A year ago at this time I wasn’t aware October was ADHD Awareness Month.
A year ago at this time I didn’t know of the existence of ADDitude and the boundless resources available there.
A year ago at this time if you had told me my son had ADHD—and there were many who did—I would have told you that any label that aims to define—or worse, limit—my child is not for me—or, more poignantly, him.
My experience with ADHD was severely limited—relegated to that of an observer. As a high school teacher, most of my students who have had ADHD have been contending with it for a decade or more; and by the time I meet them as 15- to 18-year-olds, they have either grown out of the often accompanying hyperactivity or have such great experience managing it that their symptoms are barely discernible in the classroom.
When I go back over the snapshots of my life, there are images of a few children that emerge whose ADHD medication was either too little, too much, or for some other reason that will forever elude me as a non-medical professional simply not right. These children for decades colored if not defined my understanding of stimulant medication.
It took a very wise and forward-thinking neurologist to take me from where I was to where I needed to be for my son. She explained the science behind stimulants—how they work and why they work—and coupled my education with an out should that be necessary. And right there in her office I felt my mind open—creating the space necessary for new information, information that would save my son.
In the last year education has replaced the short-sighted judgments I had maintained for decades about ADHD. Today I write for ADDitude, have my own blog there, and have recently been fortunate enough to interview two experts in the field. TODAY Show regular and education expert Michele Borba, Ed.D., and parent coach Elaine Taylor-Klaus answered several questions that, even a year later, have lingered. They also talk about their new online resource, Making Moments, which features practical tips and strategies for parents of children with ADHD.
Below is an excerpt of a note I received this week from Edgar’s teacher:
Edgar is making great progress in all areas. He did all but one problem on our first math benchmark with 100% accuracy independently . . . He is quite adept at using the Smartboard with the same efficiency as his peers and is having fun socializing with his classmates. He is a fun friend to play with! We often work with a variety of partners, and he does a great job with whomever he is partnered. We also have had a final assessment in social studies on landmarks, and he met the benchmark on this as well. [He is also making] good progress in reading. [All his teachers] are . . . pleased at his retention of new reading concepts introduced and taught . . . Thank you for all your hard work at home; it really shows in the happy, friendly face of Edgar each and every day.
A year of letting go of assumptions, opening myself up to new ways of thinking, and availing myself of the significant resources available . . . and this is where we are today.