Help for Haiti

Help for Haiti
This organization has been in Haiti for many years. They are trustworthy.

Monday, July 23, 2007

I'll prioritize that...later!

Sometimes there are so many things to do that it's hard to figure out where to start. This is true whether you are organizationally challenged or not. It's easy to become overwhelmed when faced with a long to-do list. I've noticed that the naturally disorganized members of my family have a hard time with the executive functions of initiating and prioritizing, and often they start with less important things that are easier and will take less time to get done. Unfortunately, that often means that pressing matters wait while non-critical items get done first. I have tried to help my son Josh with prioritizing by reviewing his to-do lists, putting stars by the most important items or high-lighting them. (Some of you know that Josh is color blind, but he can still see differences in color contrasts.) I've discussed with him the items that are on a deadline to be completed, and the items that can wait a little longer though hopefully not indefinitely. After one such heart-to-heart chat with Josh, he pensively nodded his head before replying, "Okay, Mom. I'll prioritize that later." Aaarrgh! At least Josh realized the contradiction and gave me one of his famous "maybe being cute will be enough this time" grins as a reward for my fruitless efforts!

Friday, July 20, 2007


Josh tends to take things very literally. As a speech therapist, I have worked with him over the years to help him recognize and understands figures of speech, proverbial statements, metaphors, and to make inferences from what he hears and reads. He has gotten better, although he still tends to take things literally unless it is a familiar phrase or concept. He has also progressed in his problem solving skills, using logic and past experience as a guide.
I am usually glad to see him try to reason things out on his own, but once when I wanted him to follow a direction literally he went in another direction. I had found a recipe for making omelets in a zip-loc bag. It was recommended for families because each member could put the ingredients they preferred into a zip-loc bag and then boil the bags until the omelet was cooked. Then each person could have an omelet exactly as he or she liked it, and it could slide from the bag onto a plate for serving. This sounded like a good idea to me, so I decided to try it out. I mixed up an omelet, put it in a zip-loc bag, and put on a large pot of water to boil. A few minutes later as I worked in another room, I called to Josh in the kitchen to see if the water was boiling. He said it was, so I asked him, "Would you please put the zip-loc bag into the water for me?" His reply was the usual, "Sure!" About five minutes later, I went to check on my omelet, and to my dismay I saw that the bag had leaked and there were rivulets of egg and other ingredients floating around like some sort of disgusting soup. Then I realized that the bag was not leaking...there was no bag! Josh had opened it up and dumped everything in the water. He remembered me saying to put the bag in the water, but that didn't make sense to him and I had never asked him to boil anything in a bag before. So, he reasoned that I must really mean to empty the bag's contents into the pot. For future reference, I encouraged him to ask for clarification if I was giving him a direction that didn't make sense to him.
More recently, I handed Josh a jar of salsa, a bowl for the salsa, a bag of chips, and a bowl for the chips. I asked him to put the salsa in its bowl and put the bag of chips into the other bowl. He said the usual, "Sure" and proceeded to put the salsa into the bowl. I continued on with other things and Josh finished what he was doing and wandered off to play on the computer. I had to laugh when I saw a full, unopened bag of tortilla chips inside a large bowl. I showed it to Josh and asked if that was really his idea of putting the chips in the bowl. He grinned sheepishly and said he just "spaced out" on that one. I am choosing to believe that's the truth.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Do You Have A Napkin?

While riding in the car with Beckie the other day, she called to me from the back seat asking if I had a napkin. I tend to keep a supply of napkins handy, and I was happy she had thought to ask for one instead of just wiping her hands on the upholstery or ignoring a spill in hopes that it would dry without Mom ever noticing it. But Beckie's next question took me by surprise, because as soon as I handed her a napkin she asked if I had a pen or pencil. As it turned out, she wanted the napkin so she could write down a friend's phone number before she forgot it. But a napkin? My first thought would have been to ask for a piece of paper to write something down on. This got me thinking about the way the AD/HD mind works. Scott, my husband, has been writing things down on napkins, receipts, paper menus, envelopes, and scraps of papers ever since I first met him. Our son, Josh, is also a napkin writer. And now Beckie has joined in the practice. The problem is, this system doesn't really work. Napkins and scraps of paper get thrown out. If I notice writing on them, I save them, but often the writer no longer remembers whose phone number is written down. So we have torn off corners of paper with lonely phone numbers lacking owners, but can't throw them out on the chance that the writer will somehow recollect the significance of the number sometime in the future. Since the scraps are often small and irregular in size, there is no good way to store them and make them look neat. I think Post-it notes would be much better to use, or even better than that would be the small spiral bound notebooks that are portable and would prevent the loss of loose napkins or torn off envelope flaps. Each of my AD/HD family members has been provided with these tools, yet each persists in napkin/scraps of paper writing despite frequently not being able to access the information at a later date. My non-AD/HD daughter doesn't napkin write, so I suspect it has something to do with the way the AD/HD brain approaches tasks. Are there other napkin writers out there?