I’m fairly certain that my words here will add nothing new to the conversation and intelligent commentary that already exists on the topic of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). But as is so often the case, I am compelled to write if for no other reason than to help me process complex emotions and burgeoning insights.
So, if you will indulge me, I will begin . . .
That Edgar is an active child is not news of the day. That he engages with his world in a way that is different from the way I do, the way his brothers do, perhaps the way you do is not a revelation. That he is intelligent and creative and funny and sweet is an understatement.
Throughout his young life, Edgar has had his share of redirecting, of reprimands. His behavior has attracted attention—and not always in a way that was in his best interest. He is surrounded by love; but unlike those who love him, the rest of the world does not always give him the opportunity, the leisure to showcase his myriad gifts. To find Edgar’s best, you have to spend time with him, be attentive. And the world we live in cannot always do that.
When Edgar was diagnosed with epilepsy, he told us repeatedly that he did not like his body. As his mother, I became acutely aware of the sadness he was experiencing—a young, beautiful soul housed in a body that regularly betrayed him.
Then as quickly and inexplicably as his seizures came, they went; and new behaviors seemed to emerge—or, more accurately, new extremes of existing behaviors came to the forefront. School was painful. Relationships were suffering. And just like the seizures brought on by epilepsy much of his behavior was beyond his control.
His neurologist—the neurologist we trust with our son’s life –watched him move throughout the exam room at a very recent appointment. She understood that his movements were compulsions, that the behavior he was exhibiting was not anything anyone would “choose.” She asked me to think about his needs—something I—until that moment—believed I always had at the forefront of any decision-making. She’s a scientist and approached this scientifically: If you have a Vitamin D deficiency, you take a supplement. If you have a dopamine deficiency, you take a supplement. She asked us to consider medication—that we owed it to Edgar to try, to see if it would make a difference.
Labels have always bothered me. And I have always had a bit of a chip on my shoulder regarding medication—having seen side effects on some children that have left me speechless. But I listened carefully to Edgar’s doctor’s words: If this is all he ever needed and we didn’t try it, we would regret it. And I knew then that I couldn’t let my own prejudices and perceptions stand in the way of what might be best for my son. His needs must necessarily trump mine—now and always.
Edgar has ADHD, and this week he started a medication. And, yes, it’s working. What he was missing he now has—and the results have been remarkable. And at long last, the rest of the world is going to know him, see him at his best. Life will be easier for him; he will have the opportunity to begin to make peace with his body and with his mind.
One of Edgar’s teachers said this week that the most exciting change she has noticed was Edgar’s smile—that he is smiling in the morning and in the afternoon.
Each person’s journey to balance, to happiness, to peace is his or her own. And thanks to my seven-year-old son I now understand that in a way that my stubborn self never allowed me to before.
Edgar regularly moves me in ways I can barely articulate, and this week he helped me to shed long-held biases and expanded my understanding of human beings and the world we live in.
And I find myself pondering how I ever got so lucky.