Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I had a whole other blog post all but ready to go as of yesterday.  Then I came home.

RockStar asked me to check Dylan's homework.  When I did, I found that for a "writing in math" assignment (which is where you answer a math question in a complete sentence) he had just drawn wavy lines.  There was a whole page of questions and he did the wavy lines for each question on the whole page.

Now, Dylan struggles with homework and writing is a chore for him.  Writing in math is one of his least favorite things.  But to pretend to do it?  I was speechless.

Without saying a word, he lied.

I was so disappointed.

In fact, I was so upset, I couldn't eat last night, and I can count on one hand the number of times I've been too upset to eat.  All of the other times were involved romantic problems largely in my youth.

It's Dylan's big mistake, make no doubt about it, but RockStar also bears some culpability.  Instead of sitting with Dylan or at least hovering around him and making sure he was making progress, RockStar read the paper while Dylan "did" his homework. 

Nonetheless, punishment was in order, and it could not be solved by missing dessert.  No, instead he will be missing Endymion, one of the biggest New Orleans parades of the Carnival season.  Endymion is a big deal, but when you lie (and lie big, albeit quietly) the punishment has to hurt. 

Of course, the downside is that the punishment will hurt more than Dylan.  After all, I like to go to Endymion, too.  I could find a babysitter, but half the fun of Endymion is being there with Dylan.

There's always the question of whether you can overcome the crime, make up for what you did, and avoid the harsh punishment.  I probably shouldn't but I am usually open to making up for what you did wrong.  Unfortunately, I'm not seeing any or at least enough sign of it. 

I gave Dylan the offending homework in his bed last night and told him he could fix it.  He didn't. 

It was also on the agenda for tonight's homework, but he didn't even finish what was assigned for this evening. 

The ironic part is that the blog post I've already got half in the bag?  It's about homework.  How there's too much, how it's not helpful or appropriate, and how teachers give it because they think they should, not for any real educational purpose.  I'll still finish and share that post eventually but not right now.

No, right now I'm just disappointed.  It's hard to advocate for relaxed homework rules after something like this.  And disappointment is such a painful parenting experience.  Anger is quick and gone almost before your blood pressure goes down.  But disappointment?  That settles in like a bad cold, with achey touches of sadness and hopelessness. 

It's inevitable; no parent has ever gotten a child through childhood to adulthood without at least a touch of disappointment, but it doesn't make the pain of it any easier.  You expect the best of your kids.  While having him lash out in anger, slam doors, and say things he doesn't mean is difficult, it's not done cunningly.  Lying and falsifying...that takes thought and specific action.  He knew he was doing wrong and did it anyways. 

With Mardi Gras coming up, we'll have a blessed week off from school.  While there will be homework due upon his return, we will be relieved from the daily grind.  I think it's a much needed break for all of us, and a chance to get beyond this disappointing misstep. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Focus on ADHD: A reaction to L. Alan Sroufe

L. Alan Sroufe has caused a stir. 

In a New York Times opinion piece, he has basically denigrated parents of kids with ADHD and blamed their problems on poverty, wealth, too little attention, too much attention, and sneaking up behind their children as babies and scaring them.  These parents, says Sroufe, have placed all their hopes and dreams into medications like Ritalin, which offer no real, lasting treatment at all.  And the parents are to blame for all this.

Supposedly, he is an accredited researcher with the University of Minnesota's Institute of Child Development.  I work for a research university and I can't imagine any of our faculty presenting such a salacious piece to the media.  Or at least getting it past our crackerjack public relations team.  

The blogsphere has been in uproar ever since.  Noted ADHD expert Ned Hallowell addressed Sroufe in his blog, the Child Mind Institute shot back, and even New York Times blogs, like The Motherlode, have reacted with vehemence to Sroufe's archaic claims. 

Really, we thought we were past all that.  

If clinicians are questioning whether ADHD is inherited and are blaming parents and parenting...well, then ADHD might as well go back into hiding, something you treat on the downlow. 

What Sroufe has done is as irresponsible as an AIDS researcher claiming that HIV can only be contracted by homosexual sex.  We all know that's not the case, but by being an authority who says it, you will get all the doubters and wingnuts in an uproar.  

One point that he makes is valid - we need more research into ADHD.  The causes, the genetic links, behavioral therapies, neurotherapies, diet, you name it.  We need to know this disorder inside and out and begin actually treating.  We need definitive, irrefutable diagnoses.  We need to be able to give parents HOPE.   

When a child is diagnosed, parents ought to be able to hear how the ADHD will be successfully managed.  We need testing that will tell parents what will work with their child's type of ADHD.  Parents shouldn't have to repeatedly hear about the high rates of incarceration for adults with ADHD. 

I heard just yesterday that researchers may be close to managing 90% of all Cystic Fibrosis cases.  Having known children and young adults with this disease (since there are virtually no surviving older adults with this disease), it's a true blessing that there is hope of a cure...or at least a long-term management plan.

Although autism is diagnosed at rates that were unheard of 20 years ago, awareness has brought expanded attention and options to families suffering with this neurological disorder.  Autism Speaks is a movement that is well known, and that seeks a cure and sustainable solutions that will help children and adults thrive.   

We need a campaign for ADHD.  

Taking a cue from Autism Speaks, at first I thought about ADHD Focuses.  But besides the fact that it's an oxymoron, it just didn't trip off of your tongue.  So I've settled on Focus on ADHD.  We need to focus on ADHD, so that kids and adults with ADHD can focus.   

Focus on ADHD.  Not L. Alan Sroufe.