Granted, the oldest is already diagnosed and really doing well with her stimulant medication as a helper so she’s not really the focus of this demonstration (just comic relief).
The youngest is still very young and there’s no need to visit “treatment” or “diagnosis” at this time. But I recognize the signs. He vascillates between total absorption and total lack of anchoring in a way that to me, is charmingly familiar.
The middle on the other hand…is a rambunctious, energetic and at times, frankly, a bit hyperactive 7-year-old boy. But let me demonstrate a difference or two…
Dinner with the 7-year-old boy: involves chatter, involves questions, involves energy, but also generally involves eating. Dinner with the 5-year-old boy: hey, lookie, there’s a bug on the wall, oh look, I’m wandering around the kitchen for no reason, wow, how’d I get hyperfocused on that goldfish cracker, hey, now I’m handing it to my step-mother because I know she likes the color orange. Hey can I have some ice cream? Are you going to eat more dinner? What? Oh…I forgot about the chicken nuggets somewhere between jumping out of my chair 80 times and examining the crunch factor of my goldfish crackers. (Dinner with 8-year-old sister: wtf, eating is like such an inconvenience, I’m in a super hurry to be somewhere else, ugh, oh shit I squirted ketchup in my eye.)
7-year-old brother is generally able to hear and follow instructions. Will grumble about homework, and occasionally throw a cocky attitude around, but generally will do what is asked fairly efficiently, hears reason, likes to help with household chores (and will do them from start to finish). When you say to him “hey, next commercial break, you could run in, do a page of homework and run back out” he’ll just go do it because it’s practical and makes sense. Loves to ride his bike and skateboard, but can remember to finish things he’s in the middle of.
5-year-old: want to set a record for the slowest Easter egg hunt ever? He’s your man. He’s so stoked on the Easter egg hunt that he’ll forget what he’s hunting for!
(8-year-old: OMG. GET OUT OF MY WAY, THOSE ARE MY FRIGGING EGGS AND IMA KILL A SUCKA THAT GETS IN THE WAY!)
7: If he’s screwing around it’s usually because he’s making a fairly active choice toward jackassery and testing your limits.
5: If he’s screwing around it’s usually, not always, but USUALLY because he is on Mars. But he really likes it there, so lay off man.
(8: I’m WAY too anxious to give a crap about whatever it is you’re telling me. Oh lookie, I forgot my meds with morning, even though Daddy handed them to me and they’re still sitting there on the table, d’oh. Can’t imagine–insert sarcasm–why I feel so anxious and crappy. Heh heh.)
I’m just setting the stage to explain to you the title of this blog post. I am, indeed noticing these things about the kids, and can’t help but assume that 1 and 3 got the ADHD genes and 2 did not.
But in our house…none of that really matters. That’s what I love about our house. We look at each child and adapt to the reality before us, instead of expecting uniform conformity at all times, across the board. Yes, we have basic rules…no jumping on furniture…we have consequences…you lose a bead if you…we have expectations….it’s simply not okay to scream at other people, regardless of your spot on the neurodiversity spectrum. Everybody’s got things they’re good at, things they need to work on, and choices to be made.
I expect to remind the 5-year-old about 80 times during dinner to please sit his bum on his chair so he doesn’t choke on a goldfish cracker, and I know to expect that his daydreamy approach to genius is highly entertaining and really extremely bright. I expect the 7-year-old to test limits, for whatever reason, but I do really appreciate it when he shows what a good listener and hard worker he can be, because that’s something he’s able to do (and it shouldn’t be taken for granted). I also expect that when 8-year old is feeling anxious or overstimulated by her surroundings, she’s going to act like a crabby jerk…and will need to be reminded again that the crabby voice is not the correct one to choose when making a request. Also appreciate when she makes better choices. And I don’t mind using creative methods to make homework easier to focus on, or giving her breaks to air her brain out.
Whatever the reality in front of us is, we try to just accept it…and work to make it a more pleasant and productive experience for everyone involved. Nobody’s bad or good, just different.