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!

Friday, September 23, 2011

I am Aware: Parents are Experts

I was talking to a teacher, a new teacher to us and really a relatively new teacher altogether.  She was frustrating the heck out of me.  I have to admit, I was at whits end trying to communicate with her how ADHD  effected the way one of my children approached school.

I finally stopped the conversation dead in its tracks.  Do any of your children have ADHD?  Does anyone you know have ADHD?  Are you familiar with it at all?  Probably, not one of my finer moments of diplomatic relations with teachers, but, definitely nicer than what I almost said.  I was frustrated and feeling a little snarky. 

No, she had no personal experience with ADHD but she assured me there were experts in the field that could help me.  HA!  For the first time I stood up and said what others, including our family psychiatrist and other professionals have been telling me for years.  I firmly stated, "I have 6 kids and a husband with severe ADHD. I AM an expert in the field, I live it everyday.  Let me tell you how their brains work..."  the conversation went on from there.

September is national ADD/ADHD Awareness month.  To honor that I thought I would share some of the things that ADHD has made me uniquely aware of.  To start, I have come to realize that I am an expert in the field of ADD/ADHD and the many co-occurring conditions that float freely around our house.  I am an expert because I have spent over 20 years in the trenches with it.  It doesn't mean that I have all those extra letters after my name or that I have a fancy degree hanging on my wall.  It most certainly doesn't mean that I know everything.  But to one degree or another all parents with children are experts. We are experts in our children's personalities, their struggles, and their strengths.

I have spent a great deal of time becoming educated on ADD/ADHD and the other conditions they cope with everyday but my real expertise comes from just day to day living, trying to understand the how their minds work, how they take in information and stimuli, how they process it, and how it comes back out in their behavior.

I believe that most parents, even parents that have just been handed a diagnosis and haven't even begun to research or learn about it, even those who don't understand the scientific ins and outs, are experts.  They are experts on how their child will react given any set of circumstances and how to influence that outcome of their behavior for the better.  They are experts in their child's strengths and weaknesses. 

Sometimes it is easy to be intimidated when you walk into a Student Study Team, IEP, 504 meeting or even when we take our kids to doctors or other professionals for help.  We look to them as the experts.  We forget that we, as parents and advocates for our children, stand on equal ground with the experts.  We bring to the table a unique perspective, the day to day details, the clues that will help unravel the puzzle of our child's brain. 

It is the combination of our expertise and their knowledge that will hopefully benefit our child most in the long run.  I have become aware of the importance of being an expert in my child's life.  The importance of embracing that roll and proactively becoming the best expert I can be in my field.


Palmer 7 said...

You're so much more educated than I am. I have for years disassociated myself from learning because I don’t want to believe my children are handicapped. So they have suffered so much because of me. I have learned much from you and I love you. Thank you.


Lisa Aro said...

I felt the same way when I finally figured out what was going on with our oldest. Still feel guilty that we waited so long...think that is totally normal. :)