Growing out of it

I haven't written here about Javi's attention and impulsivity issues in a while. For one, I have a dedicated outlet for those types of posts. But also? Things are getting so much better.

I've been told in the past that kids often "grow out of it" and I always rolled my eyes. My mother and father never grew out of ADHD. My sister hasn't grown out of it. As I simplify and try to redefine my life, I see how I've never grown out of it.

But what I'm learning is that maturity makes a huge difference. Add maturity to a host of other variables like a stable, organized home life; a consistent, reliable schedule; an experienced, proactive teacher; and a medication choice that works. I don't think "huge difference" states it strongly enough. Life altering success comes close.

Yes, things are so much better than they were. We haven't grown out of ADHD, though. It's still there. It still must be managed and planned for and adjusted to. Only now when it rears its head, I take time to laugh, see my role, spot what might have made things work out differently, involve him a strategy session, and then move on.

Every few days I get little visual reminders that none of this is natural for him. Calm and orderly and organized may never be labels that feel comfortable on his tall, skinny body. Take this for instance:

This is what I encountered when looking for a container for leftovers after dinner yesterday. Can you guess whose chore it is to put clean dishes away? Ah, yes. My child who has been identified as academically and intellectually gifted and does above-grade-level work and is the darling of his social circle. That's the one.

And after me coaching him through a re-do, we currently have this:

Such is our life. Such is his life. We both have to work at it, and over time that work will seem easier even if it never seems natural.

It could be so much worse.


Update: In response to laziness/disorganization/"he's a man!" -- the difference between the Mountain Man's sloppy disorganization and Javi's sloppy disorganization is that the MM (and probably you, too) is capable of organizing a cabinet. For most, it's a matter of motivation and caring enough to do it.

In Javi's case, he will work with those containers all night and still be unable to organize them. I should take pictures of his multiple attempts. He has to be taught organization and then have the lesson hammered home to him again and again. No amount of motivation or desire to succeed (or just be done with it already) will change how he processes the job of putting the containers away.

He also struggles with stacking cups and completing puzzles. It's a processing thing that requires strategies. For the containers, I've taught him to find the biggest item first and put it next to the next-biggest item. He makes a line of descending order and then starts with the smallest thing and moves backward. The different shapes threw him off. Now he has learned to separate the shapes and then start the process.


  • Cheri

    Kelly - neither of my teens has ADHD, but if I asked them to put away clean dishes, it would no doubt look much like Javi's first attempt. And for them, the disease is called Laziness!

  • Anonymous

    Why do I feel the sudden urge to go organize my cabinets? (Were you in my kitchen with a hidden camera today?) :)

  • Victoria

    You must have a lot of patience for teaching order--- I'm hoping mine grows before the kids are old enough to "help" with the dishes

  • Kelly Miller

    Victoria - My patience is in direct proportion to my desire to not have to do everything around the house. Javi knows he'll have to re-do anything he does half-a$$ed, so he usually gets it right. If he doesn't, he does it again (and again). I don't want to set the precedent that he can get out of things by doing them badly.

  • Justine

    Hmm...I dunno Kelly. The first picture sure looks a lot like what I would have done. Then My Guy would come in and fix it so it'll be more like picture 2. As long as there's balance in every household right? :)

  • Bibliomama

    Um, yeah. There are a lot of things you can blame on the ADHD (and my friend was just diagnosed with it in adulthood, so i totally get that you don't grow out of it) but I'm not sure that's one of them, based on my cupboards. :)

  • The Drama Mama

    JB does this too. I never realized that their sense of organization is as scattered as their brains are. Thanks for the tips! (and perhaps I have some ADHD too. I am seriously lacking in the organizational skills).

  • Brittany at Mommy Words

    Hehe I have the same urge to go all organizy on my cabinets. You have so muh patience and I commend you for it. I'm also just so glad to hear that he's making progress!

  • Draft Queen

    So good to hear things are improving! (And that I'm not the only "mean" mom making the kids empty the dishwasher. They swore I was and I almost believed them.

  • Anonymous

    I think we all could learn from this methodical thinking. Truly. Many of us have problems processing life in it's whole, to finding ways how to make things fit into neat compartments. I know I do. There are lessons to be learned from your work with your son. Isn't life all about strategies, just different kinds for different people.

  • Bryan

    The first picture looks like any cupboard in my house after I put the dishes away. Anything like the second picture hasn't been seen in my house since the dished were brought home

  • Rudri

    So glad to hear the maturity is helping. I commend you both on your patience to work through it.

  • Hyacynth

    Yes, exactly, in regard to your edit. I was misdiagnosed with ADHD as a child and given medication. When I wanted to, I could do whatever it is the teacher wanted. If I'd really had ADHD, it would not have been a choice really.

  • Sandra

    I have to say, the cupboard with the containers look exactly like mine...You guys did a great job reorganizing it, so whenever you're in my neighbourhood... :)

  • Sarah E Havens

    This post really hits home for me! I was diagnosed with ADHD-Inattentive earlier this year at 33 years old. It is so difficult for me to even attempt to organize things, yet at the same time I crave order and organization. My problem is starting - if I know where something went before, I have no problem being able to put said item back in that place - it's the things that don't have places, and that would require me to make a decision about where to put it (especially if I don't have everything that needs a new home right in front of me) that I struggle with.

    I sometimes wonder how different my education would have been (and even how my career has been so far) if I had been diagnosed earlier in life. I was never hyperactive or a disciplene problem, and was in the ag program so it was never considered a problem - my inability to start and finish assignments and other problems were always chalked up to laziness. I'm not on meds at this point but it is something we are considering - right now I'm trying to learn new strategies for doing things and handling it that way.

  • Kelly Miller

    @Sarah - your story really resonates with me. I think I was/am the same way. I've been thinking about medication, but part of me thinks I just need to "try harder." I don't know why I will cut my kid some slack but just give up on myself.

    It's definitely processing that's the issue, though, not laziness. I, too, wonder what might have been if anyone had dug a little deeper.

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