For one of the first times ever, I feel very excited about going to see the Dr. I don't feel lousy and wore out from trying to get over the flu and deal with life, I'm not sick. That is one thing I find to always be exciting and chipper about. When you have a cold or flu it is miserable!

All my life I have struggled to simply go through life and do things that productive members of society do. With that, I have constantly been stifled and have failed. School was hard, and college was even harder. I would sign up, go, and fail out of classes. Usually about three weeks into a semester is all it took. No, I didn't read my text books, and I procrastinated and put in little to no effort on homework. Did I not care, or was I just being lazy?

Again, no, I just couldn't do it.

I am a very determined and dedicated person. If you ask me to do something, I put every bit of effort I have in it, no matter what. I am not a fan of the word can't. I have always felt to claim you can't do something is to really say, you don't want to. What I have come to realize is despite my efforts and wants, there are some things I can't do. What is hard for a lot of people that know me, is they just can't understand why.

I was having a conversation with one of my friends who made a comment about finding time to do something personal was difficult due to the heavy work load and parental demands. I agreed with my friend and expressed that I found difficulty in that as well. She looked at me and blankly stated, you have no excuse, you aren't working right now, all you have is time.

That really hurt my feelings, not because of what she said, but simply because she couldn't understand, life is just a little more difficult for me then it is for her, all be it mentally.

With a lot of research I have come to find my problem is not so much a mental issue. My problem is neurobiological. I am not at fault or contribute to the main source of my problem. I have so many emotions tied to finding out this information. Happy that I am not lazy or unmotivated. Relieved that there are answers and help. Overwhelmed to feel like I am finally understood. Sad to know I've had to live so many years and feel how I have in correlation to having this problem. I have many other emotions swirling around as well, but mostly, excited to have the possibility of change.

ADHD

I have always been a person that did not like to use medications, and had little to no understanding of ADHD. I often thought and strongly felt ADHD was an excuse for lazy parenting. If a child needs attention, put him on meds and go back to your tv and throw a frozen meal in the microwave. I felt that people were choosing to medicate their children to make their own life easier. Now, I do feel there is a certain amount of that going on perhaps, however, I do understand it is a real problem.

This hit home hard with my daughter, she was an exceptionally agreeable toddler and preschooler. Kindergarten started and every day her teacher would complain about her behavior. Two things here, one this teacher was an older teacher that was a previous 6th grade teacher, do I dismissed her judgment on a small child. Two, kids are kids right? Why should we feel that they have to read and tie their shoes at 5 years old? Grade 1 was a disaster, she was placed in a classroom with a first year teacher that felt hugs and self esteem was more important then behavior or academic performance. This was not a good situation because it ended up becoming a landslide for us. I would ask her teacher if things were going ok, and she would constantly tell me everything was great, this only reinforced my belief that her Grade K teacher was just an old wind bag! 30 days prior to school being dismissed for summer break I had a call from the principal. Sophia would be failed. She cannot meet any of the requirements to pass to the next grade level. This was terrible news. I was a working parent that was depending on the school to be responsible and I felt they had failed us in that area. When I asked and asked and was told no problem, how is it possible this child in grade one could go through the entire year and be deemed Pre K level without even a phone call when it first started becoming an issue. A child doesn't spend 8 months in a school and go from every thing is great to dropping 2 grade levels over night. I was furious! I removed her from the school and enrolled her in a costly summer reading program at a local church school. For those who personally know me, this was pretty shocking. I tend to always be as secular as I can when it comes to school, work or politics, but I needed help and felt this was the right thing to do. It was amazing in just weeks she went from Pre K level reading to upper grade 1 reading. She would still be behind, but I thought we could do it! Our first choice school was a small country charter school that focused on technological learning. Children did the majority of the school work on computers and the curriculum was focused on math, science and life preparation. They were well balance with health and wellness classes instead of a generic dodge ball infested p.e. For history they studied using a method of living history, field trips often included largely funded trips to metropolitan areas ranging from several hours away to even out of state! Such an amazing school, but no openings. We signed up on the waiting list and went to our second choice school. It was your basic run of the mill urban school. Good kids, bad kids, semi wealthy kids, poor kids, different elasticities and family life styles. I actually liked this idea. Our previous school was made up of primarily Caucasian children, in fact there was one child of Mexican American heritage and two children, a brother and sister from India. 3 children out of nearly 650 Caucasian children is practically no diversity at all! To go to this school even, we had to apply with a district transfer. Fortunately the cards played out just right and they had no problem adding her in. From the very moment I even asked to apply I was very upfront about her school history and that we were facing behavioral and academic issues but were determined and committed to everything we can to help. Perhaps that is what sealed the deal! The Friday before school started we met with her teacher. We poured out every detail and tid bit of information we could think of so that we could give the teacher a heads up and to see if there was anything we could do as well. Unknowingly this was the beginning of a long and tumultuous relationship! The first week of school Sophia filled out a paper for her teacher, it asked questions about what they liked and disliked. One question asked what her favorite book was. In big letters she wrote I HATE READING! My husband wanted her to erase and choose a book. I refused to let him do that and explain it was important the teacher knows how she feels. BINGO, the teachers response to Sophia was, that is sad, to us her said it was simply because she couldn't read. I told him her knew how hard we worked over the summer, to the tune of $800 to get her up to par. Even though she was almost there where she should be, it was not really making a difference. We cruised through the first couple months with little word of issue and I thought for a moment finally! There were difficulties at home that were becoming a large source of unhappiness for the family. In grade K at 5 years old her inability to tie her shoes was not a problem, however at 7 years old it was starting to become an annoyance. No matter how much we showed her, worked with her and made her practice, it wasn't happening. Brushing her teeth was another issue. She would scream and fight about having to do it, then suddenly it seemed she had decided to go ahead and do it and it was no longer an issue. What was happening is she realized instead of fighting it loudly, it was better to sneakily find a way out of it. If went in there and watched her put the paste on her brush, she would casually use her finger to wipe it away in that single action and hide her brush into her mouth before I noticed. She would smile and start to brush and the second I walked away she would stop and play. I felt she was undisciplined and was choosing to goof off , it would lead to insurmountable stress and anger. It just seemed like no matter what we did, what we tried or how we would change our tactics or try new ideas and methods, nothing worked! She would go to bed and lay there talking or singing for hours, and then be difficult to get going in the mornings. It seemed every effort was thwarted, but I figured if things were going ok at school we could deal with the home situation. Well, this was not the case. Things at school were not going so well and the teacher was trying to give Sophia the time and space to see if this was something she could handle herself. It wasn't, she was not doing the things she needed to do, and as a result of that, she was doing things that were distracting to other students. Her interaction with other students was limited to whoever she sat next to in class and got in trouble with, or sitting alone on the playground. She did befriend a younger that was seemingly having the same issues. This was not something I was too enthused about, but ended up becoming a big part of the picture later on. We told her teacher we were open to suggestion, we were facing frustrations at home and were pretty much at our wits end! He had made some suggestions and mentioned lets talk again in a couple weeks. We implemented some of the suggestions and it still seemed like it was fruitless. It then suddenly started becoming a monster with a growing appetite. It went from being a distraction to others and behind in her work to just out of control. If you did not sit right next to her and word for word instruct her or walk her through something, she was all over the map. She started outwardly expressing her frustrations, which accelerated our own. It had reached a point by mid November we were going to her class to sit with her or simply to take her home for the day because she was no coping. I would drop her and just sit by the phone waiting, first it was 11 o'clock, soon it was 10 o'clock, one day he suggested taking a couple days to just stay home. The point it reached was we were doing this everyday and when it was time to go to Thanksgiving break we asked him, what do we do? He acknowledged how much effort we were putting in, and asked how committed are we financially. That was the oddest thing I could have imagine him asking us. He said because of our quick response and dedicated effort he had put every effort into keeping the issue in his classroom and not making it public to the principal. He said it had reached the point something had to be done, and we needed to considered some options. My first thought was he was going to the principal and we would be removed from the school. Being a district transfer they can pull your contract for almost any reason, and I had no idea what we would do if that happened. My husband inquired to what was the issue with our finances having to do with the issue of our child. The teacher paused and asked if we had every considered or was open to having our child tested for ADHD. The light bulb went off and 2 years of parent/teacher involvement starting running through my mind. The old wind bag was right! The love and hugs teacher that told me no way does your child have ADHD was wrong! Why didn't we see this? Is this what she has? Immediately we said yes and asked what and how do we do this. The less expensive option was to go to her pediatrician and get a referral for testing, this takes several weeks at best. The faster way is to directly go to a psychologist and pay the fees in cash and get the reports to take to the pediatrician so he can start the prescription, this option takes 2 -3 weeks. I told him if he could bare with us, keep her in class as long as he can during the day, we'd come help everyday, we'd get right on it. He agreed and wished us a nice holiday break. I called a psychologist that I had known through a family friend and made the appointment. He gave us some papers to fill out, and some for her teacher and we talked for about an hour. The next step was to come in with Sophia. We all talked for about 15 minutes and then asked if we could leave so he could have her do some tests. Without the pressure of parents just being present, the results can be much more accurate. His secratary came in and talked with her and him for a few minutes about cartoons and then asked if she was ok with us going in the other room and just the three of them could visit. Although she had difficulty with peers, she loved talking to adults and thought that was a great idea! The tests took only a few minutes and we all rejoined and continued to let her talk. He then asked us to return the following week so we could openly talk without Sophia having to hear a lot of the grown up boring parts of the conversation. I loved the fact he knew how to talk in front of her in a way that made sense to her. Here is was a Monday and we walked her to her classroom and gave her teacher the envelope of forms and told him we were on it. He had a big smile, knowing what the papers were already and said he would gladly use his lunch hour to get the filled out and back to us right away. That afternoon we collected the papers and went back to the final appointment. Between our forms, the teachers forms and the tests, she was not only ADHD, but a very specific form of ADHD. I was stunned. I did not know there was categories of ADHD, I figured you had ADHD or you didn't. He informed us of what we needed to do next and gave us information on other helpful things that we might want to start doing. My standpoint has always been, medication is the last option, especially with an issue where medicine is not absolutely necessary. We had gone far beyond that point and I wanted to do what was best no matter my personal opinion. My husband and I talked for hours about whether medication was the right choice for our family. We spent days reading everything we could on reputable websites about ADHD medications. We agreed we needed to try one of these options. We looked at the drugs offered and one we decided we wanted to know more about was Adderall. As all drugs in this field are, this one was controversial. I had seen a documentary on Adderall with testimony from teenagers that had been on the drug and everything they had experienced with it, good and bad. These particular kids seemed to have some bad experiences and that concerned me. For whatever the reason was both of us kept coming back to Adderall as the drug that we thought may be best for Sophia. We wen to her doctor after he had received and read the report, he had said to us before us asking if we knew anything about Adderall. We told him that is the drug we choose to discuss with him at this visit, it seemed that we were already heading in the same direction. I took that as a good sign. We talked about it and told him we needed to think about it and would come back the next day. At that point we decided this is what we would try. He started her on the lowest dosage, I wasn't sure it was really working or not. We sent her to school for a whole week before telling her teacher she was now on medication and asked for his thoughts. He said he had noticed she seemed to be sitting in her chair more, not as verbally distracting, but not working on her tasks and still not being "in the moment" as he called it. I thought if there was a minor improvement then it was worth it. We went on for 3 more weeks, she was still grossly behind in her grade level, but she was able to not get thrown out of class on a daily basis anymore. Our next visit to the doctor he asked us if we thought it was working. We went through the uncertainties with him and told him the teacher mentioned slight changes, but we were wondering if we were just reading into it and maybe it was our wanting it to work that made it seem like maybe it was. He said if that was the case it probably is working, but she needed a high dose. We upped to the next level and tried that for a few weeks. Sure enough, even though we were in the adjustment stages still, there was some noticeable changes. What really cemented that in was when we attempted a day trip over to Reno Nevada during winter break and got snowed in. Due to expecting to be home the same day we did not bring her medication. Two days without meds, snowbound in a hotel room in Chester Ca was not my idea of a good time. At that moment, we KNEW the meds worked for her! The rest of the school year was a lot of just trying to get by, adjusting to changes, and trying to catch up. Since she started to take the medication our patience as her parents grow strong and confident due to the release of so much stress that had been growing with this issue. I made it my number 1 focus to be involved and interactive with Sophia and school. Prior to this I would drive up to the parent pick up spot and off we'd go after school, at the request (requirement) of my husband I started parking the car and meeting her at her classroom door. As the bell rang and children poured out of their classrooms her teacher would lean out the door with a thumbs up, or sometimes a wobbly thumb to the side. When it was a thumbs down, we'd wait a few minutes for the kids to clear out and ask what the issue that day had been. It became that only about once a week there was a problem, where as before we would have been glad if once a week there wasn't a problem. She was still low academically and I knew it was just going to take some time. Due to so many things we did wrong or didn't do because of us not understanding her problem, Sophia had zero confidence and was an extremely emotional little girl. All we could do is try and help build her up and support her. The little boy that she had previously been getting into trouble with was resurfacing in our life through this process of change. Initially my husband became friendly with what I thought was his mom. I found out later she was his aunt and he lived with her and her husband, which was his uncle. It was a long time before I became more friendly and found out a lot of things about this little boy and his life. One thing was certain, his family was as determined as we were to do what needed to be done in helping solve the issues that they were being faced with. This became a bonding point for us. I wanted to try and get Sophia involved with something other then school, being spring time, little league was one sport being offered. The little guys uncle was a coach and he encouraged us to do baseball even though Sophia is a girl. We decided to try it and that is where our friendship really started forming. The kids were on the same team and being coached by the husband. My new found friend and I would talk about our kids and the struggles we were going through. His problems were vastly different then my daughters, but one thing I noticed was how he acted and reacted, certain characteristics, were not just similiar, but almost identical to how Sophia was before medication. I encouraged her to get him tested and try meds. She seemed open about it, however, at the time her husband was not willing to consider that was the issue. The little boy lacked a lot of life experiences and discipline and he was certain that is all it was. We wrapped up the school year on a fairly positive note. I spent about an 2 hours typing up a three page letter to the principal and copied one to give her teacher. We weren't where we wanted or hoped to be, but we knew there was light at the end of the tunnel. The last day of school I handed the letter to the principal, and when we went to pick her up for the last time from her classroom, we gave a plain white envelope to her teacher. He smiled wished us a nice summer and all in all, he did enjoy our time together. I do believe he was speaking in honesty. The summer was a well needed break for all of us. I was relieved that Sophia at now 8 years old and could not swim, was not the only one. Her and the little guy spent the summer in swim lessons and goofing off at the water center. The time flew by so fast! It was time to return to school, I was excited to see how the new school year would unfold. The first day of school I told her teacher Sophia was behind in her grade level, she has recently been diagnosed with ADHD and was on medication and we were committed 100%. It was a great relief when the teacher told me her own son had ADHD and could instantly understand how Sophia's needs were different. A few days later we stopped by her previous teachers classroom, just to say hello and yet again, thank him for his involvement the previous year. As soon as we opened the door he became exuberant and was very pleased to see us. We asked him if this year perhaps he had a better selection of students in his class, and he laughed. His opinion there was all the kids were good, some just had better parents then others. With that being said he then thanked us for the letter. He said he didn't read it that day, it was probably a couple weeks later when he was sorting out some things he remembered it and opened it. There had been a lot of negative things going on at the school the year before with the first principal and his interaction with teachers. The teachers were concerned about what was going to happen with them, and with the school. Thankfully that principal was removed and the principal that we ended the school year on was back in office. He confided in us he was fearful of losing his job because as an older teacher he was not the type of teacher that the new teachers are today. He is a very blunt and too the point no nonsense kind and I personally like that. More commonly the newer teachers follow the system of positive reinforcement rather then discipline. For the most part that is good because children are a lot different these days due to how we raise them, however, for my child she really needed someone that was willing to make her be accountable and really push her to try more rather then let her go at her own pace. If that was the case, she would never get anything done at all! He told us reading that letter gave him comfort and probably helped him to continue being a teacher at that school. A lot of the older teachers receive complaints due to their old fashioned methods and the newer teacher tend to win all the praises. He said the one letter we wrote was worth so much and the fact that we poured our hearts into it and truly felt that way about our experience with him as our child's teacher, had made it all worth while to him. He said if he could get one parent a year that was half as caring as we had been, every year would be so much easier. Shortly after school began the little guys aunt and uncle decided to test for ADHD and then their process began. I was noticing Sophia was still having some difficulties and spoke with her doctor about my concerns. We upped the medication to the next level and it seemed that was the magic number, it just all started falling into place. I saw her old teacher passing in the hall and he casually asked how I was. My response was great! I am the mom to a violin playing girl scout who is about to start taking karate lessons and can swim like a fish! With a large grin he gave me his classic thumbs up! I found my passion in my child! Due to many extreme differences the little guys process took much longer and was entirely different then what we had went through. I realized we had to stop comparing them, and we also had to let them find themselves and come into their own. He loved sports and she did not, so we found some other areas of interest. She started violin lessons, with a very slow start she is now really coming together with that. Currently things are still moving along fairly well. We are still having issues with certain things like her confidence level and her willingness to try new things. All we can do it move along one day at a time.

This all correlates back to my problems. The first few months we were focused on just the basics, it has now been just over a year and I started doing some real heavy research into ADHD, trying to find a deeper understanding so I can relate with my daughter and really help her to the fullest extent. That is when I came across an article about adults with undiagnosed ADHD. It is very common when a child is diagnosed with ADHD it becomes very clear to one of the parents that they might have this problem as well because they can now see the similarities of the parent and child, which now changes in the child because of the medication, and stand out more so in the adult, not as a "family quirk", but is actually a symptom of ADHD. There is a difference in how male brains with ADHD work and how female brains with ADHD work. The symptoms are usually very different from male to female. Males generally tend to stand out and get diagnosed earlier then females. Males generally have poor impulse control and that often draws attention to them possibly having ADHD. In the past ADHD has widely been considered to be a boys issue, as had eating disorders been considered a girls issue. We obviously know that just isn't so. Statistics can widely vary and can be tailored to the way we would like for them to be, but it is a fact that less females are diagnosed with ADHD and that more adults females (over 30) are being diagnosed with ADHD. This is an important issue that deserves respect and understanding.

With my pending diagnose of ADHD, I am looking forward to the confirmation from the doctor. It is hard to fully understand all the feelings and thoughts of someone with ADHD because they often do not even understand them self. When you live with a person that has ADHD or in constant daily contact you can begin to gain a better understanding of that persons struggles, but it can often still be frustrating and difficult.

It is very easy to deem someone as flaky or think they are lazy, maybe even think they just weren't given good direction and have now developed poor life skills and habits. With ADHD it is untrue, it is a handicap. With diet and exercise, structure and retraining and for some medication, an adult with ADHD can become confident and contribute to society in the way they desire. They can also gain acceptance and feel they are successful perhaps for the first time in their life!

The achievement of finishing school or holding down a steady job or maintaining a stable lifestyle is something that most, if not all, ADHD adults wish for.

Due to my personal experiences, with my child and with myself, I am very passionate about this issue and feel awareness is a key part in helping to support ADHD adults in our communities. It has often been overlooked, but is now being brought forward with it being considered as a disability that may fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act. There is no specific yes or no to what would be considered a disability when you start to compile a list of names, however, if there is mental impairment or the inability to perform dailey life tasks in a normal manner as would someone deemed "normal" then yes it is. I, and many others for this cause, feel that ADHD does fall under that description. That being so, it is important that employers and schools recognize and gain understanding of this plight. I personally do not feel there should be exclusions or special treatment for someone based only on the fact they have ADHD, I do feel that a person with ADHD may need individual consideration of what that persons specific situation is, rather then just generalizing that person with those who are not ADHD. This seems like a confusing statement and it is. To simplify it further, an ADHD person should not be exempt from following general rules or expectations of a school or work. When training (teaching) or evaluating a student or employee who is ADHD, they may need a different form of instruction then the general student or employee. I do not feel that is special treatment, I feel it is doing with is right for everyone. All persons learn in different ways. Some people are visual while others are verbal. Just as some people are outgoing and humorous, and some people are more shy and serious. We have to be aware that peoples brains function differently, however, they are still able to cope and live and perform in a normal way. ADHD the brain is unable to process and direct the person to do even the most simple thing that is easy for a more average person.

As medicine is an ever evolving science, it constantly is changing with new discoveries and developments. With many issues out there, mental or physical it is to be expected that with the continuing research, we will be able to better understand ourselves and how our bodies and brains work. It is wonderful for someone to finally have that relief of now knowing, it wasn't all in their mind, they really have a condition, and further so, something can be done to help and improve that.