Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Add and retrieve favorite identities

I have to admit at the outset that I have a difficult relationship with the label Attention-Deficit-Disorder (ADD). I don’t think it’s just a problem of attention (or H for occasional sitting hyperactivity), nor am I comfortable with deficit lenses, and I certainly don’t think it’s considered a disorder. can be explained in But, for lack of a better word, I’ll use ADD.

I may have a difficult relationship with labels, but I have an intimate, long-standing relationship with people with ADD. Having a son and husband who struggle/those with it and working with children for over 30 years has helped me gain live experience and hard-earned knowledge that no degree or books could ever give me She was

If you’ve met one person with ADD, you’ve met one person with ADD. Still, I want to share some themes that have really stood out to me while living and working with ADD.

ADD is neurodivergence, not a deficiency: Society has created these iron-cast expectations that it wants all kids to be fit – to sit calm, pay attention, and do as they’re told. In my understanding, the struggles with timing, attention, and conformity are some of the biggest challenges that children with ADD face, the same things that are seen as high currency for success in our busy culture. Take, for example, Krishna, in whose school ADD labeled him as being “lazy,” “unmotivated,” and his curiosity was misinterpreted as “disobedience.” But what was missing was that Krishna was trying very hard, doing everything he could to please his teachers, but with the assembly line of the school, the timetable, class work, homework, exams. Learning, went against their strings. He loved to question, ponder, discuss, connect the dots to understand his world in his time. He was a scuba diver in a bunch of jet skiers.

ADD like X-Ray reveals fault lines: a single storyline of “Has the Ability But Doesn’t Try” will follow Krishna through his school life, robbing him of his sense of agency, leading to despair. , “What’s the matter anyway?” He used to imbibe the idea of ​​success/failure of society and isolate himself from the world. He will not be alone in this isolation as we are witnessing this trend in millions of children, youth across the world. They stay in their rooms, refuse to go to school/college and spend their time sleeping, numbing their pain with screens, various addictions and other self-harm. The Japanese have also named this event Hikikomori. It is so much easier to spot the problem in these young people than to see that perhaps this was their only option of escape. As Rahil explained to me, “My room is the only place where I feel safe.”

ADD sheds light on issues of social injustice: Children are explicitly blamed for ADD or hikikomori and intensive treatment is planned and mapped to heal them. But are they the problem? For example, let’s say that during the peak of pollution in Delhi, we only focused on treating children’s lung problems without looking at the polluted air that was causing harm. No amount of chest specialist, medicine, nebulizing will help us get anywhere. Where and what is the problem? Does it live in the lungs of children or in staggered industries, crop burning, heavy traffic and careless governance?

I met Krishna when he was 21 and was battling depression and suicidal experiences. I learned from his parents that as a little boy Krishna was an extremely inquisitive child who loved reading, learning about space, marine life. But over time, his stories were not adequately viewed as news and did not make headlines. They remain lost in the fine print of society’s definition of a good student until he becomes invisible and returns to his room.

Together we explored how it was not in the form of ADD but rather rigid and repressive ideas of success that robbed her of her sense of agency and meaning. In our discussion, we talked about what they called the “i3” function:

Internalization of the problem – “I am the problem.”

Invisible issues of social injustice – “I am guilty.”

Isolating myself – “I am unworthy, unfit, and I do not belong.”

Favorite identity and reclaiming the future

Collective: Feminist, LGBTQ, civil rights movements have taught us that nothing can be achieved on an individual level. We have to come together to raise our collective voice through protest campaigns, spoken poetry, dance, writing, podcasts. Various forms of resistance to our cultural standards of “normality” and “worthiness”. I asked my husband what helped him, and he said, “Doing what I love to do, being with people who believe in and advocate for me and for my ADD.” Never apologize.” So, to all parents, let’s keep the faith and stand up for our children.

Agency: Think about a recent time when you did something, no matter how small, that you entered with a sense of curiosity, joy, and that was in line with your value. What made you decide to do this? What was your intention or purpose? Do you remember a time in the recent past, maybe two to three years ago, when you did something like this? Or maybe even as a young child? What common threads do you see in all of them? It has been fascinating to me to see how many young people with ADD find a sense of agency with nature work or the practical skills required for deep sea diving, sports, mountain trekking, wildlife photography, conservation. The same activities that are happening in our school curriculum.

Values ​​and Hopes: When you looked and considered the questions, did they highlight what was important to you? Do they tell you anything about what your nutrition is and what is important to you? If you continue to take these steps, what possibilities could open up? And, as you answer these questions, there may be a voice that may dismiss these steps you are taking, or even your hopes “useless,” “doesn’t matter.” Will have.” Watch it, give it a name and take care of it. In our conversation, Krishna shared with me, “I let some random societal expectations determine my worth. The steps I am taking may seem minor to the world but to me they matter.”

So, develop your tribe, capture what is most precious to you and do what it takes to regain the life you love. One subtle step at a time.

in solidarity,

(Shelja Sen is a story therapist, author and co-founder of ChildrenFirst. In this column, she gives information about children and the youth they work with. She can be contacted at [email protected] )


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