Hello! I happened to come across the TEDx video on FB and decided to watch it (even though I’m at work on the day after Christmas). My daughter is almost 11, and we have the somewhat typical story (if that exists)- in second grade she started having a bunch of trouble in school- not staying on task, not progressing into harder work, only choosing artistic or creative work (she goes to a Montessori school so she is free to choose). The teachers were complaining, and truthfully, looking back, it probably was evident even before then. They wanted her tested, which we balked at. There was nothing “wrong” with her. She was so incredibly bright. Must just be that she’s being too “social” in class and because she can choose her activities- she’s just not being accountable to get her work done. We started a cycle of withholding privileges if she didn’t get her work done, she spent time in her room, extra curricular activities were withheld, the teacher would send her to the office for non-compliance. It was just such a behaviorally focused time. We finally relented and took her to see an ADHD dr for diagnosis, which was just a survey of us, her, and the teacher. I didn’t feel it was thorough, and he immediately and ONLY suggested medication. I was clear we wanted other options and only medication as a last resort as I still didn’t believe she had it.
We sought a second opinion from a family counseling center, and basically a third opinion from an evaluation center that did IQ and disability testing. The IQ test was very high, but showed anxiety and reading difficulties that were affecting her ability to progress at school. She had somehow missed/not retained some of the basic sight word and grammar rules. So, while she could read- she still struggled with common words, and developed a work around approach to use her energy to “read” for the most important content, because then she could ACT like she knew everything she read. The testing center director said it was very uncommon for someone to be able to read for content so highly but have a bad ability to retain regular words. And, oh my gosh the spelling issues…
The counselor we found said she wouldn’t contradict the dr, but she would work with my daughter on her emotional state because she was very unhappy and full of self-esteem issues. We went 9 months of counseling before relenting and trying medication because I had such a bad perception of medicating a child. Luckily our family doctor worked with my wishes, which was to try the lowest dose, most minimal medication first to see if it did indeed help (we were told to try the medication and if she had ADHD it would help/if not it would make her hyper-- and THAT’S how we could tell if she ADHD for sure).
So, she’s been on medication on school days for the last 2yrs. She feels it helps her. She says she can stay focused much better with it and not get distracted. She is doing better at school and seems happier.
The problem is-- I’M struggling and making it worse for her!! I, ME, I’m struggling with understanding that her brain works differently. That her not paying attention isn’t willful. That her not “listening” because she’s already acting/reacting isn’t a choice. Her constant forgetting of materials, things she needs, permission slips, important dates, etc isn’t really her fault. It’s not a FAULT… but somehow in my frustration of managing things after they’ve been forgotten… in the 11th hour of a deadline… in the second trip around the block to go back and get things… I make it a fault. And I say things like “What is WRONG with you!!!” and “You KNEW you needed this!” and “Too bad, I’m not going back. Maybe next time you’ll remember!”
I feel like a monster and I make her feel horrible… and I love her. And I need help to manage my own emotions and behavior in order to not make her experience of life totally suck. Because right now I feel like I’m getting this whole “Mom of a Brain” thing totally wrong!