Despite what I or the medical experts know or feel about the ADD-genetic connection, those who have ADD or have children with ADD, deal with our share of judgement. Once, while picking my son up after a sleepover, a friend who knew my son had a diagnosis of ADHD, said, “He’s fine. You just have to give him direct instructions.” This was a person who didn’t live with him every day to see how much difficulty he had in all the various situations and environments we experienced.
I knew from the very beginning (yes, from the very beginning) that there was something not typical about my son. He used to be very active in his crib, had difficulty sleeping, and dealt with mood swings. I once heard a psychologist speaking at a CHADD meeting say, “People will tell you, ‘Just give him to me for a week, and I’ll fix him.’ What they don’t realize is that their kids could probably be raised by wolves and be fine.” I know this is a complete exaggeration, but the idea stuck with me.
Many people will judge your parenting skills based on the fact that their children are inherently typical, mild-mannered, and have an easy time focusing on mundane things. There are also so-called experts who don’t know what they are talking about. Dr. Marilyn Wedge, misguidedly, wrote a blog for Psychology Today, supposedly answering why French kids don’t have ADHD. It basically blames the parents. Thankfully, Dr. Stephanie Sarkis wrote French Kids Do Have ADHD: An Interview, as a response, which shredded many of Dr. Wedge’s ideas.
In answer to all the judgers, I believe there is a strong genetic influence in having the ADD brain type. It is only partly that the medical experts say there is that I believe this. The biggest reason I feel there is strong genetic predisposition to having ADD is that I married into a family that has its own time-zone. They call it Wilson (fake name) Standard Time, or WST, for short. Whenever my nuclear family visits them during one of the various holidays and make plans for a family activity or excursion, it takes so much longer for everyone to get ready than (I feel) is necessary. They get side-tracked and look for lost things.
Though it can be frustrating at the time, contemplating it in hindsight, I find it quite endearing. There are several absent-minded, distracted adults wandering around, trying to get themselves and their children ready, while still being kind, friendly, and brilliant. Additionally, both my husband and my one brother-in-law took stimulant medication when they were children, and this was in the early 70s when such drugs were not so common.
I would say I’m not innocent. I’m sure there is something coming from my side of the familly, too. I believe my father has undiagnosed ADHD, my brother has some auditory processing difficulties, and I don’t have the most optimal executive functioning skills when it comes to household organization. It is difficult for me to prioritize tasks. What we end with is a somewhat cluttered, but liveable, home.
This all being said, I don’t disregard that my son needs to live in society. He needs to be guided in the right direction. Teaching him life and social skills are at the top of my list of priorities. Things that work for typical children do not always work for my son, or it takes much longer to work. It is why I’m happy to be writing this blog. It helps me process and evaluate my plans and practices in a more visual way. It assists me on this journey of helping my son as he gets older, and great strides have been made. His behavior and his focus, though not what you’d expect from a typical 10 year old, have improved dramatically over the last few years, and I am heartened by this.
(image courtesy of Michal Marcol at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)