That’s what the doctor said.
He spent an hour and 20 minutes talking to us (me and the kids, Party Boy was working) about what life with ADHD looks like. I mean, I know what it looks like, I live it, but that wasn’t what he was talking about. He was talking more about long-term, coping, practical help and school related stuff.
It’s hard. Life with ADHD, that is. She struggles, and sometimes I think the weight of it will crush her, but she’s just so strong and she just keeps at it. She just pushes through and stares holes through the wall in front of her. Sometimes she breaks through. Sometimes we forget it and move on, and we try again tomorrow.
But, as with most things she is a child with ADHD. Not an ADHD kid. I will not let this, or any other hurdle, define her.
So, what does life with ADHD look like for us?
It looks like modified surroundings. A home-made study carroll with no decoration. Noise cancelling headphones are possible. Modifying seat work so only one problem or idea is visible at a time. One instruction at a time. Planning on things taking that. much. longer.
And life skills. Because she doesn’t think in linear terms, we have to teach her how to look at problems, assignments, and life in a way that she can get things done. Because obviously, I can not always be there to give one instruction at a time.
It looks like minimizing possible distractions. It looks like endless reminders to focus on the task at hand.
And right now, it looks like a life free from medication. For now.
The plan right now is to wait on the results of her dyslexia testing. It’s not at all unusual for those two to manifest together. A double-whammy. Once we have those results we’ll re-evaluate. She may never need medication. Or, it may be that a short-acting dose of Ritalin will be enough to help her focus on work and that’s it.
And don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to medication if that’s what she needs to succeed. Our doctor, and we feel the same, just doesn’t want to knee-jerk that response. Let’s exhaust every other help that we can before we start meds. Let’s modify expectations and surroundings and see what happens. Let’s see if we can find success without the help of medication and save that as a last resort.
As far as school goes, she is making progress. With math, Teaching Textbooks has been like a miracle for her. A page full of math problems from a workbook was enough to send her over the edge and could take up to 2 hours to complete, although normal was more like 1 hour and 982 reminders to focus. Teaching Textbooks incorporates 2 winning strategies – headphones to hear the instructions (blocks out noise) and one problem on the screen at a time (no distractions). An average assignment is completed in 30 minutes or so and her grades are good (every assignment is graded by the computer).
But what about me?
Me? I have to adjust my thinking. I have to adjust my expectations. The doctor was very clear that kids (and adults) with ADHD – they’re normal. He told her that. He told her – “There is nothing wrong with you.” I appreciated that. Her brain just processes information differently than most people. And in some cases, some careers, that is an asset. She sees the world through a different lens, if you will.
And I have to learn to work with that. And I have to help her learn to work with that. To make it a strength, not a weakness.
She may outgrow this. She may not. It’s a waiting game.
So what does life with ADHD look like?