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From the Parents' Perspective.

Joe and Carol Wojtkielewicz learned to e advocates for their daughter by doing. Amy's first-grade teacher was the first to recognize that their 6-year-old was having trouble focusing and paying attention. Once she was tested, ADD was identified and Ritalin was suggested right away. Joe and Carol were reluctant at first. They wanted to know more about the disorder and what it meant for their daughter. First they turned to their pediatrician. They then discovered that he was less of an expert than he thought he was. They were not getting answers to their questions or concerns.

Disappointed, they sought out information from every possible place they could think to try, including the Internet. From information at the public library, they discovered CHADD--Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder. Through CHADD, they found a children's book about ADD. With Amy, they sat down, read it, and talked about what this would mean to her. They have also had to explain ADD to members of their extended family. With an understanding of how the disorder affects behavior and learning, the family have been very supportive.

Understanding ADD has come to both Amy and her brother, Brian, as they have learned more about it. Some of this has come with simply getting older and maturing. "We explained it to Brian the best we could at, his age," explains Carol. "He really did not understand at that time what ADD was. All he knew was that Amy took medicine every day." Now that he is older, he can grasp what ADD is. "Amy and Brian are very close," Carol is happy to report. "It is hard on him sometimes when she is grouchy at the family or says something hurtful. But then it is all better when she says that she is sorry."

While they admit that it can be frustrating always having to remember that ADD is influencing Amy, Joe and Carol have tried to take the approach of supporting and encouraging her in whatever she has undertaken. "We also have to understand Brian, and help him deal with things when they get tough because of Amy," Carol notes. "It is not always easy, but you ask God to help you every day and to help your child." The number one thing, she emphasizes, "is to love your child and remember that she or he did not ask for this condition." Carol also points out that it is critical for parents to get as much knowledge about ADD/ADHD as they can. Joining a support group for parents and siblings--ADD is hard on the whole family--will help combat the feeling of being alone in dealing with the disorder. Finally, Carol advises other parents to get more than one opinion about treatment and counseling for their child. "We have seen a lot of doctors and counselors," asserts Carol, "the ones Amy has now are great."

Carol and Joe have fought hard to understand ADD and to help Amy deal with it and to develop her own successful approach to the disorder. They credit their commitment to and reliance on one another for the success their family has had in doing so.

RELATED ARTICLE: When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Support--CHADD provides families the support they need.

In 1987, few people knew about, much less understood, attention deficit disorder (also known as attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder or ADD/ADHD). That was the year that a group of parents in Florida with children with ADD/ADHD started a support group to help each other, their children, and their families understand and cope with their frustration and sense of isolation.

Thirteen years later, that support group has grown dramatically to become the leading non-profit national organization for children and adults with ADD/ADHD: CHADD--Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. While the organization--now headquartered in Landover, Maryland (there is also a CHADD-Canada)--has a small national staff, it continues to be run by volunteers. And it has never lost the passion and commitment that launched what has become a major print, electronic, and one-on-one source of information, research studies, and support for people with ADD/ADHD.

One of the key purposes of CHADD is to provide advice and counsel for parents of children with disabilities. Following are frequently asked questions for which CHADD has tried to provide helpful and practical answers for parents in communities around the country.

CHADD

8181 Professional Place Ste. 201 Landover, MD 20785 Phone: (800) 233-4050; (301) 306-7070 E-mail: national@CHADD.org Web site: http://www.Chadd.org

Joe Wojtkielewicz is a purchaser/buyer for the Erie Daily Times newspaper. Carol is a secretary for a private investigator.

J. Carlisle Spivey is a freelance writer based in Connecticut and a frequent contributor to EP.
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Title Annotation:attention deficit disorder
Author:Spivey, J. Carlisle
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2000
Words:793
Previous Article:My Choice For My Life: Coming to terms with ADD.
Next Article:familiar faces.
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