I am neurologically deficient.
Here is a relevant anecdote demonstrating the impact of ADHD on my life.
Today (the day I am drafting this–I will post at a later date) is October 21. I signed up for two parent-teacher conferences on this day, thinking–in spite of the print reading “Monday, October 21” on every. last. electronic correspondence regarding said conferences–that I was signing up for next Monday, October 28.
How does a grown adult woman miss glaring details, such as this, you ask?
I’d like to explain how my brain processed and misinterpreted the information it received. For starters, this is my third consecutive year signing up for parent-teacher conferences at the same school. Over the past two years, conferences were held on a teacher workday (day off for kids) near the end of October. In attempt to proactively mitigate my neurological propensity to forget important dates, I recorded all school holidays on my personal planning calendar at the very start of the school year–in mid August. With that said, my brain imprinted October 28 as the important date to remember, by sheer association with the fact that in the past, conferences have been held on the late October teacher workday. Thus, regardless of the myriad reminders pinging my inbox as the 21st approached, no matter how many times my eyes scanned the text “October 21” on the screen, my brain disregarded overt indicators of change, in favor of what it assumed to be a customary repetition. My mind deposited that vital information–the information blasting through my retinas with regular frequency–into the neurological trash bin, replacing it with a preferred substitute. Mind you, none of this occurred on a conscious level.
I did not consciously decide, “I would rather have my conferences on October 28, so I am going to pretend I scheduled them on that date and ignore the obvious notifications of change.” Needless to say, when my son’s teacher called to confirm our appointment this morning, I wavered in a torrent of humiliation. Last night, I emailed the teacher to inform her that my son would not be at school today (October 21) because–ha!–he had his formal evaluation for ADHD. This isn’t ironic or anything, right?! When she read the email at work this morning, she called me in a frenzy. How could I be at a doctor’s appointment with my son when I was supposed to be meeting with her? Anyone have a lamb costume? I really should have planned to be a bleating sheep for Halloween, as I am feeling all too sheepish, at the moment.
I apologized profusely, and discussed alternative conference times before promising to adjust the appointment electronically immediately after ending the call. The damage is done, however. This isn’t the first squirrely interaction I have had with this teacher, and I am afraid the wax is firmly affixed to the envelope sealing her opinion of my gross incompetence as a human.
I have referred to the book Parenting ADHD, Now! in prior posts on this topic, and that book outlines some of the executive function challenges faced by people with ADHD. This stellar example of ADHD-ness demonstrates two elements of my personal executive dysfunction. The first falls into the category of task management, while the second falls into the category of attention management. Under the umbrella of task management, I evinced a royal time management failure. I completely replaced one date for another. Within attention management, I evinced my difficulty pinpointing the most important information in the myriad emails received on the topic of conferences.
I regularly listen to the podcast ADHD for Smart*ss Women with Tracy Otsuka. In an early episode Tracy lists several challenges faced by adults with ADHD. Two that stand out to me in this particular episode of my life are as follows:
- incapable of reading directions
- attracted to organizational products, but still struggle with organization
I was incapable of reading my email with due diligence. Had I done so, I might have noticed the actual date for which I signed up. Likewise, I make use of a planning calendar, but I recorded the information incorrectly into said calendar.
Finally, Tracy delineates the guidelines for Adult ADHD diagnosis from the DSM. This one anecdote establishes that I manifest three of the criteria for said diagnosis. They are as follows:
- start projects without reading or listening to directions
- fail to follow through with promises or commitments
- difficulty organizing tasks and activities
In conclusion, I definitely feel–for lack of a better adjective–shitty today. I failed. I failed life in a big way today. This happens on the regular for me, and for all of the poeple out there just like me. As I have said before, I write to process my feelings. I wrote this particular entry for my own self-validation. I have never been evaluated for ADHD. I never considered the possibility that I might even have the neurological condition until my kids began demonstrating some of the challenges that present in children with the disorder. As it happens, my son was officially diagnosed with ADHD today. I want to throw a party. While some parents might perceive a diagnosis as a threat or disadvantage, I see it as a victory. This diagnosis validates my experience as a mother. It proves that my son–my sweet, loving, golden hearted boy–legitimately struggles to regulate his emotions, attention, and hyperactivity. He wants–with all of his heart to “be good,” and I have always known that. Now, I have proof. Now, I have a shield. Information is a shield. I am finally equipped. I am equipped to empower my son. I am equipped to empower my daughter (who will not likely be diagnosed until she is a bit further into her schooling) and I am equipped, finally, after all these years, to help myself.