I hear you Onceler, and thank you for your generosity.
(Edit: omg I've written a thesis!!)
I'm happy for your daughter that with help she has managed to flourish, and I completely appreciate this -
She has taught me more about ADHD than my own undiagnosed experience and more about perseverance and the human spirit.
She is now, 2 years later, very happy and motivated, believes she is smart, taking honors classes and juggling a full schedule. I think she works too hard and the expectations of society are too high.....but she is truly proud of her accomplishments and uses her brain to way more potential than before. Most importantly, she is not melting down over homework every night and she believes she can do things. Her self esteem is high.
Do you think she always was 'smart' she just hadn't been given the room to be her own brand of 'smart' and be able to believe it, maybe more from lack of appreciation in the wider society than anything else? (in absolutely understandable conforming with what society 'expects' and 'demands'.)
ADHD tends to resolve itself in about 50% of cases by adulthood. There is a late frontal lobe surge about 18-20 and a finishing of the brains neuroplastisity around the age of 25.
And this is not taken into account in our educational systems because......................??????
Jails are full of dyslexic and ADHD individuals. There are too many over diagnosed ADHD folks and far to many more undiagnosed.
Sometimes I wonder when the diagnosis just shifts a societal problem rather than face it and change it.
Many high achievers and creatives have these melt downs - even the most high achieving in terms of results, so I can see where diagnosing becomes difficult.
My daughter used to also have melt downs, and wait until the very last minute to complete assignments - more concerned about what the 'result' would make people think of her and the consequences of how they would treat her, than any attention or intention (acceptance, enjoyment, enthusiasm) on the actual job at hand. She would become paralysed with fear. IN some ways I don't see a difference in the suffering.
The thing was, she was 'diagnosed' as gifted and that set a whole range of expectations on her academically and behaviourally - and her cousin, the boy I spoke of earlier, diagnosed with ADD, as well as dyslexia has or had, petit mal epilepsy so you could give him a direction and he could miss an important word in a sentence, and it look like he hadn't paid attention, it wasn't that at all eg: one might say can you go to the fridge and get the tomato sauce
, he'd go to the fridge and say - what am I getting? because his brain had a fart during the 'tomato sauce' bit. This was read as 'insolent' or not paying attention or even for some as being anti-social - the kid was just doing the best with what he had, with no ill-intention whatsoever. You could not find a more sweet and practically intelligent and kind and generous and loving person than him. He did not deserve some of the treatment he was subjected to.
Together the two of them were just kids being their beautiful creative selves, neither smarter than the other, quite able to appreciate each other's ways of being, in absolute love and harmony.
In time driven performance assessment activities he would avoid (called 'disruptive') and she would stress and be in tears too. For him it was with acceptance that some demeaning comments or punishment would follow anyway; for her she was convinced that she wasn't really 'gifted' at all, and the 'gifted'ness that others labelled her with, had somehow evaporated and that she was really just a fraud and this would be the assignment that would scream it to the world.
We don't know that our 'normal' is only our 'normal' until someone points it out to us that it's not everybody's 'normal', no matter the difference or perceived distance from 'normal'. A blind person does not know that everyone cannot see as they do, until someone tells them.
We are not our intellect and/or our achievements no matter how much society tries to pigeon hole us into that. That is the distress, that is the cause of suffering. There really is no 'normal' is my point. And regardless of the direction that one is in distance to this perceived 'normal' one will feel isolation and suffer, either in trying to conform, or in the inability to do so.
An achievement (according to the teachers and officials at school) for my nephew was if he managed to go a whole week without being sent to the office for punishment and isolation. What does that teach our children? He blossomed once he left school and is in a very responsible position in his work, and a brilliant father and husband.
On the other end of it some of my daughter's teachers were afraid of her at times when she would innocently ask very highly intelligent questions or provide 'different' perspectives on a thing, (one doesn't know the intelligence or stupidity of their own questions or thoughts - that's only 'comparative'). If they were unable to answer her or were uncomfortable with admitting the limitations of their knowledge (I'm the teacher
and I have an attachment to the role, rather than the responsibilities of it) they would use their positions of authority to bully her, or belittle her into conformity. Which is why many with highly intelligent minds hide it, and many with creative minds stifle them, and underachieve within their own potential in order to fit into the 'norm' (that I don't believe really exists).
During one of her meltdowns my younger daughter (for whom being socially aware trumped being intellectually aware, albeit she got into just as much 'trouble' for her differences too - it wasn't beyond her as a five year old to hold adults to task for social injustices) said "I don't know why you're stressing so much, you only have to pass." She saw that you could keep the peace by doing as little as was required to satisfy staying in the 'normal range'. So she underachieved too!!! She was building a little business when she was four and organising social activities and helping the less fortunate as soon as she went to Kindy.
Why do we limit our children expressing who they really are?
Anyway, the other one near blew a fuse and said 'This is me
we're talking about.' And then I saw it, the pressure she was under to conform to this 'ideal', this 'label' that had been attached to her. When she finally got a teacher who just loved her for who she was she would write a 'thesis' in an assignment that the teacher was happy to assess apart -joking that she would set aside one night to read all the other assignments, and one just for one. The greatest gift this teacher gave all the children was to love (gratitude & generosity) them for who they were as individuals, not as they ranked in a class. Such a gift!!
This temporarily eased the pressure of living up to the notions of her 'place' in the educational setting that both before and after had her forever on edge.
That's a terrible thing to do to any child, at either end of the spectrum of being able to regurgitate information and give examples of applying it. - which is all formal education is. (at home we only lived with the all encompassing realities, our farts all stink and we are all beautiful even with that
I understand how devastating it is to see your child go through that, and to look for a 'cure' any cure sometimes, when pain is so great we seek to alleviate it. Things like The Freedom Writers and other docos/movies that show courage to step outside that formal educational paradigm and work with, and build the confidence of children's abilities rather than label them for their inabilities, more than point out the failing is in the system, not in the children.
I considered home schooling, but she really needed the width and breadth of social interaction with her peers. We did make a few changes to the system but sometimes these were contaminated by achievement-ended educational egos using the children to boost their own self esteem.
I was so frustrated with the educational setting and especially when some days she would crawl under her bed crying not wanting to face particularly one bullying teacher, that I sought out alternatives - the Steiner School seemed like a really respectful of the individual philosophy and when I spoke to the coordinator at a new local facility and explained the situation - this child had a full adult vocabulary and could use it very well (and beat me in a logical, rational argument) at the age of two years old, had taught herself to read, and by age four was reading the full version of the Wind in the Willows competently, so competently she could joke about it with her granda who was (even with his immense intelligence) concerned for the seeming disparity in physical & emotional age and her intellectual age.
Her level of understanding 'nuance' and playfulness pre formal education was delightful! When she showed my Dad the book she was reading and telling him the story he said, be sure if there's a word you don't understand that you get someone to help you with it, you don't have to do this all on your own. She lit up like a shooting star and said 'Granda!!! There is!!! There is a word.... you can help me with it!' and she flicked through to show him a word of nonsense made up from .. I'll pretend - it was something like eggandhamandbaconfryinginthepansmellinthemorning...that went on for a line and a half - and as he was confusingly reading it she peeled with laughter and said 'It's a pretend word Granda!!!' - she knew all along!
She would ask me a question and I'd have to assess her interest level - if I was busy, whether I could fob her off with a casual remark in my possibly limited knowledge on the subject, or if it would become a deep discussion, or if we were off to the library to research it to her satisfaction. When I first asked a child counsellor about her attention capacity they said she was just attention seeking. There's a difference if someone has totally framed a perspective and is seeking more understanding, than if a two year old is just saying 'Why?' to everything without any commitment them self. When I finally spoke to a friend who was a child psychologist she said "I wondered when you'd call me.' She'd seen it from the earliest of days, and indeed as she was acutely premature and monitored for growth and development milestones for the first four years she always exceeded 'normal' in all cognitive and functional testing. I had laughed when the doctor advised that she'd need specialised education when she managed to unscrew his stethoscope while he was examining her as a tiny, baby only then reaching 'term' but already three months old in reality.
But as she was the only two year old I had, she was a 'normal' two year old for me.
The 'sad' thing, she lost much of that joy (as did her cousin) in the formal education system. How can we do that to our children on any level. I cannot tell you how many times it broke my heart. And not just with her, with any child who could not stay within imagined 'normal' lines... conform and keep faith in them self being okay or being treated as if they are okay - we are all okay!
Anyway, the Steiner School rejected her - go figure - they said that her performance and their ideology was 'diametrically opposed' because they didn't believe children should learn to read until they are at least seven. What about the child? What about the child's individual development, whose interests you proclaim to support and protect and provide for?
Well, yes, normally
I'm afraid I was one of 'those' mums
that the teachers would dread seeing marching in their direction.
Although, I was respectful if she said 'let me handle it, I want them to choose to be kind on their own, not because you tell them they have to.' It was heartbreaking watching a little girl have this generosity towards an adult in a position of authority behaving badly.
I guess I also come from an era where many diagnoses and medicating regimes have proven to be more disastrous than helpful in the long term. It was not unusual for women to be 'sedated' with 'mother's little helpers' mostly just to keep them from expressing their feelings or oppositions to things because those oppositions would upset the 'nuclear family' roles and norms; or to have their hormonal system 'regulated' chemically for 'convenience' or short term 'control' in line with social conformity or avoidance of realities - which is how I also see the use of anti-depressants in many 'cases', but I respect different awareness, capacity and willingnesses - albeit within my awareness, capacity and willingness.
Outside of that I react as I do, and I'm okay with that.
Ooh... my daughter recently made an interesting observation and comment about her 2 year old daughter the other day - it brought so much of this 'pain' back - they had been playing catch with one of those grip it pads, and a few days later the child found a leather glove and said "Mum - play catch!' and with an imaginary ball threw it and caught it and followed it with her head and eyes - sometimes running for it with great effort and enthusiasm. She'd yell 'Got it!!' when she imaginarily caught the imaginary ball, and say "Good catch Mum!! when her Mum imaginarily caught it.
The thing that caught at our throats - one of the times when it was her turn to catch, she imaginarily 'dropped' it and said 'Oops!! dropped it' and raced to where it 'was' to retrieve it before throwing it back.
The 'thing' - my daughter said to me - Mum, she even imagines 'failing' is okay....... even in her imaginary play she doesn't have to be perfect, she allows for mistakes and failings...'
'Failing' was something my daughter had to learn was okay, amid buckets of tears and much of my encouragement that it would be good for her, because she would learn that the sun still comes up in the morning, that I still love her, and that she is still the wonderful person she is.
She 'knew' this from me, but she didn't believe it in the wider world.
The unsaid: - When will the wider world 'teach' this to this precious next generation child?