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, December 24, 2012

Our ADHD Holiday ADDventures

We are no strangers to adventures in holiday life - I have way to many stories - some charming and humorous, some terrifying, honestly, most are both.  It's just what you juggle when you juggle disorders like ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD), anxiety, OCD, Aspergers, Autism, and many more.  Where "normal" families surely have bumps in their holiday road (I like to think they do anyways) navigating the special needs holiday highway can be a crazy obstacle course of road blocks and pot holes.

In case you're feeling like you're alone in having to juggle the holidays like exquisitely sharpened knives I thought I would share some of our families holiday adventures and mishaps

 I Saw Rachel Pantsing Santa Clause

Call it excitement, anticipation combined with impulsiveness.  Call it what ever you want to - I just remember sitting at a table with a bunch of other parents watching our adorable kids huddle around Santa, hankering for the candy he was passing out.  There was my daughter, about 8 years old at the time 9she's an adult now), impatiently tugging on his pants trying to get his attention. There was Santa, with his red furry pants around his ankles.  The parents were in an uproar, some racing to tell Santa - who had no clue he was flashing the entire Christmas Party.  Some literally rolling on the floor laughing.  Me, I was completely in shock - did that really just happen?

Twas the Night Before Christmas

One of our earliest holiday traditions seem to revolve around Christmas Eve.  Anticipation of the mornings stocking and present excitement building, cookies and milk set out, all the kids tucked safely in, surely it was time for mom and dad to relax a bit while everyone drifted off to sleep so the evenings real work could begin.  Magical, until, like clockwork, one children would wake up vomiting. Yep, we have an anxiety vomiter and Christmas Eve made her anxious.
Finally, one year, she cued us in on why we had established such a terrible Christmas tradition. When we were trying to get her calmed down she stammered out a question,"Why can't Santa leave the presents on the doorstep like the Easter Bunny?"

As she's gotten older she's expounded on her fear- she told us, 'think about it - an old man, who lives forever, who knows what you've been thinking, your deepest desires, who watches your every move, good or bad and sees you when you're sleeping and knows when you're awake.  He waits until you're asleep then sneaks into your house, eats food, and leaves presents. Creepy."

It was NOT okay with her.  I never would have guessed that in a million years.  The magic of Santa had never translated into danger for me. We didn't change our tradition of finding the presents under the tree or stockings full of small surprises but we did address her fears and figured out ways for her to feel safe.  Over the years she found enough peace to ditch her nasty Christmas Eve tradition - one we were all happy to see go. She loves the season she still is no fan of Santa. Lucky for her Santa loves her anyways.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

A couple of years ago our oldest daughter was at the mall with our youngest son.  She thought she would do something special and sentimental with him so she offered to wait in line with him to see Santa Claus. He looked at her with skeptical eyes, "You want me to go sit on a strangers lap and reveal my deepest desires? Uh...NO thank you, that's not fun, that's creepy."

The Little Drummer Boy (Our not so little anymore flute girl)

Our daughter has played the flute since she was 7.  We got her started because she was such a little stress and anxiety ball and needed an outlet.  She's has always been gifted at it, had nearly perfect tone, and almost never hits the wrong notes.  Why?  She's has auditory defensiveness/sensitivity and hears wrong notes so intensely they drive her crazy.  She has a hard time enjoying music, though she loves it, writes it, breathes it like it was air to her, because she can't help but hear any missed variation.

Recently we were at a beautiful Christmas concert.  They had a flutist who had a very unnatural vibrato to everything she played.  Years ago our daughter would have loudly complained about it.  Everyone around us would have had a lecture on vibrato, and known exactly how violent this ladies was making our daughter.  We've found that progress in social skills and every other coping mechanism with our kids comes very slowly, sometimes it's down right imperceptible but then you wake up one day and all those little bits of progress have added up to something remarkable. 

She still complained, expressed her deep desire to run up to the stage, rip the flute out of the ladies hands and beat her with it. BUT, she didn't flee the building, huff and puff for everyone to see her disgust, and she whispered it.

"The Fire is so Delightful"

Our latest fascination it a video the kids stumbled onto while searching for Prep and Landing on Netflix.  It's a video of wood burning in the fireplace.  First of all, we have a fireplace to burn wood in but this has tripped every ADHD wire in their ADHD brains and they are fixated with it.  They keep joking about the special effects and fine quality of the video.  They were ecstatic to find out there was two episode and are eagerly awaiting a sequel.  They wanted to move the TV in front of the real fireplace just to watch the video, to buy a 100 inch TV so they could see it even bigger on the wall.  They run up and warm their hand in front of it, my son rips his shirt off because it's getting so hot, and they yell at each other for walking in front of the screen and obscuring the view.  Who knew a recorded fire could bring so much entertainment and fun, I didn't.

Hark, the Herald Angels Weep

My husband leaned over to me in church yesterday and said, "Do you think my plan for the tree topper angel is sacrilegious?" I honestly had to think about it for a minute or two.  I really don't hink of the Christmas tree is a very religious symbol of Christmas.  I know that their are all kind of explanations of how it represents different facets of faith but really I think those explanations  but personally I think the tree is a great decoration for the season and part of magical tradion and that's about it.

Qualifier, our kids are NOT very little anymore, our youngest is 12 in a couple weeks.  Fact, everyone in our house loves Dr. Who.  Add to this mix the fact that my husband has a deep seeded distaste for our Christmas Tree topper angel. Add to the old tree topper angel some serious ADHD, some creative genus, some impulsivity, some Modpodge, some spray paint, and you have a weeping angel Cristmas Tree topper.
That's right, by tonight our new and improved weeping angel Christmas tree topper will be staring down from the top of the Christmas tree.  I leaned over to him and whispered back, "No, I don't think it's sacrilegious at all."

Holidays can be hard: uncomfortable clothes, overstimulating events, social skills war zone, organizational hell, too many demands coming from too many directions.  But in the midst of it all we have learned to compromise, teach, ditch the demands, and find what works for our family.  It's not perfect but it's our holiday, our traditions, and we love it.

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