Like Kayla told you last week, I’m Brock Myers, and I’ll be writing a good bit for adhd-inattentive.com. I have a 14-year-old daughter who’s ADHD inattentive, and like you, I’ve gained a lot of valuable tips by reading Who Put the Ketchup in the Medicine Cabinet?
This newsletter has allowed me to learn so much from other parents! I love the new focus that Michelle shared on the blog when she started seeing “how ADHD is really a gift and not a deficit.” It’s so true for Lesley who’s the youngest in our family. (Her brother Edison is in his second year in university, and her sister Olivia is a senior in high school this fall.) Today, Lesley has strong organizational skills, a strength gained by overcoming her perceived weakness.
Overcoming procrastination and less than stellar study skills didn’t happen overnight. (I can still remember the day-after-the-test lament of “But I read it and read it!”) Before Lesley was diagnosed, 6th grade was truly a nightmare for our family. After the diagnosis, we started learning what would work best to help Lesley learn and feel successful. Some of the worst fall-out from ADHD is that the diagnosis can make your child feel stupid – and you know that’s an incredible misconception!
Like eating the proverbial elephant a bite at a time, Lesley reconditioned herself bit by bit. At school, there was “Learning Lab” – a focused study time when one teacher supervised a group of approximately a dozen students who used the time to reorganize binders, update school planners, study for a test or schedule the steps of the next big project. At home, her dad and I were also asking questions like: what does this mean on your planner? Is this work done? What’s the deadline for….Do you understand this concept…..etc. And trust me, the PAC-kit planner can truly help with the organization and the school/home connection.
And yes, for our family, prescription medicine to help Lesley focus made a big difference; however, I want to be clear: medicine wasn’t the only tool in our arsenal. Just as effective was the laborious, not-very-exciting chore of keeping the planner updated (with 2 different sets of people checking to be sure she did!)
Breaking down a huge project into manageable steps was another valuable skill that was practiced over and over. The first book report outline in 6th grade loomed over our heads like a nuclear mushroom-shaped cloud, ready to spread destruction. Somehow the second one only seemed like a minor battle in comparison, and by the end of the year, she was adept at starting her book report without one of us coaching her through the first few steps.
Lesley’s grades last year were the best they’ve ever been. At the mid-year point, when we went in for parent/teacher conferences, several of her teachers were surprised to find out that she had been diagnosed with ADHD-I. Over and over, she was labeled as an excellent student and a leader in the classroom. Her struggles are by no means over, but she’s learned a lot about what it takes to succeed and work with her particular learning style. Yes, what we saw as a weakness has become her strength.
Today, she’s learned that it’s a good idea to start working on Wednesday’s assignment on Monday – a habit that continues to work well for her. I’m not saying Lesley’s perfect. If you saw her room right now, you’d giggle at the thought of perceived organizational skills. I still like the big picture here: good grades, room that needs work. Life would be boring without goals, right?