Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Girl

I've been hesitant to write about my girl.  It takes a lot to share the good, the bad, and the ugly about your kid - but even more so to share the struggles and challenges we face as parents.  I've wanted to keep this close to my heart - to protect my daughter, my love,  from the negative undertones that seem to accompany what I'm about to write. To shield her in some way from it being true.  I guess in some strange way, I want so badly for this not to be true that I've held off on writing about it - as if somehow - in some way - forming letters into words and words into sentences will make the truth 'real' - and not writing about it will keep the situation in the imaginary world where it belongs.

But the truth is - in order to face this - to truly help my child - I need to come to terms with her - her needs - her challenges - and quite simply, who she is.

When the school psychologist hinted around that Anna displays some typical AD/HD tendencies - I shuddered and immediately thought 'wrong - not my child.'  When her pediatrician gently discussed that there might be some issues we need to get her some help with - we shrank away and chose to try to discipline out the behavioral problems.  When her teacher kindly told us that while our daughter is not on the 'radar screen' as a typical problematic or disruptive child - her inability to focus or stay on track has started to affect her ability to learn - we chalked it up to her being super smart and bored in the class.

But as time marched on - we couldn't overlook our girl's ability to follow simple three point directions.  Nor her tendencies to lash out at other children (particularly her brothers) when she became frustrated.  Nor her habits to stare off into space, sometimes whisper to herself, and spend hours upon hours playing pretend games in her head.

So we sought help.  We enlisted the help of the top child psychiatrist in our area.  We paid out the you-know-what to have a full psycho-educational evaluation (or whatever you want to call it) where our girl spent the better part of a full day testing and playing games with said psychiatrist and her staff - figuring out her abilities.  And her weaknesses.

And Friday we got the results.

We heard how remarkable her reading and comprehension skills are.  (Beyond off the charts.)  We heard how creative and truly thoughtful she is.

And then.

Then we heard how she has a significant delay in Executive Functioning.  How her impulse control is not only very low but borderline.  How her ability to process things efficiently for skills like math are within 'normal' ranges - but are being hindered by that delay - by her inability to apply her intelligence in an organized fashion to accomplish real, day-to-day life goals.

In other words - the classic display of AD/HD - as represented by the gap in her intelligence and her ability to use it.

And that's a hard thing to hear.  One because I have to face the fact that there's something wrong with my child that I can't fix.  As a mother, I want the best for my child.  I don't want there to be anything wrong with her - to have anything different about her that will make her life more difficult.  Further, I don't want her to be looked down on - or given weird glances because she's doing something strange.  I don't want to see the exasperated sighs from teachers or instructors or other moms because she's yet again, out of control.  I want to protect her - wrap her in my arms - keep her safe from the world at bay.  From the judgments.  From the negativity that often accompanies any type or sort of mental health diagnosis.

But here's the other thing.  The deep, dark, horrible part.  I don't want my kid to have AD/HD for the mere fact that I'm not sure I can handle it.  And what kind of a mother does that make me?  I have never been one for patience.  I get extremely frustrated with things that take too long.  Repeating myself fourteen times to get my child to act drives me insane.  I think Deonne is much more sympathetic and empathetic about Anna's struggles.  Honestly?  I just get mad.  Even though I know there is a clinical reason why my child spaces out - even though I understand why she does the crazy things she does - why she's not able to focus or stay on track - I still can't stand it.

So we go forward.  Starting to take the steps to initiate medication - as well as continue therapy to learn behavioral strategies to help Anna achieve the things her intelligence allows but her inability to stay focused won't.  It's going to be a steep learning curve, that's for sure.  One where Anna will have to learn how to follow simple three-point directions.  One where I'll have to let go enough to accept the fact that even though my daughter is nearly eight years old - she still needs a chart in her room to remind her to put on underwear after a bath, and one in the bathroom to remind her to rinse her toothbrush after using it.

I covet your prayers as we begin this new journey with our child.


  1. Now that you have an answer, the processing of information can take place. Once you start to see the changes in her that you haven't seen take place yet you will know that you made the right decision. Since ADHD is a fairly common diagnosis, I don't think she will be judged as much, or as badly, as you think. I think that is just a fear that you have because you want to protect her. You've handled her this far you can handle the rest of it, but now the road will be an easier one. I, too, could have used more patience with my children, especially yesterday when they decided that instead of eating supper they would throw fish sticks and mashed potatoes at each other. I did make them clean it up though. You will do just fine.

  2. I'm sorry, Kristin. I know this is hard. I really agree with the comment above. I think it's a bigger deal to us as parents with a child that has a diagnosis that makes them "different" in some way. I've found that sharing Andrew's diagnosis has just brought more understanding from people and not judgement, like I originally feared. I think the stigma of ADHD isn't what it once was. I've been reading "Right Brained Children in a Left Brained world" by Jeffrey freed. It's a good read so far and I'd recommend it.

    And I understand what you're saying about the daily frustrations that come with this diagnosis. It can be maddening ~ especially when in a hurry. One of the things that helps me is to think about the world from Andrew's perspective and how he must feel trying to first overcome his body/mind before he can do/learn something. That helps my patience a little to try to maintain that perspective. Hang in there and stay the course. I hope the medication helps Anna bring some peace to her little mind and to your household as well. Take care.