ADD: Our First Two Weeks After Diagnosis
It was as if I was watching a Polaroid photo develop. First, a vague figure appeared. “You know, we have a family history of ADD.” Then, the shape took on more definition: “Is he a ‘young’ five? He has a hard time paying attention. And he got so frustrated when we were practicing handwriting.” And finally, the whole seemed to reveal itself there in full-color as I read the DSM-IV symptoms listed beneath AD/HD, Predominantly Inattentive Subtype.
By God’s grace, I am not dealing with the “H” in AD/HD—the hyperactivity. (Well, anymore than with a normal five-year-old male. And yes, I realize this may be often overdiagnosed or overmedicated.) But as a homeschooling mom—and P.S., one trying to move a family out of the developed world in five months—this was a blow to my already besieged perseverance.
A snapshot of my last two weeks, as my new world as a mother and educator develops:
- I’ve learned what things like “Vanderbilt” forms are.
- I checked out a daunting heap of books on ADD/ADHD from the library, some more helpful than others. At this point, I am tremendously grateful for books by Sandra Rief—also a new name to me.
- I’ve Googled things like “nutrition and ADD.” Bought DHA gummy vitamins from Wal-Mart. Attempted a few food eliminations.
- I developed an e-mail string with my son’s pediatrician for the first time.
- I have wrestled with feeling inadequate because I have not exhausted every possible nutrition option, yet am examining our options with medication after a near “perfect” score on said Vanderbilt forms.
- I have wondered why God put my son’s needs of structure in my care: me, who essentially loves anything creative. (Structure is my mother’s middle name—not mine!)
- In response to my son’s need for structure, I have plastered my house with clip-art to-do lists in page protectors, reward charts, and step-by-step cards for chores; I’ve purchased kitchen timers that blare reminders.
- As of last week, I now understand why ADD medications are similar to speed, and why they work.
- I have struggled with anger as I now see my son’s processing difficulties everywhere; with embarrassment that I didn’t put it all together sooner; with grieving over the characteristics I’d thought he’d grow out of, but now may be sticking around for awhile.
But along with all these new chances for faith—and failure and fear— I’ve seen that God is here in this new world of ours, too. And not just in the obvious ways of solutions and doctors and nutrition and medication and education experts.
Perhaps one of the best ways can be summed up by a conversation I had with a friend in a parking lot. Talking with her, I was reminded of the challenges her own son had faced with entirely different obstacles his body presented. Rather than him remaining emotionally paralyzed by a weight that any of us would find almost crushing, this elementary school student looked to God’s promises of victory. Of being more than a conqueror. He prayed and journaled and cried out to God for the help he deeply needed. And he clung to God’s plans to such a degree that when his mom suggested a possible avenue of relief, he responded that God had given him this burden. He didn’t want to reject it. “He’s more mature than I was at thirty,” she told me. Her son has a profound intimacy with God because of the load he bears.
The moral of the story: God made my son’s brain this way, in its weaknesses and in its unique strengths of persistence, creativity, and eagerness (as one author puts it). He’ll use the weaknesses, in fact, as an avenue for special strengths.
As a family, too, He has knit us together. ADD is part of the story God is writing for my son. It is thus part of my story. I have grown up a little more in these last two weeks—in holiness, in my skills as an engaging teacher, in my compassion, in my humility and honed definitions of “success,” and in my renewed love for my son and his distinctive creation by God and ways of seeing the world. Because it’s true: “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9