A couple of things lately have spurred on this post. One is that I recently commented to Fitz that Charlie seemed to have grown out of his cartwheel phase. Fitz quickly informed me that the cartwheels are alive and well at school. Charlie started at Fitz's school this year, which is a campus rather than one building. There is some moving around from classes, and apparently Charlie takes full advantage of this to get the cartwheels out of his system. I think we don't see them at home so much because he has the trampoline now to let out that excess energy.
The other thing was the recent progress letter from Charlie's teacher. It was glowing, but it did mention his distractibility, and lack of focus at times. I love his teacher, and it sounds like Charlie is having a great year so far, but this was that reminder that the ADHD is alive and well.
I have mentioned ADHD on here in the past, but never spoken in depth about it. This post may end up way longer than you would like :)
Charlie was not quite 2 when we were first made aware of his attentional issues. Yes, that's right... not quite 2. He had had some hearing/ear issues and we were having him evaluated by Early Intervention for speech. He ended up not qualifying for speech, but they told us they were concerned with his attentional issues, and we were given an educator 3 days a week at our house to work with him.
I was shocked to say the least. Pre-kids, I was (am) a special educator who worked primarily with ADHD kids. But these were school aged kids. I had never known of this being picked up so early, and I never would have seen it in my son at that age. Sure he was a busy active (okay, crazy!) toddler, but aren't most little boys? But I will tell you this... years after this, I can say that it was the best thing that ever happened to Charlie. I don't think he will ever need meds, and he is forever coming up with new coping strategies just like that long ago teacher taught him to.
When I was teaching, I often encountered regular ed. teachers who were frustrated by the active kids in their class, and at a loss of how to handle them. I came up with an easy layman's explanation that seemed to help. It goes like this...
Everyone has filters in their brain... filters coming in and filters going out. As you read this, you might hear a television in the background, kids running around, the washer running, and that’s just the auditory stimulation. But we filter all this out so that we can concentrate on the task at hand. For ADD and ADHD kids, this is often much harder. All that excess noise may be coming in at the same level. I once had a student describe it to me like this... you are in the TV department at sears, with 20 screens on the wall, but they are all on different stations, all equally entertaining. Its a big effort to focus in on the right one.
Those are the filters for things coming in. There are filters for things coming out too. If I was talking to you about this, you might be thinking, "this is a load of crock" or "who the heck is this lady" but the filters in your brain would keep you from saying something inappropriate. All kids are impulsive at heart, but the truly ADHD kids have a hard time filtering those impulses.
This is not to say that it's impossible. It's just something they have to consciously work at, something that comes much easier to most kids. One myth that drives me crazy is that ADHD are "bad" kids. People are always shocked when they find out Charlie is ADHD. Some people even question the diagnosis. "But he's so good, so well behaved," they say. And he is. He is a great kid with a great heart, but he works very hard at this. And the impulsivity still comes into play (especially at home with siblings!)
He holds it together well in school. He comes home with a lot of pent up energy. He'll go immediately to the trampoline and let out some steam, and sometimes he'll ask to take a shower in the middle of the day. He's learned that the enclosed shower stall, the white noise of the water, and the pressure on his head, all help him to pull it back together.
There are no showers in the classroom however. And sometimes, when the stimulation in the room gets to be too much, he may get caught looking out the window, at the fields, and the wide blue sky, because there are less distractions out there.
He is our dreamer, our thinker, our crazy cartwheel boy, and I wouldn't have him any other way.