Wednesday, July 17, 2024
HomeLIFESTYLESweet ADHD

Sweet ADHD

I have a daughter that is in the third grade. She is brilliantly vibrant, sweet as Kool-Aid in the South on a hot summer’s day, and very age-appropriately awkward. She loves astrology, Pokémon cards, and she collects rocks. She is a true gem. My daughter wants to sing like Alicia Keys. She is obsessed with Beyoncé, and she dances to the beat of her heart’s drum. My daughter plays rough and tumble with the boys and sits pretty with pouty pink lips with the girls. She is an amazing big sister; and a devoted, caring friend. My daughter is obedient. She is respectful. She is a good girl. My daughter is dyslexic, and she is also ADHD.

Although my daughter is now in the third grade and thriving. It has been a journey to get here. First, I must acknowledge that when we first began to realize that she may not be retaining information like her peers, it was difficult to process. Not only because she was three years old, but when discussing what we were experiencing to other parents nothing was ever a problem with their children. Funny thing, people rarely want to express any outliers in their children’s education. Everyone wants to have smart children, and they can, but all children do not learn the same way. Adults don’t even learn at the same capacity so its crazy that we expect children too.

My daughter was three years old attending a very small predominately black school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana when we met with her teacher who expressed concerns of ADHD. I’ve also found that in the culture of black people, no matter what part of the world we come from, most of our elders DO NOT believe in Attention Deficit. Which made it even more interesting that this seasoned teacher was suggesting such a thing. This article is not about how our community needs to take another look at the science behind ADHD. It is also not about how ten percent of students are diagnosed with ADHD and how many of those are children of color. This article is also not about how some teachers will suggest that a child is ADHD so that they can be medicated and not be bothered with the child. This article is about my little girl and the journey we’ve been on.

At the time, I thought “this lady is absolutely crazy if she thinks I’m going to allow her to label my child at three years old! Hell, at that age they’re all ADHD or ADD”. And I was right. However, as my daughter got older; we found ourselves having the same conversation with different teachers, from different backgrounds, at different schools.

By the time she was in Kindergarten, I was meeting with her teacher once a month. Not because of her behavior but because I knew it was important to stay on top of things in the classroom. She was not retaining much of the information she was given. Her teacher constantly used words to describe her in our meetings like “immature”. This drove me crazy. She wasn’t doing well with her Sight Words. She was social. She whined a bit, but she was only five. I remember using Hooked on Phonics when I was her age, but by the time I was in second grade, I was a top reader in my entire grade. Maybe she was just going to be a late bloomer. She began writing words and numbers completely backward and mirrored. It was intriguing to look at. I brought this up to the Kindergarten teacher and asked if she thought we needed to have her tested. She brushed me off and said she didn’t notice anything wrong and that my daughter was just “immature” for her age. When I spoke to the social worker for the school who was in charge of testing, she told me that Miami Dade schools only test for learning disabilities if the child was failing and that my daughter was probably just a “C” student, and that is okay. She tried to console me by telling me that my five-year-old was just average and there’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe if my daughter was in the fourth or fifth grade and had been through schooling for some time, that would have been an appropriate response. But not for a child just beginning her educational journey. I knew what I had to do. I had to put in the work and find a solution myself. The school wasn’t going to help.

I began to do research on how to have my daughter tested for learning disabilities in the state of Florida where we lived. It was horrific. After weeks of research and meeting with doctors, specialists, and completing and collecting evaluations from the teacher, we finally made some progress. My daughter was ADHD. Now seven and not three we worked for weeks to find the right Behavioral Specialist. We hired a tutor. We changed her diet. We did behavior modifications. We did everything we were supposed to do as responsible and caring parents. She was still struggling. We put her in a Montessori school. This was probably the best thing for my daughter. Although, this may not be the answer for every child facing the struggles my daughter faced, it was a winning decision for our family. My daughter had teachers that genuinely cared about her progress. She was in an environment where she was not scolded for being a kid. There was no pressure of three hours of homework. There was positive reinforcement at every turn. She was in a small group, so she had more one on one attention. The Montessori program groups kids with the same teacher for three years, so she had lots of security. She learned from the older kids and she bonded with her peers. Eventually, we welcomed a small dose of medication and the dose has been the same for the past three years, never an increase. My daughter was doing great. She wanted to begin participating in extracurricular activities, so we put her on the volleyball team. One of her friends was a Girl Scout, so we signed up.

When I was a kid, I was also a Girl Scout. I was excited for my daughter to have the opportunity to do all the amazing things that I was taught from the Scouts as a child. She was excited to sell cookies. She loved being apart of the crew. She was a Girl Scout for an entire year with troop 1917 in Tropical Florida. Lol. Although from August to February she was much more involved, than from February to the end of the season. This happened for several reasons; one being I began a temporary job at the Nuclear Plant that took a lot of my time and I wasn’t always able to take her to the meetings. The meetings happened every other Friday and because we lived away from our family, I did not have much support with carpooling. Other reasons were because the other mothers would glare at me when I dropped her off as if Girl Scouts were a mother-daughter bonding experience and not an opportunity for our daughters to learn and gain independence. The other girls made comments to my daughter about her participation in events that we could not attend, and it would make her sad. So, when the season was over, I was a bit relieved… Until it rolled back around, and she began asking about Girl Scouts again. She begged to go back, and who was I to take that from her? She went back. The first meeting was also an informative meeting for parents. I was surprised at the number of new girls that were there. The second meeting my husband dropped her off. I was at the salon getting my locs retwisted. He informed me that he filled out the Emergency forms (this was new, they didn’t have this last year), which also provided information about my daughter’s medication and that she was ADHD. I thought very little of that being included in the emergency form until I arrived to pick her up.

The girls were preparing for their first camping trip of the season and my daughter was so excited. I called the troop leader to ask if I could also bring my little one because again, we don’t have family in the area. The troop leader responded by telling me the cost of bringing another child (even though, I’d already read the cost). When I told her that was fine, she proceeded to explain to me that if I did not bring my youngest daughter it would be a great opportunity for me to bond with my eldest. I thought she was out of line, but I didn’t want to be problematic being that society is quick to attach the “Angry Black Woman” stigma anytime a woman of color does not comply with what she’s told. When I arrived to pick my daughter up from the second meeting, the troop leader asked to speak with me privately. The girls were still at their tables and I arrived early enough to watch my daughter interact with the other girls. I proceeded to follow the leader to a more secluded area so we could talk. The first thing she said to me was “I’m going to have to ask that you stay with your daughter for all other girl scout meetings from this point on”. I was confused. It’s not that I don’t want to be a present parent, but I use my time differently. Instead of staying at meetings for two hours with forty girls every other Friday after work, I would rather volunteer my time as a chaperone for a parade route or camping. I asked if something happened and she told me that my daughter was a distraction for the other girls. She basically made her out to be a problem. This upset me. But again, it is so important that I conduct myself in a way that when I communicate, she hears my words and not my emotions. I asked how long my daughter has been an issue for her. She tried to retract her words, but they had already been spoken. I told her it was interesting to me that my daughter was a member of her troop for an entire year and not one time did I receive any notion that she was misbehaving. I never received a phone call, text, or email. This was the very first time anyone had said anything about my daughter’s behavior. Then it all came rushing to me at once! My husband filled out that emergency form and gave them too much information. Now they have taken ADHD and attached it with being a problem child. Something that happens way too often and more frequently to children of color. There was a stigma. Not the one I had been very careful to avoid, but the one that she attached to my daughter who was ADHD. The stigma that says children with ADHD are bad kids, they misbehave, and they do not listen. I told the leader if she knew anything, she would know that I am an advocate for my child. I also do not tolerate disobedience and we have a firm discipline system in our home. If she had spoken to me about any issues that she was having with my daughter, I would have addressed them. I would have had a conversation with my daughter and all the adults that she is with, in my absence and we would have discussed what our expectations are of her. She would have understood, and she would comply. Because that is the character of the child that I am raising.

Nevertheless, that is not what happened. The reality is that the leader saw something on a sheet of paper and ran with it. In a troop that had very little diversity, why would I have expected anything different? I pulled my daughter from Girl Scouts and it broke her heart. I couldn’t leave her there to be mistreated in my absence. Eventually, we found our way around that issue and she became an independent Scout. Yes, that is a thing lol. But she will forever have the experience of being discriminated against because of something that made her a little different.  (This is also a problem for parents who need a diagnosis but are unwilling because they do not want their children labeled.)

She continued school and as I said before, she is thriving. Later that same year, we received the evaluation from the Psychologist in reference to her dyslexia. She is still attending the Montessori program and we have switched over to a high protein diet and we make sure she gets her Omega-3’s. My daughter won’t be on medication forever. She will grow out of it. She will always have her father and me as her biggest advocates and cheerleaders. We vow to always pay attention. We vow to always have her back. She will not be a number in a school system that is broken and can’t fix itself for children of all learning backgrounds. I have a daughter that is in the third grade. She is brilliantly vibrant, sweet as Kool-Aid in the South on a hot summer’s day, and very age-appropriately awkward. She loves astrology, Pokémon cards, and she collects rocks. She is a true gem. My daughter wants to sing like Alicia Keys. She is obsessed with Beyoncé, and she dances to the beat of her heart’s drum. My daughter plays rough and tumble with the boys and sits pretty with pouty pink lips with the girls. She is an amazing big sister; and a devoted, caring friend. My daughter is obedient. She is respectful. She is a good girl. My daughter is dyslexic, and she is also ADHD.

Author: Anyea Vargas

Anyea Coleman Vargas is a 30-year-old Creative residing in Miami, Florida. Born and raised in Baton
Rouge, Louisiana with roots as far as New Bern North Carolina. Anyea is the owner of Melanin No.5 “A
Good Vibes Company” selling handmade goods such as lavender sage wands and lavender Milk Baths.
Anyea is the wife of her high school sweetheart, Carlos, and together they are the parents of two
imagination experts; Demi and Violet. Anyea briefly studied at Southern University before relocating to
Miami, where she now attends Miami Dade College. Anyea has been writing since the age of eight
mostly focusing on poetry. Anyea has a children’s book “Nice to Meet You”, making its debut in May
2020. For more information on Anyea and upcoming work, follow her on Instagram @melanin_no.5 or
@ahn_yay.

Feature photo by by Zach Lucero.

RELATED ARTICLES

2 COMMENTS

  1. Phenomenal, Awesome article. Most profound statement “This article is about my little girl and the journey we’ve been on.”, “I thought she was out of line, but I didn’t want to be problematic being that society is quick to attach the “Angry Black Woman” stigma anytime a woman of color does not comply with what she’s told. I support you being a mother who is paying attention and vowing to do whatever it takes that’s in her best of interest. That’s what GREAT mothers Do. But remember you had Great Role models. Great article.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

- Advertisment - The Virtuous Hour Radio Show Ad

Most Popular