Guest Blogs

Family Movie Night: An ADHD First

For most families, watching a movie together is routine. For my daughter, who has ADHD, and my family, it was a cause for celebration, a highly significant event.

Quality family time seems to be a rare commodity in our ADHD-affected household. Sure, the four of us — Don, Aaron, Natalie and I — are often in the house at the same time, but even family meals — the gold standard of family togetherness — tend to be more about chaos than quality; more badgering than bonding.

“Natalie! Sit down!”

“Natalie! Put that away. Not at the table!”

“Aaron was trying to talk. What did you say, Aaron?”

“Natalie! You aren’t finished yet. You have to eat some protein. Do you want some yogurt? A slice of lunch meat? Bananas with peanut butter?”

So, I was surprised and pleased, but also skeptical, when the purchase of a new, bigger TV for our basement family room inspired Natalie to suggest (insist on!) a “family movie night.” (Yeah, right. That’s gonna happen.)

Natalie has never been one to pay much attention (literally!) to TV or movies. When the TV is on (these days, tuned to iCarly) she listens more than she watches, and plays with Legos or works on a puzzle at the same time. She rarely watches movies on DVD, or (to my disappointment — I love to go to movies!) at the theater. Her attention span isn’t long enough, she can’t sit still, and she can’t be quiet. I’ll never have to worry that she has too much screen time. In fact, I sometimes worry that her lack of exposure to pop culture will separate her even further from her peers.

No, family movie night doesn’t sound like Natalie, I thought. But if she’s suggesting it, then, hey, why not try it? I’m so glad we did! Over the course of two evenings, the four of us sat together and watched the movie Wall-E — from start to finish. No, it wasn’t silent and uninterrupted — there was plenty of commentary and laughter, and more than one snack-run — but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the movie, or the camaraderie.

For most families, watching a movie together is routine. For my family, it was a first — a cause for celebration — a highly significant event. It’s one I hope to repeat — again and again — until “I can’t believe this is happening!” becomes “What’s the big deal?”

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