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Thursday, March 23, 2006

ADHD, Executive Functions And Attempting To Figure Out How Emily "Works"

That's quite the title huh?

This BTW, is the entry I have been talking about, the thing that has been on my mind that I have yet to officially blog about.

Due to my driving need to get a better understanding of Emily, so that I can nurture her appropriately, attempt to structure the environment in a way that would be beneficial to her, and plain and simple, understand her "internal wiring," I have recently immersed my self in huge amounts of reading and research on ADHD and the role that the "executive functions of the brain" play in her diagnosis.

I am still researching, so this post more than likely will end up in more one part...perhaps a sort of series of posts, addressing the various areas of concern I have.

This is the first post, and will be sort of general in nature, discussing my overall impressions and thoughts I have had while researching as well as providing some basic information on Emily's specific situation.

First, let me just say, when you have a child that has special needs, whether they be severe or not, there is a wealth of information out there to take hold of. It's almost overwhelming. When you have two kids with two very different needs, the amount of information consequently doubles. It's hard to decide what to believe and what not to. In the end, you have to take what you think applies best to your situation and use it to help make the best decisions possible for your child. One thing I have learned through all of my research and just my experiences over the past couple of years is that there isn't anyone in this world that knows what your child's needs are better than you.

It's funny. Having a child (or children) with special needs puts you on a whole different plain than the rest of the world. You have things in common with people that you otherwise may not have. For example, I was visiting my mother's office this morning (she happens to be the secretary for the Special Needs Office of the Carver School Department) and I was talking to another parent there, who's daughter had Down Syndrome. We were talking about Early Intervention and Health South, Speech Therapy, and just the ups and downs of it all. She even showed Julia how to sign "cracker." Would I have found something else to talk about with this stranger had it not been for my mother mentioning that Julia was just learning to walk at 20 months (not in a derogatory way, just as a conversation starter)? Maybe. Maybe not.

I find myself, at times, wondering if people know how much "work" it is to have a child that needs extra appointments and tests, specialists, and doctor's appointments above and beyond the regular well checks. It's not like I could ever imagine not going to the Physical Therapist or the Neurologist or whatever else comes up. These people help me to help my child succeed. I need them as much as my children do. No matter how you look at it though, it is above and beyond what any "normal" family would have to endure...and yes, sometimes it's hard. Sometimes you wish that you didn't have to and yes, sometimes you envy those who don't. Most of the time though, at least for me, you do whatever you need to do, whatever it takes, to help your child succeed.

Which brings me to Emily.

Emily...my "difficult child." The one that "pushes every button." The one that is most assuredly "too smart for her own good." The one that misbehaves to "get attention."

I put these terms in quotations because,I used to think that these terms were okay to use to describe her. I thought that she knew exactly what she was doing, and yes, I thought that some of the time, she was doing it on purpose.

I thought I was a bad mother too. That I didn't enforce the rules enough, or spent more time with her sisters than her, and that because of this, they were not showing any signs of deficits in executive functioning and/or ADHD, and she was.

You know, I even thought that despite the statistics showing that a lot of children with Epilepsy and/or Tuberous Sclerosis have ADHD, and the fact that there is actual medical science behind it (I will get to that in a subsequent post) that all of this was, well, was a crock of you know what.

Then, I started reading. Really reading. And researching. And lo and behold, I found out...that I was wrong. Wrong about almost every thought I had prior to my research. Wrong about almost every notion I had regarding why Emily is the way she is.


ana said...

hi i am 11 years old and my name is ana i have add and my brother has adhd he is like bouncing off the walls ahh post a comment at my life in middle school to reoly to this message

Anonymous said...

From the psychology classes I took in college, I know that there are so many facets to ADHD. I think that in life in general it can be difficult to have an open mind to things...we're so quick to judge and wether we admit it or not we all have our own stereotypes. I think you're doing an amazing job...I don't see you that often with the kids, but I know from conversations with you and reading your blog how involved you are. Emily and Katie and Julia are all very blessed to have you.