Personality trait or attention disorder?

Lexie has always been full of energy. Because of her horrible eczema when she was little we often indulged her – allowing her to be a little more rambunctious than her brother. She was so uncomfortable all the time but always a happy girl. But getting her to listen and follow directions has always been somewhat of a chore.

Even her kindergarten teacher mentioned it last year. She was often always moving around and not seeming to pay attention, but she did well when tested.

Now she is in the first grade. We had her spring parent-teacher conference in February. In addition to keeping up with her reading tutoring, her teacher, Mrs. D, mentioned Lexie’s trouble focusing. She said compared to the other kids, Lexie stands out. By this time in the year, her teacher expects her to follow the rules and to work hard. But Lexie continues to get up during work time to come talk to Mrs. D.

We easily read between the lines that her teacher thought she might have an attention disorder such as ADD or ADHD. Of course, Mrs. D is not a doctor, but she has been teaching for 29 years – 20 of those at the first-grade level.

Her teacher did talk about how research has shown this is a medical disorder and through either therapy or medication, Lexie might be able to concentrate better – if she is actually diagnosed as having a problem.

Mrs. D stressed that she didn’t want to alter Lexie’s bubbly personality, but she was worried about her decline in grades and how she would do in second grade when the work becomes harder.

I have mentioned this conference to a few friends, and they have wondered what we wonder – is this really an attention problem or is it just part of Lexie’s personality that she bubbles with energy. She never sits still out dinner. One of my friends mentioned her eight-year-old son is the same way and he doesn’t have any attention problems.

Can Lexie pay attention? Well, yes if she wants to. She can spend hours playing video games or with play-doh or fake snow. And as with many kids, she would rather be playing than doing homework. Ugh – homework is always a chore with getting her to stay on task and finish the assignment rather than go off on one of the hundreds of tangents that she seems to want to go down.

Of course mention of Lexie possibly being ADD brought out instant denial by both sets of grandparents. We heard everything from the teacher is to blame (can’t control the kids) to she isn’t being stimulated enough (as in the work could be too easy) to she is just behaving like all kids do. This is coming from people who raised kids in the 80’s and have memory of parents being told to drug their “unruly” children. In other words, they don’t see this as a real medical disorder. Or at least not one their granddaughter has.

I don’t know what to believe. My husband and I have commented in the past that if either of our kids had ADD it would be Lexie. She appears to draw the short straw when it comes to medical problems. From amblyopia to eczema, she just seems prone to more medical issues than Jase.

I don’t know if she has an attention problem in the medical sense but I do know that I want her to do well in school. In her current state, she may need help doing that. So what we have decided to do is speak to her pediatrician about it at her well-check appointment, which will be next month. Once we know more, we will know which way to go with helping Lexie do her best in school.

Where did this outgoing, friendly girl come from?

“That girl is going to be my friend,” my five-year-old declares as we find our seats in the school cafeteria before my son’s first-grade shoebox float parade.

And with that, Lexie goes over to the little girl and introduces herself. Morgan seems a little unsure of the outgoing girl before her but within minutes, the two are sitting together talking.

CIMG1108I love that Lexie has this attitude. Every little girl is her friend as far as she is concerned. In fact, while standing in line for a ride at Six Flags, she gets invited by another girl to sit with her. By the end of the ride, they are already making plan together as if they have known each other for months rather than minutes.

As much as I love this attitude, I don’t know where it comes from. Neither my husband nor I are outgoing. I am not the type to go up and introduce myself. At a party, I will be the one hanging out in the background, observing everyone else. (Hopefully, all the observing is beneficial to my writing.)

I have always been slow in making friends. I don’t tend to open up and talk about myself to very many people. I contribute some of that to my childhood. My father was in the Air Force, and we moved a lot when I was little. I was always the new student. I think that helped reinforce my shyness.

My son, Jase, is very much like me. He is the type that needs to observe and analyze before he takes action. He needs time before he feels comfortable with new people, situations or experiences. For the first two years of preschool (ages 3 & 4), he barely spoke to the teacher. This shy attitude was part of what convinced us to hold him back from Kindergarten. By the time he finished his Gift of Time class, he was more outgoing. As I write this, he is playing with some boys he met at Lexie’s dance class. On the first day, they approached him because he was playing a video game. It took him a class or two, but now he looks forward to playing with these boys. In fact, they all bring Legos and have a blast playing together.

But if the tables were turned, Lexie would have been the one approaching the other kids on the first day. She is definitely not shy. In fact, she will talk to anyone, often non-stop as if everyone is thrilled to hear what she has to say.

Of course, this outgoing, friendly attitude has me concerned about her talking to strangers when I am not with her. This is an issue that has not come up, but we will definitely be having some discussions about strangers in the next month to prepare her for the summer’s activities. I want to instill rules such as not going off with any of these new friends, but I don’t want to necessarily change her wonderful outgoing, positive attitude that others should want to be her friend. As with everything, it is a balance act.