This year marks the ten year anniversary of our first ADHD diagnosis. Before then, I thought ADHD referred to wild, undisciplined children who couldn’t be still or shut up mainly because they were hyped up on sugar and needed a firm hand. Joe was a calm, spacey child who had never (not even once) got his name on the board or been in any sort of trouble. Sure, he occasionally forgot to wear a shirt, couldn’t keep track of anything, and zoned out during class. And, yes, he was pretty annoyed at loud noises, had a terrible time getting a good night’s sleep, and approached learning in a strange way. But ADHD? Nah. I balked at his teacher’s suggestion that we have him evaluated.
I was so wrong on so many levels.
While I protested, and while Joe’s grades dropped, his teacher started making classwide modifications to help him (and his classmates) pay attention. She moved his desk so it was directly in front of hers. She provided study boxes that kids could use to limit their viewing areas. She began saying things like, “Five minutes have passed. Check to see what number you are on.” And she concentrated on making eye contact with Joe.
God bless this woman. She saved my child’s life. Had I continued just punishing Joe for his forgetfulness and poor grades…I shudder to think. But the success of her modifications and my discovery of a new term – ADHD Predominantly Inattentive Type – led to an evaluation, a diagnosis, a 504 plan, and the path toward success for our son. And then we realized that two more of our sons also were ADHD-I. And the scattered, distracted, disorganized parts of lives started to make more sense! (Although it still baffles me how that I – the queen of organization – could have spawned offspring so opposite of me.)
Really, we’ve been on this ADHD journey for 20 years or so, but this year marks the ten year anniversary of knowing what sort of map we needed to navigate the path. Monday, I’ll be sharing some of the good things we’ve learned along the way. And on Tuesday, I’ll share the bad! Watch for the posts.
PS For a preview, read Focus Pocus – 100 Ways to Help Your Child Pay Attention.