The Square Root of ADHD Is ME
By Candace Gillhoolley
My little baby-girl daughter who is 7 years old got her diagnosis: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) with anxiety. My 9 year old son puts his arms around my daughter and says, "I got you. We got this. I will take care of you forever. I promise."
His compassion fills the room.
My husband I have known for months -- maybe even a year -- that my daughter has ADD. My son's therapist alerted us last summer and we informed the school in Sept 2014. They didn't listen. Girls manifest differently than boys. We explained this to anyone that would listen and they didn't. Now we know. This is not something I wanted or needed but it just IS. I would rather know and help her then not know and continue to let her feel frustrated. I never imagined that she was Hyperactive as well but my husband and I slowly began to suspect something new and exciting was developing this summer. After both children exercise at the pool for over 4 hours a day they still NEEDED the extra 2 hours of swim time with me, from 4-6pm, to settle them properly for a smooth transition into nighttime.
My daughter looks confused. Her brow is furrowed.
"You are just fine, baby-girl. We are all here to help you and make you feel good" I say and reach for her hand. She stands up and looks at me. My words are not enough. I can tell by the way she is looking at me. She blames me. It's in her eyes. If there is a reason for something - anything - I own that answer and I have to make it understandable to her. That is what she expects. I can see clearly from her facial expression that I have not comforted her to her satisfaction.
"What did I do wrong?" she says and I see her eyes begin to fill with tears.
"Nothing" I say to her just above a whisper. She looks at me. She takes my hand.
"You. Are. Not. Wrong." I say slowly and deliberately.
"You did nothing wrong. Neither did I. We are not wrong. We think faster and about more things than other people. We are better -- enhanced. I was diagnosed at seven also" says my son.
He has a way of making her feel better when I cannot.
"You did nothing wrong" I say again. I look at the doctor and he sits up straighter.
"I am diagnosing you with ADHD. That means we all believe that you think in a way that we can label as ADHD" says the doctor to my daughter.
"What is a diagnosis" asks my daughter. Her voice dripping with fear. Her eyes are big. Her anxiety palpable.
"It is a label. The diagnosis for the wall is that the color is yellow" explains the doctor.
"I understand that" she says in a small voice. I see her shrinking. We have crushed her. She won't feel good about this. I can feel it. We needed to know. She didn't deserve to feel so frustrated. I don't want her to waste years on insecurity like I did. I want her to know that she is amazing in so many ways and that the world doesn't need to validate that. She can know that for herself. She has to learn to own her awesomeness so she makes the right decisions.
"Mommy doesn't like labels. She says I am not a "tomboy" or "girlie girl" I am both. I am more. I am a funny artist that can dance and sing. I am an excellent swimmer who can speak French. I am smart and kind and super fun. I am really good at the hula-hoop. What is the label for that?" challenges my daughter.
"You. That's the label" says my son thoughtfully. I kiss him on the cheek and my daughter hugs him. My husband smiles.
"Asking a child to exist in a setting (social, classroom, hockey, dance class) and expect them to compete at the same level, as a non ADHD child, is like asking the child with ADHD to play dodge-ball blindfolded. The blindfolded child will never know where the ball is coming from but they are expected to react as if they are not blindfolded" says the doctor.
I never thought of it that way.
I sit there and look at my beauties. Smart, sweet, strong, funny, and healthy. They are rarely quiet and still. Life around them is rarely calm.
The doctor continues to ask questions and everyone answers together. I want my daughter to be heard. There is no Oxygen in the room for her or me. My son directs the conversation. He answers questions like he is "the father" and not "the brother." I look to him and say "stop" silently. I say "stop" at least 10 times a day to him, always silently, as I do not to attract any unneeded attention to him or me. After the tenth "silent stop," I begin to question the dose of his medication. Is it high enough? Maybe he metabolizing his medication too quickly? Currently, his ADHD is FULL BLOWN and we are also experiencing a healthy dose of REBOUND.
The room feels smaller. My daughter stands and says "I need to move." We walk into the hallway and follow the doctor into another room.
A few days later I was sitting in the Principal's office. School starts next week. My daughter is going into second grade. After discussing the diagnosis the Principal says, "at least she wants to please. That is great."
"I don't think that is necessary great. It makes everyone's lives easier but that is not her role in life" says her therapist. I love her BTW. She is a crusader for my daughter. I might have to leave my husband for her if she asks.
"What I mean to say is, she wants to be part of the community and that will help her learn how to be a great part of the greater community. She is also a natural leader and likes to be in social control but she has to also learn the rules and what is expected of her" says the Principal.
"That is true." I say, "she has to learn when to please and when not to. She doesn't have to make everyone happy. I am more concerned that people make HER happy because she is already too kind to those who don't deserve or haven't earned it" I say. I look to her therapist and she nods in agreement.
Welcome to a new GIRL power!
Read more about my self discovery at http://honestwife.blogspot.ca/