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Fordomme og virkelighed – en helt almindelig morgen med en ADHD´er

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Did you mean to only wear one sock to school today?

Prejudice and reality – an everyday morning with an ADHD kid

October is ADHD awareness month.

There are many misconceptions about ADHD. Some people think that ADHD is all about overly energetic kids, mostly boys. That ADHD is something young people with a challenged childhood have, that the kids end up getting themselves into trouble, that many turn out to be drug addicts. Many think that people with ADHD are not as intelligent as others.

There are so many prejudices, so many misconceptions. Recently, focus have turned to adults with ADHD. Several high profile Danes, including former secretary Manu Sareen and former Baroness Caroline Fleming have shared their stories about living with ADHD.

Did you mean to only wear one sock to school today?, my husband asks on the way out the door before driving the kids to school. My son is balancing on the edge of one of the steps on our stairs while looking down at his feet. Oh, I forgot the other one, he says, running up to put on the other sock.

I did everything I was supposed to, he says. And then we review his list for the morning. Do you have your backpack? Is today library day, did you remember your clarinet for band, do you have P.E.? Do you have your lunch box, your jacket, your glasses, your face mask? Did you eat breakfast, brush your teeth, feed the dog? Every day we run through the list, every day there is something he forgot.

If we get annoyed with him, he does not understand why we are so angry with him. And interacting with him has to be in a calm voice, loud sounds are unpleasant, so raising our voices it is completely out of the question. In fact, his hearing is so good that before Covid, we would always bring earplugs when going to the cinema.

He does not do mean to forget things or not hear what we and the teachers just said. He simply did not hear it. So, I tap him gently on the shoulder or click my nails on the table in front of him, ask him if he heard what I just said, ask him to repeat what I asked him.

He is 11, but in some areas he is much younger. In others, he is on par with a young high school boy. It can be very confusing to navigate this universe as a parent and it takes some practice to figure out which age group matches which competencies. Executive functioning skills is a fraise, I and other ADHD parents have come to learn and understand.

Do you have something stuck in your ears, I often said to my son before I found out he had ADHD. He easily gets distracted – by a thought in his head, by a sound at the other end of the room, a funny remark he heard on The Simpsons yesterday or by a bird outside the window – and meanwhile his brain is not present in the conversation, I thought we were having.

It is as if several television programs are running at once and that I have to follow them all, he once explained. If that’s the way ADHD feels, then I’m actually pretty impressed with how he gets through the weekdays without major altercations and half-finished school assignments.

Sorry, I did not hear you, he often says. The strange thing is that there are things he remembers quite clearly. The things he remembers are things he has an interest in. The kid is a walking Simpsons dictionary and can unravel mathematical formulas I do not even remember ever learning.

But when he has to do things he has no interest in, which the rest of us have learned to do because that is part of everyday life, he will finish partially, before something distracts him and he turns to something other than what he was doing.

For a long time I thought he was trying to provoke us and his teachers that he would not do what he was told because of laziness. That was before I learned about his diagnosis. It turns out that ADHD’ers have an eminent ability to remember and focus when something is going on around them if they are interest in that thing or topic.

It is confusing for the neurotypical world to understand how these kids can both be so “sloppy” and at the same time so extremely knowledgeable. This has led many to believe that people with ADHD simply do not bother. But that is far from the truth. They work twice as hard as others to achieve the exact same thing as neurotypical children and adults.

Fortunately, the human spices is adaptable, so people with ADHD learn accommodate when they face challenges. If they are lucky enough to have a combination of ADHD and a high IQ, and if they get the help and support they need, she sky is the limit. Kids with ADHD and a high IQ have the potential to become excellent researchers, engineers, surgeons, etc. – all jobs where the ability to focus is essential.

So when my son in a few minutes comes home from swim practice without his flip-flops, forgets to take his wet towel out of his bag and doesn´t take his lunch box out of his backpack, most likely forgot something at school, including his raincoat, and while talking about four different topics with 150 miles/hour, with no thought of whether or not he is interrupting me in the middle of something, I will take a deep breath. And then, I will spread my arms out. Because if there is one thing that many ADHD’ers are known for, it is their need for physical touch.  And that part, I enjoy every single day. Because my beautiful, easily distractible, impulsive, always testing boundries, curious son, gives the world’s the best hugs.

Happy ADHD awareness month, everybody!

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