If you don’t understand the multitude of ways that having ADHD leads to a chaotic home environment, then you aren’t the right person to help my child learn to organize.
For 16 years, I worked at a community mental health center, helping adults with chronic mental illnesses to live independently. I did things like taking people grocery shopping and to doctor appointments. I helped people apply for benefits like food stamps and Medicaid. I helped them fill their med-minders.
Having only a bachelor’s degree in psychology to guide me, I did a lot of learning on the job. Within just a few years, however, and through watching several entry-level social workers come, learn just a little, and go, I came to believe this: if you don’t understand what barriers a specific brain disease creates to accomplishing certain tasks, you have no business trying to advise or help a person complete that task. For example, if you can’t spit out at least 20 reasons, based on the illness itself, why a person with schizophrenia might fail to fill a prescription for antipsychotic medication, then you have no business giving that person a ride to the pharmacy to help him do so. Entry-level social workers learn, I believe, at their clients’ expense.
And when it comes to helping a child with ADHD, the same goes. Here’s one example. If you don’t understand the multitude of ways that having ADHD leads to a chaotic home environment, then you aren’t the right person to help my child learn to organize. And you aren’t qualified to advise me on creating systems to help.
This mindset has led me to be critical and dissatisfied with services that are available in our area for kids with ADHD, including the fact that the Children’s Mental Health Waiver that funds services for kids with ADHD doesn’t pay for services to help with organizing, and secondly, the fact that even if it did, I don’t believe there’s a provider in the area who would be capable of providing this service.
When Natalie worked with various speech, occupational, and physical therapists, she received professional-level services. Her special ed teachers really know what they’re doing. I believe there are ADHD coaches around the country who provide a professional level of service around organizing.
So why is the hands-on skill building that’s available to my child, through a mental health waiver, via contracts with local social service agencies, provided by poorly paid (but hard-working) minimally trained (but good-hearted), short-term (mostly college students) entry-level (you have to start somewhere) workers?
I wish there was help--professional-level, truly qualified, approved-for-funding help. Help from someone who understands, and can explain to me how Nat’s sensory processing issues impact her ability to organize. I know, from her S.I. P.T. test results, that she can’t easily find a specific object among a group of objects. That certainly must impact her ability to clean up. But how exactly, and what can we do about it?
And I swear that Natalie literally loses track of the fact that an item exists once she stops focusing on it. If that’s true, then how can she learn to put “it” away, given that in her mind, “it” no longer exists?
See what I mean about needing a professional level of expertise? Am I off track on this, folks? Does expertise like this exist? Have any of you found it?
I haven’t, and have pretty much given up on the idea of trying. I have, however, found a few nuggets of this kind of information in a book. I’ll share a little about the book in my next post.
Venting time is over for today. Clean-up time begins. ARGHHHH!