I went to my first CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) meeting this week. I was expecting a room full of parents but it was mostly adults that were suffering with ADHD that were there to try to express and share their experiences. I had not even considered that kids with ADHD actually turned into adults. Blimey! I am short-sighted.
The most important thing discussed, I think, was how important it is to teach kids to create their own structure to help them organize and attend. Model it all you want, but they really have to consciously create it. Otherwise people turned into adults that couldn’t take responsibility because they didn’t know how. They compensated but not successfully. They were, for instance, hyper focused on work and successful there, but so exhausted after they couldn’t attend to their spouses when they got home. And as a result, divorced. Or the man who was a successful marine, but once you took the tray away the cubes were scattered! He didn’t realize he even had a problem until all the imposed structure, from childhood to service, was taken away.
I was impressed with one of the counselors there who had a biological son and foster kids who all had ADHD. She said there was so much structure in her home that none of them needed medication while they were there. Apparently there were check off charts all over the house. Then when her kid moved out, he was a little confused about how to create the structure for himself. The best part of this was the recognition. If you can recognize where you are having a problem, that’s half the solution.
I saw such sadness in the people who had been medicated since they were kids. One was a mom and she was back on meds after being off since college. I got the impression that her marriage just ended. The other was a young man who wanted to help other people because his siblings had it worse than he did. I don’t really know their stories, but I don’t want that to be my kid. They looked so pained and like they were suffering in their own skin.
There was a man there that had just lost his marriage and he was so close to tears during the entire meeting. He had just been diagnosed, at 40-ish and was also on antidepressants. Sadly his misery didn’t move me much. It made me wonder if there was situational ADD. Or if he was just blaming ADD for his sadness. Still, it has to be a valid complaint. I don’t know why I didn’t or wouldn’t feel for the guy.
I think it was because, like a lot of support groups, there was a lot of describing all the yuckky stuff that has befallen you and then trying to wrap your head around taking responsibility. Sort of a yawner for me. I have never appreciated support groups or “psychobabble.” I know I should be flogged, but I guess I have an independent streak that has always made me balk at this stuff. It could be, however, that I am simply devoid of empathy. I know when I should feel it, but I never do feel it. Crap, I wonder if there’s a group for that?
Although it sounds completely opposite, the meeting did get me thinking about being in the ‘moment’. Mindfulness is one of the foundations of Buddhism and it means to be aware and appreciative of what you are and how you are in the environment, as well as the environment itself. Being aware of your breath and your body, your feelings and thoughts and those things inside you and those things outside you as well, nature, other people, everything! I know that sounds like religiosity, but it’s also realistic. Relationships and careers are made up of moments that you spend with them. The better you are at listening, to your breath, your lover, your boss, the better you are at interacting with those things. Certainly there are other considerations, but this one makes sense to me. Now, how to pass that knowledge on to children.