Portrait of a Boy with ADD
by Judy Fulton
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My son is very special. Of course I would think so in any event, but when you're talking about special kids, it seems to me he is a breed apart, but still quite the average boy. You see, my son has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
I realize many kids are diagnosed with this problem, but you must understand; my son, Jared was showing signs of this disorder before he had even left the womb. I would be busily typing at work and he would let me know he wanted me to stop typing by drumming "Wipe Out" on the inside of my uterus with his feet. When he got bored because I was sitting still too long, I would get a foot trying to kick its way out; it was almost as if he was trying to tell me he was going for a walk, even if I didn't want to. I have witnesses to that; he would kick so hard it would scare people standing nearby who happened to be looking my direction.
His ADD still showed its prevalence before he could even crawl, as he kept trying to roll over from the day I brought him home from the hospital. Having grown up with a brother who was hyperactive but never diagnosed, I just presumed Jared was going to be rather athletic, possibly even a quarterback or a pitcher, as he loved to throw things when he had developed some motor control. I also thought he might run track because he was the only baby I had ever seen crawl fast enough to possibly break the land speed record, trying to catch the cats before they got up on the couch where he couldn't reach yet. I found out later that he could crawl faster than he could run because he had inherited a deformity in his fibulas in both legs that causes his feet to point slightly outward when he is standing naturally. This also explained why he would kick every so often when running as a small child.
He was very talkative for a boy too, but quieted down when the t.v. was on something he found interesting. If it wasn't, he was talking a mile a minute even before he could form many words. He talked to his toys when playing by himself and as he got old enough to form sentences, he talked with his friends when they played together. If he got excited he would squeal, even until he was three years old, as if he had so much energy it had to go somewhere, so it may as well be in voice. The only thing that drove me crazy about his talking was that he would come up to me while I was engaged in conversation with another adult, and stand there waiting for his turn saying, "Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom..." I would finally turn to him and say "What?", and he would continue, "ummmm...oh, yeah! Ummmm..." *Sigh*. It would then take him another two to three minutes to remember what was so important.
He always loved building and solving problems, and I'm told this is one of the signs of ADD, although I haven't seen the problem-solving desire listed among symptoms in anything I've read. At age 4, he solved my Rubik's Rings puzzle, then went to visit his grandmother and not only solved her Rubik's Cube, but actually fixed it; it had been made immobile from overuse and twisting too far in the wrong direction. My little boy not only untwisted it, but he got all the sides to match colors (without cheating by moving the stickers, either)!
He could never stay with just one toy or game for any length of time and actually seemed to need to do more than two things at once. Because of this, his room was never clean and I just couldn't keep up with him to make sure it was. The number of Lego projects on the floor at any given time must have been at least a dozen. This continued into school, but he graduated preschool as valedictorian in spite of his mind moving so rapidly from thought to thought. They even held a commencement ceremony, and Jared found it difficult not to play with the other kids while on the small stage.
When he was four, he was exploring things I didn't expect him to be getting into for another year. I caught him one day after church, covered from head to toe with my red lipstick. It was hard not to laugh as I ran to get the camera. Because of this curiosity, he wasn't able to sit with the other kids when he got to kindergarten; it was too distracting for him. His teacher ended up putting him next to a blank wall so he could concentrate.
This first school was closed at the end of his kindergarten year and we had to enroll him in a new school. The new school performed a placement test; while he was able to answer the questions put to him correctly, they thought he was too immature for first grade because he was constantly moving and playing with blocks and things while answering. A few weeks into the new school year his new teacher advised me that he would be promoted to the first grade because he was bored and was learning nothing new in kindergarten. That's when his school troubles really started.
His first grade teacher seemed to have trouble understanding Jared's need for a controlled environment with minimal distractions, although both kindergarten teachers had recognized it right away. Unfortunately for us, the principal backed the teacher's unwillingness to cooperate and the blame for Jared's problems in class was placed squarely on Jared, Jim and me. How they could blame Jim I have no clue as we just married that year, having met the year before. Jared ended up being expelled because we took a stand against their attitude and in essence told them, "No more meetings until you give us an indication you are as willing to cooperate with us as we already have with you." The next school we put him in was a public school, and they recognized the signs of ADD right away and recommended immediate testing.
His testing was finally completed by the middle of his second grade school year and the doctors recommended he take Ritalin to help him stay on task. This worked wonders for his school performance and he started making more friends than he had before, so much of his scholastic problems levelled off to what would be considered normal. Every time there was a sustained dip in performance, an interview with the doctor was scheduled and his dosage increased if necessary. By junior high school, the Ritalin no longer worked. We tried Dexedrine but that was also ineffective, so Jared decided to try to work without medication. I found that he was amazingly easier to deal with unmedicated than he had been in the last year or so medicated. He has since been off the medication and his focus and concentration hasn't seemed to suffer in class. Outside of class is another story.
Jared has a hard time remembering homework assignments, and I was getting quite a few calls from most of his teachers for the 9th and 10th grade, advising me that almost no assignments were being turned in. In 9th grade, his Spanish teacher recognized Jared's difficulties with writing, and started working with him to do tests and assignments orally. Since he did so much better that way, this teacher got the ball rolling to have Jared tested under Title 504 (Americans with Disabilities Act). The test found he had a writing difficulty that is common among kids with ADD. He was then supposed to be provided with a laptop to enable him to type his assignments onto a floppy disk, copy and print them up from home on his pc and thereby turn in his work. It was either that or the teachers were supposed to give him his assignments orally. After many delays, a laptop was finally issued to him near the end of his 10th grade year, and was returned to the district a week later after it shorted out in class. None of the teachers were willing to give him his assignments orally that year either, so all his grades were D's and F's.
Jared has his moments outside of the scholastic arena as well, like the time he walked across the plate after starting the pitching machine at the batting cages and took a 40 mph pitch full on in the stomach. My husband gave some other good examples in his article, A. D. D. Rides Again, that he published on Themestream and Writtenbyme. Hopefully, he will publish it at this site also.
We ended up pulling him out of the public school system and I've began homeschooling him in September 2000. With me here to help him stay focused, he's doing much better. He also shows talent toward different computer ventures, including web design, which he has worked on somewhat in his spare time. When he is ready to take on the world, I know he'll be just fine.
Through all of his scholastic sufferings, Jared has shown himself to be bright, charming, witty, level-headed, friendly, warm, caring and industrious (some of these are on days when the "teenager demon" hasn't taken over). He is wonderful to be around, and has no trouble making friends wherever he goes. He is open and honest, and loves the Lord as much as his dad and I do. He doesn't mince words, and will definitely let you know how he feels about issues, whether you agree or not, and he respects your right to disagree. I'm very proud of my son, and I do believe he is special not only to me, but to the Lord; I'm sure God has something special in store for him in his future. He is going to go far.
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