Archive for August 6, 2014

adhd-bigI have A.D.D. I haven’t been officially diagnosed, but based on a family history–one sister and two brothers– it is fairly easy to see that I haven’t fallen too far from the A.D.D. tree.

Some people don’t believe such a condition exists. I’d like those non-believers to spend one day in a 6th grade classroom observing the actions of the students. Then tell me what the following behaviors could be indicative of, because I want to sell that information to the pediatric world and become really, really rich.

  • Tapping pencils on the desk
  • Rocking back and forth in the chair
  • Humming under one’s breath
  • Blurting out wrong answers at inappropriate times
  • Twirling hair constantly
  • Getting out of their chairs and wandering around classroom
  • Missing homework and project turn in dates
  • Not listening to instructions
  • Non-stop talking

These are all classic signs of A.D.H.D. – attention deficit hyperactivity  disorder, and they all affect a child’s ability to pay attention and learn in class. It is heartbreaking to watch a child self destruct into a muddled mass of  self-doubt and low self-esteem because he or she is always being told to “behave” or “just sit down and listen, will you?”  But at the same time, having worked with severe cases, it would be much easier to nail lime jello to a tree.

My daughter was diagnosed in second grade, a few weeks after she told the art teacher at her elementary school, “I don’t like you, you’re boring” after being asked to complete her work.  We learned this during our first parent/teacher conference with the brand new school principal, who practically insisted she be evaluated for A.D.H.D. or risk being kicked out the school.

The poor kid was (and continues to be) a mess maker, and needs numerous reminders — even though she is 18 now – to get things done. She still hasn’t gotten her drivers’ license because she can’t remember to practice her driving. Yes, that bad.

But despite the frustration I feel at times when she is deep in the throes of a major A.D.H.D. moment, I remind myself: “She’s just like me.” And then we look at each other and in a moment of mother-daughter bonding, blurt out “We’re so alike…” followed by a smile and a couple of quick giggles. We totally get each other.

My A.D.D. is an melted-brainasset. It allows me to “unhinge” my brain and let the creativity flow out. It gives me the chance to look at and respond to the world in ways others don’t . It helps me create beautiful poetry, quick and witty Tweets, and come up with “out of the box” ideas and lesson plans that engage and reach every student.

I can provide recent examples of how my A.D.D. manifests:

I was sitting  in a Noodles & Co. restaurant a few weeks back, looking at the menu posted on the board. What caught my eye wasn’t the long list of yummy food choices, but the title of the board itself. In big, bold letters it said:


To the non-A.D.D. mind, that made perfect sense. It wasn’t even a question what the food choice names were. To me, it drove me crazy. Noodles ARE pasta! I insisted. I spent nearly fifteen minutes of my  time I’ll never get back getting more and more visibly upset by my inability to differentiate between what were officially noodles and pasta on the menu. I even had to go to my trusty friend Google to try to sort it out. As educated as Google is, it certainly couldn’t find me an answer. So then I spent the next ten minutes trying to put in different searches on the Google bar just trying to find an answer, when all I really wanted was a bowl of Mac and Cheese. See how this works?

stouffersThe other example occurred yesterday. My daughter (yeah, same one from earlier) needed the back of her very long hair brushed out. She couldn’t seem to reach it — well maybe because she also refused to unclench the phone in her hand. As I was brushing her hair, I noticed it was very tangled and dried out.  This is how that conversation went: (pay close attention because the A.D.D. moments are easily recognizable)

Daughter: Mom, can you brush my hair out? I have to go to work

Mom: Sure, sit over here – not there, here – yes, here

Daughter: (mutters under breath,  not taking eyes off phone)

Mom: Your hair sure has gotten long and tangly, did you use conditioner?

Daughter: I don’t know, I don’t remember

Mom: It’s still wet! How do you not remember?

Daughter: I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing

Mom: Well, it really could use a deep conditioning treatment….

Daughter: How do you do that?

Mom: You should try sticking your head in a vat of mayonnaise. I heard that’s good for the hair.


Thank you, A.D.D. for giving me just the right amount of “weird” to make my life and those around and in it interesting at times. Now I have to go let Lilly (the other A.D.H.D. girl in the family)  outside before she forgets she’s supposed to be housebroken and accidentally pees on the carpet. Again.

She totally gets us, too.