The Possum Chronicles: Head to Toe -or- Holy Crap, Something Worked!

08Oct13

As we know, my 8-yr-old, Possum, is exceptionally fabulous in many ways. She is also an ADHD kid, and a rare girl with extra H (most girls are inattentive). She’s very bright (and we have the tests to prove it) but has difficulty with a lot of practical things.

We also know that I WILL NOT hear one single word about overdiagnosis of ADHD or pathologizing normal childhood behavior unless YOU YOURSELF have had to break tasks like “Get dressed” into redirectable steps as small as “Pick up your other sock.”

Because when something gets in the way of this very bright girl getting herself dressed, and it gets in the way every single day, that something is a real thing. She has to deal with this stuff all day long, and we are constantly trying to find ways to make it easier. So when something works, there is cause for celebration. Viva Head to Toe!

Here’s how it happened: one morning, as I was walking her through all her getting ready tasks (still in my pajamas, mind you, because if I walk away to get myself ready I’ll come down to find that although she has written a symphony for water glasses and established a talking school for the dogs, she still has only one sock on) She got distracted. I tried to get her back on task by saying “OK, what else do you have to do? Try this: go head to toe and tell me all the things you need to do in the morning. You need to brush your hair, right?”

To my shock, she started sing-songing: “I… brushed my hair, I washed my face, I brushed my teeth, I ate my breakfast” (we’re at the esophagus now, of course), “I have my snack for later, I have my water bottle, I took my medicine… I have clean clothes, I have clean undies, I have… only one sock!” And off she goes to look for the other sock.

WHAT?! I know. Totally worked, from the first day, and still works. If it doesn’t work for your kid, I have no advice: I don’t know why it worked for mine, it just did. A good supplement is, “Pretend you’re walking out the door to go to school. Missing anything?” That’s good for backpack, homework, extras like umbrellas or boots.

Thing is, we try very hard not to punish symptoms if we know that she’s doing her part and just having trouble. It’s much easier to determine that if you can find some tools that really help her get the job done — then “trying” isn’t about whether she puts the sock on, it’s about whether she’s using her tools.

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