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If you give a girl a pencil…

Image  We are all familiar with the book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Joffe Numeroff. We have read it a million times when my girls were little. I feel like with a daughter with ADHD is similar to this story at times.

After having a four day weekend due to school conferences, we had all kinds of free time. But as usual we sat at the table last night at 7pm to do homework. Mind you, my daughters medicine for her AHDH is probably totally out of her body so her focus isn’t all that it could be. So far…we had two odds against us – waiting til the last possible moment to do homework AND meds are worn off. So this is how the evening went:

We sit down….she’ll looks thru all of her 40 thousand pencils (ok, more like 20+, but still MORE than she could possibly use in a single week). They are falling out of her zipped up binder, some are in a ziploc, some are in between the three rings of her binder and some are even in the pocket of her binder. Now NONE OF THEM are sharp enough to her liking (they are more than fine to get thru a worksheet or two)  She demand new ones. I suggest to her to maybe go sharpen the ones she has and we can organize them later. She goes down to sharpen them and finds a handful of new ones in my drawer and decides to look at the ‘shininess’ of the new ones. After her telling to get her butt up here so we can get homework done because its getting late (my fault we waited so long), she grabs her worksheet in a huff (attitude with everything when you are almost 13) and gets a paper cut. Now she has to go up and get a bandaid because her finger is bleeding. When I ask her what is taking her so long she replies “Cleaning out the band aid box for you!” which now leads to her having to go the bathroom because the bandaid is in the bathroom. When I ask what is taking so long she says “washing my hands with this new soap – I keep smelling it – it smells sooo good. Can we get this kind again?!” Then she FINALLY returns to the kitchen table and realizes the pencil she started with needs to be sharpened…..
 I need a glass of wine…..
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Faulty Wiring….

Image Faulty wiring can be a pain. It can be a simple annoyance or life and death with a fire. If your lamp has faulty wiring, you fix or toss it out..you don’t sit in the dark, read with a flashlight and accept it. If our cell phone has faulty wiring we immediately run to our cell provider and demand a new one, because how on earth can we live without our cell phones?! If our home has faulty wiring we don’t ignore it and hope that our home doesn’t burn down, we call in an electrician and pay lots of money to get it all fixed. The same can be said for cars, appliances, airplanes etc. We never take a chance with that faulty wiring – we simply FIX IT.

What do we do if we have a child with faulty wiring? We don’t replace the child, call an electrician or discard the child. We have to learn to live with the faulty wiring. We have to find the best possible ways to help the child with faulty wiring exist and live in a world with “normal” wiring. We expect them to adjust to the “normal” wiring and if they don’t, they are labeled rude, immature, deviant, unfriendly, obsessive…etc.

My child happens to have many layers of faulty wiring. We have the ever popular ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder –  a problem of not being able to focus, being overactive, not being able control behavior, or a combination of these. For these problems to be diagnosed as ADHD, they must be out of the normal range for a person’s age and development. – that is the definition I find online. My child isn’t “hyper” but has impulsivity issues. She can focus – really well, but on things SHE finds interesting, not so much on the things she SHOULD focus on.

Along with ADHD she has NLD: A nonverbal learning disorder or nonverbal learning disability is a neurological disorder characterized by a significant discrepancy between higher verbal skills and lower motor, visuo-spatial, and social skills on an IQ test. … In simpler terms… one side of the brain controls physical activity, (actions we perform and  things we do). The other side controls the reasoning  (the “why” and “why not”).  Normally, both sides speak to one another so we can make good decisions (or bad). My daughter’s sides don’t communicate properly with one another. So when she sees a dollar sitting on the counter – she takes it. Her reasoning “It was sitting there, I need $ to buy gum. BAM! problem solved” . Normally a person would see the dollar and think “I better not take it, it is stealing. If I ask my mom/dad maybe they could lend me a dollar to buy gum?”

Discipline is difficult. How do you find a consequence that MAKES SENSE to the child. Plus, she doesn’t understand sarcasm.  Things are either black or  white – EVERYTHING needs to be literal. When a person says “I could wring her neck” – she thinks that it means to strangle, not “she is making me mad”.

Now let’s throw Anxiety Disorder into the mix of bad wiring….a child with anxiety issues gets nervous about new situations, new surroundings, being in a large group vs. 1 or 2 people.  For example: my child would rather play with a friend who isn’t nice to her because she knows what to expect.  Instead of taking a chance on a new friend who may really like her, she prefers comfort instead of the unexpected. Testing in school – anxious. Loud unexpected noises – anxious. Getting shots – anxious. Getting a filling – anxious = Xanax!

And if all that wasn’t enough, she is almost 13 – teen years, hormones, mood swings and the ever popular DRAMA. Oh, did I also mention a 2 year social delay?? Yup, when I see other preteen girls having their sleepovers with a bunch of girls, caring about how they look to a fault, texting and talking on their cell phones, being popular, etc…my heart breaks. My daughter is an immature 10 year old in a nearly 13 year old body – just trying to fit in and make a friend or two.

My daughter’s brain has faulty wiring. Do we toss her out? No. Do we replace her? No. Do we call in someone to totally rewire her? No. We accept her, love her and support her wiring. After all, she is our daughter. We spent years dreaming of her, trying to “create” her – but couldn’t… so we adopted.We saved our money, filled out all our paperwork, had the FBI check us out, and social workers look us over.Then one day we were finally blessed with our little Korean bundle. We were so in love with her from her almond eyes down to her tiny toes.

Everyday is hard. Some days are VERY hard. Most days I am her enemy – and she is mine. Most days we argue and doors are slammed. Most days there is negotiating about almost everything. Most nights I go to bed mentally exhausted. But EVERYDAY I am her biggest advocate. I fight for her. I help her. We see doctors, therapists and know the local pharmacy like family. I look at her and and see a beautiful young woman, with pretty Asian eyes, the beginning of puberty and wonder, where did the time go?  Seems like yesterday I was rocking her in her room and singing “apple peaches pumpkin pie, you’re my sweety pie”. I start to cry when I think back to easier times. Will we survive the teen years with the faulty wiring? My daughter may be wired differently, but she is all mine. She laughs, she sings, she smiles, she is happy and she loves. And that is all that matters to me!