Common strategies might include a shared signal that the teacher will give to him when he is beginning to be too disruptive or loud.
The rude finger is apparently not currently in the Department of Education’s Guide to Good Teaching Handbook.
Another strategy is that the school has provided Kurt with is a fantastic ‘get out of jail free’ red card, which is a way of showing respect for his special needs (but which he has unfortunately renamed the ‘Loser Card’, and vowed never to implement). He can show this card to the teacher if he is beginning to feel frustrated or overwhelmed and needs some time out.
Time out options do not include having a fag, popping down to the shop for an iced bun or chatting up the Year 12 girls, much to his disgust. He is given ten minutes in either the library or with a nominated teacher in which to calm down.
Due to the well-meaning, rather avant-garde methodology of his new psychiatrist, who believes that ultimately we need Kurt to come off his medication and learn to manage his ADHD, (which we agree with, even though the psychiatrist doesn’t actually live with Kurt and his foibles), Kurt has now decided not to take his medication at the weekends.
This decision actually has nothing to do with Kurt wanting to manage his ADHD but is primarily for the aesthetic reason that the medication suppresses his appetite and he finds it hard to gain weight.
Entering Year 11 and a new school, he is becoming increasingly more aware of his body image and his physical appeal to girls. Ironically, girls don’t like male stick insects that have no pause button on their vocal chords, even if they do play guitar, so he reckons if he can build some muscle tone, the girls will be so overcome by his physical beauty and charm, they will overlook his skinny frame and obsessions with quoting Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear, being an Eminem clone (and I believe the only white or black rapper on the Lower North Shore) and drumming everything in sight.
This weekend was a particularly trying one for me due to the excitement/anxiety created by his impending school camp this week (what we like to call our 3 day holiday). So I jokingly asked Kurt last night if I could have my own red card for when I need time out.
What people who have no experience of ADHD fail to understand is that unlike the ADHD kids shown on ill-researched and sensationalist programmes generally transmitted by the ABC, the problems associated with ADHD do not only stem from hyperactivity and there are a several social situations where that red card could come in pretty fucking handy at times for close family members:
Like when Kurt has talked loudly and persistently for six hours, generally within 2” of your face at all times and without the understanding that taking turns to talk is a social grace.
Or when you try to watch a film like we did last night and have to pause it a minimum of eight times while he interrupts with ‘ something really important’ to tell you, like what he is wearing to school the following day, the Arctic Monkeys new song, how hot this girl in English is and if I think his pecs have grown over the past twenty-four hours. He will come and sit with us half way through the film and ask question after question about who is who, what has happened over the past hour and when will it finish while simultaneously fiddling with at least three different things on the coffee table, noisily.
Or when he starts drumming at 10pm at night.
Or when you go to the beach and he calls at least six times to ask when you are coming home.
So I asked him what signal or card would work for us, so that instead of shouting at him I could ask for time out. My suggestion of making the cross sign with my thumb and forefinger was received with shock (obviously too far!) as was my suggestion of a dummy remote control. So for the moment, we remain at the strategy that has worked for the past sixteen years whereby I eventually lose the plot’ and flip my lid because I begin to feel like a caged animal in my own home, (because I’m human and not perfect), then run away and lock myself in my bedroom and Kurt knocks on my door until I come back out again.