updated 1 Feb 2012, 22:29
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Mon, Jan 30, 2012
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My kids give me ADHD
by Clara Chow

OF LATE, attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been in the news a fair bit.

For those who have not been paying attention (hur hur), studies are suggesting that about 4 per cent of adults may have ADHD. Symptoms include getting distracted easily, being chronically forgetful and even talking incessantly, interrupting others and fidgeting constantly.

Basically, just think of kids who get up for multiple snack/ toilet/drink breaks in the middle of doing their homework, while doodling, watching TV shows and yakking with a friend.

But before you get worried and run out to get yourself diagnosed, it seems that there is still a fine line between having ADHD and being frazzled from having a lot on your plate.

I know this because I recently read an article in Vogue magazine about a woman who thought she had ADHD and went through expert testing - comprising interviews and surveys about her daily habits - only to be told that, while she displayed some of the traits of the condition, she didn't have it.

As I speared some salad with my non-magazine-holding hand and absent-mindedly aimed the fork in the general direction of my mouth, while keeping an eye on the page I was reading and on my kids, I wondered if more adults are getting ADHD simply because they are spending more time with their kids.

After all, as anyone who has these rugrats will know, they are incredibly distracting. Pop one out and suddenly you won't be able to hear yourself think. At all.

On an average day, my two sons - Julian, five, and Lucien, two - demand so much of my attention that I'm often in the red, where that's concerned.

They scream, tug at my skirt, beg to be carried, fight and cry at the most inconvenient moments. If I were a poet, I'd describe the experience as being akin to a thousand Coleridge's persons from Porlock arriving, one after another, at my door.

Last week, I sat at the dining table, trying to cough up part of an 8,000-word research paper on Korean films for graduate school, while Julian picked at his lunch next to me (he doesn't finish it if I don't sit, like a sentinel, next to him). The episode went something like this.

Me: (typing) The missing child trope in contemporary Korean cinema symbolises...

Julian: Mummy, why does this book have a price tag that says £1.50? How much did you pay for it?

Me: (trying to ignore him, while still typing) children should be missing and not heard...

Julian: Mummy? Mummy?

Me: (stopping with the typing) I bought it in a bookshop here, and it was three books for $10 and, no, I did not pay in pounds, I paid in Singapore dollars. That's just a sticker from the British warehouse it came from.

Julian: Oh. I see. Do they use cents in Britain?

I blinked desperately at the computer screen after losing a chain of thought.

Here, there is a merciful 10-second pause.

Julian: Mummy? How do people use fossil fuels?

I gave up typing and got a snack and drink, and went to the toilet before calling my girlfriend to yak.

British author Virginia Woolf famously wrote in an essay that "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction".

May I also add that, if said woman has kids, she might want to invest in soundproofing the room, a steel vault door and tamper-proof locks to keep the ADHD-transmitting children at bay.

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