Every summer since Dude was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome we have written a 'book' about what Asperger's is and what it means to him. At first I used it as a tool for him to better understand what this diagnosis meant to him but now we use it as an introduction to new teachers and as a way of marking his development.
Last night, Dude and I sat down to finish off his 2011 book. This year we modelled after an Important Book. I asked him to list off ten things that he felt were important about him. He mentioned his family, friends and pets then he rattled off his favorite school subject, toy, movie and food. Then he added Asperger's and ADHD to his list.
We often talk about Asperger's but we hardly ever discuss ADHD. He knows that's part of the deal with him and he is an active participant in deciding whether medication works for him and how much but we rarely tell other people about it. The few times I have mentioned it I have found very strong opinions tossed back at me. People are very firm about their stance on ADHD being over diagnosed and that medication is an unnecessary and dangerous crutch schools use so they don't have to deal with active kids.
Maybe there is an element of unnecessary diagnosis and medication but for us ADHD is a real thing. Dude has struggled for years with his inability to focus and control his impulses. When he was seven years old he would cry, heart broken, that he had done something impulsively that he didn't really want to do. he would cry and cry and say he wanted to die. That's when, after a long conversation with his specialist, that we decided medication may be appropriate for him.
Under the doctor's supervision and with a lot of feedback from Dude we eventually found the meds and the dosage that works for him. His performance in school and his ability to make and maintain friendship has seen an unbelievable improvement. He feels so much better about himself, more confident and in control, more 'normal'.
Even though we don't make a big deal about ADHD or the medication, like I said, we don't talk about it so I was surprised when he included it in the list of important things. When I asked him if he was sure about adding that section in the book he said he was.
"I have ADHD, its no big deal. I take a pill every day to slow my brain down so I don't feel out of control, no big deal. It's like Asperger's, it's just part of what makes me me. Sometimes I like my fast brain but not when I'm at school or around people I don't know so I take my pill and it helps. No big deal."
I couldn't have been more proud or more in awe of him in that moment. I didn't realize how hung up I was about that part of his diagnosis until then. In my mind I was making a bigger deal of ADHD and the meds than I needed too. I was letting other people's opinions and flippant remarks affect me but Dude hit the nail on the head. Everything he said is true, ADHD and our decision to give him medication to help the part of ADHD that bothers him is just a part of who he is just like Asperger's, Lego, Science and his huge heart.
It's no big deal.
Acceptance is not love. You love a person because he or she has lovable traits, but you accept everybody just because they're alive and human.