Thursday, May 29, 2014


One of my closest friends has been sad lately. She told me that one of her grandsons has ADHD. He is eight, and it has taken this long for a diagnosis to be reached.

I first heard the term back in the late-70s-to-early-80s when my kids were little. None of them had it, so I never learned anything about the disorder. Over the years, like autism, ADHD is spoken of more and more frequently. Wanting to be able to support my friend, I decided to look into it, to find out what I could about ADHD.

Google provided a huge array of sites. Mindful that all sites are not good sites, not accurate sites, I went to just one, the NIH site, believing that the information would be clear, concise, accurate, and understandable.

It is.
Too much so, perhaps.

All at once I felt as though I was looking into a verbal mirror, reading about myself.

I never was the child my mother wanted me to be. My older sister was good and I was bad, and that's just how it was. I was a continual disappointment because I could not measure up to the standards that had been set.

NIH lists the traits of the three types of ADHD and suggests that anyone who has six or more of one group of traits falls into that particular category. I recognized all nine of the Inattention traits and one of each of the other types. I had these traits as a child, no doubt about it. Additionally, because of a high IQ, I was sent off to school a year earlier than necessary, making me the youngest and also least mature child in my grade. The high IQ turned out to be my friend; my report cards throughout elementary school showed high marks in most subjects and dismally low ones in listening and behavior areas. Over and over at home I heard, "You HAVE the ability. Why don't you APPLY yourself?" Obviously, I was stuck for an answer. I have no memories of doing anything right. None.

Of course my mother was at wits' end. Sixty-five years ago, ADHD was not part of the parenting vocabulary. Heck, parenting was not part of any vocabulary. She had no idea why I was so different from my good sister.

Still, it is awfully hard to have grown up with labels like "lazy," "inattentive," "bad," "doesn't listen," "doesn't try," "doesn't care," etc. So many years later, I still have trouble shaking them.

Many of the traits are still present in me. Maturity has shown me how to manage them to a certain extent.

Here's something else that has helped, something I never would have expected: I spend my mornings in a room across the hall from a classroom for three young autistic boys. Just around the corner is Gina, the little girl I came to love last year. All morning long I hear, "Nice job, Michael. Nice job listening to your teacher." "Nice job, Henry. You've earned all of your pennies!" "Good job, Gina! You are walking so nicely!" "Nice job keeping quiet hands and quiet mouth."

Ongoing praise and affirmation for things done well. Gina and Michael and Henry hear this all morning.

And so does a little girl, buried deep down inside of me.


Barbara Anne said...

Positive affirmations are so important and I am glad your inner child is hearing them. Believe it! I know, easier said than done.

When we're kids, we swallow everything we're told hook, line, and sinker. It's so hard to silence the voices that remain from those childhood days.

I hope and pray your friend's grandson gets the help he needs so he has affirming messages to accompany him thru adulthood.

Big hugs!

LizA. said...

Oh my -- I right there with you. I recognize just about all of these traits. I also grew up constantly being told I had the ability, why didn't I use it. I was always the black sheep and my younger sister was the "good sister".

Even now I have trouble staying focused. Maybe that's why I have so many ufo's...

Janet O. said...

What a revelation this must be for you! Makes things more understandable as you reflect back on your youth. Too bad it wasn't understood then.
Hooray for positive affirmations! We can use more of those--giving and receiving!

Quiltdivajulie said...

This revelation breaks my heart -- and brings me joy.

If there were only one thing I could change in this world it would be that DIFFERENT is not automatically BAD ... just different. [this concept should be instilled during prenatal classes - before the babies are born]

Sending hugs to that little girl deep inside!

AnnieO said...

My son has ADD, meaning he never had the hyperactivity part and was never a behavior problem in school. I always say, "he sat there quietly not doing his work". Surely he felt he was stupid and worthless at times. Follow through and distractability problems will probably always be in his way. I'm glad you found a missing link in your childhood history. Comparisons are hard to get over

Lori said...

My brother was/is dyslectic and heard so many of the same things you did. Nobody knew what to do back then. I hope that is changing!

Vicky said...

It is hard to erase those memories when you are compared to your sibling.
I hope your friend can support her grandson and his parents. They are most likely doing the best they can. As a parent of an ASD child, now a young adult, I still feel the sting of my MIL telling me I needed to contact SuperNanny to show me how to parent my child.

Gretchen said...

Sending hugs. I have no words for such a touching honest post. Hope hugs will do.

Ms. Jan said...

Me too, Sistah. My tendency to be distractible is definitely my Achilles' Heel. Luckily, Greyhair sees it for what it is, and helps me deal with it. I had the same issues you did, perhaps it's why we "clicked."

Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

words fail me