Monthly Archives: March 2011

It’s Not About the Butter

It’s not just about the butter.  I know I tweeted (@hugyourbrain) this morning that I was debating whether to ask Lily to put the butter away; the butter she left open on the kitchen floor. (Yes, the floor.  For some reason, she likes to eat breakfast squatting in the kitchen floor, like a third-world peasant.  I think it’s because there’s a heating duct under the kitchen tile and it’s warm there.)  

Anyway, I was already 30 minutes late to work.  The plan was to take the girls to play at a friend’s house on my way to work.  Lily’s sister was already showered, dressed and fed.  I think I only had to give her instructions twice.  But Lily… Oh Lily… the butter on the floor was just the latest in this morning’s string of things left undone.  I really think that Lily doesn’t know she’s going to be late until it’s too late.  She just seems to have no sense of time passing.  

I give her plenty of prompts.  We put digital clocks in every room.  But she just seems incapable of planning, initiating and sequencing tasks, all typical of a kid with extreme difficulties with Executive Function.  She might get ready on time, if I got up an hour earlier and got myself ready so that I could follow her around and help her stay on task and pick up after herself.  But it’s all about time… balancing my time.

During the school week, our solution has been to give her ADHD medication as soon as she wakes up, so that it kicks in soon enough to help her focus.

But, this morning, it’s vacation and she took her meds late.  So, five minutes before my planned departure time, she’s wrapped in a towel and dripping wet.  She’s mad that she has to go downstairs to find clean underwear in a basket of clean clothes.  She needs to brush her teeth, but can’t find the toothpaste.  She needs to find her hat and put lotion on her face. She’s also searching for her new duct tape wallet that she wants to take to show her friend. She needs a jacket that I know she left in my bathroom floor when she took a shower the night before.  She can’t find the cool grey Puma sneakers she wants to wear.  

Lily knows that we’re waiting for her and knows that I am frustrated, so then she gets frustrated with herself and the situation starts to escalate.

That’s why I debated mentioning the butter.  I did finally ask her to put the butter away and she did do it.  But I decided not mention the bath towel she dropped in the floor.  Gotta pick the battles… or get someone to invent that frontal lobe robot to follow her around.

In writing this, I realize that some of her searching this morning could have been eliminated by Dr. K’s ADHD mantra–Same Way Every Time.  If she put the toothpaste back in the same place every time, she could always find it.  That’s why I hang my keys up when I walk in the door. She and I just talked about this and she agreed.  I might try to hit that idea a little harder.  I think I also need to break out my Smart but Scattered again for some good reminders on supporting kids with EF difficulties.

Ha,ha… my husband just yelled down from our room, asking if I know where our toothpaste is!  Maybe Lily knows… or maybe, quite possibly, she doesn’t.

Queen of Jeggings

Reading a post from CaffeinatedAutismMom on the called ‘Meltdowns Happen’, brought back memories of just a few lovely Lily freak outs, most of them because she was unable to control her emotional response to sensory overload.  Didn’t realize that until later, but looking back, it’s obvious.

Of course, as an infant, I remember her crying and crying at the slightest noise, or, as a toddler, crying when the trash truck honked its horn, running away from her Daisy Scouts meeting in Kindergarten because it was too chaotic and loud, holding her hands over her ears and shaking during school events in the gymnasium, hating the school bus because it was so loud, getting out of the pool and refusing to participate during swim team tryouts because, again, too loud and chaotic.

We figured out pretty early that Lily was sensitive to noise.  But, it wasn’t until 2nd grade or so that we realized she liked soft clothing.  In 4th grade, she refused to wear jeans anymore and I had to search out soft pants with an adjustable waist.  She had one shirt she loved to wear and I figured out that it was Modal fiber, which IS very soft.  In 5th grade, when I asked her why she always pulled a hoodie up over her head, Lily told me that it blocked the bright overhead lights at school, muffled loud sounds and made her feel good.  Now that she’s in 6th grade, Lily has become the Queen of Jeggings.  They’re perfect for her sensory needs. Soft, skinny, tight and of course, stylish.

Now that she’s 11, Lily’s meltdowns (in public anyway) are few and far between.  Occupational Therapy has helped and so has daily movement.  Lily’s learned coping skills. She’s learned to advocate for herself and she regulates her emotions better now. Sometimes she’ll remove herself from a situation when she realizes it’s making her uncomfortable.  We’re still always on the lookout for triggers though and so are her teachers and the friends and family who know her.  Sometimes just warning her that an event might be loud is enough.  Now, if she does end up in a loud and chaotic situation, her discomfort usually shows up as irritability or agitation.

This topic of sensory sensitivities also made me think of an interview I did with Jeffrey Freed. He’s an educational therapist and the co-author of the book, ‘Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World.’  He’s also what you would call Twice Exceptional.  He talks about his sensory issues as an adult and a child.

Return from Outdoor Lab

Photo by Lily

Lily came home from Outdoor Lab yesterday, bubbling with excitement and stories.  She had a great time.  Her only complaint was the food.  She declared it gross and said she couldn’t wait to eat some decent food again.  

Lily said she loved all the classes and wishes she could have school outside all the time.  I’ve always thought that she might thrive at a Waldorf school, which emphasizes experiential learning in an outdoor setting.  Lily is definitely is drawn to the outdoors and I have an adult friend with ADHD who is a scientist and a long-time backpacker and he says being outdoors is calming for him.

At Outdoor Lab, they went on long hikes and visited the small on-site planetarium for science class.  They studied history in the restored buildings of the original homestead.  Instructors got in character, dressed in period costumes and Lily said it was very entertaining.  She said one night for their evening program a mountain man named Bear visited and told them stories. He demonstrated his black-powder rifle and Lily said her teacher warned her that it would be loud, so it was okay.


Watercolor by Lily

 She had 3 special elective classes… watercolor painting, photography and duct tape wallet-making.  Yes!… duct tape wallet-making… now that is a life-long skill worth learning.
I love seeing her come home so happy and confident, just like a regular ol’ kiddo.

Duct tape wallet by Lily

A Mom Talks with the Director of Special Education

This is so funny, in a sad, sad way. Must watch!
A Mom Talks with the Director of Special Education

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