I just need to write it down. If I write it down I will remember it. If I look up I will see it.
Yet, the cat jumps on the table. The dog walks by. What was that out the window. Is that a fly in the light? Why do flies go into the light fixture? The cat saw something out the window. What is that cat looking at? Why is that bird walking on the ground and not flying.
There are pieces of paper saying FOCUS lying around my house. I randomly find my daughter has written on our message board, “FOCUS on your homework!”. It breaks my heart to see these. I know how hard she struggles. I even know the thought process behind them. They were my thoughts not too long ago. The signs of a distracted brain. I probably have more patience for this behavior than my mother did. It’s my behavior.
I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder when I was five. I struggled through elementary school until fourth grade. I had an ESE teacher that just got me. She understood and taught me so many little tricks. My parents were not interested in medicating. They chose to work on compensatory skills. I never understood why they would not let me just medicate. If there was a pill that would help, why not. I did medicate for several years after I turned nineteen. The only problem was , once I got the ADD better under control, I had issues with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I ended up treating for the OCD as it was more intrusive. I saw a therapist for several years and learned a lot about myself and my behaviors.
I finally understood why my parents did not want to medicate until my daughter began to show symptoms. I worried about her having it from the minute she was born. I remembering asking her pediatrician how can I prevent her from getting it. What do I need to do? What do I need to feed her? Should I start the ADD Diet now? He suggested we watch sugar intake and make sure she got plenty of DHA and Omega Fatty acids. He followed this up with but nothing will prevent it. I can’t tell you how deep the feeling of failure was then, and she wasn’t even showing symptoms then.
Fast forward to kindergarten and she spent the first four months telling us she had belly aches, or headaches. She was often in the clinic for them. We assumed it was just nerves. All these new things she was doing at school. We finally took her to the doctor and found that she most likely had a problem with lactose. Within days of eliminating lactose the headaches and stomach aches disappeared. That was when we started getting familiar notes. She wasn’t focusing on her work, frequently distracted, often talking. I remember those notes. I remembered dreading taking them home. She doesn’t seem as bothered by them as I was. I have yet to have her formally diagnosed. Mainly, because I don’t want her labeled like I was. I was not made to feel like I was smart, quite the opposite. I was so stupid I could not focus on a simple math problem. The fact that I loved to read, had a great imagination was never mentioned. I never want my daughter to feel she is stupid. It is the most horrible feeling in the world. She goes to a Montessori school and surprisingly she thrives there. We still get told she likes to talk. She still has issues focusing. I truly believe it’s the ability to be mostly independent in her learning environment that helps her the most.
I do use some of the compensatory skills I learned. Some I use with my daughter now. We cover all but the problem she is working on. We play a game that if she looks away from her paper her eyes will melt from lava. We use rewards. We challenge her to see how much she can get done. Most of her teachers have been very supportive of our decision.She has learned so much faster, how she learns than I ever did. She understands she can’t sit down and just do work. In fact, she often stands. I have also found her reading her book while moving a hula hoop around her waist. I was told by one teacher, I should just give in get her diagnosed and medicate her. The thing is, It is not a magic pill. I know this from experience. There are also side effects. She won’t suddenly be able to concentrate. It is so much more complicated than that. It is so much more than that. She does get a daily supplement for brain health, a mixture of DHEA and amino acids. We treat the anxiety that ADD brings with magnesium. It is to the point now she knows when she needs to up her dosage of her supplement. She knows when she needs a glass of natural calm, the magnesium we use. She is listening to her body and her brain at so much younger of an age than I ever did.
On the other hand, I can understand my parent’s frustration with me just as clearly. I will tell her go brush her teeth. She sometimes gets a few feet before getting distracted. Sometimes she actually makes it to the bathroom but I catch her just staring in the mirror. If I take the time to ask her why she is just staring in the mirror. It is often, ” I was just wondering why I have blue eyes or brown hair.” or “I was just wondering what I would look like if I was a boy.” There is no point in getting mad. It is just how her brain works. In her mind she has done this thinking for seconds when actually minutes have passed.
We have never told her it is a disorder. We use the term distracted brain, or that is just how your brain works. Everyone’s brain works a little differently. We have never told her it is a disability or let anyone else tell her. It is not a disability. It is just the distracted brain. It has advantages that other brains don’t. The distracted brain often is more creative, more flexible and is often thirsty for knowledge. The problem is, most people don’t acknowledge that. It takes more work to find what works for her, that is most certainly true. It reminds me of a quote I saw recently. ” What is best for the child is not always what is most convenient for the parent. ” Bonnie Bedford. It most certainly would be more convenient for me to medicate her and just move on with our lives. It is most certainly a lot more work to figure out all the little nuisances of her brain. However I know from experience that it is possible to retrain your brain. It is not easy. It is not fast. She however has the advantage of someone who understands and can guide her to the right ways to retrain her brain. It won’t ever go away, but it is possible to “ride herd” on it.