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, June 27, 2011

An Obsession Named Steve

 A couple of months ago one of my teenage daughters decided she needed an exercise boost.  I think she saw the third year hike and repelling coming up quickly at Girl's Camp and wanted to prepare.  She picked a walk video that is the equivalent of a 2 mile walk.

She has been dedicated!  Everyday Leslie would enthusiastically enter our living room with her cast of walkers and, peppy as can be, take everyone on a walk.  As she goes through the video - excitedly introducing one walker after another it become very apparent that there is only one guy walker, Steve. 

This caught the attention of Mary's two little brothers.  Both boys are young, to young to have the bulky fit build of a man.  They are still very much in the lean stage of life.  For some reason though, this man's build has caught their focus and all they have been able to talk about is Steve's big, well defined calve muscles.  They want them.  Never mind the fact that Steve is a grown man and they have yet to become teenagers.

Regardless, the obsession has picked itself and nothing can pull them away from the walk video or long conversations about someday having calves like Steve.  Steve, even gets conversation air time now when the video is not even running.  What does Steve eat to have calves like that?  What does he do in his spare time?  It has gotten a little, well creepy, innocent but creepy.

It became clear the other day that we had reached a whole new level of obsession.

We were running errands, having a very ADHD conversation.  You know the ones, it hopped, skipped, and jumped from subject to subject.  Those conversations are the norm for our house.  I am not sure where it started but the conversation jumped from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, to purple faces, to steroid use.

Steroid use is a concept that our young sons had never heard of so it took some explaining.  We were talking about how athletes use performance enhancing steroids can harm their bodies, how they can make you look purple, how people use them to bulk up and give them an edge physically in competition.

That was all they had to hear was the word "bulk" you could feel the despair from the back seat.  In shock and horror the voice of disappointment and concern rang out, "You mean...Steve, takes steroids?!"

My husband hadn't yet heard all about Steve and his perfectly defined, manly calves.  He was a little confused. We worked through it, talked the boys off ledge.  We explained that we didn't think that Steve took steroids.  Just because you have good, bulky, well defined calves doesn't mean that you take steroids.  Crisis averted.  Obsession intact.

Our daughter got off to Girl's Camp to hike the hike and repel down the side of rocks.  While she was gone this week the boys kept plugging away at the walk video.  Hunter even went so far as to put on ankle weights, the ones he usually used to help calm himself down when he gets over stimulated, to help bulk up his legs.

He was going to town, they were doing their thing, waiting for eventual reward of big bulky man calves when they noticed I was getting pictures of them doing the exercise video (for the blog of course).  One of them blurted out, "You're taking pictures?  Great! get a good picture of Steve's calves!"

Yep, definitely an obsession, an obsession named Steve.

* Steve walks on Leslie Sonsone's Walk at Home - The Big Burn 2 Miles of Intervals work out video

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Making Simple Things Hard

My daughter announced today that we have a way of making simple things hard...

Well, that is true.  We do have that tendency.

As illustrated by her younger brother who just an hour or so later pulled out the juicer, not the fancy powered kind the old fashioned hand juicer kind, and a bag of grapes.  As the pulled out a tiny grape and headed to the tip of the juicer he announce, "It's going to take the whole bag but it's going to be GREAT!"

His idea and passion and the quest for fresh squeezed grape juice had over powered any sense of reason.  Certainly, this has happened with more than just some grape juice.  I can think of a bunch of examples of the top of my head.  In fact, it may be where our favorite family term "masochistically creative" was born.   We are creative to our own detriment at times. (t-shirts are available for purchase if you feel like you can identify with us)

Whatever the endeavor, project, or idea those in our house have a tendency to lose site of reason in the face of a good cause or idea.  Sometimes, it works to our benefit, like this Father's Day when Jaren came up with the idea of making fake goatees and all wearing black (Mark usually wears black) to honor their Dad.  Sometimes, it shoots us in the foot, like countless concoctions made of every bathroom toiletry available and maybe some of your older sister's expensive make-up.

Sometimes, it falls right on the border between a great idea and trouble.  Like the fort Mary made in the backyard out of scrap wood - Shambala.  It is almost always entertaining.
That is the benefit of a checks and balances system in our home, not that we catch everything, clearly we don't.  It always pays to have someone, anyone, who in a moment of clarity can help you see that your idea, while brilliant, may not be very practical.  We saved the bag of grapes, this time. 

As my daughter put it, "The Aro family, making simple things hard since 1991!"

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Google, What Did I Ever Do To You?

Early this week Fernie came out of the back room where he had been working on his online classes.  I am not sure he even walked down the hall -- I think it was more that his excitement teleported him instantaneously down the hall and into the living room.  He could hardly speak.

The gist was this.  Google launched a new Google image on their home page in honor of Les Paul, a fully playable  guitar.

That was it -- the moment I lost any hope of getting anyone to stay focused.

You see, we do home-school, the education option that we chose to help eliminate the distractions of the classroom.  Thank you, Google, for bringing an irresistible distraction right onto the computers we log onto every day to do school.

Did I mention it is a fully playable guitar?  You can strum it, over and over again, and they did...they all did.

Normally, these cool Google designs last a day in honor of a person or event.  I think I could have managed a day of redirecting 6 kids back to school work every few minutes with the sound knowledge that it would was just a fleeting distraction.  Unfortunately, it was such a fantastic success they decided to extend it, to honor him all week.
Don't get me wrong -- it is very cool.  The problem here, it's cooler than pretty much all their classes, certainly cooler than math.  So, I spent much of the week shutting down multi-player guitar jam sessions, listening to long Google guitar concerts, braking up virtual guitar arguments, and trying to get people to get back to work and stay on it.

Of course, every time they went to do research for class or switch websites there it was calling to their ADHD brains.  It reminded me of a bumper sticker I saw years ago that said...lead me not into temptation, for I shall find it myself.  It's amazing how much research was "required" this week.  Suddenly, everyone wanted to write a research paper.

It also reminded me of something my son said this morning.  He was talking about the difference between being medicated and when his medicine wears off or hasn't started working.   "It is amazing how when I am unmedicated I can only focus on things that I want to focus on.  When I am medicated it's easier to focus on things I don't want to focus on." he said, "When I am unmedicated if I don't want to do it, I can't focus on it at all!  If it is fun it's all I can think about.  If it's not fun I can't hardly make myself think about it."

The guitar was a lot of fun, probably thought up by someone with ADD/ADHD.

Shhh....apparently, you can still play it here!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

An Oppositionally Defiant Essay

Less than a week away from graduation and her teacher told her that he would not accept her physical education essays, they would have to be redone. 

He had changed what he wanted last minute.  Now one of the essays had to be on a health related issue.  Little miss "I think I might have ODD" did not take this well at all. (see post: Mum, I Think I Might Have ODD)  As I reviewed the symptoms of ODD on the Mayo Clinic website it was clear that what followed would definitely fall under the, "spiteful and vindictive behavior" symptom or maybe "deliberate annoyance of other people."

I am definitely leaning towards spiteful and vindictive.

How can an essay on a health related issue be spiteful and vindictive behavior?  When you make reading it as uncomfortable as humanly possible while keeping to a relevant health issue.  For example, when you write a three page essay on the importance of prostate exams and email it into to your male teacher to fulfill the last minute essay requirement.

The title alone would be enough to scare most people off, but the real genius was in the body of the essay.  There, supported by quotes from various credible medical sources; she discussed the importance of prostate exams.  She put forth the option and process of self examination.  Including tips from professionals about how to make self examination more comfortable and what to look for.  She discussed the value of a proper exam from a trained medical professional.  And, in depth, dispelled concerns that men may have about involuntary physical responses to the exam itself.

It was well written and well supported by data.   It was so truthful, so awkward, so unabashed.  It was awful. 

And yet, it explained a lot.  Just this afternoon the very same teacher had called me to report on how another one of my kids was progressing in their classes.  When he got to Mariah all he said was, "she's on track."  Then he changed the subject very quickly.  Clearly, he had already received the essay. 

The essay that I didn't get to hear until it was written and sent.  I am sure I would have protested as soon as I stopped laughing so hard, wiped the tears from my eyes, and caught my breath.  As it stood, it was a done deal.  It was one of those parenting moments when your reaction is uncontrollable.  It is hard to be taken seriously as a disciplinarian when you are laughing so hard you can't breathe. 

One thing I will have to give her credit for is learning to direct those defiant emotions in a direction that may raise eyebrows but fits within the parameters that she is supposed to operate in.  There was a time that she would have mouthed off to the teacher, argued, and surely stepped way outside the lines of acceptable behavior.  Instead, she complied but still got her jab in. 

Definitely spiteful and vindictive, though I am sure that it was also meant to be a deliberate annoyance. 

Yes, my dear, I do think you have ODD.