We are not talking arithmetic. We are talking about Attention Deficit Disorder. This is a topic near and dear to my heart, I won’t go in to why in this blog but stop me some time and I’ll share. One day last week I had lunch with Ms. October – Jodi Morgan. Jodi just so happens to be GVMH’s October Staff Member of the Month and she was sharing a “funny” story about living with a child who has ADD.
This week’s guest blogger – Doctor Jodi Morgan. Thanks Jodi!
TV on the brain…
Imagine having 10 TVs on in front of you all with different programs playing. Imagine trying to follow each program and keep track of the characters and plots. Don’t forget that each TV has sound, too. Do you think you could focus on all the TVs, or even on one TV? Probably not. I’ve been told this is how it feels to have ADD.
This is probably the reason my 9 year-old daughter, Katie, has trouble focusing. She was diagnosed with ADD at age 5 when she started kindergarten. Her dad and I were tipped off that something was up when our sweet little girl was always in the principal’s office for misbehaving. She wasn’t intentionally misbehaving, but the teacher did not understand why she was constantly not paying attention, not following directions, talking out of turn, and breaking rules. Katie didn’t understand why she was always in trouble.
Getting the diagnosis of ADD wasn’t hard, since my husband, Katie’s father, also has the condition. Treating and living with ADD IS hard, though. Katie was started on stimulant drugs to treat her ADD, which have helped immensely. Although these medicines help to keep her focused, there are side effects. One of the side effects is appetite suppression. So the daily dinner ritual at my house is as follows: I slave over a delicious dinner, but once we sit down, Katie will push her food around and play with it until my husband and I are done. We will encourage her to eat throughout the meal, but she will spend the majority of dinner staring off into space and making sculptures out of macaroni or mashed potatoes. It never fails that we will finish dinner and Katie will sit at the table alone attempting to eat her cold food. I feel awful pushing her to eat when she’s obviously not hungry, but you must understand that this child is at the bottom of the weight recommendation for her age and height. Her doctor has informed me on several occasions that if she cannot maintain her weight, she cannot stay on her ADD medicine. So I disguise Ensure shakes as “milkshakes” and slather peanut butter on everything she eats. One day, Katie sounded offended when she asked me, “Are you trying to fatten me up?!”
Another side effect of the medicine is trouble sleeping. There are countless nights when I walk by Katie’s room on my way to bed and discover that she has been playing her Nintendo DS under the blankets for the past two hours. That makes for an enjoyable morning with the grouchiest kid on Earth the next day!
Despite the side effects, Katie’s ADD is bad enough that, without her medicine, teachers have called me at work if I have forgotten to give Katie her dose that morning. The teacher always sounds frazzled when she says, “Katie forgot her medicine today, didn’t she?” I even had a teacher ask me to bring the medicine to school because Katie was so wild and talkative. Unfortunately, if Katie misses the morning dose, she cannot take it late due to insomnia (see above). So I apologized greatly to the teacher and regretfully told her that she must try to make it through the day non-medicated. Which was an enormous amount of fun for Katie, but not so much for the teacher!
I’m sure Katie’s school day is very chaotic even when she’s taken her medicine. Her desk is always a mess, she usually doesn’t finish assignments during the allotted time, she hardly ever remembers to bring homework home, and her locker is so stuffed with papers that some are sticking out the bottom. I’ve got to give her credit, though, because imagine how hard it would be to focus on the teacher if you had 10 TVs going in your brain!
Though having a child with ADD is hard for me, I know it’s even harder for Katie to actually have ADD. She’s often asked me, “How can I get rid of my ADD?” The truth is, she wouldn’t be Katie if she didn’t have it! Instead of characterizing Katie as inattentive, you could instead say she is a dreamer. Instead of easily distracted, let’s say she’s curious. Instead of talking out of turn, say she can’t wait to share her ideas! Sometimes it’s hard to put a positive spin on something that seems to have a negative impact on so many aspects of your life, but reality is that my husband and I love Katie for who she is and know that she will accomplish many things in her life. ADD is not a hindrance for the children that have it, but a characteristic that can push them to greatness…even with 10 TVs playing in their minds!