This I Believe

Kate - Marietta, Georgia
Entered on December 17, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: family

My sister, Tess, was recently diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. She is seven. I believe in weaknesses becoming strengths.

Tess was put on countless number of ADHD medicines; none of them worked right. One made her close up; at her own birthday party she looked uncomfortable and out of place.

“Hey Tess, want to come play over here?!” her friends called. Her eyes lit up for a moment then dimmed like a flashlight with dying batteries.

“No thanks” she muttered, most unlike herself.

The next one didn’t work at all; she still couldn’t sit still. We were sent to a psychiatrist in hopes that she could mix medicines and find a formula that would help. We have found one that works well, but makes her lose her appetite. We have to feed her milkshakes and high calorie foods to compensate for her weight loss. But before we found one that worked, I remember being fed up with her uncompleted sentences and lack of self control. Even though I knew she had ADHD, I still thought she should be able to control the constant tapping and humming and all around squirminess.

On top of that, she has to go to “Syllables,” a reading help center, three times a week. Although she has progressed rapidly and is trying harder than I can imagine, I fear that our five-year-old brother might soon surpass her reading abilities. Yet she still struggles through, slowly gaining the confidence and skills she needs to read a book without stumbling over every word.

Around the time she was first diagnosed, I remember reading a book with her.

“And the hen said ‘Wh…ho…how?’” she read.

“No, it’s ‘Who.’ It’s all right. Just keep reading,” I encouraged.

“And the hen said ‘Who will help me with the bread. Wh…ho…how?’”

“No Tess!” I exploded. “It’s ‘Who’ again. Just like before! Come on!”

It was and still is very hard for me to fully understand her troubles, but I am learning how to help rather than explode. My sister faces these problems daily with a smile and a song; dancing her way through life. From her I have learned patience and perseverance. She has taken her weaknesses, focus and reading, and pushes through, even though this could cripple someone older and more experienced than she is. She hasn’t let these difficulties overwhelm her. Now, when she has trouble with a word, we work together to sound it out, and I try not to get mad or impatient. I also don’t get mad when she hums or taps or fidgets. I gently tell her to stop and help her focus.

I believe in weaknesses becoming strengths. Tess is now much calmer and reading “Junie B. Jones” books. I, too, am calmer. Tess and I work together to become better: better at reading and better at being sisters. I believe in weaknesses becoming strengths.