Barkley suggests that while people with ADD continues to improve with age, their level of self- regulatory behaviors is 30% below that of their non-ADD peers. As a guideline he suggests that one subtract 30% from someone’s chronological age to get an estimate of their self-regulatory behavioral maturity.
Last night was the last intramural mini-meet of the winter swim season, not to be confused with the clinics in the spring, and the summer team which starts in May. Individual champs are this weekend. We got to the meet a little early to register and to check in with the coach because I have become the queen of setting up the little kids for this meet. Our friend K and her daughter little k were already there.
K and k have been our friends since the boys were four and two, and the only diagnosis in our life was Aaron’s food allergies. K has two daughters with special needs similar to Ryan’s and our kids have been friends forever. Only one of her daughters swims competitively but she is now twelve. She only started swimming last year and many of the girls she competes against have been swimming since they were six. Add to that the dreaded immaturity and the other girls tend to keep their distance.
I have similar issues with Ryan. Ryan is 9. Acts 30% younger but is about 100lbs and is the size of most 12 year olds. Actually the 12 year olds try to get in front of Ryan at races because they think he is in their age group and not the 10 and under group.
For Ryan and k that is a hard place to be. It is hard to be bigger or look older than your age but not be able to behave in a way that is expected of you. Often people ask Ryan when he will be a teenager and he shrugs and says, a long time. By the end of the meet last night k was feeling left out not to have gotten a medal, being I know this girl for so long I advocated for her because the girls her age could care less about the medal, but she cared. I talked to the coach and of course, she got her medal.
My friend K then lamented how she felt with her daughter being 30% behind in maturity was making it very hard for her to make friends. Add to this the later introduction to swimming and my friend was feeling bad. I agreed with her that we were living in the same cave. Luckily, my kids adore k and Aaron left the seven year old waiting area to play a game with k before the meet. All the seven year old boys kept saying why is Aaron over there and what is going on. I told them that as soon as the meet started k would send him back. Little k is also eternally patient with Ryan. She tells him off when he needs it but she is never offended or gets upset by him when he cannot wait in line appropriately. Often at practice the coaches put the two of them in line together because they do so well together, which is so rare for Ryan and someone he considers a friend. It is because she does not let him get away with anything and still likes him.
Today I walked and I thought of all of our kids. The not fitting in now is hard but in so many ways a good thing. Aaron although he is neurotypical has patience for kids who are different that some kids don’t have. That is a skill that will be valuable as he navigates the world. Ryan and k are square pegs. They are not in the box types and I am sure whatever they do in the future will be different than the mainstream but that is so important too because the world needs people like them.
For now it sucks, but our kids have each other and as long as we are in a co-ed swimming situation that will all have each other. Which is really the best we can ask for.