Ukarimu House

“That sounds like me, both now, and as a kid!” These words burst from Chip as we sat in the pediatric psychologist’s office, discussing the results of tests conducted on Amanda to discover why she was failing kindergarten.

In an earlier post, I described our adventures in home schooling and how that journey led to us discovering Amanda had a severe case of ADHD (traditionally known as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). It was in in talking with this psychologist that we discovered that ADHD is strongly genetic and sure enough, ADHD didn’t just run in our family…it galloped on both sides of the family! It turns out I had a brother diagnosed as an adult with ADHD, my father was suspect, and I myself was always the stereotypical daydreamer with her head in the clouds (ADHD? I really don’t know). On Chip’s side, there were suspects too. After his startled discovery in the psychologist’s office, he wanted to know more. We both did. The good professional offered to test Chip for adult ADHD (he kept tests on hand because so frequently he would discover a parent with the same challenge even as he diagnosed a child). Sure enough, Chip tested with classic, severe ADHD. Well, that really explained a lot of challenges he faced on a regular (daily?) basis! The difficulties regulating his attention span, the disorganization, forgetfulness, struggles with the rote learning so commonly used in schools, among others – not to mention the social challenges. Back in his elementary and high school days, typically any child with ADHD (virtually unknown then) was labelled as either lazy or stupid. Chip carried the lazy label. He even accepted it himself, until he had a truly life-changing experience in college (the entry into which was a miracle and another story in itself).

I became a woman on a mission. What is this ADHD that my family seemed to be plagued with? Are all the kids condemned to be labelled school dopes? Can they never excel? Will all the adults with it be destined to live mediocre lives because they did so poorly in school and either stopped trying or never had opportunities to improve themselves or have satisfying and fulfilling careers?

I refused to believe that the several family members who had this condition were somehow deficient or broken. I could see my husband’s obvious intelligence, I knew his own story of God’s intervention in his life, I knew that both my daughter and son with ADHD were very bright. No way could I consign them to the ‘stupid club’!

To make a long story short, I wound up getting my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and my Master’s in Counseling Psychology. I ended up focusing on personality types and on ADHD. Even when I did my practicum for my Master’s degree, I worked with a psychiatrist in a hospital, and she always gave me the ADHD cases, both children and adults. It seemed my life was full of people with ADHD – so many family members, friends, clients, and even a former boss! I felt like an ADHD magnet! It could be very frustrating at times, and yet also very rewarding when a person was helped to be able to cope better, and even to begin to thrive in a world in which most other people brains functioned differently from their own. I relished helping them discover the natural strengths a person with ADHD possesses. I rejoiced to see them begin to set up external structures to help them function well in a ‘different’ world, to make up for their lack of internal structure. I have come to truly appreciate living with people with ADHD (though I have to be honest and admit there are still frustrations). I suspect my life would have been truly boring without such people in it and I, myself, would have turned out boring. Yes, I have learned a lot about ADHD, not only by my own reading, but taught by the many I have lived and worked with. I have developed some theories about the condition, which have helped me as I work and live with such people, and which have helped them as well. I hate the label Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder! First of all, I have come to see the condition not as a ‘disorder’ but more as a difference. The brain of a person with ADHD functions differently to be sure, and in a way that typically does not fit so nicely into the world oriented around the way most people’s brains function. But it does not make it a disorder in my eyes. These people are typically very bright and have so many strengths in areas the rest of the world has difficulties in. Who’s to say who has the disorder? Then there’s the word ‘deficit’. A common misconception is that a person with ADHD cannot pay attention. Yet, I have witnessed such people being able to concentrate on a topic (usually has to be of intense interest to the person) to such a degree that World War III could break out around them, and they would not be aware of it! It seems to be more of a challenge in regulating one’s attention rather than an inability or a ‘deficit’ in attention. I could spout on forever on all the discoveries I have made, but I will spare you all. Suffice it to say that we should all always be learners. What new discoveries have you made? What challenges in life have you learned to overcome? What labels have you managed to discard?  God has made each of us unique. If He made our brains to function differently than most, it is up to us to discover how it works best and then make the most of it. If we march to a different drummer, then let’s at least march our best. Let us all strive to be the very best that God created us to be, even if the world wants to label some of us as deficient.

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1 Comment

Dennis · January 16, 2024 at 3:29 pm

So, what’s normal? Or is there such a thing? I already forgot what’s on my mind. 🙂

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