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When Kristen Caven’s son was diagnosed with attention deficit, inattentive type, she had no doubt about where he'd gotten the gene. She writes about her creative and comedic ADHD family, being a patient mother with a brain built for speed, and her sudden enrollment in what she calls “ADD School.”

posted: Monday March 31st - 11:24am

We're Driven by Attention — Not Lacking It

Understanding the sparkly flipside of ADD.

sparkler
I’ve been paying a lot of attention lately to attention. When it is there, when it is not, how hard it is to summon, how hard it is to turn it off. For example, I can ask Enzo’s Uncle Zoom a question and never get an answer; his ears turn off when he’s attending to something inside his mind. Then there are times I want Enzo’s...
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posted: Friday March 21st - 11:12am

Electronic Attention Suckers

Every family struggles with ways to manage this generation’s darn distracting devices. Here’s our best trick for keeping video games from taking over our teen's life.

video games
When we got Enzo his first handheld video game, he was too young in my opinion, but still much older than most kids these days are when they are handed their first Electronic Attention Sucker (E.A.S.). We had held off as long as we could for several reasons: 1. He had plenty of toys already that he could never find enough time for: Legos, paper airplanes, and,...
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posted: Tuesday January 28th - 10:44am

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

The last week of the marking period is always when we wish we had more traction.

Tire marks on the street
This will sound like a familiar scene to those of you with teenagers. It's the last week in the marking period, and we check the online gradebook, and then our heads explode. Suddenly, the teachers who haven’t used the system for a month have gotten caught up, and lo and behold, there are some terrible surprises. This is the week when I start kicking myself for having...
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posted: Monday January 6th - 9:57am

Life Is Derpful

Is it ADHD? Or just high school?

Stick figure with question mark, confusion
After spending a weekend catching Enzo lost in one screen or another, calling him over and over to come to dinner, reminding him four times to pick up his towels, and nudging and poking him to complete the tasks on his whiteboard, I get a text Monday morning. “Blindsided by binder check in Chem.” Blindsided? How so? It was right there on the whiteboard: Go over Chem...
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posted: Thursday January 2nd - 10:38am

Mastering the One-Track Mind

Harnessing the power of obsession.

Kid playing with a truck
Since Enzo was barely out of babyhood, he’s had long-term obsessions. First it was construction machines. He could tell the difference between a street sweeper, a paving machine, and a combine harvester. We had to read Byron Barton’s Machines At Work and say “Goodnight Guys” every single night. At three he built his first collection: all of the Bob the Builder toys. He would go to...
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posted: Monday December 16th - 11:14am

Navigating the Ability Gap

When motor skills don’t match up with intellectual ability, what path do you take?

Preschool teacher with students
When Enzo was pushing five, he was excited about going to kindergarten. He wanted to learn to read, and was so ready to become “a big kid.” But when he took his kindergarten readiness test, I was shocked that his teacher, GG, recommended another year in preschool. She showed me his abstract skills test, consisting of some squares drawn stacked upon top of each other. “He’s...
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posted: Tuesday October 29th - 10:20am

Trying to Leave, on a Jet Plane

Traveling takes us out of our comfort zones and protective routines. But the ADD mind loves a new challenge.

Leaving on a plane
A trip to the airport can bring out the worst in me. Leaving the structural supports of home throws me into an internal chaos that I can’t separate from anxiety. The day before my trip, I should have been in high gear preparing for this, but I spun my wheels all day, obsessing on finding the right travel outfit that will keep me warm on the...
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posted: Tuesday October 29th - 10:03am

Trainspotting

This historic steam train ran on a strict schedule — but for three generations of my ADD family, chasing it gave us the chance to indulge the impulse to explore, discover, and share an adrenaline rush.

Train Tracks
One of my favorite summer memories was a day out of time with my train-obsessed father and son. We were visiting family in Boulder, Colorado — full of the typical stresses of organizing around various diverse clusters of family cultures and communications — when my dad (whom I shall call Grandpa Gerf in this blog∗) — called with the news that a historic Union Pacific 4-8-4...
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posted: Monday October 7th - 7:15pm

The Tension of Attention

Physician Gabor Maté’s explanation of eye contact, attachment, and the origins of ADHD. Playing with attention with kids.

Eye contact
One of the best ADD books I read while researching my book on bullying was Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It , by Gabor Maté. If you haven’t seen Maté's YouTube videos, check them out. He has an interesting view of ADD, and here it is, in a nutshell of my own design: When a mother makes eye contact with...
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posted: Wednesday September 25th - 9:39am

Give a Kid a Little Extra Time…

A day at the beach, a great idea, and a kid who doesn’t want to transition.

shovel and bucket at the lake
In previous posts, I’ve mentioned Enzo’s remarkable childhood ability to sit in the sand and have fun with a bucket and a shovel for hours on end. In the days before he discovered race cars, it was all about the dump trucks and front-loaders. He didn’t have the patience to get properly dressed, stay sitting down while he ate his sandwich, or watch a movie past...
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