Last week, I received an IDD call from a family in the States to seek help. Their 20 years old daughter was not going to school for some time missing deadlines for assignment and examination, despite her genuine interest in her film studies in Hong Kong. My hunch, at midnight, was crisis approaching. Whilst my barely awake brain vaguely unfolded an image of a gifted young. Last year, she was referred by me for specialist evaluation of ADHD. Treatment effects in the first few weeks sounded positive and promising. Not long, I didn’t see her again.
Alas. A young adult quitted proper treatment (e.g. medical and behavioral treatment) struggling with her college and social life since mid 2012. Falling short of the treatment regime was not uncommon in similar cases. It’s simply because old behavioral patterns (disorganization, negative self esteem, lack of effective habits and self control etc) stayed unresolved whereas increasing demands (school and social responsibilities) kept overwhelming the affected individuals. No wonder, crisis gained ground inexorably.
I simply felt sad about the stress and burden overloaded the whole family, preventable though.
Similar stories repeated all the time. How long would it take for individuals affected by ADHD to realize the costs of under treatment?
The other day, I set off to where my young client lived to save her mental effort from going all the way to my office at the Central district. She would be retelling a story of her unpleasant experiences (dismissed by the school owing to prolonged absence from classes and exams). Saving her energy is therefore good (meeting at her place). I understand that retelling a sad story is effortful whereas reliving the pain of derailing from a desirable goal of life is but nightmare.
Restoring some orders in the chaos of adverse situations, in this case school crisis, of gifted student is my work. Gifted students, across age levels, who are in need of advocacy for their multiple exceptional needs, often turn out to be great learning experience for all, including their caregivers. There are always chances for breakthroughs. Who knows?
Meetings, one after another, in a week or so, with personnel, faculty, crisis conference and so on emerged to be positive. Rescuing actions had to be timely but successful.
One night, I brought her out for a buffet dinner with her classmate because deep sharing seldom took place in the consultation room. As rule of thumb, good smell and fine food is magic. She seldom resisted food and heart to heart sharing. I enjoyed all topics of our conversation over the dinner table. Her favorite topics covered deep and wide, from great movies as social and moral enterprise to shared knowledge in a global community. Giftedness is stronger than wine when the intellectual charm in her was filled in the air.
Like nutritious food for my brain, her critique of movies appeals to the mind, body and soul of ours.
Seriously, her perceptiveness, passion for movie appreciation, convincing critique were admirable. School failures? Who cares!
Despite the irresistible intellectual charm of this young woman, she was not able to handle most daily life routines and put her thoughts into visible product (e.g. Written assignment, short essays, story writing). What I learnt in my grad school is methodologically sound. Whereas what meant to be meaningful and desirable to my client matters more than the clinical interpretation. I tried very hard to clear up the theoretical and actual mess in real life cases, as such.
Finally, I made a choice. I simply go for the medical model (e.g. ADHD, Performance Anxiety etc etc) and follow the protocol of treatment sequence for appropriate behavioral changes. It is an easy way out, overseeing the symptoms whilst overlooking the person as a unique individual. To quit, or not to quit.
Another viewpoint, I need to hold on to my faith in her and try to understand and help realize her giftedness . Letting go the neurodevelopmental model all together feels like a leap of faith. Wow, it’s hard to cross the great divide. Is it appropriate to forget about the milieu of what an ordinary person should be? Should I simply focus my eyes on realization of her true potentials? Forget about her age, developmental abd social milieu, obstacles inside her brain wirings and beyond?
Fine. In the name of love, I choose to put my faith in her unique giftedness.
I spy with my narrow perspectives to understand individual giftedness in real life situation. After all, it is her life. I choose to embrace giftedness rather than defining it inside the box of performance.
It took 8 days to restore her student status at the college. I believe that she will fall again. Who won’t?