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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Curse You, ADD: A family's journey

Most of my friends know that Lauren(8) has ADD. She wasn't diagnosed until the middle of first grade, even though some of the symptoms starting showing up a few weeks before she started Kindergarten. Since I worked at her school in KG and 1st grade, I visited with her teachers frequently about my concerns. Her KG teacher, Mrs. Baskett, was just wonderful. She told me that Lauren did handle things differently, but she didn't expect her students to be like robots, all acting the exact same way. She also said that with Lauren's determination, she will be a CEO one day.

I'll talk about her diagnosis in another post. This morning I was faced with another ADD meltdown and on my way to take the kids to school, I decided I would track our experiences through blogging.

On Thursday mornings Stephen leaves bright and early so he can attend a men's group at church. That means I am all on my own for morning routine. We have it down to a science. Stephen makes the kids' lunches before he leaves and I wake the kids up, make sure they get dressed quickly, prepare their breakfast, and remind them to brush their teeth and hair. Sounds simple, right? I don't have to remind Caleb (7) to do anything. As a matter of fact, I wake him up 15 minutes later than Lauren and he still runs circles around her. At the beginning of the school year, Lauren was barely getting it all done before we were walking out the door. I am pleased to announce that now we have about 15 minutes to spare.

So this morning Lauren had extra time and she asked me if she could do my hair. This was a very strange request, Lauren doesn't usually ask to spend time with me. I really didn't want her pulling on my hair and tangling it, but I knew it was an important moment to bond so I agreed. She gathered my hair into 6 rubber bands (I have really long hair right now). She tried making the design where you make several ponytails at the top of the head, then take half from one ponytail and half from another to make a new ponytail. When she was finished she said it didn't look very good. I did my best to assure her that it was great and all things take practice to get better.

Just as we do every morning, I went upstairs to carry Abby and Spencer down from their beds. That is a signal that we are getting ready to leave. When I told Lauren and Caleb to get their backpacks, Lauren decided she needed to look for her Kanani chapter book. I told her she did not have time, we had to walk out the door and that she had plenty of time to look instead of doing my hair. She insisted that one of the kids must have moved it. This is part of her ADD, she always blurts out that someone else must have moved things that she can not find. I told her not to accuse others and that we had to leave. She proceeded up the stairs. I grabbed her arms and lifted her in the air and put her down on the couch while telling her, "Lauren, you are hyper-focused. You need to stop right now. We are going to school." She burst into tears. This surprised me because she usually does not 'get it.' She said, "I have done something REALLY, REALLY bad. I have done something AWFUL." I was totally surprised, when she gets hyper-focused, we usually can not redirect her for a long time. Then she said, "You hair just looks so bad."

See, ADD! She totally missed the part about not getting her book and we were going to school. This is NOT the way I like to start our day. I just want peace and happiness for all. Then, something else odd happened, Abby tried to console her, "Lauren, Mommy's hair looks really good." That just touched my heart. Abby is only 5 and doesn't usually know when to say things like that. I got the kids to the van and then it was Spencer's turn to throw a fit. He was upset because I slid the carseat buckle up his chest. He waited until I had buckled myself in to tell me he wanted to do it himself. So I had to get out and slide it down so that he could slide it back up. I buckled myself in again and he cried, "I can't do it." I unbuckled again, and we agreed to do it together. Then on the way to school, Lauren said, "Mommy, my Kanani book was in the van."

See, ADD not only affects the patient, it affects the whole family. I have a friend whose daughter is an only child. She has much more patience and less frustration with her daughter because she is not also being a mommy to 7, 5, and 2 year olds.

I will continue to journal here about our experiences with this invisable disability. I look forward to sharing stories with other people who are being affected by ADD/ADHD.

Future posts:
How ADD affects her schoolwork
Lauren's delays in learning household/school routines
Teachers who get it, and teachers who don't!
Trying new medicine
I don't feel as close to her as my other kids
Trying to find what makes her happy
Mess after mess after mess (more than the other 3 combined)

1 comment:

Julia said...

Stephanie, you and Stephen are inspirational parents. Thank you for being so honest about your challenges!