This week, September 14th to 20th is AD/HD Awareness week! Okay, well its one of them. There are actually several awareness weeks with different dates depending on the country you’re in. In South Africa, we don’t have an official awareness day or week or anything, but October 1st 2008 is National Inherited Disorders Day.
As with last year, the conference was hosted in a hall, with tables and chairs which make note taking SO much easier. I didn’t take my laptop… I was not sure if there’s be somewhere for me to plug it in and then I didn’t know if I could type fast enough to keep up with the note-taking I like to do… I am prolific, to say the least, this year I kept it to 17 pages of notes, 2 pages of notes for this post, and two pages of notes on what I would say as a speaker next year! It was freezing in the hall, and I went in a T-shirt on the Saturday.
As always, there is a speaker I dislike, and this year I didn’t even listen to him (he does the exact same presentation every single year and he doesn’t present- he lectures- like we’re a room full of students). I did wonder, again (as I did last year) why I attend these things… Damien’s still got a long way to go with school and hopefully studying afterwards- but most of the lectures are on early schooling and how to start building good habits when you finally get a diagnosis. Oh how I wish I’d known all this stuff when the knucklehead was first diagnosed.
I also realised- again- that I am SO not a mingler! I attended the conference alone, and I sat alone, drank coffee alone and ate alone. I was first into the lunch room to get food, but I took my plate and went back to my hall seat to add to my notes and make a couple of calls (my Glugs and the knucklehead were moving some furniture from the flat to the house). If someone spoke to me I spoke back, but I have never been one to talk to people I don’t know for the sake of making conversation.
The very first lecture almost had me in tears! I thought maybe I was PMSing a tad- but the timing was wrong. The first talk was on how the environment affects the ADHDer, and remembering all the stuff I did and the ways I dealt with Damien. Every time I listen to a speaker who talks on development and explains all the other causes of possible ADHD behaviour… I wonder about Damien’s diagnosis and I doubt myself.
I doubt myself every time.
And then listening to various speakers list all the issues an ADHDer can have, and going over all the co-morbidities (like Damien’s never officially diagnosed CD) makes me feel like crying out of fear for Damien’s future. And I must remember to approach the lectures with an open mind!
Once again, most of the speakers reiterated the lesson I learned at last year’s conference- that ADHD needs an inclusive comprehensive approach. Meds, therapies (OT, ST, PT…), supplements and dietary changes- whatever’s necessary- MUST be combined to get the best possible results.
Another thing that came up a couple of times, at least for me, was something I have read in a couple of my text books before. We must educate our ADHDers about their disorder. We educate asthmatics and diabetics as children. More often than not their classmates are also educated about the disorder so they can help if they must. But an ADD or an ADHD diagnosis stays “on the down-low”. As ADHDer parents we barely talk to our friends and family about it let alone tell our ADHDers why they have to have meds and therapy and and and! Not only can it help him deal with his inevitable label, he can learn coping mechanisms as well. The trick of course, is how to educate our ADHDers without allowing them to use their disorder as a crutch.
I must really use my PTA membership as a lever to get the school to send teachers to the conference. And I think next year, I want to speak at the conference. They have therapists, doctors, dieticians, professors and shrinks who speak, but the parent’s point of view is missing, and I think it’s important. And I have a shite load to say too, LOL! I’ll be pushing to be a speaker next year.