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!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

That's Just Not Normal

Hannah wrote a picture book last year. A beautiful story about being different. A little kid born into a fabulously famous clown family has no inclination towards the family business, the kid just isn't funny in the way that everyone else in the family is. Throughout the story this little clown finds his own place, his own voice, his own way to be fabulous and still be a wonderful important part of his family. Really it was her story, her experience.

I knew something was different about Hannah when she was an infant - she slept like infants are supposed to sleep, ate like they are supposed to eat, played and grew like they were supposed to play and grow.  From the time she was tiny she would sit on my lap, in the swing, car seat, bouncy chair, and quietly watch her older two sisters in complete amusement.  I used to say that Hannah was so easy she was an argument for having a 4th child.

Later when Rachel had been finally diagnosed with ADHD, then their father, my husband Mark, then younger sister Mary, then Mariah I started to panic and took all the rest of the family in for testing. I was afraid I was going to miss something and have another child struggle needlessly without proper help and intervention. Sure enough there was something different about Hannah, she was the only one of our 6 (biological) children that did NOT have ADHD and all the accompanying co-conditions. It was me and her in a sea of ADHD.

It has been a remarkable difference to watch. One night when we had told everyone to get ready for bed and then meet in the living room for family prayer. Mark and I sat on the couch and chuckled as chaos circled around us. We reminded, then we followed up, then followed up again and again. Jaren was swinging from the bars of the top bunk in between the two beds hooting like a monkey. Mary was still dressed in her day clothes with robes on, holding some kind of stick as a scepter, and a crown wanting someone to give her some proper processional music before she would head to the living room, still not ready for bed.  Older sisters Rachel and Mariah were writing and/or drawing, both insisting that they had to finish getting out the idea before it was lost forever. Hunter had a bike helmet on his back using it for a jet pack, Nerf guns in both hands running in circles with sound effects for both the guns and jet pack.  Hannah was sitting quietly on the
couch with us ready for bed, waiting, watching in complete amusement.

By fourth grade a friend of hers made a remark that, much to Hannah's chagrin, has never gone away.  They were playing on the playground and she turned to Hannah and said, "Hannah, you're perfect and that's just not normal." It stuck! We loved it! and still to this day the we tell it to her all the time. She is certainly perfect to us in so many
wonderful individual ways.

Hannah is the uncontested favorite of everyone in the house. One year, after we had carefully drawn secret Santas for our Christmas gift exchange Hannah came to us privately, she was very upset.  As it turned out everyone of her siblings had come to her separately and confided who their person was and asked advice on what to give them.  She knew everyone's secret santa, which took all the fun out of it. We redrew then and every year after that with strict orders NOT to reveal to ANYONE, especially Hannah, who their person was.
It is easy to confide in her. She is calm and listens intently. She is wise in her advice, trustworthy and loving, and above all patient.  In fact, you know you have really crossed the line when Hannah gets upset because she is so patient. She is an anchor in this house.

People frequently ask how we balance her needs and the many needs of our ADHD kids. I think the answer is the same way we handle our ADHD kids. We treat her individually just like we treat them.  Looking to what she needs. We have treated all of our kids with the philosophy that each of us comes to this earth with strengths and weaknesses and our job as parents is to teach our kids how to strengthen and use their talents and conquer their weaknesses. She just has different weaknesses than the rest - she is allergic to bees and walnuts, she has terrible asthma, had to have eye surgery, she is quiet and reserved. While we were trying to get everyone else to control their actions and tone down their presence a bit we were pushing Hannah to be bolder. It has worked, and now as she is getting ready to step into the world as an adult and high school graduate (both events happened this week) she has come up with her own saying, "Why Not Be Bold!" She even wears a little leather bracelet with BB printed on it around her wrist to remind herself to step out of the shadows.

Capitalizing on her strengths has been the easier part. Like the rest of our children Hannah is a creative genius. Her amazing imaginative mind swirls with stories, drawings, characters, the perfect shot to set the perfect emotion sailing across the big screen.  In many ways she is a product of her natural talents and the free spirited talents and imagination of her siblings, which they wear so readily on their sleeve, unable to control or contain it. They like her are learning to find the right balance, each benefiting from the others struggle and experiences. And she is finding the boldness, last year it was applying to go to the California
Summer School for the Arts, getting accepted, and spending a month immersed in the amazing creative environment and learning they provide there. It was what gave her the courage to apply and get accepted to Cornish College of the Arts. It is that experience that will give her the courage to leave home in a couple

months, move to another state, and pursue her dreams.

We will not be the same without her here, she is a great part of the balance in our hearts BUT we will love her from here, support her in all the ways we can, and cheer her on her path as we do the rest of our children, each finding their own way, the way they will make a difference in this world.

Hannah, I know I speak for everyone when I say you are perfect for us and while it may not be normal, especially in our house, we love you and are so proud of who you are and who you are becoming.

Interested in other post about Hannah and her life as our only child without ADHD you might like these...

Studebakers and Bullet Trains

Creativity and ADHD Part I

Creativity and ADHD Part II

The Magical Drawing Fairy is Real

* all art work is the copyrighted property of Hannah Aro

1 comment:

Christy said...

If Hannah ever needs anything at all while she's at Cornish please send her our way!! Seriously! Even if it's for a home cooked meal, we are only minutes away!!