As I mentioned in part 1 of this blog, when the kids arrived at camp, they each came with some information regarding behavioral issues and diagnoses. As a social worker, I have always found diagnostics fascinating. The list that arrived with the campers included Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (duh. Put twelve kids together and you’re bound to have one kid with ADHD), Bi-polar disorder, difficulty interacting with other kids, immaturity, and finally, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). When I saw those letters, ODD, listed next to a little seven year old girl’s name, let’s call her Susie, my heart jumped a little. ODD is not a common diagnosis and I had never worked with anyone diagnosed with it, that I knew of anyway. Considering I was already concerned about getting all these kids through the weekend unscathed, this was like throwing a wrench right into any ideas I had about things going smoothly.
The symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder can make people quick to become angry and lose their temper. They often have issues with authority figures and will act out in a defiant manner. They can be spiteful, vindictive, and purposefully try to annoy others. Upon learning that one of my sweet little campers had ODD, I was terrified thinking about the difficulties that were coming my way. I envisioned a little child running wild in every direction, screaming mercilessly, and doing everything in their power to disrupt all of the other kids around her.
When Susie arrived, I thought for sure I had read the manifest wrong and it must be some other little terrorist with the diagnosis. Susie was quiet and just stood near me looking around at the other kids. Regardless, I kept one eye on her, just waiting for something unruly to happen. As the day progressed, Susie was just a delight. She talked to me regularly, politely asking to be able to play this game or have her turn at the juggling. She wanted to hold my hand and sit next to me in circle. Sometimes I would look over at her and would just be looking up at me with a sweet smile on her face. Early in the first afternoon, poor Susie was stung by a bee. I didn’t even know it had happened until she walked up to me and pulled on my pant leg with tears in her eyes. For the next hour she just wanted to sit on a bench with me and watch the other kids. Throughout the whole weekend, she had her ups and downs, just like every kid in the group. By the end I just adored this little girl and was so thrilled that she was in my group.
Susie was a gift to me. She was a wonderful reminder to never let a person’s diagnosis define them. Never see a person for a label. It might be a part of who they are, but it’s never more than that.
If you have a an adopted child with or without behavioral issues and are looking for family therapy, please give me a call. I would love to talk to you and your chosen family.