Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Getting dressed

This post was originally about non-believers, and it still is, really.  But it's also about getting dressed.

I don't specifically remember when I learned to get dressed on my own, but I do remember being about 4 and getting dressed in the kitchen.  I think I dressed in the kitchen fairly often, although I'm not sure why.  I might not have even had a bedroom yet.  When my mom and I first began living with my grandparents, I had a crib in the "parlor."  I think I was in the crib long past the time I could crawl out of it.  My mom was in the room that would eventually become mine, and a boarder named Roger lived in what would become her room. (Yes, I'm old enough to have lived when having boarders was not unheard of, even if it was no longer commonplace.). Family lore says my grandmother kicked Roger out one day after he had the nerve to discipline me.  I guess paying for room and board didn't include the right to tell the child of the house to behave.

So, for whatever reason, I frequently got dressed in the kitchen. That is, until I was told that it was somehow uncouth. Actually, I was told I shouldn't let my uncle's friends see me naked.  At 4, I really didn't get this.  I think I had been doing this for some time and there are numerous pictures of me running around in only shorts so being naked was pretty natural for me, no pun intended!

Although I remember being told not to get dressed in the kitchen anymore and that it did suddenly make me feel - what?  shame? taboo? dirty? Definitely uncomfortable. I don't specifically remember getting dressed in my room at that age.  But I feel fairly certain that I did get dressed behind closed doors from then on. On my own.

This has yet to happen for Dylan.

I realize, he's 9.  Almost 10.  But most often he gets dressed in either the living room or the dining room. 

He actually used to get dressed in his bedroom on school mornings. Maybe way back in first grade. In an attempt to reduce distraction we moved the process out to the dining room.  What's distracting in a dining room? Apparently plenty since it still regularly takes him 30 minutes or more to get dressed. 

Which is where the non-believer comes in.  I let myself get sucked in to an online conversation on a Facebook group. The group has nothing to do with ADHD, but one of the posters commented that another child she knew had been diagnosed with "ADHD."  That's how she put it, in quotes.  I very nicely suggested that she might want to take the quotes off since I had a child at home who suffered from ADHD and that there were not quotes involved.

And an argument was born. 

I really didn't realize that she had an axe to grind. I thought she didn't believe that this child had ADHD. Rather, she doesn't believe any child has ADHD. Worse, she's some sort of therapist.

For several posts, back-and-forth, we got into it.  I tried to explain that a "normal" child (quotes very definitely intended) does not take 30 minutes or more to dress, at least not at 10.  Her response was that she had to scream at her now-grown daughter every day to brush her teeth. 

Am I wrong?  Isn't getting dressed on an entirely different level than brushing your teeth. I mean, there are plenty of times I don't feel like brushing my teeth.  But getting dressed?  That's...that's just something that you do.

I'm not saying that Dylan only takes 30 minutes to dress before school. If that were the case, you could say he just doesn't want to go to school. But it's the very same scenario when he's getting ready for kung fu or going to a friend's house or doing any anxiously awaited activity.  He simply cannot maintain his attention throughout the dressing process, or even to begin the dressing process.

It's entirely frustrating!

I wonder at the non-believers like this poster.  How can you say you know someone's situation if you've never met them?  As a therapist, she should know and recognize ADHD. I'm not saying you have to medicate, but at least recognize there's something outside the standard range of experience, something that inhibits daily life.  In the online group I belong to, there are a number of parents who do not use medications, but they all recognize that ADHD is a real and debilitating condition, one that affects the whole family. 

So often, especially in responses to articles about ADHD, people blame the parents. It's their upbringing!  The parents are too dang permissive!  Yeah, I'd give him something to be distracted by!  You know then that these people have never known - really known - a child with ADHD.  Who have never been faced by a situation like this where nothing, nothing can make that child do as they wish.  Not punishment, not physical force, not rewards or incentives.  They are just incapable of moving forward at anything remotely resembling a timely pace. 

It's real.  Very real.  The parents know.  And the naked kids dance in the dining room.


  1. Therapists as Mom Friends are funny creatures. They either believe that ALL children have some kind of special need or that NO Child does.

  2. LOL! Too funny, Mia. You are so right! Thanks for injecting a little humor into the situation. I needed that. :-)

  3. LOVE this post Dee... Although Joey is more of a living room dancer himself!

  4. So true! My 6 yr old can't get dressed on his own unless I physically hand him each piece of clothing, and even then it still takes twenty minutes and a lot of yelling. Its so frustrating, especially compared to my 4 yr old who can get dressed on his own without prompting.