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!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Out of the Nest

We have embarked in a whole new phase of life in our house.  It has taken awhile for me to get my bearings as I have been stretched over this new schedule.  We have two in college.  Three in high school, at two different schools, and two still doing home school, but with two different supervising teachers. One still in an elementary and one in junior high.

For the past four years we have had everyone under the shelter of various online programs.  There was a safety in being able to more readily control the environment, to accommodate with ease.  In addition, the home school we used for our K - 8th graders was wonderful about IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings and providing services.

That was a stark contrast to the school district they had attended before where we had to fight to get testing and services.  Where, to make the simplest thing happen, we had to threaten to call the OCR (Office of Civil Rights) on the school district.  In a way, it felt like we have been in the security of the nest for these four years that we have been doing home school exclusively.  In the meantime, everyone is growing up and their skills are growing and their needs are changing.

Eventually, it's time to leave the nest.

This school year we took our first big test flight.  I suppose the mother bird in me has been busy flitting around trying to make sure no one met the pavement below too hard.

It started with getting my two oldest settled in college.  I have been at this long enough now that I know some of the pot holes and how to avoid them.   So, when we got them all registered I handed my daughter the phone and said, "now, you need to call and make an appointment with disabled student center to get on the record from the start that you have ADD/ADHD and need accommodations."

Didn't necessarily make me the most popular mama bird in the tree but that's okay.  It has created a safety net for them that was worth the initial balking.  They got the accommodations they need in place, if they need them they are there, and they learned they have some extra perks.  For example, they get to go in and meet with their DSPS counselor and registered before all of the rest of the students on campus so they can get the right classes and professors.

Within the a couple of days of getting the oldest two settled it was time to get Fernie into an alternative education program close to our new home.  He was doing online school with our older kids through the school district's on-line charter HS.  It worked for him, he came to our family severely short on credits to graduate and needed a program that would allow him to make those credits up quickly.  He worked very hard last year in a system that was really not designed for his optimum learning style.  He came very far but not far enough to re-enter public school and graduate on time.  

I have a half written post that will dive more into his experience in Alternative Education.  It has been an interesting experience to say the least.

Once he was off and flying, testing his wings, it was time to enroll Hannah and Mary in regular high school.  This was a huge step for me.  Probably the hardest for me to let walk to the edge of the nest.  Hannah because she is most like me, but very shy.  Mary is the child in our family that has managed to collect the most disorders and the one we have had to fight the hardest with the schools for services.

I have learned a great deal as Mary's parent.  I learned how to get fabric paint out of cream colored carpet. I learned that while preschool scissors cannot cut paper they can cut metal mini-blinds.   I learned what 504, IEP, and OCR mean.

Last week I walked into my first public school  IEP meeting in four years.  We had them with the online home school program we use but they have been such a wonderful experience that I have to admit I was a little nervous about how this one was going to go.  Would it be as wonderful as the CAVA (California Virtual Academy) IEPs or would it be as traumatic as the pre-CAVA ones?

It was great.  I love it when you walk into an IEP and those teachers and staff that you are working with as a team in behalf of your child see your child's strengths and weaknesses just the way you do! Could not have asked for more.

Word is - that little bird is flying in high school, just fine.  She's got all As and Bs.  Speech impediment be danged, she tried out for and got a part in the school play!  She is taking high school by storm.

So, it looks like all my baby birds are doing well.  Maybe I can cuddle back into the nest a bit with my two that are still in home school before they get ready to start testing their wings.  Next year will come soon enough.

No comments: