Brian Jensen was a punk. He worked at the pizza place a lot of my friends worked at and he thought he was the baddest, best looking, most envied guy around. No one liked him, but he couldn't see that. He attended the local community college (and flunked every class) and drove a five year old Grand Am with a $5000 paint job and lived in his parents' basement. When he would return from a delivery an hour late, or twenty dollars short, or when he'd hang up after taking an order with no address or phone number, he'd shrug and say "I have ADD." It was his answer to everything, because it had always worked. He'd been medicated since first grade and had never learned to do so much as tie both of his shoes in a row. He played video games and read comic books and admitted that they were the only things that could hold his attention because the explosions and fights "changed things up every couple of seconds".
When my daughter was 8 and the doctor suggested ADD as a possible cause of her falling grades, Brian Jensen was the face that popped into my mind. I agreed to have her tested, and gave the questionnaires to her teachers, and filled out the parent portion myself, but the whole time I was thinking, "She can read a Harry Potter book in one day! How can she have trouble focusing?" It wasn't until the doctor told me that it was ADD that it was explained to me. Everyone can focus on stuff they like; kids with ADD just can't focus on anything they don't. It's not by choice, just an inability to buckle down. But still, did I want my kid to be Brian Jensen or worse, whatever Brian Jensen would become if unable to get his pills? If Ryan did have ADD, I told myself, it was a mild case and she could learn to focus despite the obstacle. And then if she found herself without insurance, or in a new town with a new doctor unwilling to write the prescription, she wouldn't find herself incapable of keeping or finding a job.
That was 4 years ago. There's a boarding school Ryan wants to go to, an actual goal she has, that depends in large part of grades. And in the past year I've gotten phone calls about forgotten homework assignments (including ones she was looking forward to), papers left on her desk at home over and over again, and even once when she hit a kid without even realizing she was doing it. Classic ADD behavior. So I finally broke down and asked for a prescription, and it costs $150.00.
It sucks to finally come to terms with the fact that your kid needs a crutch, only to find out you can't even give it to them. And Tom tells me that a kid who can read a whole book in one day can't have ADD anyway, and that she needs to just buckle down when she doesn't like something. It feels like there's no one to talk to about this, no one who will understand how hard it is to try to walk the line between denying your kid help she needs and not letting her stand on her own two feet. And every day that I spend wobbling on that tightrope is another day she doesn't have the help.
I can't help but wonder; if the pills were free, would Tom have such an objection to them?