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"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." ~Aristotle

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

And the Light Bulb Comes Out of the Box

If you know my daughter, you know she's bright.

Scary bright, really.

We had her tested for the Gifted program at school; not because we needed a sheet of paper to prove she was a smart cookie; but because this year we've run into fairly significant issues with her behavior in the classroom.

I can hear you, you know - I can feel the vibrations of your murmurings: "SHE'S BORED!!!"

While I don't disagree with you, we've been confronted with a different truth: although not qualified for a Gifted designation, Audrey DOES fit neatly into an ADHD profile.

See, I can still hear you ... stop shaking your head!! Bear with me, ok?

A year ago, or less, perhaps, I would have scoffed at any suggestion of the sort. I "KNEW" ADHD when I saw it ... the boy with ants in his pants who certainly wouldn't sit down to read a book (as she does -- often), is in need of medication (this concept directly in opposition to my opinion about the over-medication of children - I'm a hypocrite, and I'm willing to admit it), and/or a stronger means of discipline.

But after speaking to her teachers, the school psychologist, and an independent psychologist who did a THOROUGH investigation and interview, Ian and I are comfortable with this diagnosis.

In fact, I'm relieved.

It's amazing how filling out those forms with the little check boxes and rating scales gave me immediate grace for -- and understanding of -- my daughter. Being smart doesn't make her able to organize her thoughts, her tasks, her BODY ... anything. Being mature doesn't cover the inability to control outbursts in the classroom and saying things which inadvertantly hurt others. Being 7 doesn't mean she's finally self-aware enough to keep her hair out of her food ... there's simply a missing piece, a brain misfire, an issue in the frontal lobe.

Lord knows the Maizes know enough about the brain to give it due respect.

And so, dear reader, I throw this out to cyberspace for a number of reasons:

1. if you've seen me do what you believe is going overboard in my dealing with Audrey ... shouting, becoming insanely frustrated, making a big deal out of her responses to me, insisting she obey me immediately, getting in her FACE out stuff ... know that these have all become part of my coping mechanism for something invisible which has now come to light.

2. if you have experienced the joy of my daughter (and truly, she is a joy - a lover of people, a charming, funny kid, quirky and crazy and wonderful), you can look for the things I describe and nod in agreement with me ... and perhaps try a different tac if you need to get her to ingest some pertenent information.

3. if you've heard me grumble or roll my eyes about ADHD in general, I'm sorry; it's not that I denied its existence, or even dismissed the need for medication to be given ... just that without a full understanding of the syndrome itself, I was prone to oversimplification and suspicion. For this academic laziness, I apologize.

4. if you've been down this road: we are about to begin our journey of special school accomodations, therapy/counseling and parental education. You may hear about some of it. If you have comments, especially of a constructive, experienced nature, I'd love to receive them. (FYI: we are not yet on a medication plan. This may come later, if the above provisions do not suffice).


  1. Definitely scary bright... and with #1 you just made me realize I've like never been around both you and her at the same time, but I just assume you are doing something right because she's a really neat kid. I used to think all the kids diagnosed with things like that were just bad kids too, now I have kids and realize there's a lot more to it all and wish I had some help when I was a kid. I got in a lot of trouble, not really for being bad, for weird stuff.

  2. I think I wrote a similar post back in 2005 or 2006 . . . you know I get it.

  3. Rach,
    We are on that same process right now with my oldest. He fits the exact profile as Audrey PLUS he has the "ants in the pants" thing going on. He get easily frustrated, has sudden outbursts, argues, refuses to listen at times, and a whole gammet (sp?) of "symptoms." We began our process back in August before school started. We did have to start medication a couple of weeks ago on top of the therapy. He may need it bumped up when we go back to the doctor as it doesn't seem to be lasting all day as it should. Now, the big decision I now have to make is, the therapist he is seeing is leaving the practice and they are searching for another to replace her. The decision: Continue with someone else or discontinue the therapy part of it. Now I'M getting frustrated. :-/ I too have had those moments of me "losing it" with him and yelling no matter where we were. I have also learned some patience with him now that I know that a lot of it is involuntary. I emphasize, some, not a lot. ;-) It is a long and tedious process that I have wondered if it will ever get better. I am beginning to see that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel as we are seeing improvement and his teacher FINALLY is seeing a bit of a difference and doesn't seem to yell as much or complain to me as often about his behavior. I've not talked about this to many people, not have I "put it out there" for all to see due to the simple fact of what you stated above about seeing other's reactions. I said something about just THINKING he had a DAY of seeming like he was. There was a firestorm of comments telling me that I shouldn't even think that. He's a boy just being a boy. Basically, I was being attacked for just making a comment in passing trying to describe our day. Just the day. So, I say, it took a lot of courage on your part to do this entry and I commend you for it. I have stopped a few times during this and asked myself, "Should I really be doing this?" Then I remember what I went through when we started the process and not having anyone going through the same thing as me. When I had questions, I had to wait until the next doctors visit which, inevitably, I would tend to forget what the question was. I think that is the ADHD in me!! Looking back on my life through HS I too think I had it and that is where he gets it from. :-( It is a long and tedious process now and people aren't just putting their kids on meds because they don't want to deal with it. It does seem to be still taboo to talk about though. I hope my novel was able to help you. If you have any questions, I will do my best to answer them as I am still on the process of finding the end!! :-) Good luck to you on this process and may you find that light at the end!!