Monday, December 18, 2006

Inner Self Revealed

My 7 year old daughter has ADHD and within that are several other traits that impact her behaviors, her relationships with others and her successes socially and academically. She is very impulsive, can be anxious which in turn will evolve in impulsive behavior, is oppositional, and lacks many executive functions. Her occupational therapist has also said, she has sensory integration issues as well.

She is also very bright, affectionate, friendly and adapts well to new situations and people. Her teachers told me she loves to participate, she has a great sense of humor, often is the class clown and has a style of her own.

Now depending on who you speak to, some of these traits can be resolved daily through medication (concentration and focus and some alleviation of anxiety), behavior modification (rewards or points systems), peer therapy groups (both with occupational therapy and psychology) and cognitive intervention (online games, improving executive functions). No matter if it's cognitive or neurological - her impulsivity is a huge obstacle.

This morning, my husband and I met with the director of her peer therapy group and as we went down the list of challenges, once again, I felt that they were describing me. I had the same reaction when I read the report from my daughter's occupational therapist when describing some of the the traits associated with sensory integration.

As adults, "the lightbulb going off" moment, has been when we hit our mid 30's. When suddenly we are faced with tower of responsibilities, ranging the gamut of financial, home, parental, marriage, work, aging parents.

Were my learning disabilities situational or neurological? How did many of us who can identify with these disabilities, make it through childhood, adolescent and college? We somehow did but admittedly, it was difficult and we paid a price for it. Many of us were affected through our relationships with our peers and or our academics. As adults - with our jobs, our relationships, our self confidence, our choices in life. How many of us have avoided our potential because of fear of being anything less than perfect? Of feeling like a failure or just afraid of taking the risks that are necessary because we just couldn't get our act together to move forward. How many of us have self esteem issues that are so paralyzing, that we rather be unhappy in a state of predictability, than venture out and try again and again until we find the right circle of friends, the right job, hobbies, etc.

I am not saying that if you have ADD or ADHD as an adult, as well as some of the other labels that are associated with it, that what I have just describe is the norm. Of course, many folks are very accomplished professionally, socially, personally, but speaking from my own experiences and emotions, having a daughter with many of these challenges has really awakened me to my own disabilities and has helped me pinpoint the beginnings of my self confidence issues. For example, I would describe myself as outgoing, but I also get very anxious which leads to self doubt, which on a dime can turn me into a wall flower. Though admittedly, I find it very hard to stay there very long - I am too gregarious and soon want to participate, and then they cycle starts over again.

A long time dream of mine was to either work abroad for a nonprofit or create my own. More, Recently, I've become more and more interested in the desire to start my own business. My reasons for not doing any of the above, has been my inabilities to move beyond a fear, whether it's justified or not, and to just do it. To force myself into an uncomfortable state. To force myself to work really hard on my management disabilities, my social anxieties, and impulsivities. I hope that through all the hard work that I am throwing myself into doing, for my daughter's well being, that not only she will become a very self confident, well rounded, and able human being, that I will have also become one too.


Casey Krivy Hirsch said...

Jaime, it's so amazing to see you write these things. You're amazingly articulate and on the subject of your daughter, admirably vigilant. You and David have clearly worked hard to understand her needs.

Now, I'll let you in on something about me: when Ilana was evaluated and it was determined that she has an auditory processing deficit as well as some serious issues with reading comprehension, my breath caught. It's not only that I recognized the latter learning difference in myself that was remedied to some degree when I was in elementary and high school; I have also learned, as I've gotten older and found my ability to talk myself out of a paper bag to be utterly lacking, that my ability to process is, and always has been, compromised. This is most obvious when my husband and I argue. In Ilana I see myself in so many ways, though she is a far braver version of her mother. But when I was a kid and had finally decided, at the age of 10, that I wanted to be a writer, I recall knowing that even with this frustrating 'learning disability' it was all I ever wanted. I still want it and decided that nothing was going to stand in the way of pursuing it, only slow down the process some. Going to graduate school is a byproduct of this decision, since I never felt I was up to snuff intellectually and now discover I'm outdoing my own expectations.

To write, to read, to revel in words for life is all I still want. Turns out Ilana is artistically inclined, too, both with words and in visual arts. Turns out she's as shy as I was, also tending toward safe places even if they make her unhappy. Until recently. Now she's reaching beyond her comfort zone in a way I didn't dare for a few more years beyond her present age (10).

Jaime, I urge you to use positive attributes when referring yourself. Treat yourself as kindly as you do your children. You have management capabilities, not disabilities. If you didn't, how on earth could you manage the overflowing cup you have now?

Go for it, Jaime.

Sweettooth120 said...

Thank you Casey for your kind words and thoughts, and for sharing something so personal.

torontopearl said...

Jaime & Casey,

You both write from the heart about such a personal subject as it shadows your life and that of your children. Thank you both for your honesty about this thought-provoking topic.

cruisin-mom said...

Jaime, you blow me away...thanks for sharing so deeply from your heart about a topic not easy to share about. ADHD has been so controversial, and hard to understand. I for one, think you are terrific!
Casey you write beautifully as well...thanks for your words.

Mr. Sweettooth said...

Somewhere along the way, someone calls you stupid or tells you you are lazy. You hear things like, "Well, what did you expect from him?" and "Oh, this is David!" from people who don't know you or don't have the patience to see. You pretend not to hear, you pretend not to care. What do they know? I am defiant.
You learn to play on your own, you know how to smile and lie. The hug or simple nod you desperately want never comes.
Everything you accomplish takes all you have, yet no one knows.
But that's OK, because my world is full of life and awe. Only the lucky will be allowed in: those who slow down enough to see will understand.

cruisin-mom said...

Wow Mr. Sweettooth...that is beautiful.

Sheyna Galyan said...

I can related to much of this. I wound up starting my own business and working from home in part because of my disability. It wasn't and isn't easy, and my family and I have had to make sacrifices we otherwise wouldn't have. But I've been able to challenge previously held beliefs about my limitations and abilities. I've grown in ways I didn't think I could. It's not for everyone, but it sounds like you're well on the way to finding what's right for you. B'hatzlecha!

Sweettooth120 said...

Hi Sheyna - thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.