Anna is an enthusiastic 11 year old who has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). She has trouble paying attention and staying focused, and has to remember to think before she acts.
Anna’s parents, Fred and Emily Perry, were very excited when Anna came into their lives. They had been trying for two years to adopt a baby when they began working with an international adoption agency. When Anna was three months old, she came from an adoption agency in South Korea to the United States and began her new life as a member of the Perry family.
As a toddler, Anna was into everything. Most two year olds are very active, but Anna was exhausting. Even the day care teacher would tell Anna’s parents, “Your daughter is cute but she sure is a bundle of energy!”
When Anna was four, it became apparent that there was more to Anna’s behaviour than just a lot of extra energy. In her preschool, she would run around the room and climb on the furniture. She began disrupting her play group by always taking other children’s toys. As Anna’s mom explained, “Anna was a joyful child but she was constantly moving and getting into everything at once. As a parent, I didn’t feel like I had any control.”
When Anna began first grade, the difference became even more obvious. Although Anna was very intelligent and was progressing rapidly in school, her parents were constantly receiving phone calls or notes from the teacher saying that Anna would not pay attention in class and was disruptive. Although her parents spoke to her frequently about her behaviour and gave her a lot of “time out,” Anna’s situation didn’t change.
At the beginning of second grade, Anna’s teacher, Mr. Lombardi, noticed Anna’s problems right away. He called her parents in for a parent teacher conference and explained that Anna had a lot of the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Anna’s parents were confused about this term but gave their permission for Anna to be evaluated. As Fred Perry, Anna’s father explained, “We were so frustrated and exhausted we were ready to try anything.” After several tests, including a medical history, a medical examination, observations of Anna at home and in the classroom, and behaviour assessment. Anna was diagnosed as having ADHD. Once Anna and her parents realized she had ADHD, many things in their lives began to improve. At school, a special team of school professionals and Anna’s parents put together an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for Anna. This plan outlines specific strategies designed to assist Anna with her school work and to help improve her social skills.
The evaluation team, which included Anna’s pediatrician, all felt that medication would be appropriate for Anna. Her parents were nervous about this, but after doing a lot of research and speaking extensively with the doctor, they agreed to try it. As Anna says now, “My medication is just like a pair of eye glasses – it helps me to focus on my work!” Anna is now 11 and is in the 5th grade. She is continuously learning new ways to cope with her difference, ADHD. Several times a month, she meets with the school counsellor to review her goals and talk about any problems. Anna also visits her doctor to talk about the medication and to confirm that it is working well for her. Finally, Anna and her family meet with other kids who have ADHD and their parents at the Mental Health Center. They discuss various problems which can arise in a family as a result of ADHD. Anna’s parents feel it is important to educate Anna about her South Korean heritage. Every summer, for one week, Anna participates in a Korean camp where she learns about her cultural background. They make different kinds of Korean food and do Korean arts and crafts.
Anna has many friends who think she’s got a good sense of humour and is fun to be around. She is very outgoing and active, Anna enjoys individual sports like swimming and running. One day she hopes to be a triathlon athlete. Anna is learning that she is able to do all of the things she wants to do. She explains, “If I’m feeling frustrated or out of control, I know now that I need to tell somebody, like my mom or dad or my teacher.” Although Anna gets frustrated with herself once in a while, she is learning to use all her creativity and talent to become the person she wants to be.
©The Kids on the Block, Inc., 1995
Another web site to visit:
Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)