By, Dr. Kerris Dillon

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is now in edition 5 and ADD is no longer considered a mental illness. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) still exists, but a new understanding of hyperactivity has been embraced. Hyperactivity can exist on the outside by not being able to sit still, climbing on things, or running about, but it can also exist on the inside within a person’s mind. An individual can have a mind that never sits still, runs about, and climbs all over the place. This is why ADHD in girls has often been misdiagnosed. The two main symptoms of girls with ADHD are a mind that never stops moving and a lack of organization (messiness).

Some other symptoms of females that have ADHD are losing important items such as car keys, a purse, money, or their phone. Another symptom is not being able to find something that is sitting right in front of their face. If you have a child that says, “I study for hours and hours and I always get a B+ or an A-. Why can’t I ever get an A?” Individuals with ADHD have to study and read four times as long as others in order to retain the information. Reading can be extremely challenging in that an individual might work through 2-3 sentences and then find their mind shifting to something else. They may then have to go back and read those 2-3 sentences over again. This is why it takes a person with ADHD four times as long to read and study as compared to others.

Some other interesting facts about ADHD include children sometimes being immature as compared to their peers, struggling with bed wetting longer, as well as being bullied by peers because they don’t pay attention in school and then get called names because of it. One of the items I wanted to do with this blog post is to talk about the blessings and gifts of ADHD. Yes, there are wonderful things that come along with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Let’s stop thinking about mental illness as only having negative components.

I believe that all 3 of my siblings including myself have ADHD. I am the only one that is medicated at the moment. I think there is great creativity that comes from those with ADHD. My brother is a second grade teacher and his creativity is amazing. When he taught a lesson on farms and cows, he borrowed nursing gloves from a clinic and filled them with colored water and taught his students how to milk a cow. When he teaches math, he uses scooters and has his kids scooter to the sum of 3+6. His students love him and learn so much from him in one academic year.

My sister is the same way! There is never a boring moment when I spend time with my sister and her family. She finds the most unique shows, games, and places for us to go. We spend time talking and her stories are hilarious! Her house looks like a tornado hit it most of the time and she has trouble organizing it, but that’s not where her gifts are and I’m glad she doesn’t focus on what’s unimportant. This is why I wanted to share two books that I really love in relation to ADHD.

Disclaimer – these two books are a part of affiliate marketing. The blogger will gain a small percentage of each book purchased through this site. This helps to keep this blog running and helps to pay for yearly fees.

Rainman Jr. (Part 2)

By, Dr. Kerris Dillon

When we last met, we were talking about Gabe and all of his unique Autistic features. I want to start with his elementary school years, which were probably some of the toughest. After Kindergarten, our family moved to a much bigger city where the classroom sizes increased substantially. This would have been okay for any other child, but for Gabe it was too much stimulus. We continued to work on flexibility with his routine and I started keeping Gabe home from school when I knew the teacher was about to rip out her hair from his continuous schedule questions.

The early elementary school years were probably the toughest as kids never seem to keep their hands to themselves. Gabe couldn’t handle other kids touching him. Games like tag or basketball sent him into a tantrum and when he asked others not to touch him and they did it anyway, he punched, kicked, and choked his peers. There was no way possible to get it through the other kid’s heads not to touch him. The school attempted to expel him when he choked another girl on the playground. She decided that Gabe was going to play foot tag and kept stomping on his foot and Gabe let her have it.

Thankfully, he was on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and legally couldn’t be suspended or expelled. I was glad that I’d been a public school teacher for 10 years and knew my rights as a parent of a child with a disability. I spent so much time in the elementary school advocating for his rights and trying to get him an organized and routine-centered teacher I might as well of worked there. Very rarely did the school ever listen to me. I was definitely a mom bitch and the staff rolled their eyes when I came through the door. I knew no one liked me, but I was my son’s voice when he couldn’t advocate for himself.

Things started to change when Gabe got a phenomenal 3rd grade teacher. This teacher taught me how to say, “no” to Gabe and that I didn’t need to explain the reasons for my decision. This didn’t mean that Gabe wouldn’t try to compromise his way through being told no, but this teacher gave me the ability to realize that children make their own decisions and have to be accountable for them. Every single day that I picked Gabe up from school, he was in tears as soon as he got into the car. It was exhausting, but I think school was exhausting for him.

The older Gabe got the easier it was for him to manage flexibility with time and to self-sooth himself when he got upset. Gabe’s coping mechanism was always video games and it still is. The minute he gets home from school, his eyes are slits and he heads right back to his room for video games to relax. Gabe will never be involved in limitless extra school activities, but at least he can make it through an 8 hour day without losing it anymore. We work quite a bit on his tact as he doesn’t seem to realize that it’s not okay to tell people when they are below average. Gabe still doesn’t realize how loud he talks in a restaurant or when he’s not following the conversation and inserts his own opinions.

Gabe is going to be in 9th grade this year and wants desperately to get a job. He’s only 14 years old, but wants to be working and paying for whatever he can get. My daughter wouldn’t have worked until she was 16-17 years old if she had her choice. Gabe consistently helps around the house doing anything that I ask him to. Although he doesn’t play football, won’t ever be in a play at school, doesn’t sing in the choir, and loves advanced math I wouldn’t change it for the world. Gabe has taught me so much about life and patience. I developed an enormous amount of patience parenting Gabe and feel like I can handle almost anything. Gabe is such a blessing in my life and I don’t know what I would do without him. I am so proud of him and the man he is becoming. Autism or not he deserves a life like everyone else and I hope all his dreams come true, even if he takes a whole different route than most. Wasn’t there something about a road not taken and how much of a difference it made?