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, April 25, 2012

How Many Un-medicated ADHD Kids Does it Take...

Evenings in our house can get pretty interesting.  Only a couple of our family members take afternoon medication and of those only Mark, my husband, can be counted on to take it reliably without being reminded.  As a result, most of the household is completely un-medicated by 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon. 

What does that mean?

For those of you who don’t already know that means that most of the house, as Mariah would say, “has the attention span of a doughnut.”  They can’t hold a thought for more than a millisecond.  They are distracted by everything, moving all over the place with no apparent destination, very talkative, loud, and totally fragmented.  Let’s add irritable to the list.

Naturally, that makes it the perfect time to start a project that takes everyone’s help, concentration, and focus.

Last Friday I posted that one of our afternoon projects was setting up a pool in our yard (see post: Eh, I'm Gonna Risk it!).  When I wrote the post we were still in pre-evening chaos.  The band hadn't started practicing, dinner was still in the planning stages, and we hadn’t started putting the pool up yet.   

And to be honest, I was too busy trying to keep my head above water to really monitor everything that was going on until I looked out the kitchen window and saw all the kids (all of our 7 plus the drummer and his little brother) holding up one end of the pool trying to figure out what to do next.  

I really wish I had THAT picture...it was a sight to behold but we couldn't get a camera out there fast enough to catch it.  Instead, I did what I do best - deferred the chief project manager, my husband.  I had been feeding him updates from the kitchen window.  This one went a little like this, "Mark, it's time for some intervention, they are all standing holding up one end of the pool trying to figure out what to do next."  

He likes to give the kids opportunities to problem solve on their own but this was headed south fast.  Remember...distracted, wriggly, irritable, prone to long rants on unrelated topics.  Mark took sympathy and went out to offer some guidance.  His first suggestion - set up all the footings and supports not just those at one end of the pool.   

They were resistant at first but they set the whole thing back down on the ground and started to add the rest of the supports.  They were hot, tired, and totally unfocused but really motivated.  So, they kept at it.  As they worked, occasionally, from the back yard someone would yell out, "What time is it?  Is it time for The Finder yet?"  We all have our limits and that was theirs - it was getting dark fast but that didn't matter - who needs to see while setting up the pool.  They were fine as long as they could finish by the time The Finder came on.
Remember no medication, big project.  There is one problem with being the only non-ADD/ADHD child in a house full of it - you spend a great deal of time being the only one who isn't distracted.  Hannah is that child.  How metaphoric that here she is holding the whole end of the pool by herself.  The question is:  Where did everybody go?

With a lot of guidance and redirection they got it almost standing.  Notice by this point Mark is out there keeping everyone on track and working efficiently.  I would love to say that they got it up and started filling it all before The Finder but it didn't happen that way.  They did, however, get it mostly up and were able to finish it over the next day or two.  Today was the first day they were able to swim in it.  In a great twist of irony the blazing hot weather had disappeared and it was raining this morning.  To be honest it could have been snowing and they would have insisted on getting in.  Who could blame them really?  

As I watched them in the pool out my kitchen window tonight I couldn't help look back to last Friday.  Somewhere in the couple hours they were attacking that pool, wrestling with it to get it up and semi-standing my good friend Penny leaned over and asked, "How many un-medicated kids does it take to set up a pool?"  Answer ~ my six, Penny's two, a Hannah, and a project manager, Mark. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

"Eh, I'm Gonna to Risk it"

It's Friday and while life is shifting gears for most households in America, in my house we haven't gotten the memo.  We are gearing up for band practice.  My two oldest daughters and their band are performing at a benefit concert tomorrow.  We are trying to sneak in prom dress shopping for another daughter.  Driving people to school plays, work, and setting up the pool, it's getting hot here in the Central Valley. 

But at 8:00pm that is all going to come to a stretching halt.  We'll stop what we're doing and all 9 of us will gather in the living room to watch The Finder on Fox.

Who ever said that ADHD was caused by watching too much television has never visited our house.  Here 7 out of the 9 occupant are severely ADHD/ADD, we have one child who isn't.  Usually she and I are the only ones in the house that can just sit and watch a show.  Everyone else wanders in and out, reads while watching the show, draws, jumps in circles, gives running commentary on something totally unrelated, you get the picture.  So, to find a show that meets our family standards and can hold everyone's attention is pretty amazing.

The Finder is that show.

A little something for everyone - there is a bit of mystery, action, drama, romance, and a lot of humor.  Our 13 year old son loves it so much that when we were saying family prayer he thanked God for, "The Finder on Fox on Thursdays at 9:00pm."  That's was when its air time was then.  I suppose he was trying to be very clear with God, this son is very precise, has a bit of OCD with his ADHD.  Now it is on Fox on Fridays at 8:00pm PST.

However, I think that the reason we are so endeared to the show as a family is the main character Walter Sherman, played by Geoff Stults.  Walter Sherman has a gift for finding things that are lost.  The plot revolves around people seeking him out in need of this amazing skill.  His amazing skills stem from his amazing brain and the way he uses his unusual thought patterns to see the world and find that which is missing.

My family identifies with it because they identify with the way Walter thinks, the connections that his brain makes and the way he works out these puzzles is certainly the way most of the members of my house approach life.

Does Walter Sherman have ADHD?  Is that where his unusual thought process springs from?   While I am sure that we could keep that topic going around our dinner table for hours, truth is, it really doesn't matter.  My family can identify with Walter Sherman.  They love his uniquely wired brain and its fun approach to life's problems and quests.  They love his quirky catch phrase, "Eh, I'm gonna to risk it." blurted right as he is about to do something impulsive.  They have adopted it as their own.

Which is good, I always like a little warning and when I hear those words they have my attention. 

They love his friend and counselor Leo, played by Michael Clark Duncan, who is clearly the balance to Walter.  He would be the executive function pointing out the boundaries and giving advice.  Sometimes listened to, sometimes ignored.  They love Willa, the sassy, troubled gypsy girl in Leo's care.  And the on again off again love interest of Walter, US Marshall Isabelle.  A great cast and crew, great writing, combine to make a great show which, unfortunately, seems to be a well hidden secret. 

So, in a effort to make sure that we can see The Finder for a long time I had to share it here and encourage all of you who have a uniquely wired brain, who parent those with uniquely wired brains, or work with those with uniquely wired brains to watch this show and spread the word to others to watch it.  Watch it and maybe you will find a fun perspective on the brains of those you love like I did. 

Tonight, despite all the craziness that we will still be pursuing, at 8:00pm you know where you will find this family.  All 9 of us will be watching our best find in a long time.