Tuesday, December 21, 2004

This young Aussie bloke wrote a book about his ADD, so why can't I?



When I was seventeen I was first asked to write this book on my personal experiences of suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). I did not give the idea a second thought. The answer was a plain and simple—“No!” I did not want to talk about it. I didn’t even want to think about my personal experiences with ADD.

Why I did not want to write this book was that I was sick and tired of always being looked upon as that “crazy little child” who seemed to be a burden on everyone. My school life was hell, not just for me, but for my parents as well. Not to mention the teachers who I challenged every day in the classroom. I hated the fact that I was different and at times even hated myself for who I was and what I was doing.

When gathering my research material from the many schools where I was a student, I was embarrassed by a lot of the terrible things I had done. But at the time I did not know what I was doing. I was often confused, not understanding what I was doing. This caused a lot of depression in my early school days. As I got older it became a lot easier to deal with my problem. I overcame it in a number of ways including medication and self-taught techniques that I will discuss in greater detail in later chapters.

Looking back on my short life at the age of nineteen now, it all 1seems like a far away story when I recall these things in my life. I still have no idea why I did these things that normal society sees as abnormal. If you or your child has ADD you will understand what I mean when I say abnormal behavior—those fits of anger and impulsive behavior that are unleashed on family members and which seem to have no reason or specific purpose. It must be very hard for parents to deal with and understand why their child is behaving in this abnormal manner. This book, I hope, will help you understand why your child acts in this uncontrolled way.

It was not until I turned nineteen that I seriously considered the challenge of writing this book. After watching a story on children with ADD on the Channel 9 program Sixty Minutes, I felt that I had to write this book to help other people suffering what I have endured throughout my life. However, again I put it off! One day it will happen, I thought to myself. I didn’t have the time, I had study at university and I was going out all the time. But it was really just an excuse. I just didn’t care enough, I guess.

A young boy down the road has ADD. For the past couple of years my mother has been saying, “Why don’t you go talk to the boy’s mother?” I usually brushed it aside with, “Yeah, maybe later.” Then one day I decided to talk to the mother and she was pretty upset with her son’s progress at school because he was behind in reading and math, etc. This was a shock to me. I did not understand what she was worried about because I could not read a short sentence until I was in Grade Five. I told her this, along with other personal experiences.

It always seems to surprise people when I tell them things about my life at school and home. They often look at me with amazement and even confusion. I believe this is because now I do not act like a freak, as my sister called me. However, I can understand where this confusion comes from. If you’d said to my parents when I was ten, “Your son will pass Year Twelve and pass it well,” they would probably have bet their house that this would not happen, or that their child would go on to university and write a book—they would have probably bet their lives on that not happening. Well, it did and this book will tell you about the remarkable turnaround in my life and I hope it will help your child achieve the best results possible.

I have no accredited medical knowledge of ADD. However, I do not understand how so-called medical experts develop theories and strategies for parents with children with ADD. Their advice is often very useful. But how can they really understand it without actually living with someone who has ADD or having it themselves? I am not knocking the medical experts because my doctor is an excellent one and does understand ADD in great depth. The strategies that I
developed were invaluable in my remarkable turnaround from very possibly ending up in a child detention center to making it to university.

However, I have skimmed through many books on this topic and at times it makes me very angry because these books are often filled with medical mumbo-jumbo that really does not help with the treatment of your child with ADD. They do help partly in understanding what ADD is, in a medical sense, which is always a good start for parents. But techniques and strategies are often not found in these books. I searched in many libraries and on the Internet to find a book by a young person who has ADD, and I could not find one. The closest I found was a book written by an American author which included personal experiences written by college students. This was a surprise to me. I could not believe that someone had not written a book on their experiences and how they overcame their problems in everyday situations. Well now someone has and I guess it’s about time!

This book will not give the answer to all the problems you will come across in managing your child’s condition, but it will help. Many parents feel isolated. They feel depression, confusion, and a sense of blame—and of course anger and frustration. My parents have lost a number of friends throughout my life as a result of my behavior. People would not invite my parents to parties and gatherings because I would cause too many problems. Along with this, my parents would cut themselves off from people because they were embarrassed by my behavior. My dad told me that they were invited to a lot of gatherings, but only once! Narrow-minded people who did not understand would often make comments such as, “Leave him with me and I will give him a good belting and pull
him in line.” My parents were often accused of being bad parents who could not control their son. This was not true, because I have a sister two years older than me. She is the most polite and nicest person you could ever meet. In my younger years my parents took me to see a number of psychiatrists who said it was my parents’ fault and that there was nothing wrong with me. How wrong they were!

Now, getting back to the little boy I am tutoring. After offering my services to the mother with his schoolwork I was quite worried the first time I went to their house. I did not know what to expect. I thought I might have bitten off more than I could chew. Well, the first day I went over there the mother showed me his schoolwork, which was simple word games to promote word recognition. It often took the mother over an hour to get him to do it. This hour was mostly taken up with erratic behavior including swearing, yelling—basically everything except doing his homework. The first time I went over to their house it took me only fifteen minutes. I had promised to play a game of Nintendo with him afterwards. He had done his work and he knew it and was playing his Nintendo. The mother told him to get up and do his homework. I told her that he had done it and done it twice. This was accomplished without medication through techniques I have developed while suffering from this condition. I get great pleasure out of helping people with this problem. I enjoy it more because I know how isolated these children feel at school and at home. These techniques and strategies will be discussed in greater detail in later chapters.

I will discuss a number of issues in this book, including picking the right school for your child, and the teacher, if possible. This is of great concern to me because I went to six schools and I know what works and what doesn’t. I will talk about other areas: parenting techniques, including anger management; homework, which can be basically impossible for some parents; discipline, what works and what will never work. I know my parents tried everything: medication, which is always a hot topic in the ADD network; relationships between parents and siblings and the child with ADD. These are just a couple of issues that I will discuss. I hope that you will find this book as useful in the management of your child as I believe you will. I would just like to add that this book will be most useful only if you are prepared to put in lots of tiring and frustrating hours of work with your child!

I wish you and your child the greatest success in overcoming this problem.

Benjamin Polis

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