Thursday, August 28, 2014

The forgotten child

My daughter was 5 1/2 when we lost Zach. She had just finished kindergarten and we had just moved out of a duplex and into our brand new house. It was the first time she had a back yard and she relished in the freedom, enjoying being outside and playing with her new friends next door. I watched her from the window... About two months earlier her Kindergarten teacher had phoned me at work. It was May and I was still pregnant and had a lot on my plate. Sadie had gone to kindergarten early, having been derogated to start before her 5th birthday. The school year was coming to a close so the phone call was surprising and I remember feeling frustrated and frazzled. The teacher complained that Sadie was slow. Not intellectually, but physically. Always finishing last, whether it was school work or getting dressed for recess or tidying up after an activity. I asked the teacher if that meant that she wouldn't be moving up to first grade, or whether she was insinuating that there was a bigger issue. She said that she was "just letting me know". I admit I was mad. It was only 5 weeks to the end of the school year and there was a lot going on in our family. A big move, a new baby, the end of the school year! Why was she only calling me at the end of the school year if this was such a huge issue? I decided to call the psychologist who had tested my daughter for derogation and ask her to retest her. I was told that the test could not be administered until at least 2 years after the initial test and that wouldn't be for another 8 months. When Sadie started school she lost her spark. Up until then she had been the happiest child I had ever met. Always smiling! But school changed that, and I can't help but wonder if her struggle had anything to do with it. Then, life happened. Years have gone by and Sadie's slow pace hasn't gotten any faster. She has no sense of urgency, even when you tell her that you're in a hurry. She arrives late for school often, despite living next door. Her teachers describe her work as "perfect, but incomplete", so her grades are slightly below class average. Tasks that should be simple for a 10 year old require hand-holding and repeated explanations, homework is a nightmare... And tomorrow she begins 6th grade. Next year, off to high school. I've recently started volunteering with her Girl Guide group, so I've had the opportunity to observe her and benchmark her against other girls her age. What I've come to realize is that all those years ago when her teacher called me and I was irritated and frustrated by her phone call, I should've listened. I should've been on top of this 5 years ago. But, I suppose it's better late than never. I've made an appointment to have her evaluated by a psychologist. My non-expert "suspicion" is that we are dealing with ADHD inattentive sub-type, which I suspect I also have. It's s tough admission. I'm conflicted. I want to find a solution. I want to make her a better version of herself... but i don't ever want her to think that who she is isn't good enough. I haven't told her yet. I'm not sure how to. I know that she is incredibly smart, but her thoughts are disorganized and scattered and it's hard for her to focus. I want to make her life easier, but I honestly think that she has no idea that how her brain works may not be "normal". I'm afraid that the realization will crush her. Almost 11 is such a critical age for development and self esteem. I don't want this to define her, I want it to empower her... In any case, whether it is ADHD or nothing at all, it doesn't change the fact that we adore her. She is a wonderful, sweet child and a patient and caring big sister and she is perfect just the way she is.