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Attention Please

Yael Schuster

ADHD, the now ubiquitous childhood malady, currently affects 6.4 million American children, but scientists still can’t fully explain what causes it. Worse, several critics believe drug companies may have created it. But for parents of ADHD children, the symptoms are all too real and the effects all too apparent.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

AvigailRosen,* 16, opens up her heart and invites us in. “I’ll let you in on a secret, something I’ve known deep down for a long time but have only recently begun to admit to myself — I’m different,” says the 11th-grader from the Midwest whose passion is child care. “Different from my siblings, my neighbors, the girls in my class. In fact, different from anyone I know. When you’re on a different wavelength than everyone around you, the world can be a confusing and sometimes threatening place.” Avigail’s mother,MichalRosen, recognized that Avigail was different from the start. As a toddler,Michal would harness Avigail tightly into her high chair, afraid of what she might do with a little freedom. There have been moments she even fantasized about tying Avigail to a leash. “I’ve come to understand that I’m lacking a filter — it’s part of my ADHD,” Avigail says. “While your child might have learned appropriate limits at an early age, as a young child I was a turbocharged race car on a constant collision course with whatever stood in my way. Nothing came between raw impulse and behavior. If I felt like grabbing, screaming, or hitting, that is exactly what I did, and too bad on you.” Her behavior was all the more jarring because her siblings were, in her words, “close to perfect.” “Not for any of them a loss of appetite and feeling like a zombie in the many months spent trying to find the right medication dose. Not for them play therapy, and social skills training, and OT, and incentives, and charts. Not for them tutors and hushed phone calls to teachers and ultra-modified tests and pitifully low expectations. Not for them the ‘special outings’ my mother took me on, secret trips to therapists and doctors. I felt like I’d die if they found out. What do you think all this did for my self-esteem? It certainly bred a lot of hostility toward my family.” 

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