Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Progress

After my Year of Blogging post, I got an overwhelming response from many of you
regarding Isabelle's ADD diagnosis.  Many of you shared stories of your own experiences
with your children who share this diagnosis.  Others inquired about Belle's progress and
what we have learned along the way since having her diagnosed a year ago.  This topic
is something I hope to blog about more as it is a very real and important part of our daily
lives as a family.  We have come a long way in this last year and have learned so much
from one experience to the next.  I hope that by hearing our story, you may take comfort
in your own.
Isabelle is in the second grade and is doing very well academically.  She has been on the
honor roll the entire first semester, loves reading, and really excels in math.  Our
biggest challenges this school year have revolved around her social behavior.  She has 
become more talkative in class this year, frequently getting into trouble for excessive talking,
getting out of her desk during class time, and not raising her hand before speaking.
Her teacher was patient for the first month of school but eventually called us in to
address Belle's "problems".  She told us of her frustrations with our daughter's inability
to pay attention, telling us that she often seems to be in "outer space".  We listened
patiently, fighting the overwhelming urge as parents to be defensive, and reminded
the teacher that Isabelle has Attention DEFICIT Disorder: having a difficult time
paying attention is the nature of the beast.  The teacher then apologized and said,
"I was not aware of her condition".
Her CONDITION.  I've replayed that comment in my head a million times since.  She said
it with sympathy in her voice, as if there was something WRONG with my child.  It hurt me
in every fiber of my being to hear someone talk about my child like that, even if she
meant nothing hurtful by it.  Because there is nothing WRONG with my child, she is
not broken, she simply has a few challenges in front of her that require us to take extra
steps to make her goals attainable.
I had to take a step back after that conversation, the realization washing over me that
her teacher was not on the same page, she wasn't looking at Belle as a bright and
inquisitive child who needs behavior modification.  Instead, she was looking at her as a
trouble maker, a child who didn't blend in and therefore needs fixing.  I had to collect
my thoughts and pray for the right things to say to this teacher because, the fact of
the matter is, we need her on our side.
And so, a few weeks later, we sat down again for another parent/teacher conference.
This time, I came prepared: I brought the teacher some of the most up to date literature
on ADD, listened to her stories of incidents occurring in class and then offered solutions
that work for us at home, assuring her that we were ready and willing as parents to
 do whatever we could to make this school year the most productive and positive
experience possible.
And I asked the teacher one question: What's the most POSITIVE thing you've
noticed about Isabelle this year?  Besides the talking and inattention, what has she done
to make you notice her?
Her answer: She is a hard worker, she is kind and sensitive, she's a wonderful helper
and always volunteers to assist anyone she can.
Our plan: Let's build on those things.  When she's having a hard time paying attention,
give her a task to perform to bring her back in.  When's she drifting off and
misbehaving, redirect her and remind her of the rules through positive
reinforcements.  Appeal to her characteristic way to help others and contribute to the
group.  And most of all, don't ever give up on this beautiful little girl.  She may carry the
label "ADD" on her medical record, but the only label we see when we look at
her is AMAZING.
And so we hope to move forward through the rest of the school year on a positive
note.  Isabelle continues to take Straterra daily and has a private tutor once a week.  We
use reward charts to encourage her and keep her on task and consistency with our
daily routine to keep her focus on point.  Some days are good, some very difficult.  But we
just keep trying because she deserves it, she deserves our patience and faith.  I
wouldn't change a single thing about my daughter and am so thankful for the daily love
she fills my heart with.



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8 comments:

deanna@delirious-rhapsody said...

i am so glad you posted this. when i first started following your blog, i noticed your ADD tag, so i read about isabelle's 'condition.' hah. sorry i had to use that. the fact that a teacher would refer to ADD as a 'condition' is laughable to me. anyway, i could see a lot of gage's characteristics in what you were describing in isabelle. while we've never had him checked out or been given a proper diagnosis, i am pretty certain that his personality fits that of a child with ADD. and i'm fairly certain that i would have too, if i were checked. (i still can't pay attention for more than 3 minutes without drifting off.)

this was a nice post to read. thank you. :)

Kelley, Brendan and Baby Brix said...

I don't think the teacher meant anything by using 'condition.' If Isabelle's been diagnosed as ADD then yes, she has something, a condition if you will. I'd be more concerned that she (teacher) didn't know about that at all..I really like how you guys focused on the positive things and are using those to build on. I think that's a really good plan.

My brother was diagnosed with ADHD when it was still coming to light. I remember the first day he took Ritalin..we sat and watched him, thinking (at least me) that the calming would come instantly. It didn't. He was still just about as annoying as before.

On a positive note, he's really done some amazing things in life: was in the Army for 4 years, was a prison guard at Gitmo, completed Police Academy (and I don't mean the movie). He's THIS CLOSE to getting a police job. I'm so proud of him.

Isabelle will also do remarkable things in life. No doubt about it.

Renee said...

I really wish more parents had your positive outlook!! So many people are refusing to even acknowledge that there is anything different in their childs' behavior or personality because of the stigma attached to ADD, ADHD or even any form of Autism!! They don't want a child that might be 'Different', and so their kids struggle without any kind of support or encouragement to help them stay focused!! I hate hearing stories of kids that are losing out because of this!!! You guys are an inspiration!

Jodi Hall said...

you have such a great outlook about this! 2 of my friends kids and my niece have ADD and take concerta. I am wishing you all the prayers and great thoughts to get through this. But I think you are such a inspiration!

Nicole said...

Your blog is awesome! I with you luck with the ADD. You will get through it. You seem like an amazing mom. You will be in my prayers.

Check out my blog:
http://nmephotoblog.blogspot.com/

Caitlin said...

Love hearing more about Isabelle! I'm sure her teacher didn't mean any disrespect by her terminology, but she should definitely be more tactful and more aware of how she comes off. I'm so glad you guys are working on the positivity and I wish you all the best! <3

Little Gray Pixel said...

I don't know much about ADD, but I can't remember a single kid who sat still and paid attention 100 percent of the time when I was in school. I think I daydreamed at least 90 percent of the time myself.

Jokes aside, I understand your frustrations with the teacher. Good restraint on biting your tongues.

Sweet Green Tangerine said...

You know we're in a very similar boat. In the midst of blogging it now, but I will tell you, we cut out all artificial colors/preservatives from Jonathan's diet and supplemented with some Fish Oil and perhaps it's the placebo affect, but it seems to be helping a lot. Good luck with everything & I love your updates on Isabelle. You guys always make me teary eyed when I read your posts :) HUGS!