Friday, February 25, 2005

I'm special. Special-Ed

Our next door neighbor mentioned to us yesterday that they learned their daughter, Juicy’s little sister, has ADD. It doesn’t surprise me. I could see the signs. What surprised me was Susan’s behavior when she said it. She whispered it. It’s not herpes for fuck’s sake, it’s ADD.

I asked her if she had started Miranda on Ritalin yet. Oh, hell no! Ritalin? Put my child on drugs? No way, Mister! My daughter’s not doing that. We’ll handle it through diet.

Jesus Christ. You fucking nut job. So yeah, cut back on the sugar which is good because Miranda’s about as juicy as her older brother and could probably benefit from a less sugary diet. But swearing off ADD medication because you don’t want your school nurse to know? Because you don’t want your family to find out your child isn’t cerebrally perfect? Give me a fucking break.

I have ADD. It ain’t no big thang. I don’t take Ritalin, but mine is mild and can be controlled through caffeine alone. My grandma figured that out early on, way before it was vogue to diagnose a special attention deficit disorder. She called it “milk coffee” and she fixed me a cup every time I came over. The milk was to disguise the flavor that naturally repulsed the normal 7 year old kid, but after a cup I was mellow, more patient and focused. Mom didn’t drink coffee and my old man worked so damn much the last thing he wanted when he got home was a jolt of caffeine. She compensated with diet soft drinks. No sugar, but plenty of caffeine. We didn’t even know it had a name, we just knew I was better after a can or cup of the big C-word. Grandma said my uncle, her son, was the same way. Of course he was. ADD is genetic.

I’ve written several posts at the end of the day when the coffee has worn off, such as A-D-D, and this one which I didn't even realize was so multi-directional until the next day. For me, it feels like someone has jumped behind the wheel of my brain and shoved the gas pedal through the floor. Everything whizzes by at mach speed and I never fully wrap my mind around something before it’s a thing of the past and I’m on to something else. I’m not a slob, but my place was never what you’d call kempt prior to Jasmine moving in. I’d fix a sandwich and forget to put the knife away because my mind had moved on to something else while I went through the motions. I’d put a load of laundry in the washer and not remember it until two days later. Unfinished tasks became my trademark. I’m not unwilling to finish what I start, just forget that I started it because something else came along. Without my caffeine fix it’s impossible for me to see something through to the end. I lose focus. And it’s not multitasking either because I don’t complete anything at all.

ADD affects the right side of the brain, the creative side. It intensifies it. This list here distinguishes those who showed clear indications of having it, Mozart, Beethoven, Picaso, Frost. To me, it’s cool. I’m naturally analytical and logical which are left-brained tendencies. But then I have sparks flying on the right side that, without coffee, can be pretty entertaining when I sit down to write something. That’s why ADD is more often diagnosed in males than females, in my opinion. I suspect it displays equally, but women’s ability to multitask and their natural lean to the right side of the brain masks it. It’s very easy, very easy to recognize. Does speed relax you? ADD is chemical, not mental. You can’t control it with your mind if it’s your mind that’s out of control. And unlike the rest of the pathetically bland, normal population out there, we don’t get hooked on speed. It’s entirely non-addictive for us because the chemical that creates a dependency on it is missing in our brains or so low it can’t impact it. That’s what makes us ADD. It's not the same as being scatter-brained. If caffeine wakes you up or makes you jittery, this is not your problem.

The way I see it, Miranda’s lucky. It’s her mother that has the problem.