Sari Solden – Part Seven of the Unwrapping the Gift of ADD series

Guest of the seventh lecture in the Unwrapping the Gift of ADD series was Sari Solden.

Sari Solden has a Masters Degree in clinical counseling from California State University and is also licensed as a marriage and family therapist (LMFT). She currently serves on the professional advisory board of the National Attention Deficit Disorder Association and has a private practice in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

In addition, she’s the author of Journeys Through ADDulthood: Discover a New Sense of Identity and Meaning with Attention Deficit Disorder, published in 2002 by Walker & Company and Women with Attention Deficit Disorder: Embrace Your Differences and Transform Your Life, published in 1995 by Underwood Books (second, revised edition was published in 2005).

In short, she said that it’s okay to be disorganized and messy. Well, no… Not quite. At least not exactly in these words.

Solden’s message was aimed primarily (but not only) at women with ADHD – she emphasized how crucial it is for women to move “from perfection to fullness” which (if I understood her point correctly) means to let go of the idea of trying to achieve the impossible and unattainable ideal of perfection in life and instead find strength from embracing one’s differences and learning how to respect oneself and expecting respect from others.

Women, according to Solden, have a harder time getting diagnosed with ADHD because they are not as hyperactive as men and instead frequently are given the diagnosis of depression, which of course is present, because women, more than men, feel more ashamed of themselves if they cannot meet the prevalent cultural expectations of women as being good organizers, housekeepers, and caretakers. There’s more acceptance in the society for men who are disorganized — the absent-minded professor type.

Women are also more likely to overfocus on their deficits than men and have a harder time to seek help. Once they do look for help they also have a harder time with healing and improving their condition because they continue being so critical of themselves.

Solden says that instead of trying to attain the lofty goal of trying to live up the ideal stereotype, women need to redefine their idea of success and learn to build on their strengths and their unique traits, concentrate what they’re good at while not obsessing about but acknowledging and coming to terms with their weaknesses.

(At that point I was thinking that Solden has been saying also applies to children –parents need to help children “experience success” – find an activity that the kids are good at and then teach them to concentrate on the feeling of being successful to understand that they have both strengths and weaknesses.)

Solden also “warned” that once women seek and receive help and get better, they may need to know how to renegotiate relationships, because they frequently become more outspoken and less intimidated by those around them, which might lead to conflicts, because their family members, friends and co-workers may not know how to “deal” with this “new” person, so confident and full of wonderful ideas and energy.

I liked the story that Solden told at that point – at one time when she was getting ready to go to a conference, she kept losing her conference ID (I believe), and her daughter was getting frustrated to the point that she finally said “Mom, you’re a very messy person.” In response Solden asked her “How big a problem is it for you? How important is it whether I’m messy or organized,” explaining that at the conference she will be talking to other women with ADHD who are probably just as disorganized and messy as she is. And the daughter responded “Tell them it’s not important, what you feel inside is important.”

That also seems to be a pattern in women – to concentrate so much on the external and conforming to the perception and expectations of others to the point that it overshadows their own feelings, desires, and ambitions.

Ultimately, Solden said, women need to learn how to let go of the ideal, allow themselves some slack and acknowledge that it’s okay to get help with housekeeping, laundry, babysitting, paying bills, organizing, whatever it takes. And get social support from family, friends, or even virtual friends on the Internet.

I hope it is all right to quote here an excerpt from her book that is posted to her web site. “I said I’ve learned to live successfully with ADD as a woman. The definition of the word successful is very important, because women very often get locked into a fruitless search for an unachievable goal. When I say I’m living successfully, it doesn’t mean that I’m living stress-free. It doesn’t mean that I’m perfectly organized. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have to constantly strategize and struggle. And it doesn’t mean I’m never overwhelmed or that I don’t sometimes still hide.

What it does mean, for me, to live successfully with ADD, is that I’ve found a way to move the focus of my life onto my strengths, my talents and my abilities, to increase my choices and options. […] It means that I’ve learned to separate out my strengths and my weaknesses and to embrace both of those as part of myself, even though it’s a long stretch. I’ve come to accept the fact that I do have deficits out of proportion with the rest of my abilities, and that these do severely impact my life. I’ve learned to separate out the shame, embarrassment, and guilt surrounding these difficulties from my core sense of self.”

If that peaked your interest, you can see more excerpts from Solden’s books on her web site.

Solden also announced that pretty soon she will be launching a new web site and encouraged everyone interested to contact her to become part of its “special pre-launch group.”

As a sidenote, I also found on her web site a link to “National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization.” Turns out, there exists “a non-profit organization serving professional organizers and related professionals who are interested in the study and methods of serving chronically disorganized people.” I had no idea someone might be interested in studying chronically disorganized people. They even have a clutter hoarding scale.

Shopping for an ADHD diagnosis?

One of the members of the ADD Forums discussion board recently claimed she knows a family who got a diagnosis of ADHD for their child to be able to enroll that child in a gifted program (see posts #42 and #52 of the thread “Re: Unwrapping the Gift of ADD” Program).

I find it hard to believe that there really are people who would do that. I have never met a parent who wanted their child to be diagnosd with ADHD.

Positively ADD by Cathy A. Corman and Edward Hallowell — Part Six of the Unwrapping the Gift of ADD Series

Guest of the sixth lecture (Tuesday, April 29, 2008) in the Unwrapping the Gift of ADD series was Cathy A. Corman, Ph.D.

Cathy Corman, a former assistant professor of history at Harvard University, with a Ph.D. from Yale’s Program in American Studies, and a mother of triplets all of whom have learning differences and ADD, is a co-author of Positively ADD: Real Success Stories to Inspire Your Dreams, a book for 9 to 12-year-olds which she co-wrote with Dr. Edward M. Hallowell, published in 2006 by the Walker Books for Young Readers.

Positively ADD: Real Success Stories to Inspire Your Dreams profiles seventeen successful adults with ADHD:

(disclaimer: I am not 100% sure that the links I posted are about the same person or just a person with the same name, if you think I posted an incorrect link, or think a different link would be more suitable, please do let me know.)

As Corman reported, she got the inspiration to write a book about successful people with ADHD during a trip with her family – while on a flight she read an article about a successful person with ADD and after giving the article to her son to read, he started asking “Could I do that?” as if asking “Could I have a good life as well, like this person?”

Corman discovered that there were no books for children about adults thriving with ADD, people who are happy in life, showing that ADHD doesn’t have to hold one back.

The people Corman and Hallowell interviewed for the book recall having lots of trouble in school, being kicked out of class, feeling ashamed and guilty, or flunking college. However, as adults, they have found a way to turn their ADHD into a “gift” – they come to terms with the diagnosis and found their strengths coming from it.

In closing, Corman emphasized that children with ADHD also need to find a passion, find something that’s fun and that they’re good at, just like the people profiled in Positively ADD: Real Success Stories to Inspire Your Dreams.

You can also read what another successful person (an attorney!) with ADD had to say about this show on the discussion about the series carried on the ADD Forums discussion board.

Peter S. Jensen – Part Five of the Unwrapping the Gift of ADD Series

Guest of the fifth lecture (Monday, April 28, 2008) in the Unwrapping the Gift of ADD series was Dr. Peter S. Jensen.

Dr. Jensen earned his medical degree from George Washington University Medical School and currently is the CEO and Director of the REACH Institute, the Resource for Advancing Children’s Health, created “to accelerate the acceptance and effective use of proven interventions that foster children’s emotional and behavioral health” (formally launched in July, 2007).

From 1989 to 2000, Dr. Jensen was the Associate Director of Child and Adolescent Research at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and while at NIMH he served as the lead NIMH investigator on the six-site NIMH and Department of Education-funded study of Multimodal Treatment of ADHD (the MTA Study). He has also been involved with the follow-up study of children who participated in the initial MTA Study, the findings of which are discussed in a July 20, 2007 press release from the NIMH titled “Improvement Following ADHD Treatment Sustained in Most Children, But Linked Problems Persist Into Adolescence – Major Follow-up Study”.

Dr. Jensen is also a co-chair of the School Mental Health Alliance, “a coalition of over 25 organizations with interests in advancing school-based mental health services,” which in 2005 released a 37-page-long position paper “Working Together to Promote Academic Performance, Social and Emotional Learning, and Mental Health for All Children,” distributed to members of the Senate by Senators Pete Domenici and Edward Kennedy.

Last but not least, in addition to writing numerous articles for scholarly and academic journals, Dr. Jensen is also the author of Making the System Work for Your Child with ADHD (Making the System Work for Your Child), published in 2004, by Guilford Press; co-author of Toward a New Diagnostic System for Child Psychopathology: Moving Beyond the DSM, published in 2006 also by Guilford Press, and co-editor of Parent Empowerment Advisors Guide (Improving Children’s Mental Health Through Parent Empowerment: A Guide to Assisting Families) published by Oxford University Press in 2008.

Dr. Jensen’s message tied in with what Dr. Hallowell and Kathy Kolbe were saying in previous interviews – unconditional love and support of the family and other adults make the biggest difference over time in a child’s life. Children need to know that they are loved and that ADHD will not hold them back in reaching the stars. He also emphasized the importance of having good relationship with all people involved in child’s treatment, therapy, and schooling, so that both the child and the parents feel comfortable with everyone on the “team.”

Later in the program Dr. Jensen discussed adult ADHD, and the need for practitioners to be adequately trained and educated in diagnosing adult ADHD which manifests itself differently than childhood ADHD, and might show up in being inattentive, impulsive, missing deadlines, and failing to make up to promises. He commented that even though the Civil Rights Law guarantees accommodations for people with disabilities, many individuals with ADHD are unwilling to admit that they have ADHD to their boss and co-workers and request for accommodations for the fear of losing their job. Yet, Dr. Jensen noted, even adults need to have a supportive team around them to succeed – their spouse, their family, their doctor, maybe a coach, and if possible an understanding boss and co-workers.

ADDA – Attention Deficit Disorder Association – Part Four of the Unwrapping the Gift of ADD series


Guests of the fourth session (Thursday, April 24, 2008) in the Unwrapping the Gift of ADD Series were board members of the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), “the worlds leading adult ADHD organization dedicated to providing information, resources and networking opportunities to adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) and the professionals who serve them.”

The association organizes an annual national conference, which this year will take place on July 10-13, 2008 at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Members of ADDA also receive FOCUS, the quarterly publication of the organization and have access to weekly teleclasses on ADHD.

ADDA has again led the way for the creation of a U.S. Senate resolution designating September 19, 2007 as “National AD/HD Awareness Day.”

The following guests participated in the conversation about ADDA and coaching individuals with ADDA:

David Giwerc, immediate past president of ADDA, also Master Certified Coach (MCC) and Founder/President of the ADD Coach Academy, “a nationally recognized, comprehensive training program designed to teach the skills essential for powerful coaching of individuals with AD/HD.”

Linda S. Anderson, current president of ADDA, also MA, MCC, SCAC, a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF), a Golden Circle member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and co-founder of the Philadelphia NAPO chapter, and founder of Getting Clear coaching practice, specializing in coaching adults with ADHD.

Evelyn Polk Green, MS.Ed, President Elect, a Past President of the CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) National Board of Directors, an adult with AD/HD and the mother of two sons, both of whom are also diagnosed with AD/HD.

Beverly Rohman, ADDA board member, ADHD coach and consultant for learning differences and school searches. She is the founder of The Learning Connections, a coaching practice “working with students, families and adults with Attention Deficit Disorder and other learning and life challenges.”

The organization seems to be geared mostly toward adults with ADHD, however, in the FAQ I was glad to find a reference to an organization I did not know existed – Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. (COPAA), “an independent, nonprofit, §501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization of attorneys, advocates and parents” whose “primary mission is to secure high quality educational services for children with disabilities.”

Kathy Kolbe and Conation – Part Three of the Unwrapping the Gift of ADD series

The guest of the third session (Wednesday, April 23, 2008) in the Unwrapping the Gift of ADD Series was Kathy Kolbe.

Kathy Kolbe is a great speaker and her message was very inspiring – we are who we are, each of us is different, and we have to accept each other for who we are and not criticize one another and try to change one another to behave and think “our way.”

Kathy Kolbe is the daughter of Eldon F. Wonderlic, a pioneer in the field of Industrial Psychology (cognitive testing) and founder of Wonderlic,Inc.

During the show, Kolbe recalled how she used to ask her father about his tests and questioned the premise and the importance of cognitive (or IQ) testing. She disagreed with the idea that someone’s intelligence is the most crucial measure of a person and wondered “how how smart you are can have anything to do with what you can do in this world.” She thought there’s more to a person than intelligence and her father suggested she go and try to find it out.

So she did and founded Kolbe Corp.

And while the mission of the company her father founded is to help “thousands of employers worldwide hire and keep the best employees” the goal of her company, as stated on the “About Kolbe Corp.” page is to “provide materials, insights, and experts to help people of all ages identify their instinctive talents, develop their confidence, and use their innate abilities to succeed in a plethora of situations, from getting through school to running a business.”

Kolbe emphasized during the show that everyone was created to be perfect at something, so there are no best (and worst) among us, we just have a different way of seeing and doing things. We all can be successful and happy in life if we have the freedom to do things the way that shows our strengths. We also have to allow children to do the same.

To help figure out what drives us, what makes us tick, our Modus Operandi (MO), she “developed an instrument to measure the instinctive action and problem-solving styles of individuals. This dimension of the mind, called ‘conation,’ determines the way in which each individual might feel most comfortable and perform best in undertaking any action.”

On the Kolbe Corp. web site you can read more about the Kolbe Concept, about “conation,” and about the “Four Action Modes.”

You can also read about this idea in Kathy Kolbe’s books: The Conative Connection : Acting on Instinct published in 1997; Powered by Instinct: 5 Rules for Trusting Your Guts published in 2003; and Pure Instinct published in 2004.

When asked why we need to know about “conation,” Kolbe answered that there’s a tendency to misidentify ADHD as a cognitive issue, when in fact, it’s just the matter of Modus Operandi.

Kolbe used a term “false ADHD” when she talked about how some children whose Modus Operandi is to resist structure, to be active, and to learn by doing and touching, can be misidentified as having ADHD. (Unfortunately, neither Dr. Hallowell nor Dr. Handelman asked her what the difference between “false” and “true” ADHD is. I would have like that explained.)

While talking about schools, school rules, and curriculum Kolbe said something I found very interesting – that while 20% of general population has a tendency to insist on structure, following procedures, etc., as much as 70% of teachers are like that (because they instinctively choose a profession that is highly structured and organized).

Children whose MO is different from their teachers’ MO, suffer at school and are told that they have a problem, when in real world their tendency to multitask, be always “on the go” and skip the details for the big picture usually turns out to be a great strength.

Another interesting thing Kolbe said about schools is that it’s an environment where everyone has the same job, which has to be done the same way, every day after day, while in the real workplace there may not be much consistency, pretty much everyone does something different or in a different way and employees often need to switch gears, jump from project to project, etc.

(I ought to note that Kolbe pointed out that teachers do not intend to make suffer, they just simply may not understand that some of their pupils have a completely different way of doing and learning things, they need to have that pointed out and explained to them.)

Kolbe also talked about relationships and how a lot of conflicts are due to the fact that people don’t understand the “nature” of the other person and try to change them when in reality, that’s impossible and just makes the other person miserable.

To measure people’s Modus Operandi and help them explain what they’re good at, the company offers several “Kolbe Indexes/Instinct Assessments” which can be taken online (for a fee of course). You can see the questions and sample results without paying. If you don’t have much time to spend on the Kolbe Corp. site, at least view (listen to) the Sample Result for Youth (you have to allow pop-ups to be able to open that).

In closing, Dr. Hallowell praised the concept of “conation” saying we should “embrace it” because “it’s a tool to help in understanding who we are, it’s freeing and validating – I’m the way I should be.”

DaVinci Method and LENS – Part Two of the Unwrapping the Gift of ADD series

The guests of the second session (Tuesday, April 22, 2008) in the Unwrapping the Gift of ADD Series were Garret LoPorto and Rebecca Shafir.

Garret LoPorto, a successful entrepreneur with ADHD, is the author of The Da Vinci Method – Break Out & Express Your Fire, published in 2005, by (I believe) his own company, Media for Your Mind, Inc.

LoPorto shared that despite great social life in school he had a low self-esteem as a student and dropped out of college. When he started his own business, he realized the traits of ADHD which caused trouble for him in college were helping him be successful in his business.

He says on his web site that “virtually all self-made millionaires, billionaires, leaders and captains of industry have the same personality type” – they “like thrill, excitement and risk, are a highly creative problem solvers, impulsive in nature, ambitious and industrious, have tons of energy for things they are interested in, and love to be the hero in an emergency.”

Apparently on the Myers Briggs Personality Tests people like that are categorized as N (Intuition) types who intuitively “pay more attention to the patterns and possibilities that they see in the information they receive”) and P (Perceiving) types who “use their perceiving function […] in their outer life” and prefer “a more flexible and adaptable lifestyle”).

LoPorto calls this combination the Da Vinci personality and as examples lists among others: Richard Branson (owner of the Virgin Empire), Bill Clinton, Ben Cohen (co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s), George Lucas (Creator of Star Wars), and others.

LoPorto’s book, The Da Vinci Method – Break Out & Express Your Fire, gives tips on how to master this “fiery” personality. Now he has a new product – a “Psychoactive Soundâ„¢ CD Audio Set” that “brings together technologies from brain research with innovative recording and sound-processing techniques” and is “designed to trigger your brain to produce brainwave patterns that match exactly the state you want to experience.” The set includes CDs for “Alert Focus, Inspired Tranquility, Deep Meditation & Prayer, ‘Better than Coffee,’ and Deep HGH Recovery.”

Rebecca Shafir is the director of the Low Energy Neurofeedback System (LENS) program at the Hallowell Center. The LENS program is “a safe and non-invasive procedure that monitors and analyzes EEG (brain activity) using brain wave monitors on the scalp. The LENS system uses that information as feedback for sending signals back to the brain to normalize brain activity for those whose brain waves are disrupted. Conditions that improve with LENS feedback training include bipolar, depression, anxiety, OCD, fibromyalgia and Asperger’s. […] The LENS method accomplishes improved functioning in about one third the time compared with traditional neurofeedback approaches, with the same durability of treatment effects.”

During the show Rebecca said that while the traditional neurofeedback methods requires on average 40 to 60 or more visits, with the LENS method the patients see improvement with an average of 15 sessions.

Dr. Hallowell pointed out that while both methods anecdotally have great results, it can’t be said that they are “scientifically proven” yet, because there have not yet been any double-blind studies done to prove their effectiveness.

The difference between both methods is that you can listen to the “Da Vinci Brainwaves” when and where you feel like it – you choose the CD and the time; but you have to monitor your reaction yourself – LoPorto cautioned to listen to only one rotation at a time.

With the LENS method you have to make an appointment and travel to the clinic, making it more inconvenient than the Da Vinci Brainwaves, but a trained technician monitors your brainwaves and can adjust the “feedback” as not to overdo the amount of stimulation.

The Gift of ADD – Part One of the Unwrapping the Gift of ADD series

One of the most recognizable people in the ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ) circles, Dr. Ned Hallowell, author of, among others, Driven To Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood; Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder; and The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness: Five Steps to Help Kids Create and Sustain Lifelong Joy, and founder of the Hallowell Center is on a campaign for people to recognize and accept that ADHD is not a disability and hindrance but a gift that one has to unwrap.

Today (April 21, 2008) was the first of a series of eight one-hour lectures that he and Dr. Kenny Handelman organized to be aired on the Internet through their web site, www.unwrappingthegiftofadd.com.

I think initially they wanted to limit the access to just under 500 people, but there was so much interest in the series, that somehow they were able to increase it to over 3,700. I think it’s still possible to sign up for the following lectures – three that will be aired this week, and four next week

After registering, through the web site you can also download a 16-page report authored by both doctors titled “Find the Genius in ADD.”

What Dr. Hallowell and Dr. Handelman are saying is that looking at ADHD as a disability and pathology is wrong and leads to a “downward spiral” of thinking that “this ‘disorder’ is going to ruin [...] lives.” What they propose instead is thinking of ADHD as a gift.

During the first lecture Dr. Hallowell was saying that distractibility is basically a higher form of curiosity.

He’s got that right! My six-year-old has calmed down somewhat since the time he dismantled the faucet at his daycare when he was two, but he still begs me to allow him do experiments with vinegar and soda, and likes to mix various ingredients to see what happens and how they react. So far it’s been relatively harmless, but he says he really would like to turn his bedroom into a chemistry lab. He also likes learning about electricity but I told him to never ever try the experiment I did once when I was his age of checking what will happen when you put a paper clip into the outlet. (I was lucky, when I saw the sparks I let go off the clip fast enough not to get hurt and only blew the fuses for the whole place, but my parents, who had guests over that evening, weren’t too happy with me.)

As far as impulsivity goes – Dr. Hallowell linked impulsivity with creativity which, as he says, depends, and in fact thrives on spontaneity and lack of inhibition.

It’s all very positive and hope inspiring. I think I should read “Find the Genius in ADD” at the beginning of each day to remember its message when my son makes a mess in the kitchen while getting too enthusiastic with vinegar and soda or carves with a nail a big heart and “I love you” on another piece of furniture (like he did on my antique dresser).

By the way, a guest speaker during the first lecture was Blake Taylor, an 18-year-old who was diagnosed with ADHD at five, who recently published a quickly-gaining fame book ADHD & Me: What I Learned from Lighting Fires at the Dinner Table, published by the New Harbinger Publications. He said that because his mother treated his ADHD as a gift from the beginning and motivated him, it made a difference in how he viewed his ADHD. Now, he’s a student at UC, Berkeley.

Personal Introduction

My son is twice exceptional — he is both academically gifted and special needs, or the other way around, depending on how you look at it.

There are times when I’m amazed at his intellectual abilities. Even since he was little, he could always figure out very fast how toys are operated and what he has to do to make it move. When he was two he could do quite complicated puzzles, the type for preschoolers. His daycare teachers were borrowing games from the preschool class especially for him. I also noticed he had an amazing memory and could remember events and places for a long time afterward.

Now, at nearly six, he can read fluently, is pretty good at math, knows all the planets in the solar system, etc, etc. Some of his favorite TV shows are the typical stuff that smart, geeky kids like: the PBS shows Cyberchase, Fetch!, Super Why, and Curious George; the Discovery Kids shows Popular Mechanics for Kids and Crash! Bang! Splat!, and Magic School Bus. But he also watches such shows as How It’s Made shown on the Science Channel and Brainiac shown on G4.

The popular belief out there about gifted kids is that these kids’ parents are pushy and “train” the kids to be gifted.

I admit, we have always tried to read a lot to him (if he’d sit and listen). And we have been trying our best to answer the never ending stream of questions he’s been asking over the years, starting from “What does this word say?” to, most recently, “Why are the red blood cells red?” and “What is infinity divided by two?”.

Our son also attended a Montessori preschool for two years and they have wonderful educational materials that, in my opinion, help kids learn how to read, write, and do math much faster than the conventional methods teachers use. I believe that academically he progressed at that Montessori school much faster than he would have at a regular preschool (but he also progressed faster than his peers in his Montessori class).

And yes, if we made him watch the Cartoon Network instead of letting him watch the Discovery Science Channel, he would not know more about the solar system and the universe than I do.

But giftedness, or as some call it “raw intelligence,” is not something that can be “trained” or”taught.” I suppose if we kept our son locked up in a dark cellar he would not know as much as he knows, but I have a feeling he would figure out his way out of there anyway.

When he was two and started daycare, his teachers wrote in a monthly report that he likes exploring the room and that in his explorations he has dismantled the faucet above the kids’ sink. They had not known that the faucet could be taken apart because no other child before had tried to do it.

That ties into our son being special needs.

As much as I love him and admire his gifts, there are times when I’m absolutely sure a diagnosis of ADHD is just a matter of time. He’s always on the go, touching everything, pushing all the buttons he sees, opening all the drawers and doors, or at least trying to do that, no matter where we are, at home, in the doctor’s office, at the grocery store, or anywhere we are. He can’t eat a meal sitting down, he has to stand and fidgets all the time. When he sits down, he still fidgets, and sometimes he falls down and appears truly surprised he fell down. On the other hand, when we send him to the bathroom to brush his teeth, and go in after ten minutes to check on him, more likely than not he is has gotten distracted and is just playing with water, and of course has completely forgotten why he went there in the first place.

There are also times when I’m afraid he will end up heavily medicated or worse, institutionalized. Because even though for the most part he’s a sweet and loving kid, there are times when he licks the back of the seat in front of him, his hands, or the window and does not understand why I am so opposed to him doing it. There are times when he goes in his pants because he is too absorbed in doing something and is “too busy” to go to the bathroom. He also does not seem to understand why he should not do that. And there are times when he just spins or seems to be in his own world, ignoring or not hearing what we are trying to tell him.

And then, not very often, but every now and then, especially after a long weekend full of him being wild and unresponsive, the medication route looks very enticing.

If only I knew what is the right thing to do…

There are days when I am completely exhausted from dealing with him and originally I wrote here that there are times when I wished he were institutionalized or medicated, but I’ve decided to change that. The truth is, even on those days, after he goes to bed and I have had a chance to sit and think and calm down, all I really want is to know how to help him have a happy life.

By the way, our son does not have a clear cut diagnosis. He’s been evaluated by three different specialists, each from a very renowned clinic or center, specializing in child development and various mental, neurological, and developmental disorders. And each of them told us a different thing and recommended a different course of action to help him.

When was three, we were told by an MD, MPH specializing in developmental and behavioral pediatrics from the Developmental Medicine Center at the Children’s Hospital in Boston that he has a Developmental Coordination Disorder. That was also when the tests confirmed he’s gifted.

When he was five, an MD specializing in Autism spectrum disorders, attentional difficulties, learning disabilities and school problems at the Learning and Developmental Disabilities Evaluation and Rehabilitations Services (LADDERS) center said that he has PDD-NOS.

Shortly after that, we were told by a PhD in psychology specializing in Autism and Developmental Disabilities at the Center for Child and Adolescent Development that he’s “just a plain old bright fun kid.”

Both my husband and I are very committed to helping him. We always attend the IEP meetings together. I’ve also been reading a lot of books, scouring the Internet for information. But, as my husband says, it’s hard to help him, if we don’t know what it is we’re dealing with and what the best course of action would be. This blog is intended to be my record of what we’ve tried, what we’ve learned, and any progress (or lack thereof). I can already see it will also be therapeutic for me to write about our son. And if anyone happens to find any useful information here, that would be an added benefit.