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, January 28, 2013

You've Come a Long Way, Baby - Happy 16th

Oh Mary,

I can't believe that you turned 16 years old today.  My mind is filled with snapshots of all we've been through together.  You have been my greatest adventure, sometimes my greatest trial, always my greatest joy, and watching you continue to overcome the trials you've faced fills me with more pride than you will ever know.

You have taught me so much about parenting and life. How else would I know how to get royal blue fabric paint out of cream carpet. How to identify the sounds and smells of danger from across the house. How to listen to that mother's voice within just in time to catch a child who has decided to make a tightrope out of a bathrobe tie and traverse the distance from the crib to the bunk beds. How to unlock almost any door in record speed to stop you before you got into too much trouble.

You may be the most fearless person I know!

You taught me that while I may be a fearful person at heart, content to hide and operate in my little circle, there are things in this world worth fighting for. You, my dear, are one of them.You, facing your struggles, awoke the mother bear in me. Pushed me to be better, more dedicated, more courageous, persevere, fight both for you and for me.

Without you I would never know the power of a plastic pair of preschool scissors and that they could cut dollar bills into tiny strips or perfect squares out of metal mini blinds. For that matter I would never understand the value of your fierce independence.  Independence that made a little girl "problem solve" by taking those same scissors and cutting a huge strip of hair right off the top of your head to remove a comb that was stuck in it, giving yourself a reverse Mohawk.

I can see now that you needed that fierce independence. I can see now how that quality has served you in facing the litany of learning disabilities that you have had to face. I can see now how it helped you and continues to help you conquer them.

When we were doing the test shots for The Mighty Kubar and you were working the slate, you wrote the 5 backwards - I thought it was so funny when you started talking about all you dys-es.  As if it wasn't enough to have severe ADHD you came with your own special package.  Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia, auditory processing, sensory processing, motor processing, wow, what a list and you only see out of one eye. How does this all fit together? It all fits together in you. You are so much more than your disabilities, though I know that sometimes it seems like the struggle to push past them is the only thing you can see.

I almost hugged the school psychologist that did your last set of IEP evaluations.  Why? Because she saw a fraction of what I see.  She started by saying, "Mary is really intelligent, so intelligent that she has come up with incredible measures to compensate for her disorders."  That my dear is the truth.  So intelligent.  More intelligent than you may ever realize despite our repeated efforts to drill it into your head.  But what you have is more than intelligence. Your fierce determination and perseverance, your fixation or obsessions, whatever you want to label it, pushes you. Your intelligence combined with your determination, perseverance, dedication, fueled by that fierce independence makes you nearly unstoppable.

That fierceness has driven you from a place where you couldn't read to a place where you read all the time. You write, draw, paint, film, act, invent, create, dream, anything you want to do, you set your sights on and do it. No learning disability has ever stopped you from pursuing what you want. I love that about you.  I admire that about you.  And when people see you doing all the things your peers do with ease I wish they knew what it took, the monumental effort you make, the hours of speech and OT, and work that you have put into doing what others do with ease. The fact that they don't think twice about it is a compliment to you. You make it look easy, natural, like a skilled ice skater or gymnast who makes it look easy, but has put hours of effort into their skill.

I know some days you wish you were "normal" that all the aspects of life and social skills came easily. We've talked about it. Mary, normal is overrated. You are so much more than normal could ever hope to be. At the end of the day you have a foundation of qualities that will push you past what normal could ever hope or dream of achieving.  I know it because I have seen it in your strong, determined, beautiful blue eyes.

Happy 16th  Birthday!

You've come a long way, Baby! I look forward to the adventure ahead, to watch and enjoy all the places you go, all the dreams you'll reach for, all the goals you'll achieve.



Thursday, January 3, 2013

What Goes Around - The Return of Morse Code

My in-laws asked for Christmas lists for all the kids, they live out of town and don't get to see the kids that often.  Some lists were reasonable - some, well, not reasonable at all. One daughter asked for one of her favorite musicians for Christmas - grandma asked, "like a doll or poster?" Daughter answered, "No, I want the actual artist." Grandma went with option B, fluffy blue towel.

Some gave totally reasonable list unless you're a grandparent with a limited knowledge of the truly important things in life like Dr. Who.  Then you might end up in the tool department trying to figure out why there is no section for Sonic Screwdrivers. I know they were there and asking because they called from the tool department in Wal-Mart, a little confused and frustrated.

So, when my freshman in high school opened his present from his grandparents to find a light up moon that had a remote control allowing you to change the lighting to show the stages of the lunar cycle I really had no idea what he was going to do with it.  It wasn't Dr. Who related, or Lord of the Rings, or Star Wars, or Transformers.  It had nothing to do with mid-evil armor, or fantasy, or poetry, and writing. It really had nothing to do with any of his obsessions - past or present. He was great though - said he loved it, gave thank yous, hugs, and kisses. 

Later he would tell me he has totally accepted the fact that he's a pack rat/hoarder because he can find a use for anything and everything.  This, he pointed out, makes everything worth keeping. By everything, he means everything, as in every item of clothes he's ever worn, old shoes (one time he told me he couldn't part with his old shoes, they'd been with him every step of the way), every piece of paper from school or play...everything.

It shouldn't have been a surprise to me when he came barreling into the living room the next morning where I was sitting with his grandparents and his little brother.  He flopped the moon down on the floor and announced he had found the perfect place to hang it in there room so they could both see it from their bunk beds.  He then proceeded to ask Jaren if he was ready and started blinking the moon rapidly flashing short and long beams of light.

And there you have it - Morse code comes flying back into our lives.  

Several years ago we read a wonderful series of books as a family called The Mysterious Benedict Society.  Wonderfully unique characters use their various skills and abilities to work together to save their world.  When in dire circumstances they would use Morse Code and a flash light to communicate.  Our house was on a Morse Code kick for months.  Tapping it on tables, flash lighting it to each other, they even sent emails entirely in Morse Code. (- . - - - - . - - - - - . . - - . - . . - - . - - - . - - . - - - . - - . - . - - . Morse Code For, “No! You Can’t Make Me!”)  I have yet to find an obsession in our house that actually goes away and never returns.  If anything they get back burner-ed for awhile only to resurface to center stage for a bit before disappearing for a bit again.

So, here we are 3 or 4 years later, the day after Christmas, the boys went nuts.  They were writing out the messages they wanted to send to each other, passing the moon remote back and forth, laughing and moving in a total ADHD pace of excitement and joy.  My in-laws sat in awe, speechless.  Then after a blur of activity, a Morse code frenzy, my father-in-law blinked a couple of time and asked, "Where did you learning Morse Code?"  Hunter was too busy and completely wrapped up in his own universe.

He blurted, as if the answer was obvious, "Wikipedia."  A couple of minutes went by the he froze mid-sentence and screamed, "BINARY CODE! I have to learn it."  and ran off.

If you LIKE us please SHARE us!

What obsessions take center stage at your house? We'd love to hear from you!