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A Big Reality Check on My Daughter’s ADHD

Hearing the truth about the severity of Natalie’s attention deficit disorder and co-existing conditions hit me harder than it should have.

Since I’m typically a glass-half-full kind of person, some recent reality checks about the severity of Natalie’s ADHD and co-existing conditions hit me harder than they should have — if I had let myself see, if I’d allowed myself to believe. Being told that Nat’s glass is, in reality, half empty, has left me actively grieving for the-child-who-might-have-been throughout these last few weeks.

The first reality check took place at Natalie’s fall school conference. She’s in third grade, and it seems that as the curriculum becomes more complex each year, Nat’s falling further behind her peers. At this conference, we were told for the first time since Natalie started school, that she’s getting next to nothing out of her time in the regular classroom. Her ADHD and inability to pay attention, paired with her constant anxiety, mean she’s just there, trying to cope, rather than actively learning.

Behavioral Changes in Teenage Daughter

The second kick in the heart came with the results of Nat’s psychological testing. There weren’t even any real surprises, other than perhaps the gravity of certain issues. But somehow, hearing Natalie’s challenges all summed up, and then reading about them in black and white, was really hard to take.

My husband, Don, seemed shell-shocked too. He e-mailed his parents and summed up what we learned at the school conference. “This doesn’t mean we’re giving up on her,” he wrote. “In fact, it’s reaffirmed our commitment to making sure she has the best treatment and services available.”

Well said, hon. And we are trying to do exactly that. After a break of several months from occupational therapy, I set the wheels in motion to start back up. We scheduled an IEP meeting, and Nat’s psychologist is scheduled to attend and provide input. I’m going to move up Nat’s med check appointment, and we’ll re-evaluate her ADHD medication, given the test results, and with Nat’s pediatrician and psychologist in consultation. We’ll also continue to see the psychologist.

And when I’m finished with this round of grieving, I’ll take another look at that darn glass. Maybe I’ll reclaim my old glass-half-full perspective. It may not always be realistic; it may be much too Pollyanna. But, what the heck. It sure feels better than this.

“I Can’t Do This, Dad!”