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 9, 2011

On a Scale of One to Five, Definitely a Five

Thank you, Shonda Schilling, for your wonderful book about your experience raising your son!  In her book, The Best Kind of Different, one of the techniques she uses to teach appropriate levels of reaction to situations by rating situations and the appropriate reactions on a scale of one to five.  One being a casual almost non-reaction, five being an justifiably upset reaction to a serious situation.

This was similar to a system we used with our daughter.  It wasn't to help her judge where her reactions should lie to circumstances.  It was to help her recognize when she was heading towards a meltdown or explosion from over stimulus.  To teach her how to recognize when and how to get help.

When I first read about this system that the Schillings use I thought immediately about how to introduce it and use it.

Opportunity never seems to fail to knock on my door.  We were at the grocery store the other day and my son had to pick a drink for the ride home.  He was genuinely overwhelmed by the choice.  He was starting to get quite emotional, trying desperately to hold it together.

Walking the aisles with me and changing his mind back and forth, he was starting to loose it.  You would have thought, by his emotional reaction, that he was asked to choose which sibling to save in a life or death situation.  Gatorade or Powerade was proving traumatic.

I answered the door and let opportunity in.  I explained the scale and how to use it.  There we were, in the middle of Winn Co., having a pretty honest discussion about where choosing a drink might fall on the scale. I was thinking a one for sure, maybe even a zero.  My son, thought otherwise and  gave me the most profound and insightful answer.

Trying to hold back tears and keep composure he said,  "I can't tell!  In my brain everything seems like more than a FIVE."

I can see that life for him is like getting pelted by fives. I can see it in the stress and intensity which he carries day in and day out.    I explained that sometimes our mind plays tricks on us that way, making everything seem larger than life, like fives.  We all, to one degree or another, have to learn how to separate ourselves enough to see objectively where our reaction to a situation should fall on the scale.

He told me flat out he couldn't do it.  I told him he was not alone.  I promised that at first we, his father and I, would show him where situations should fall on the scale and what an appropriate emotional response might be.  We would work through it together and then, eventually, he would be able to do it all on his own.  That is where my hope lies.

He found his composure.  He chose a Gatorade.

It will take time, all good tools do, time and effort.  It is not a quick fix.  If it works as well as the system we used to help his sister learn to judge her intensity and boiling point, giving her the skills to control of her temper, we are on our way to a great coping skill.

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