What is ADHD?
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder involving a persistent pattern of inattention and hyperactivity.
My beautiful nine-year-old boy was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of six. It was a life-changing diagnosis that gave us a new perspective on how children learn. It was also the start of an ongoing struggle with the Public School System to get him the services he needs.
Unlike other children his age my son was already living with a disability; he was diagnosed at eighteen-months with Spastic Diplegia, a form of Cerebral Palsy that affects his muscles. On the outside he looks like any boy his age, making it all the harder for people to take his ADHD condition seriously.
In addition, recently he was diagnosed with Absentee seizures, that affect all parts of his brain. These seizures are not like typical on the ground convulsing seizures. But instead, they are brief second blank stares that can appear as if he is not listening or paying attention to you.
Due to that, I thought I would share some of his struggles that go unseen by most people unless you are directly working with him. I hope that someone out there will either recognize those symptoms in them self or in their child and get the necessary treatment. Also for those that may be skeptical of ADHD, I hope they will begin to understand and accept people living with this condition.
“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I santified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”-Jeremiah 1:5
ADHD, Did You Know
There is a total of seven different subtypes of ADHD, not all ADHD is created equal. They are classic ADHD, Inattentive ADHD, Over-Focused ADHD, Temporal Lobe ADHD, Limbic ADHD, Ring of Fire ADHD, and Anxious ADHD.(“7 Types of ADD: Science of SPECT Scans from Dr. Amen”). My son has inattentive ADHD; he is a very mild manner, sweet, quiet, and polite, his behavior only negatively affects him.
One day I asked the school to observe him for a day and report to me what he is doing in class. He was failing his classes but had accommodations set in place; we could not understand why he was doing so poorly. When we got the report from the school, he was off task a total of forty-two times. He was not talking to anyone he was just looking around or daydreaming, playing with his hands and so on. If you are not looking directly at him, you will not notice this behavior, as it is an on and off action that lasts just under a minute.
Most people when they hear ADHD they think of a child running around the classroom like a madman. Getting up, talking to others, disrespectful, does not want to follow the rules. The reality is not all ADHD looks like that, for those that do look like that it is the very extream case and does not mean they are intentionally trying to be disrespectful. For my child, his behavior impacts only him and causing a lack of focus that negatively affects his school work.
Forget Me Not
Have you seen the movie 50 First Date? If you haven’t the premises is that after an accident Lucy (Drew Barrymore) can only recall what happened the day of the accident, any new information she learns is wiped away when she falls asleep. The next day she goes back to living like it was the day of the crash. Every day she has to be shown what has happened every day since the accident consequently relearning everything again.
Working Memory is part of Executive Functioning something our brains do naturally. When we are taught something, we process the information in our working memory. For example, if we are in math class and the teacher puts a problem on the board and then proceeds to explains to the students how to solve the problem. She does this by solving the problem step by step and writing those steps on the board.
Once solved she erases everything she just wrote and put’s a new problem up and ask the student to solve it. Now the students must recall what was just taught so they can solve the problem, that is where working memory comes in sending you the information you need to solve the equation.
He is no Drew Berrymore, but he forgets!
In my son’s case his working memory can’t retain the information, as such, he does not know how to do the problem. Knowing he can’t work out the problem he gets frustrated and just shoves the paper in his desk. He knows it was just explained on the board, but his brain just can’t process the information quickly enough to retain it. He is too shy to ask for help, and to the teacher or any other adult, he just seems uninterested to do his school work.
To make the situation that much harder, his Absentee Seizures can happen at any moment in the day without him or anyone else realizing it was happening. When they occur in the middle of a lesson, he goes into a black hole of sorts, and when he comes to the teacher or whatever was going on has progressed to the next stage. While he has lost a moment in time, literally!
Many times when children have a working memory disability, they will come home with homework and can’t recall how to solve it. To aid them a repetitive explanation is required for them to retain the information. Introducing a new concept every day to a child with a working memory disability only confuses them more, frustrating both child and parent.
Mind Your Own Bee’s Wax
Yup, you got it! One of the symptoms is being nosy and jumping into conversation due to their impulsivity. They have a lack of self-control, they are not doing it to be rude or malicious their brain just needs the stimulation.
My son has jumped into so many of my conversations. I have to remind him almost daily the importance of staying out of peoples conversation. It has become a problem because he tries to get into other kids in school conversation and they think he is rude. Making them rude back and eventually hurting his feeling.
Additionally, impulsivity leads to answering questions before they have been entirely told or read. They can also take written work and rush through it without really understanding the problems or questions.
The Red Button
Another troublesome part of impulsivity is the need to touch and playing with things that are dangerous or otherwise of limits. Again they do not intend to hurt anyone or be rude; they are just trying to satisfy the brains need for stimulation. Think of the funny concept of telling someone not to touch the button, but once you tell them not to touch it becomes a need to touch the button to see what it does. For my son, that is his environment, always a button that he is told not to touch!
I Don’t Get It!
The most heartbreaking symptom of ADHD that my son has is not understanding social cues. It is a pure heartbreak when your child is in a group, and they don’t understand the dynamics. Children with ADHD don’t always get the jokes or the sarcasm that most of us do. Making it very difficult for them to make a friend or keep friends.
Recently I dropped off my son at the bus stop, he has wanted me to let him walk alone to the bus, but I am just not ready. As I sat in the car a little away from him, I noticed his several attempts at joining a group of boys. Unfortunately, he did not understand their behavior. Eventually, the boys kept walking away from him. He just kept following them, till I called him over. It was all I could think of doing without making him feel bad. Thankfully the bus pulled up just after I called him over and he got on the bus.
Children with ADHD lack friendships because of their absence of understanding social cues. They can’t quite understand their behavior and action upset others. When they hear someone using sarcasm or idioms, they don’t get the point. They require that we speak to them with exact detail and direct communication. When the boy’s where trying to walk away most of us would have known that they weren’t interested in playing. My son just assumed they were walking around, so he just kept following them.
I am not a medical expert, and these symptoms are a reflection of what I have experienced with my son. There are seven types of ADHD, and maybe you or your child have other symptoms that my son does not.
In the end, my goal is to bring awareness to ADHD. To get rid of the idea that is a made up disability for children whose parent can’t handle them. I think it can even help adults that may be feeling like they think differently than other.
Since my son was diagnosed, my husband has come to see himself in my son’s actions and behaviors. For years, he wondered what was wrong with him. He questioned the actions that made him feel like an outsider and why he had few friends. He now knows that he has ADHD, but because of the lack of awareness, he was never been correctly diagnosed.
Every chance I get I remind my son how special he is, that God made him perfectly and wonderfully made. God does not make mistakes!
It is time we start celebrating our differences. God created all kinds of human, beings if He decided that some had to function differently then others than who are we to judge His creations.
GOD IS LOVE! LOVE IS THE KEY TO ACCEPTANCE!
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wondeful, I know that full well.- Psalm 139:14
How about You?
- Do you or someone you know have ADHD?
- What would other symptoms you say are less common and misunderstood?
- Have you learned something new about ADHD?
“7 Types of ADD: Science of SPECT Scans from Dr. Amen.” ADDitude, www.additudemag.com/slideshows/7-types-of-add-adhd-amen/.
WHITBOURNE, SUSAN K. R. A. U. S. S. “Neurodevelopmental Disorders.” Abnormal Psychology: Clinical Perspectives on Psychological Disorders, 8th ed., MCGRAW-HILL EDUCATION, 2017, pp. 128-135.