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, December 5, 2012

The Color Purple - An ADHD Homework Nightmare

He emptied his backpack onto the living room floor.  It was like Mary Poppins' carpetbag or clowns coming out of a tiny circus car. I still don't know how he fit it all in his backpack to begin with but after he started pulling things out I had no question why he couldn't find the purple piece of paper that was the last and final part of his Service Learning Project Board.

For my two youngest sons, this is their first year back in public school after five years of home school. 
There certainly have been some major adjustments, homework being at the top of the list. To this day one of my favorite things about the home school years was no homework. No homework to keep track of. No makeup work after illness. No homework to agonize over when the meds have worn off and the brain just isn't functioning. No homework to lose.

Keeping track of homework, remembering to do it, doing it, remembering to turn it in are all hallmark problems for ADHD kids (and for adults though it wouldn't necessarily be called homework it would more likely translate into work assignments or projects).

My son's backpack is probably the stereotypical ADHD backpack. Looking at it I, myself, had to wonder how on earth the child is getting good grades and turning anything in on time.

It's simple: his absolute obsession and fear of disappointing a teacher overrides his absolute lack of organization. His anxiety level is intense, it's one of the reasons why we went to home school right before the 4th grade when the class size and intensity of curriculum were both going to take a big jump up. Nightly he paces the halls and worries that he didn't write something down in his planner, no matter how many times he reviews it. Clearly, organization is a coping skill we are working on but haven't come close to mastering.

This project board about sent him over the edge. Projects with lots of pieces and parts are also notoriously difficult for ADHDers. He had arranged to do the 10 hours of service at our local library, as an avid reader this was a magical place to serve. He had written all the parts of the project up, printed out the blurbs and pictures to glue onto the project board which he had painstakingly decorated like a huge bookshelf.  All he had left was the purple paper.

For days I had suggested talking to his teacher. His response, "I can't. I truly fear that woman." I reassured him as best I could, but, her strong PE teacher personality had him shaking in his boots. I've talked to her several times, truth is she loves him as a student, gets a kick out of his unique personality and intensity. But he still wouldn't talk to her. He was convinced that she didn't have any more of the precious purple papers, not one. Sure that he was going to fail the entire project without that purple piece of paper he turned to any alternative he could come up with.

He was going to talk to the girl he was supposed to do the project with, who bailed at the last minute, she might have one. She wasn't using hers, he explained, she's failing the class anyway so she didn't do the project or the board. I questioned whether someone who was that disconnected would have the purple paper. "Good point," he said, "good point."

At my request, he braved the backpack and went through it one paper at a time looking for the purple paper. I tried to edge in a little organizational time by having him sort everything into piles, one for each class. That didn't work, though he did find half of a white copy of the purple piece of paper. Clearly, it wouldn't do, he argues. In addition to being ripped, it was not purple.

He came up with a plan, he was trying to enlist the help of his oldest sister to "forge" the purple paper. She could do the forgery on the computer and then we could go to the store and find the right color purple paper and print it out.  How is this easier than asking for a new one? It's not, but, he reiterated that he really really fears that woman, so in his mind, it was safer.

Board completed. Minus the purple paper, having never found the original. No copy to take from a fellow student. Forgery vetoed by mom and dad. He took the project board to school to turn it in. He was going to have to brave his teacher and ask for a new one to glue on the board.

When he got home from school I asked how it all turned out.

"Oh," he exclaimed cheerfully, "the purple piece of paper didn't have to be on the board."

For your entertainment I have written down some of the fake book titles that my son put on his project board. He and his sister, the one he was trying to rope into a life of crime as a forger, had a great time coming up with them. It was late and the meds had definitely worn off (for both of them).

Sometimes I Eat Paper Clips - Overcoming PICA

Prunes and Prejudice

Fish - A Complete History

101 Ways to Slay a Clown

Mayonnaise is NOT Marshmallow Cream

Tapping Into Your Inner Dolphin

The Super Guide to Malaga and Beyond

How to be a Lumberjack - Sleep All Night - Work All Day

They Call Me The Rabbit Whisperer

Coping with Alien Abduction and Probing

So You Want to be a Llama Herder

Thank Goodness This is the Last Book by Ima Exhausted

and the banned book: 10 Reasons NOT to Get a Colonoscopy


Dawna said...

I just have to tell you that your son and my daughter are like kindred spirits.
Katrina is 9-1/2 and has ADD.
I originally saw an excerpt from your blog on Facebook (a brief clip where you likened the backpack to a clown car of sorts) and I immediately thought, "that is so Katrina!" Then I had to read more and found a lot of parallels. I am going to have Katrina read this as well because I know that it will mean as much to her as it did to me to read about others who can relate to what we are challenged with. :-)

Lisa Aro said...

thank you so much for commenting!I can't tell you how much it means to me - I am basically a pretty private person but really REALLY feel the need for other families to not feel like they're alone in the struggles and joys of ADHD. Your words encourage me! And you are definitely NOT alone :)