WHO IS: Bonnie Dickel Hoffman, freelance copywriter, lives in Minneapolis and is a mother of two.
I used to be a member of Minnesota's Mommy Police. If I saw a kid out in sub-zero temperatures without mittens I'd slap her mom with a you-should-be ashamed-of-yourself scowl. Now that I have an ADHD boy, however, I often have to do things that get those dirty looks.
ADHD, as you probably know, stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and, like the name says, my son moves through life like a paddle-ball on rocket-fuel. Sadly, because developmental failures in his brain circuitry undermine his self control, when he's frustrated he behaves unthinkingly and horribly. Rest assured, we're not talking "boys will be boys" here. All six-year-olds will bounce off a wall or two. Mine will punch holes in them.
Experience has taught me how to help my son, even when the techniques I use bring the wrath of the Mommy Police down upon me. Think I should try a more progressive approach to child rearing? I did; it didn't work. Stricter discipline? Sorry; tried; no go. Now, after consulting "The Explosive Child" and various experts, I've set boundaries and limits that bring out his best qualities and retrain his worst impulses...consistently. So please don't give me those you-are-the-problem looks if I respond to his inappropriate kicking and hitting by restraining him.
See me crouched down to his level holding his upper arms and speaking firmly with my eyes two inches away from his? Hear him yelling (for your horrified ears) "I can't breathe! You're hurting me!"? No matter what it looks like to you or to me what I'm doing is designed to hold his attention, because without it he can't to learn to function in society.
I know you're sure I'm doing something very wrong, but, before you write me a summons with your eyes, please EARN your right to glower. Take a course in ADHD the ABCs and you'll understand why the screaming, fly-off-the-handle child you see me working so hard to socialize is most likely NOT going to gun down his classmates. I swear, officer, I'm doing my best to ensure that my boy's worst fate will be to wrestle big men half-naked, shoot off his mouth like a loose canon and get himself elected Governor of Minnesota by a landslide.
(2) The CHADD support group's fact sheets http://www.chadd.org/facts/add_facts.htm
(3) Minn. governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura's antics http://www.venturafiles.com
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