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 6, 2014

The Difference Between "Normal" Teenage Behavior and a Teen with ADHD

For those of you who have been wondering why there haven't been any new post put up here in awhile let me tell you, life has been a little crazy. I guess that's normal, but, somewhere in the middle of all the craziness a wonderful thing happened. I was asked to blog about ADHD for EverydayHealth.com. I will still be writing here, I promise, it has just taken me a few months to readjust the juggle. I hope you will keep checking here for updates and that you'll follow me on EverdayHealth also. My blog there is called Living A Distracted Life .
In the meantime, I received the best inquiry from a friend of mine today. Jase made me laugh so hard I had to share it. I know those of you that parent ADHD kids will find it as absolutely 100% accurate and as funny as I have.  Thank you, Jase, for guest blogging for me today!
It cracks me up when I tell someone about something Jacob has done related to his ADHD and their response is "Well, that's all teenagers..." No, no... See, if that explanation might fly with someone who has one kid or has never had much experience with kids, but for those of us who have parented multiple children and worked with kids in various settings..trust me, we know the difference. Allow me to illustrate...

Parent: You need to clean your room.

Typical teenage boy: Says "Let me get to where I can save this game." Never gets there. You tell him again with threat of losing game privileges, he whines that you are ruining his life. He goes to his room, shoves everything under the bed and in the closet, returns to video game. He wears dirty clothes to school because he can't find any clean ones. It's your fault.

ADHD/ODD teenage boy: "I can't save here. Hang on." Never gets there. You repeat yourself, trying to be understanding that his attention span is short. Still doesn't get there. You repeat yourself again more forcefully with threat. He looks at you as though he has never been told to do anything in his life. You repeat it, again. He insists he can't save, you insist he cleans. He gets mad and stomps into bedroom, leaving the game running. He picks up 2 articles of clothing, finds item he hasn't seen in 6 months, decides to tinker with it, forgets to clean room, and walks through the house. Sees video game still on, sets down found item on table, returns to game. You walk in, ask "Did you get your room clean?" He looks at you as though its the first time he's ever heard those words. You threaten again, tired of being understanding, he insists he can't save, you say you don't care, he argues with you for 20 minutes about why he can't clean his room all the while the character on the screen is spinning in circles, he stomps into the bedroom angry and mouthing, and starts shoving things into drawers. Finds skateboard. Decides to go skating. Comes back with skateboard. "You need your helmet if you are going to ride that." He looks at you as though he has never heard those words before and complains that he doesn't know where the helmet is. "Did you clean up your room?" He looks at you like you are speaking Swahili. "Did...you...clean...your...room?" He says, "I think so. Maybe." You say, "You don't know if you cleaned your room?" He says, "I'll go check." He leaves skateboard by the front door and returns to room, shoves more clothes into containers, finds helmet, and returns to living room. He sees video game still on, puts helmet on the floor by the skateboard, starts playing again. You walk through, "did you find your helmet?" "What helmet?" "I thought you were going to ride your skateboard? Did you get your room clean?" "I think so." You say, "I'm going to go check. You'd better hope that room is clean." He says, "Wait, I'll go look." Whines, stomps, and complains that you are ruining his life. He finally manages to get the room clean enough that you decide the battle is no longer worth it and that one day you will just set fire to the house. He comes back in, finds previous toy on the counter, picks it up. You say, "Are you finished with your video game?" He says, "Oh yeah, just turn it off." You ask, "Do you need to save?" He says, "No, it has an autosave." You die a little inside, sigh, push the vein in your forehead back into place so you don't have an aneurysm, and turn it off. "If you aren't going to ride your skateboard, you need to put it away." Looks at you as though you have lost your mind and says, "I didn't get it out." You start to believe that you are going crazy, lose your temper, and threaten his life. He realizes your 2 twitches away from serial killer and decides to comply. He takes previous toy, skateboard, and helmet to room. Three hours later he is still in the room. You breathe a sigh of relief and think for a moment that you've broken through and he is actually cleaning. You go check on him and find that he has hot glued the toy to his skateboard for a hood ornament, drawn designs on his helmet, and is using your good sewing scissors to cut decals from aluminum fol. You notice that all the clothes are now back on the floor. "Why are all these clothes on the floor?" He says, "I couldn't find any glue sticks." You say, "Pick this shit up. Put your clothes where they go. Put my scissors back. Right now." You sit down in the kitchen to gather your thoughts, because you can't remember what you were doing. You begin to circle the house looking for your brain. You return to the living room. Skateboard is in the kitchen, scissors are in the fridge, half a glass of milk is on the table, glue gun (still on) is dripping on the floor, and he's...cleaning his room. "Why is the skateboard in the kitchen, and are you planning on drinking this milk?" He says, "I was going to put it all up, but you told me to clean my room. I can't do everything." It's still your fault.

Lisa, am I right?
So, what do you think? Leave a comment, let me know.

6 comments:

HEMOM4EVR said...

I SWEAR you have been to my house. I have gotten so many blank stares and some times I feel like I am losing my mind. My favorite thing is when he says all you do is YELL! NO .. I have asked you do to it 5 times in my nice patient sing-songy voice that you have answered but obviously was not paying attention! And everything is my fault! So glad I found you.. you make me feel a little LESS insane!!

Lori said...

I have lived both sides of this narrative- you captured it beautifully!!

In our house we've named a "sock moment" to refer to the times when an instruction gets lost en route to its implementation- Ie. Please go back to your room, to get socks so we can go to school. 10 minutes later- " mom, what did you want me to get?"

As an ADHD chile ( before it had a name!), I had a repetoire of great self depricating humor- from my many many sock moments... including compluying with my mothers request to put the coffee in the pantry - by putting her coffee cup and saucer in the pantry. When she went into the kitchen and saw the jar of coffee on the counter she yelled, a familiar exasperated yell- " I asked you to put the coffee in the pantry!!"- to which I, equally exasperated yelled back "I DID!!"- Marching down stairs, I myself am shocked to see the jar of coffee on the kitchen counter and I open the pantry, half expecting a thief- only to see my mother's coffee cup and saucer in plain view- on the top shelf!!

You need a sense of humor- if you live with ADHD!!- There is invariable alot of material for a good hearty laugh... after your blood pressure comes down a bit!!

CurveBall said...

OMG!
I am dying because your story is so on target! In our house everyday is Ground Hog Day with my 11 year old daughter! Right now she is so infatuated with the hot glue gun and super glue! making me nuts!!
I consider myself to be a very organized person, until I am spinning around trying to keep track of what I said, which note I had to write today, or how I have to guide her through the essentials of every day life!

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more.

Mara Abbott said...

LOLOL!!!! I have no words!

My husband & I have been blessed with ADHD, each bearing qualities from different spectrums, and we have a 7 year old boy, who didn't fall far from the tree. ;) He's certainly acquired the best from us both, not to mention, the ADHD!

We've both just recently been diagnosed and are trying to understand our behaviors, but trust me, having ADHD (and being OCD) does not make it any easier to deal with each other!! However, we understand enough to catch the signs early enough with our son and work with him to manage it early.

This post is totally my boys!! Thank you for sharing this because honestly, "normal" parents do not understand! In our home, this occurs in practically every single instance there is a "to do" command. Unless I personally escort them with a guided map that is numbered according to each step we will be taking throughout the process which will take place during this event within the times that have been previously allotted for each, I can just consider it a lost venture. I might as well sit down & rest right then & there because I'm going to have to go back to that starting point and clear the path again! Crazy!

Sometimes I try the method "Listen & Do". This is what we've discussed that would work for my little one. As soon as he hears his name, he waits for his command (this only works when we're alone), and he'll usually drop what he's doing, even if it's the WII, and "DO".

My big one? Well, that's another story for another time! Not even if I write instructions or print pictures frame by frame.

Again, thanks for sharing your all too 'normal' life!

-mara

My Daily Leadership said...

Thank you so much for writing this blog! My son has ADHD,one of my daughters has been diagnosed with a non verbal learning diability and my other daughter is non-ADHD. I totally related to the blog you posted about cleaning up the room! I look forward to seeing your future posts! I loved the post from your husband and children..you are a great advocate and making a such a difference in their lives! Happy Mother's Day