A Milestone

A Milestone

A Milestone

…I leaned back in my chair, feeling my heart swell.  If I had known, when Lee was diagnosed with ADHD, that one day I’d hear these words, it would have given me so much hope.  

“Mom, Alex and I had an argument.”  Lee plopped into a chair across from me at the kitchen table.

I paused, mid-bite, and put my sandwich down.  A shared confidence from my 21-year-old was like unwrapping a Christmas present. 

“What are those things called again?  You know, the problem I have with time.”

            Boy did I know the answer to that one.  “Executive functions.”

            “Yeah.  He wanted me to drop the game we were playing online and join this group chat.  But I need time to process the change.  I can’t transition that fast.”

I leaned back in my chair, feeling my heart swell.  If I had known, when Lee was diagnosed with ADHD, that one day I’d hear these words, it would have given me so much hope.  A self-awareness of executive function problems, whether it be organization, prioritization, time management, or follow-through was crucial to regulating them.  And, for Lee, time management was the worst of all.

            “Let’s make a bubble chart with executive functions on top, then time under it, the reasons it’s hard for me under that, and the coping mechanisms I need.”  Lee ran from the room and came back a few seconds later, skidding to a stop. Colored markers and paper spilled onto the table.  “I’m going to use this chart to teach Alex so he understands.”

            I had to laugh.  Lee was a mini-me in motion.  How many times had I tried to explain to teachers when she was in grade school that Lee wasn’t lazy; she was a slow processor.  Give her more time, I pleaded, more prompts to turn in homework, more prompts to write it down.  Present the information not just on the board, but verbally.  And, I begged for more time for any testing. 

At home, I started a new system of time.  Family activities were written on a magnetic calendar, stuck right on the kitchen refrigerator.  The fewer surprises for Lee, the better.  When we went somewhere, I added in extra time before we left.  If necessary, time to sit in the car before entering the sensory onslaught of a mall, a doctor’s office or even playdates. 

            I looked at Lee’s chart, now filled with different colored bubbles.  “Executive Functions” was in a pink bubble on the top.  Under it, a line led to a blue one for “Time Management.”  Another line beneath that one led to an orange bubble, “Slow Processor,” with three green bubbles underneath for coping mechanisms. 

            “So, here’s the ways I deal with time problems, Mom.  Reminders, lists, and advance notice.  That’s what I needed today.”  True, I thought.  When Lee was in high school, she used a black sharpie on her hand for reminders, but today it was a phone alarm or a post-it.  Often, I found post-its on my desk in the morning, reminding me to remind Lee as a back-up to the alarm.  When there were a lot of daily activities, we made lists and added check boxes.  Always, I knew to give advance notice, both written and verbally.

            Lee grabbed the chart and said, “Thanks, Mom.  Alex just needs to understand the way I function.  People who don’t have ADHD just don’t get it.”

            What a milestone, I thought.  What a great way to start this new year.

 

 

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