Saturday, January 30, 2010

ADHD - TAKING ANOTHER RISK

You might have noticed that there are a lot more before photos on my blog than after.  There is a good reason for this.  It is because I am married to a man with ADHD.  Seriously.  I kid you not.  And as funny as this post may turn out to be, sometimes it is just not that funny in real life.

There was a time when I wondered what made someone think like my husband does  or more importantly, do the things he does in the order in which he does them--or not.  There was a time--not so long ago--that I  took the things he said and did way too personally.  That was before I read the book, Driven to Distraction.

Now that I know for sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he does, in fact, cope with this disorder every minute of every day, I am nicer to him.  I think.  At least I try to be.  I am telling you that it is not always easy. 

For instance, last Sunday, Michael and I were having a conversation.  That in itself is rare because of our schedules and his disorder--I didn't call it that, it just is.  He mentioned that "one of these days" he was going to build a shed in the backyard.   He was going to build a shed because he is going to turn the garage into an apartment.  Note here that there already is a vacant apartment above the garage that is in need of some work.  The *new* me showed a small amount of interest--not really excited about it and not really against it.  I know the effect of both extremes.  I was trying to keep the conversation going while keeping my *real* opinions to myself.  As if he didn't already know them.

When we were finished talking about the shed that would *someday* be built in the backyard, I understood *someday* to mean when he had all the materials (which we can't afford right now) and the jobs that were already started around the house were completed (ceiling, bathroom, hole in wall, the rest of the shutters, etc.). 

On Monday, I came home from school to this:
shed framed
This is exactly what ADHD looks like.  I hope you are laughing.  I think it will help me if you do.  I am told that these walls have been built for some time and stored in his shop around the corner.  He knew very well that *someday* would be sooner than I thought.  And therein lies the frustration.  Throughout the entire conversation, he knew the walls were already built.  That would be because he had built them--instead of finishing the ceiling or bathroom or hole in the wall or whatever else he had started.

And that is just the way it is.

Day in and day out.

Year in and year out.

And hear me when I say that I know that it is not personal--even when it feels that way.

 I am not a professional and cannot begin to explain the disorder the way the authors of Driven to Distraction do, so get the book if you live with or know someone who copes with this.  It is chock full of personal stories and insights that will help you cope with it as well. What I can do, though, is share some of my personal experiences in hopes of encouraging others to make an attempt to understand it better.

lawn mower in snow
I want you to know that I did not get mad or even upset on Monday when I saw the new construction started at my house.  I actually laughed and grabbed my camera.  To me it is just one more confirmation of the diagnosis.  And that diagnosis is no worse than diabetes or near-sightedness or high blood pressure.  They all require something to help the person survive and thrive in this world.  They are conditions or disorders--but unfortunately, the last three are more scientifically understood and therefore more respectable and able to evoke understanding and compassion.

I intend to tell just a few personal stories about living with ADHD over the next few weeks, but today I want to start at the beginning. 

I have often wondered why God called me to work at Cornerstone Academy.  I had been a stay-at-home mom and was not really looking for or wanting a job outside of the home.  I had homeschooled for 14 years and would have been quite content to do so until Tessa had graduated.   While I do believe I am appreciated and needed at the school, I honestly think that one of the main reasons God called me there was to show me  what my husband's world looks like through the life of a little girl.  I will from here on out refer to her as LG for little girl, and  although I may include random photos of the students for interest, she will remain anonymous. 
IMG_4071
I knew LG before she came to the school, and I genuinely liked her.  You might say that I had a soft spot for her.  She was just a little girl--with a sweet face and a big smile.  Yes, I knew her reputation: impulsive and energetic and talkative.  So?  To me that made her interesting.  Of course, I had never seen her in a school setting.  I really didn't have any idea.  It was a good thing, because I loved her before I knew what she was capable of or incapable of as it turned out to be. And I loved her family as well.

LG motivated me to research ADHD--a disorder that up to this time I kind of pooh-poohed.  After watching her struggle and witnessing what  were very appropriate consequences again and again for her actions, my heart broke.  They rarely helped the situation or changed the behavior.  I wanted her to succeed, and I made it my personal mission to help her succeed.  In doing the research, first online and then through books like Driven to Distraction, I unlocked the mystery of my own family.  It was quite clear to me after just the short online test, that my husband had severe ADHD and my son, ADD.   Yes, I know that an online test is not a professional diagnosis, but stick with me.  My son actually was ecstatic to learn that just maybe there was an explanation to why he had focus issues.  If I had only known sooner, perhaps I would not have taken all his resistance in high school so personally.  But that is another story.   
IMG_3036
What God revealed to me through the process with LG was that at one time my husband was just a little boy with a sweet face and a big smile.    At one time he was just a little boy who was impulsive, energetic, and talkative--a little boy who deserved to be understood and loved.   He didn't understand why he did the things he did any more than LG understood why she did what she did--again and again.  And that changed the way I looked at him as an adult.

In the case of LG, I took a big risk when I approached her mother with the information that I had learned.  Armed with just one quote from the book, I prayerfully, presented my case in hopes of encouraging her to get LG whatever she needed to succeed--eyeglasses so to speak.

"They don't inhibit their impulses as well as other people.  They lack the little pause between impulse and action that allows most people to be able to stop and think."
 
In her mother's defense should you be inclined to judge, she had been told by *professionals* that LG's problems were discipline-related.  Don't get me going on that one.  Discipline was being consistently applied, and it was not working.  All were miserable--including me, and she wasn't even my child.  Let me just say that you cannot spank ADHD out of a child.  You cannot time-out ADHD.  You cannot withhold anything that will make ADHD disappear.  You just can't.  Yes, I know I'm not a professional.
IMG_1998
I also shared a specific incident with her mother that I had witnessed, and I encouraged her to read more and seek  another professional  evaluationShe agreed to read and pray about it.  I will include the incident here just to show you what I am talking about.  I was observing a class in which the teacher was having the students glue beans to a surface.  She explained what they were going to be doing and then specifically told them what they were not to do with the beans.  LG was engaged in the activity and was enjoying herself.  This was, after all, a hands-on project that would normally appeal to a person with ADHD.  Out of nowhere and unprovoked in any way, LG picked up a bean and threw it in the direction of the teacher.

Since I was nearby, I asked her with my eyes about bugging out of my head, "What were you thinking?"  To which she replied, "I don't know."  She looked as shocked as the rest of us.  And I do believe it was totally  sincere.  The thought went through her mind after the teacher said it, and then--lacking the pause between the impulse and the action--she threw the bean.
County Fair 017
Imagine how a child feels when she receives a consequence for something that she doesn't have any control over.  Imagine how you would feel.  I go back to the eyeglasses.  Why do we think it is okay to give a child with vision problems the tools for success, but we don't give the child with attention and focus problems the tools for her success?  Can you tell this is my bandwagon?

Let me wrap this up by telling you how the story ends for LG.  Mom and dad took her to another professional and received an official diagnosis.  It was difficult--very difficult.  It was also freeing.  I cry as I write this because today, LG is experiencing greater success because she has been  given the tools she needs for that success. And when she struggles, the first question isn't what consequence should we give, but are we sure she has what she needs to succeed in the situation.  That does not mean that she doesn't misbehave; she is, after all, still a child in need of much training.  It does mean that she is no longer punished for her disorder.  And that is reason enough for me to rejoice in my calling to Cornerstone.
IMG_8701

17 comments:

Sherry said...

Great post! I will be buying the book you recommended. I have thought for a while that my 4 year old grandson should be tested for ADHD. I will pass the book on to my son and hopefully this will encourage him to have testing done. Thanks

One of His Sparrows said...

First of all - Yes, I am laughing about your new shed and I hope that helps. Unfortunately I'm crying a little too - about your ceiling and the hole in your wall.

I think there are two other reasons God gave you a job outside your home. First of all it keeps you from killing your husband sometimes. Although I can see this blog also serves that purpose.

The other reason is that you are an incredibly talented and creative person who had more creativity than could be used up on the Boxmoor. Instead of driving your husband crazy God let that creativity spill over and incredibly bless a school full of teachers and children who needed you.

About the LG - Amen and Amen! God has been very busy with you the past few years and he has accomplished a lot of good things!

a Sparrow

slommler said...

I too think this is a great post. This disorder is highly misunderstood. Thank you for again shining the light on this corner.
Hugs
SueAnn

Anonymous said...

Denise,
I am crying again. It is so nice to see someone just being real and even talking about it. I was diagnosed as an adult with it. Always knew. It's painful to go throughout your life always feeling like an outsider. I always got "Smart kid, but just not living up to her potential" on my grade cards. Isn't it funny how some things tend to stick to you once the words come out? I take them off and then another day they are clinging to me again. YHVH is so merciful to me. I cling now to Him for strength. Getting the tools and surrounding yourself with the right people - real folks, not the fake ones, will only enrich one's life. It does have it's benefits such as seeing the world in a whole different way and having great intuition. Hallowell is exceptional! Buffie

Mimi said...

HI denise!!!
First Praise God you have the Patience and the love to look for a solution to the illness, so many do not and would not. I like the new shed and hopefully we will see a finished shot soon!!!! I did not laugh or cry!!!I am married to a type A personality and I am a type A, so how would you like to live in our house, where we want everything done today and we work til it is done today!!! I think that is a sickness as well!!!!!!haha
Praise God you are a loving teacher who loves this child enough and cares enough to help find a solution!!!!
Love the snow by the way!!!!
hugs,
jamie

Funky Junk Interiors said...

Wow. Wow.

First of all, that shed has my name written all over it! Rejoice in the fact that you, well, have a framed shed that'll one day be a real shed. It's farther than I've got which is a dirt patch.

Secondly, my son has adhd, so if there's anything I can offer you, let me know. I'll be looking for that book, so thanks for that. Sometimes, no, all the time, I need reminding that some things cannot be helped.

God certainly has an amazing plan for you. It's rather exciting to watch the story unfold. Bless you for helping LG. Profound.

Donna

Debbie said...

I laughed at the shed photo... not because it's a funny looking shed.
It's just funny that you came home to that surprise. And I am so proud of you for understanding it is not personal.
When I worked in the schools I saw many children who were labeled as "trouble makers", who by the time they were diagnosed with ADD or ADHD had given up and were living up to that label because they had come to truly believe that's what they were. God is using you at that school probably more than you'll ever know! You are a blessing to those kids, teachers and parents.

Penny Williams said...

I am so glad such an open-minded person like you is working in the school system. My son was diagnosed w/ADHD 11/2008 at the age of 6. Kind teacher was blaming it on parenting. First grade teacher steered us in the right direction. If I had just one wish, it would be for the world to understand ADHD. It's funny, I just wrote an essay I'm submitting for publication (hopefully) about how you wouldn't dream of denying a child eyeglasses to bring focus and clarity to their life and education but people deny ADHD meds that bring focus and clarity to an ADHD brain.

Oh, I too have dozens of unfinished household projects. ADHD is often genetic and I am pretty certain my son got it from my husband. He's always moving on to something that interests him more... Curious, do you also handle the money and finances and the like? If I didn't, we'd never have a positive balance in the account or electricity. I know that isn't his fault though. Just the way he's wired.

Thanks for such a great post.

Penny

read about my life with an ADHD child here @ a mom's view of ADHD: http://adhdmomma.blogspot.com

Denise said...

Yes, Penny, I do handle the finances for the very reason you state. And the good news there is that my husband is happy for me to do it. :) He likes having his electric on and his phone bill paid. :)

Terri Smith said...

Sherry..enjoyed this post in its entirety! Such a great personality! I can almost hear you smile! :-)

Really liked your ofc. Even when you termed it to be chaos..I bet you know "precisely" where every single thing is "precisely" when you need it.

Loved all the beautiful photos! The ones of the children were the absolute best to me! All those smiling faces. The last photo of the little boy holding the rooster is priceless.

Can I have your permission to replicate (maybe just the one pose of the boy and his feathered friend)? It would make a sensational painting! Seriously.

Blessings, joy and sunshine, Terri over at Dimples & Dragonflies..http://www.dimplesdragonflies.com

Terri Smith said...

DENISE..

..WOOPS..PLEASE FORGIVE THE USE OF THE WRONG NAME IN MY LAST POST..MUST HAVE INHALED TOO MANY PAINT FUMES THIS WEEK.

Ryan said...

Haha, Dad is really building a shed on the four-square?

Laura Zarrin said...

I'm crying as I write this, because I believe my 12yo son has ADD. It torments him. He doesn't have impulse problems, but he gets lost at school. I'm ordering those books asap! I've had so much trouble finding a way to help him. Thank you for this post!!!!

inadvertent farmer said...

I have projects that look just like that...then hubby finishes them, over and over again. He deserves a medal. Thanks for being so unstanding and patien the LG.

Great blog...you don't look even close to 50! Kim

Amy Humphrey said...

Hello LLC,
I just read your piece about your husband and the ADHD issue. My husband has ADHD, so does my daughter (11) and son (5). They are all on medication. I think that the makers of Adderall can rest easy, as long as we're around...I watch my 2 year old like she's a ticking time bomb that's going to remodel half the kitchen with her little plastic tool set, laugh, and then go mow exactly half the lawn. I know there is a reason that God gave me this kind of special family, BUT I JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT IT IS!!! I also teach First grade, and some days come home with barely enough patience to fill a thimble. I often refer to my family as "you people"- as in "you people are going to kill me dead", or "what is it you people want?" I do this because sometimes I feel like an outsider in my own family. I often refer to myself as the director of "Anarchy Camp". One beautiful thing about people with ADHD is they are very forgiving. I'm not sure if it's because they can't remember exactly what you did to offend them, or if something shiny flew by during your tirade and they really didn't hear you anyway. Either way, it works out better for me. As I look out my bedroom window at the Christmas lights still hanging on the house (it's March), I'm ultimately thankful that my kids and husband are healthy, happy (happiest when the camp director is not around to ruin their fun), and functioning relatively well in the real world. Thanks for listening- I've got to go plug some Christmas lights in...that got him to take them down last April.
Amy

Denise said...

Amy,
You just cracked me up, especially the part about the shiny object flying by. I think turning the Christmas lights on in March is brilliant! I hope it works. I am working on motivating my husband to finish a ceiling he started three years ago. Any ideas?

fabulousfinishes said...

I can relate to your husband - the shed frame made me smile - hit close to home - so many folks in the world with same but different issues...

I am feeling regret that I didn't push to get my daughter (16 1/2) diagnosed earlier - her gpa is horrible after the first 2 yrs of high school, this year, after starting low dose of meds, shes a whole different kid, and excelling, and gaining a new confidence. I learned the most from reading and speaking to others, with similiar problems - and am greateful that shes on doing so well - God is great!