Our son has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Most times I don’t think about the challenges he faces or how it affects all of our lives. He’s a brilliant, caring, witty person, and his disorganization and impulsivity are parts of who he is. Frustrating at times, but it feels more like a personality quirk. Oh, that’s just how he is, you know.
We’ve come to accept that he’s more likely than not to leave something he needs someplace we can’t ever get it back. On one of the jets we flew on several days earlier, maybe? Throughout his middle school career, we bought three gym outfits. Most parents buy a larger size to last all three years. Not us! We know he’s going to walk in a room when we’re in the middle of a conversation and jump in with an off-the-wall question. We also know he isn’t going to remember to tell us he has an orchestra concert or school meeting until the day it’s happening. Did I already say it can be frustrating? I did? Well, that’s okay. We love and accept him just the way he is.
What isn’t easy to accept is how outsiders sometimes view him. There’s nothing glaringly different about our son. He’s of normal height. His verbal skills are advanced and always have been. And his focus can be incredible. (Getting him to switch gears is the hard part.) We are so grateful for all of these blessings, but not being able to see anything ‘wrong’ becomes an obstacle at times. Teachers can’t look at him and see something different, so they assign negative labels to him, such as he’s lazy, careless, or doesn’t care.
I’m not blaming teachers. They’ve got their work cut out for them with many different students to teach under less than ideal circumstances. I only bring it up to illustrate one of the challenges facing kids with ADD or ADHD. Oftentimes they are labeled bad because we can’t see brain functioning. And negative labels can lead to poor self-image and so on and so on.
Here are just a few statistics to shed a little light on how things can turn out for these kids sometimes:
Teenagers with ADHD have almost four times as many traffic citations as their non-ADD peers.
Teens with ADHD have four times as many car wrecks and are seven times more likely to have a second accident.
21% of teens with ADHD skip school repeatedly.
35% eventually drop out of school.
45% have been suspended.
30% have failed or had to repeat a year of school.
My husband and I want our son to be successful. We want him to be safe. We want him to have good relationships, and we want to minimize problems for him. And probably just as important is teaching him to cope with the challenges ahead.
It takes quite a bit of patience, understanding, and structure to raise a kid with ADD/ADHD. We’re far from perfect at it, because we are human. Sometimes we’re tired or hungry or had a really bad day at work. I’m not sure it’s possible to understand how any other parent feels without walking in that parent’s shoes, which is probably the reason my blood pressure goes up when someone without kids or one who hasn’t had a child with ADD/ADHD gives unsolicited parenting advice. But the incidents of this happening with us are minor compared to some other parents.
I have a friend whose little boy has Autism. You can’t tell from looking at him that anything is different either, at least not if you don’t know what you’re looking for. When he was younger sometimes he would have an outburst in public and once a reaction began, there was very little to be done to stop it. At that point, my friend’s goal would be to get him out of the situation as soon as possible. I couldn’t believe the things people would say to her, such as “You need to control your child” or “Your kid is a brat.” Sometimes they would even recommend a spanking. I don’t know when it became okay to offer an uneducated opinion to a stranger, but lots of people seem to think it’s their right.
Have you ever experienced strangers giving you unsolicited advice on anything? How did you deal with it? Does anyone have any good comebacks? (It’s okay to tell me. I just asked for your advice. LOL)