You know the family whose house is super clean, organized, and everything has a place, and all the kids put things back in their places and willingly do so? And you know the family that is quiet and speaks in calming tones and there is no drama or havoc? We are so NOT that family.
I have ADHD inattentive type. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was an adult, although it definitely affected me when I was growing up. I struggled in school and eventually dropped out of college. It just wasn’t a common thing when I was in school in the 1980s. I still struggle with organization and focus. I work full time at an elementary school in the clinic (nurse’s office). I raise three kids, help run a house. It’s a lot for a typical brain, but it’s a little bit harder for me.
I have twin boys who are 16 and a daughter who just turned 15. They all have varying degrees of ADHD. My son, D, has ADHD combined type. Combined type means both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive. He also has autism, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and learning disabilities with regards to writing, formerly referred to as dysgraphia. Of my three children, his ADHD is most severe.
My son, T, and my daughter, E, both have ADHD inattentive type. In many ways, they are all typical teenagers. They rarely come out of their bedrooms, and when they do, they come with a random assortment of forks, cups, bowls, etc. However, in some ways, they are very different.
Kids with ADHD are often thought of as loud and kind of rambunctious. It’s a stereotype for a reason. D fits that perfectly. But my other son, T, and my daughter, E, are more often quiet. T is a quiet, introspective, and sensitive person. He is quite introverted. He has matured and has learned to work with his symptoms. E is creative, passionate, and thoughtful. She loves music and is interested in politics. Both T and E are perfectionists. All three are super smart and very stubborn.
My sister has said that my house rarely has any peace and quiet. She’s not wrong. My son, D, is the definition of constant movement, noise, and commotion. I often say I know exactly where he has been and where he is going because there’s always a trail of his belongings and trash following him. When he gets home from school, he drops his backpack at the door followed by his shoes, socks (one is near a shoe, the other is inevitably and mysteriously in another room somewhere), his lunch bag, and his shirt. He’s always banging or stomping or clicking something. The volume on his iPad or laptop is always at maximum.
Children with ADHD are often 3-5 years behind their peers in maturity and social development. That’s evident in D. He struggles with social interaction with his peers, and although he is 16, is nowhere mature enough for us to consider letting him drive a car. He is far too impulsive for it to be safe. He is also the sweetest, most caring, and funny kid.
When he was younger, our house was decorated with charts and picture schedules. We had morning schedules and bedtime schedules. That said, though, he didn’t often follow any of it. He would often get dressed by putting on underwear and then would get distracted by the TV or his iPad. We learned to limit any distractions possible. Mornings were never peaceful trying to get three kids out the door for school. We learned to do as much as we could the night before. That meant making lunches, getting outfits laid out, getting homework in backpacks, and always finding the shoes before going to bed. Even as the kids are in high school now, we still do everything the night before. It definitely helps keep the peace in the morning.
People ask about my husband/father of my kids. How does he handle living in a houseful of people who have ADHD when he does not? It’s a struggle for him, for sure. He couldn’t be more opposite if he tried. For him, things are naturally orderly and organization is easy. He develops a plan and sticks to it, no matter what. It has been difficult for him to get used to our more chaotic way of life. I have often said that it is a good thing that at least one of us has structure and is focused. It helps to keep things together.
Life is never boring, that’s for sure.
Photo Credit: Catherine Falls Commercial/Moment via Getty Images