Now that I work with children with special needs such as autism, I have been tuning more into my past and thinking about this, and also my son was diagnose with Asbergers (or "on the spectrum" as it is now called."
Here is what I told her in an email:
Firstly, here is a video by an "ADD" guy. Please watch it - TED talks are not that long.
I have always been uncomfortable with labelling ADD as a disorder. But there does need to be a word to help people understand that my brain works a little differently. Basically there are powers that I have that others don't, and some simple things I find really hard as my brain is geared for very high focus (when I am passionate about something) and it's hard to concentrate on boring things like calling the IRD to change an email address.
Basically it's more of a creative brain, where you get ideas all the time and think deeply, get distracted by everything, have high impulsivity, have a hard time with discipline and patience. But every person is different, psychologists are just labelling a list of attributes, without saying anything about WHY someone is like that, with a label like ADD.
Writing is a medium that helps me plan my words better than when I speak verbally. For Marie, I can tell you generally the types of advice that WILL apply to her, and to any jumpy distractible kid. But keep in mind that this is a minor disability (for modern life things), and can be worked through.
1. She needs to work MORE on the things she finds hard, not less. With Lucan, even folding the laundry is occupational therapy, as he logically misunderstands many instructions. If Marie chooses to do the wrong thing, please allow her to feel the burn instead of choosing to protect her from it due to her disability. The more you work on things with her the better. Being positive is key. She will likely develop special abilities if she is positive - for me it was becoming far more intuitive. It has helped me from walking out in traffic, or saying the wrong thing to a boss.
2. Things like practising piano, sewing, that take patience will be really good for her, they were for me. Whatever the activity is.
I can make her a kids sewing hoop she can do round a drawing of something she likes.
3. Still needs to be responsible for her self.
My mother helped me learn discipline through sewing - BUT she also shielded me too much from my mistakes... it's ok for Marie to be strongheaded and feel her mistakes. ie my mother always made sure I woke up for school and didn't miss my alarm. What if I had missed one day? I would have been more careful the next day!! I think! Don't let disability make her immune - she will still be able to survive.
4. There are SOME allowances that can be made for different people. ie why does someone have to be severely disabled for people to work as a team with them? I used to get so inundated with sensory distraction at university, all the buildings were filled with noise and shops in the main hall. I used to be allowed to use the disability lounge to get myself organised, look where I needed to go next. Finding out where to go at what time was always hard for me, as I would daydream or get distracted. I also would strand myself at a restaurant or cafe to study, then I couldn't get distracted.
In my adult life I have to be able to communicate well, although it's hard, so everyone can understand me. I have to also stand up for myself - so what if I am different? As long as I do the best I can, I am responsible for this alone.
Let me know what Marie is interested in and I will draw her a little hoop before I go away. Drawing something for a child is easy for me, and it allows them to express themself by their choice of topic.
And they love all the colourful string... (Big easy to use needle, sewing with wool round a picture like a mermaid or unicorn or whatever, and their name.)
In fact, my disability has taught me also how to communicate very well - mediated by writing, and modern graphics, using computer programs etc. If you are positive you can find a way to contribute to the world. And that is the core to what it is about. I now, if I make a mistake and break something, or make an impulsive choice, always - as a responsible person - make sure I repair the harm. If possible improve it. I use creativity - such as when I found someone to fix a teacher's laminator I had broken, and gave their child a knitted toy in return - or it can be as simple as sweeping the whole floor after a spill (and keeping your spirits up about it).
I have learned to keep remarkably good spirits about it, which is a blessing in itself.