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My ADHD son Clark may be a little wacky, but his problem-solving skills are out of this world.

One thing I’ve learned as the parent of a child with ADHD, who is now a young man: kids with ADHD are the most out-of-the-box thinkers you’ll meet. In my early years with Clark, I thought he was irrational, a little nuts, and infuriating. Why was he weeding the flowerbed in lacrosse gloves? Did he actually remove a spring from the lawnmower engine to get out of mowing the grass?

A few years ago, we asked Clark to clean up the leaves in the yard with the grass catcher. This job creates a lot of leaf dust, so Clark protested. We insisted. Clark asked, “What am I supposed to do about the dust?”

Rather than answer the question for him, we left him to his own devices. I would have tied a bandana around my face. My husband keeps facemasks for this purpose (the ones with the straps that go around your head), and he would have used one of them.

[Free Guide: Your Child’s Unique “ADHDisms”]

Clark was 15 years old at the time and six feet tall. I assumed he would find a solution that would not risk his social life for the next three years. But to assume that would be wrong. Clark chose to stuff toilet paper up his nose, with the ends streaming free, floating in the breeze. Sadly, I didn’t realize it until too late, and I missed the photo op.

I tried to imagine any of our four neurotypical kids doing the same thing, brazenly, in the front yard. Nope. Not a chance. They would never risk their reputation for being cool that way.

But Clark defended his choice. “It was quick. It was easy. It worked. It didn’t get tangled in my hair.”

Right on all counts.


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