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So I am starting to suspect that at least two of us in this family have ADHD.

But while it's easy to read the diagnostic criteria and mentally check off the symptoms, I know that doing so neither confirms a diagnosis nor gives anything close to the feeling tone of the person or the relationship.

So I wonder if some of you with ADD/ADHD, either in yourselves or in your partner or child(ren), can describe a little bit of what it feels like to live with it (either in yourself or in your family). I just want to get a sense of whether I'm experiencing the same thing or if I'm really off base in my perspective.

I'm deliberately not starting off with a description of what's happening in my family, because I don't want what I say to influence your description. But I will write more about what happens here a little later in the thread.

Thanks in advance.

Tags: add, adhd, parenting

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I need this question to marinate a bit before I answer. But I have read this, and I will give some feedback.

I get that. I know it's a huge question, kind of like saying, "So how was it to live in Africa for two years?" You could write a book about it, right, but you really don't want to and that's not what's needed anyway. Thanks for letting me know it's marinating :)
It took awhile for me to really get what was going on with Mojo. My husband it turns out has ADHD but wasn't diagnosed until last year.

Mojo has always had trouble with school. Staying in his seat, keeping his hands to himself, talking non stop. When he was in kindergarten and first grade we chalked it up to his age. He was the youngest in his class having just made the cut off. But as time moved on we knew deep down that something wasn't 'normal'

There were signs like getting very little eye contact as everything was vying for his attention. He would hear us and could tell us word for word what we said but we were just a part of the noise. Another was his tv watching and video game playing. He would play for hours if you let him. We learned later that it is a common coping mechanism. Watching tv helps him tune out all the noises, lights, and things going on around him.
Poor appetite, insomnia, ragey out bursts and frequent melt downs, are more hallmarks of Mojo's ADHD.

Early on I was so frustrated and angry. There's a bit of denial too because there is a culture of "kids being kids" and " you want to medicate your child into submission". I didn get what Mojo was really going through until I read more up on what is was like to live with ADHD.

Telling your kid ten times to do a simple task and they just don't hear you even though you are in the same room is infuriating. Homework is hell. Forget multiple step tasks. And more that two choices even if the choices are between candy bars is debilitating for him. It's enough to drive a woman insane.

I'll add more if I think of more.

This but much, much faster:

http://xkcd.com/1106/

In that balloons dont' move fast enough to get a feel for what it is like inside my head.  More like bingo balls, and on top of trying to read a bingo ball while it's moving I have to deal with things like talking, walking, driving, people talking too me, air blowing on me (wind is for chumps!) and all that sensory stuff.

Doesn't everyone do and thing about 17 things at once?

Aahahhhhhhaha wookie, YES, that balloon image (but much faster) is exactly right. For me it's like pinball or maybe pool. Pool on a good day :) BTW I got your chat, will respond soon ... when the pinballs stop for a sec ... probably late tonight :)

That paragraph MTTM listed for Mojo's behavior, that's Ebay at home.  I've asked her psychologist if we should talk about it, but she said wait for now.  Ebay's not having these issues at school (because she's still fairly reserved there), but at home, so for right now we're focusing on getting her to act normal both at home and at school.  Doctor said that when she starts acting up in school, we know we've done well on the SM and can start to battle that other issue.  But I'll be watching this topic with interest to get the firsthand views.

I have often wondered if I have it as well.  It's not just teasing myself over being distractable, it's having severe concerns that I'm not going to get a task done because I can't stop bouncing from that task to whatever else catches my attention.  I'm lucky if I get my list done over the course of a week.  I, too, like TV because it's a chance to sit and tune out.  I even have troubles focusing on that, and will check FB at the same time.  But whether I am or not, it's probably too late to do much about it.

Funny that I'm talking about being distracted when here I am, writing on Offsprung, at work.  It's a brief respite before I answer the 8 emails that popped up in the time it took me to type this.

Yes. What MttM said. So much of that rings true here.

The Dragon did quite well in school, actually, but he was in Montessori, where there were no desks and ALL the kids were moving around constantly and choosing what work they wanted to do themselves, when they did and didn't want to work in teams, etc. Homeschooling right now is being done almost entirely by screens because his tolerance for sitting and listening/reading/doing worksheets or anything like that is virtually zero.

Learning by screens is not how I wanted to homeschool (and it's not as if we do nothing else, it's just that that's what he gravitates toward, and let's be honest there are some excellent screen-based learning tools out there), but he is actually learning just fine, so that's not what really worries me. It's that his attention in any other activity is so very scattered (getting dressed takes FOREVER); that he doesn't seem to be able to organize himself, his stuff, or his time; that he is constantly losing things and even more constantly forgetting things; that he can't stop moving (sit-down meal at our house = lovely dream); that he can't seem to turn off his mind when it's time. A few days ago, at 3:00 in the morning, he woke up and as he was drifting back off to sleep, he suddenly starts awake again and says, "Mom, wanna know something really cool about sheep?" And yet practicing (Tae Kwon Do, math, reading, handwriting) meets with so much resistance, anger, crying, arguing, etc. that I just give up. I'm exhausted and frustrated.

But I think I could handle it okay if I didn't also feel scattered, distracted, disorganized, and overwhelmed by input. I live in fear that I'm forgetting something critically important. (Those of you who know I have just started back to work will probably be wondering if I didn't get myself in too deep by doing so. The truth of it is, it's the only time I feel focused, relaxed, calm, and certain. I think it will actually be enormously helpful to be away from the rest of my life for two or three afternoons a week with only one thing to think about!)

I'm also starting to wonder if Ducky is going down the same path. He's only 3 1/2 so it's hard to tell if it's just the age, but he is also showing similar traits to his 7 1/2-year-old brother. 

So I feel like a pinball machine trying to herd cats. Which everyone knows doesn't work. At all.


MamatothaMax said:

There were signs like getting very little eye contact as everything was vying for his attention. He would hear us and could tell us word for word what we said but we were just a part of the noise. Another was his tv watching and video game playing. He would play for hours if you let him. We learned later that it is a common coping mechanism. Watching tv helps him tune out all the noises, lights, and things going on around him.
Poor appetite, insomnia, ragey out bursts and frequent melt downs, are more hallmarks of Mojo's ADHD.
Telling your kid ten times to do a simple task and they just don't hear you even though you are in the same room is infuriating. Homework is hell. Forget multiple step tasks. And more that two choices even if the choices are between candy bars is debilitating for him. It's enough to drive a woman insane.

Does a break for full body motion type activities help re-settle him at all? Like, set a timer for 15 minutes and let him go to laps in the backyard or climb monkeybars, swing from the rafters or whatever?  You can even get for about $30 a trampoline or a tunnel/tent set that could be used indoors to do some big muscle stuff.  Pushing a big ball through a fabric tunnel... don't see the attraction myself but they used to use that to let the kids work off some energy before settling down to craft time at one of our group therapy things.

I can't remember what those "remember to finish brushing your teeth, pants BEFORE shoes" skills are called... executive functioning?  But I do know that kids who have big challenges with those often use that visual schedule concept to enable them to gain ground there.

I apologize if this is all stuff you know already.  There all things that while I wouldn't say have been magical in our house, have certainly helped make many small gains.

The tricky bit about ADD and ADHD is that diagnosis is based on observation. So Smudge, who does not have anything (according to the expensive shrinks) could have been diagnosed ADHD by his teacher alone. His deal is that he is gifted and a pain in the ass. I get that. I was also gifted and a pain in the ass. The sticking point for us was that his teacher was annoyed by his behavior, but the problems she identified were literally nowhere else in his life. If there are problems in two or more settings, there are problems.

Right. The problem with that is that home is his setting. We don't have school to compare it to. Partly I think we are dealing with PITA/stubbornness. But there is a lot more going on that's not just that: difficulty with memory (which is associated with ADHD), difficulty following multi-step instructions, serious inability to curb movement, etc. He's bright, but that's not the whole story. 

That said, I do think it's really tough that these things are diagnosed by behavior. I watched a TED Talk recently by a neuro researcher who has developed some pretty sophisticated brain mapping techniques for making dxs of childhood neuro issues more scientifically. There is also epilepsy in my family (including in me) so that is another possible dx to look at that could be mirroring some (though not all) of the Dragon's symptoms.

I also happen to think the diagnostic criteria could use a second look. In particular, the two-settings and under-age-seven stipulations trouble me because environment and development can certainly affect neurology and behavior.

I'm not saying that Smudge's teacher is right (in fact, after reading some of your account of that situation, it seems likely she's not!). I just mean that, in a general sense, those two criteria give me some pause. For example the Dragon's Montessori environment (I believe) masked the obvious symptoms, and for any kid who's in a home environment before six or seven, where there are loose expectations for getting dressed, getting somewhere on time, keeping still, etc. might not be considered out of the norm. And then he/she gets to school and suddenly the issues are very noticeable. 

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