more important.  A tug of war would lead to endless conflict not obedience. 

So, we set out on a path with her and our other children.  In a super simplified way it goes like this; we present what we want or what we expect.  She presents her concerns and her opinion.  We address concerns.  We present the consequences, positive and negative.  Not complicated, simple, most of the time just one positive and one negative.  We ask her questions that help her come to a decision, to make her choice.  The choice is made and consequences follow.

Granted it rarely happens and clean and clinical as I just wrote out but it has worked.

When my kids were littler they hated having their little hand held.  There was no way I was going to let them just run around but fighting over holding their hand got really old.  Then by chance one day the solution presented itself.  I said to one of my toddlers, "Okay, I won't hold your hand but you have to hold onto my fingers."  I put two fingers out for them to grab a hold of.

The problem and arguments stopped.  I can hold your hand or you can hold mine.  Either way, the goal is accomplished.  All that really changed was they were allowed to have a sense of control.  Whether we are young or old we like to have a sense of control over our actions. 

Strong willed or ODD I am sure there is a diagnostic line in there somewhere.  Truth is I would probably answer her question with a resounding, "Yes, I think you have ODD and I am glad that you recognize that tendency in yourself.  When you recognize it in yourself is when you really start to make progress in overcoming it."

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