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.
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.