Wednesday, June 4, 2008

May I Have Your Attention Please!

Yeah, based on the title of this post, you're probably thinking that this new stream of thought is about my daughter and her inability to remain attentive due to her ADHD.

Well, it's not. She's not the one who needs to pay attention.

Since joining the world of those diagnosed with ADHD and the ongoing treatment for this very real disorder, Harper's life has taken a very positive turn. Where there was once a steel door that shut us out due to the neurological scatterings she experienced, there is now warmth. Where her sparkling eyes were once vacant and distant, there is now color. She is not a new person. It's just that the Harper we've always known, and yet lost for a bit, is all present and accounted for once again.

Medication, and therapy, have enabled her to enjoy her world, experience success, and even laugh again. Her twinkle has returned.

Tonight we finished the next to last chapter in Prince Caspian. My rule, being the literary snob that I am, is that I will not watch the film version of a book unless I've actually read the book. Why? Because, most of the time, the film disappoints, and thus taints any interest in reading the book. I realize, of course, that for most, this sounds completely backwards and that the book is what turns many off from even seeing the movie in the first place. To each his own.

But it saves me money.

Why shell out the $10, plus cost of food (I can't do a movie without food) for a movie when you can check out the book for FREE and insure that the storyline is even of interest to you before hitting the theater. After all, how many times have you heard or uttered, "The book was better."

So, my point?

Read first.

Tomorrow night we'll be finishing the novel. We're all very excited about it. I have enjoyed listening to Harper make parallels between moments in Prince Caspian and details she remembers from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, which we read when Zane was a baby. I have enjoyed her commentary about Nikabrik, who according to her is just an awful character. In fact her eyes just about popped out of her head when she realized that he was attempting to talk Caspian into conjuring up a certain dead witch from old Narnia. I have giggled as we both try to pronounce Sopespian, who, because I have no idea how to prounouce the name, I just call Soppressata, which I'm almost positive is incorrect.

She has been all over this book listening intently night after night while we read a chapter at our "Bedtime Cafe", where tonight, Edwina (me) welcomed guests from Maryland (Harper) and 'Cago (Zane). At the "Bedtime Cafe" my name changes every night as does the hometown or state of the guests.

It's a magical place really. As the owner of the "Bedtime Cafe" I always know which book the customer is reading and on which chapter they left off. Last night I had some diners come through who were only on chapter two of Caspian.

Harper felt badly for them.

Anyway, in terms of her ability to remain attentive, there is no concern since our getting treatment for Harper. Upon meeting her, you would never know that she even struggles with ADHD. It is totally something I could lie about. In fact, when I share that Harper has ADHD, I normally hear "Really? I don't see that." And this is due to the narrow view of the disorder which only seems to focus (ha, ha) on the physical symptoms which turn people's heads in the grocery store. Whereas, with my child, most of the symptoms presented themselves in her head: the stacking of thoughts, the scatteredness, the inability for her brain to rest at night. In her words, her brain was "nocturnal".

But now, we've seen a dramatic turn around.

Which is why I felt so very uncomfortable today upon being interview for a research study. I offer my services to test products for easy cash (you know, to see all those movies based upon novels) and one came up this week for 7 year old girls. I spoke with the gal at Fieldwork Chicago (OK, now I'm probably banned) and the dates worked and the pay was great. $185, CASH, for two hours. The product was some sort of toy.

We got through all the preliminary questions and I passed.


"Is your child currently being treated for ADD or ADHD."

I didn't hesitate. "Yes. Yes, she is."


"Ohhhh, well, I'm so sorry. She doesn't qualify for this study." There was pity behind that voice.

Um, let me get this straight. I guess you only want undistractable 7 year old participants who will completely comply by sitting still and remaining tunnel focused for a two hour study during the dinner hours of 5-7.

Wow, that actually removes alot of kids from the study. And I'm not even talking about the kids with ADD or ADHD. I'm just talking about any 7 year old who may struggle with sitting properly for a 2 hour focus group.

I answered "yes" so quickly because I support the truth of the disorder that Harper will most likely have to manage forever, and yet, she would have really enjoyed this experience. And, more importantly, SHE'S FINE! She IS managing it! Plus, she's engaging, she's smart, she's funny, she's expressive, she's clever, she's creative! She's a great kid! She just happens to be on medication!

Had I lied, they never would have known.

It's the labeling and the assumptons as to the behavior of one with ADHD that saddens me. At the same time, I admit that I too am making an assumption that their view of a child with ADHD resembles a howler monkey leaping from tree to tree while screeching.

I do get their point. To a point. After all, if it were a study on peanut butters, they would have to ask if my child has a peanut allergy. This, I understand.

But I was hurt. I wanted to educate them on the spot with an intelligent discourse on ADHD . I wanted to tell them that my child's treatment has gone great, and that she would dig giving her opinion of this toy, and that she wouldn't be disruptive, you can ask her teacher, she is the least disruptive kid and very respectful, and kind, and so enthusiastic, and you would never peg her as having ADHD (based upon how you assume ADHD presents itself), and we are really working with her at trying new things, and you should totally take her, because my kid ROCKS!

"Um, Ma'am, are YOU currently being treated for ADD and ADHD?"


I want to call attention to the true definition of ADHD and help others expand their understanding of how different the disorder can look from child to child.

So have fun keeping all those 7 year olds entertained for two hours over dinnertime. I can guarantee you that you would have been hardpressed to see any difference between them and my awesome daughter.

Except for the fact that those kids will be $185 richer.

1 comment:

Amy said...

I totally agree about, well, everything you said! The whole time I was reading I kept thinking, "I'm gonna comment on that". :)

I have a friend with a 6-year-old with Autism. I have learned so much from reading her blog. There are many varying types of Autism but everyone does the same thing with Autism as they do with ADD/ADHD: they think each presents in only one way. I know that with Autism there are different "categories" to describe the different types. I wonder if something similar will happen with ADD/ADHD? And when will we all learn the differences?