Wednesday, September 28, 2011

ADHD

My daughter has always been different, from birth on.

As in infant, she slept only in 30 minute increments... at night sometimes we'd get up to two hours, but rarely more than that.  She didn't sleep through the night at all until she was 2.5 years old.  I nursed, but it was tiring... she only ate for a few minutes at a time before she'd get fussy and want to stop.  I thought it was me, until she got older and I realized that she wouldn't eat because she wanted to look around.  She would repeatedly latch and unlatch, latch and unlatch to look around... feeding her took forever.  I had little time to do much else, so at 5 months I started giving her bottles so I could have a break from the endless feeding.

When she became mobile, she never sat still again.  I would read her books, and she would be all over the place... running, playing, examining something, hanging upside-down.  I got often got frustrated and put the book down, only to be subjected to a hissy fit because she wanted me to keep reading.  She wasn't verbal, though, so she couldn't tell me.  My daughter barely spoke until she was 3.5 years old.  Once she really started talking, though, she would tell me "I want to read!  READ!"  I accused her of not listening, but she would recite back to me everything I just read.  She was listening, but simply could NOT sit still for it.  It was as though she had a desperate NEED to move.  Even watching TV she never sat still... she would jump, run, play, hang off the back of the couch, twirl, do somersaults... anything.

As she got older, I started to notice that she took no notice of social cues.  She was (and still is) very friendly and outgoing, but she just didn't get it when people were shy, or standoffish, or even downright mean to her.  She just plowed ahead, kept talking to them, and invading their personal space.  She has no concept of personal space whatsoever.  I've had other kids run away and hide behind their Moms to get away from her, because her lack of boundaries upset them so much.  She will talk to anyone, anytime, and is seemingly impervious to 'looks', snickers, or rudeness... she just doesn't seem to notice at all.

We still, at age seven, have potty training issues - something I always assumed would be long over by now.  She gets engrossed in what she's doing sometimes and will not switch gears, even to use the bathroom.  Or she starts to go to the bathroom and notices a bug... and never makes it there.

Even the most simple instructions have to be repeated over and over again, because she gets sidetracked so often.  I even have to remind her constantly throughout mealtimes to EAT.  She forgets what she's at the table for, even with the food in front of her.  She is messy and disorganized because her mind jumps from one thing to another so quickly that things end up all over the place.

She cannot stand to be wrong, and will argue sometimes until she loses it.  Her temper can be downright scary, and she can be incredibly rigid, stubborn and belligerent.  She's even broken her bedroom door during one such episode....

I know that some people see it when she talks back, or melts down in public, and they think that she's a misbehaving little brat who doesn't listen and won't sit still.  I know they think that, because before I had kids, I immediately jumped to that conclusion too, when a kid was melting down in public.

She's always been different, and I admit, she presents me with challenges that I sometimes have no idea how to deal with.

But oh, how I love this child.

You know what those people see?  They see the ADHD symptoms.  They don't see my little girl.  They don't see the child who has a mind like a steel trap... she never forgets a fact, an experience, a story.  They don't see the child who collects bugs, looks them up on Wikipedia, and lovingly names them all before setting them free a few days later.  They don't see the little girl who, in times of quiet clarity (that her meds afford her), reads her little sister 8 books in a row at bedtime.  They don't see the child that is so infectiously friendly that she delights adults and makes everyone feel special and worth talking to.

People talk.  They give me 'looks' and I know what they are thinking - that I can't 'control my kid'.  That I'm a bad mother, and that a good swift hand to the backside would solve my problems.  I can tell you now, it WON'T.  It doesn't.  I promise you.

I have one thing to say to those people, and I wish I could print it on a t-shirt:  GOOD MOTHERING CAN'T REMOVE A PHYSICAL CONDITION.  IT CAN ONLY WORK WITH IT.

My daughter is a little different.  But by god, she is fiercely loved.  I love everything about her, even if sometimes those very things frustrate the hell out of me.  She is this amazing little person, this little pinball ricocheting around in my world.

See the good.  Don't be so quick to judge a child... or her parents.

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