Bipolar Mom, Authoress

A Bipolar Author and Mom's Account of her struggles with daily life.

A Wibbly-Wobbly Ball of . . . Stuff


This makes SO MUCH sense!

Originally posted on autismblues:

Wibbly-Wobbly Ball

Before we start, take a look at this very short clip from Doctor Who, in which The Doctor explains the true nature of time. Trust me, it does relate.

That was pretty good, wasn’t it? Now for the explanation.

In a recent blog post, ASD guru and Aspergers role model Jon Elder Robison tackled the use of terms high-functioning and low-functioning when it comes to describing people with autism. Here’s what he said:

Much has been written about calling people high functioning or low functioning. With all respect to you and your situation, I don’t do it anymore and I suggest you don’t either.

It’s not accurate, and it’s degrading. . . . Suggesting that “you’re a real high functioning autistic” feels to me a lot like “you talk pretty good for a retard.” People say the former to me all the time today, and they said the…

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Childhood mental health disabilities on the rise

Originally posted on The Chart:

Over the past half century, the prevalence of childhood disabilities in the United States has been on the rise, possibly due to an increased awareness about these issues. Now a study published in this week’s online issue of Pediatrics suggests the nature of those newly diagnosed disabilities is changing.

The report, “Changing Trends of Childhood Disability, 2001-2011” found the number of American children with disabilities rose 16% over a 10-year period. While there was a noted decline in physical problems, there was a large increase in disabilities classified as neurodevelopmental conditions or mental health issues, such as ADHD and autism.

“We found that that physical disability health conditions in children were down 12%, but the disabilities related to mental and neurodevelopmental health went up 21%,” said lead study author Dr. Amy Houtrow, chief of the Division of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

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Genetics play a bigger role than environmental causes for autism

Originally posted on The Chart:

Genetics plays more of a role in the development of autism than environmental causes, according to new research published Sunday in Nature Genetics.

The study found that 52% of autism risk comes from common genes, while only 2.6% are attributed to spontaneous mutations caused by, among other things, environmental factors.

“These genetic variations are common enough that most people are likely to have some,” said Joseph Buxbaum, a researcher at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and one of the lead authors on the study. “Each one has a tiny effect on autism risk, and many hundreds or thousands together make a significant risk.”

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Teaming up with Google to find autism cause

Originally posted on The Chart:

The cause of autism is still unknown, but researchers hope harnessing the power of Google will help them solve this neurodevelopmental puzzle.

The research and advocacy group Autism Speaks announced Tuesday they are collaborating with the Google Cloud Platform to build the largest autism genome database to date. The collaboration, known as The Autism Speaks Ten Thousand Genomes Program (AUT10K), will combine extensive DNA databases with cloud storage technology, in hopes of “moving mountains” in autism research, according to a press release.

Autism Speaks believes the AUT10K program holds the potential to radically transform ASD genomics research. “Working with Google is a game-changer,” said Rob Ring, who is the organization’s chief science officer.

This collaboration is part of a larger movement in the medical field to use big data to speed research efforts. IBM’s supercomputer Watson, for instance, is helping oncologists find treatments for a rare aggressive brain cancer in…

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Xanax-related ER visits double in 6 years

Originally posted on The Chart:

Alprazolam, the prescription sedative more commonly known by its brand name, Xanax, is being implicated in a spiraling number of emergency room visits, according to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Over the past few years, the number of ER visits associated with misuse of the drug more than doubled. In 2005, the number of patient cases involving Xanax was 57,419, and by 2011 (the last year for which there is data), there were 123,744.

“We have been clamping down on opiates (prescription painkillers) but Xanax is becoming a fast-riser in the game,” said Dr. Howard Mell, an emergency room physician based in Cleveland, Ohio.

“It’s not even a little surprising,” he said of the new figures. “I wish it was.”

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Stay-at-Home Moms: Not Who You Think They Are

Originally posted on TIME:

The phrase Stay At Home Mother generally conjures up two images: the nice Midwestern mom with a car pool and a husband with a nine-to-five, or the highly educated former career woman now channeling all her hard-won achievement and scholarship into finding the exact right kind of juice box and organic cheese stick. But the data keeps suggesting that both these images are off the mark. Increasingly, the stay at home mother is beginning to look like a woman who doesn’t have too many other choices.

This is not to say that most stay at home moms are only staying home because they’re no good at anything else. Rather, it’s that an increasing proportion of the women looking after their kids full time are having a tough time of it. They can’t find well-paid work and they can’t find childcare that would make less than well-paid work worthwhile. Average weekly…

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Living on Minimum Wage

I’m usually not the type of person that keeps up on what’s going on in the outside world. I tend to slog through my days, doing what I do and focusing on the here and now. I take care of myself, my kids, my house, and occasionally I work. But I do have a few thoughts to contribute every once in a while, just don’t expect them to be particularly informed. These are opinions, formed mostly from my personal experience.

I am a person who did not attend college. Well, some, but not enough for a degree of any kind. I did become a certified CNA, but that doesn’t really make much difference when it comes to income.

My first job as a CNA in 2000, I made, I think, 6.95/hr to start. I did get over 7 dollars per hour before I switched jobs, but just barely. The next few CNA jobs, I was making $8/hr. Then I ended up working in a hospital in Omaha where I made about 9.25. Still not much, but it was okay, at the time, for a CNA job. After my husband and I got married, I stopped working except for a few odd jobs I picked up every once in a while. I spent some time working at a hotel laundry, but I don’t recall how much I was making. Definitely less than 10/hr though. When we moved back to Iowa, I got a job as a Home Health Aide, bringing me full circle back to my CNA roots. That one was about 8.10/hr. I left that job in August of 2011 and have been casually looking at others since. I’ve applied to hotels thinking I could do housekeeping, other facilities as a CNA, and even Wal-Mart.

The problem for me, and a lot of families, is child care. I am fortunate that all three of my kids are in school, but depending on the job, I’d still have to find child care for evenings and/or weekends. I was offered a job in 2012, doing some CNA work in a residential facility for adults with disabilities. I REALLY wanted that job, but there was no way to make it work. All the hours were after school, and every other weekend. After doing the math, I realized I would have little to no money left just after paying the babysitter. I had to turn that job down.

Over the years, I’ve thought about it a lot. I hate not working, but at the same time, its not really worth it. As an individual with little career training, I’m not likely to make more than a few dollars over minimum wage, and that is the case for a lot of people in the same boat. One boat in particular – military spouses. There are those who’ve gone to college or have had training for decently paying careers, but I can tell you it is HARD to get a new job every time you move. For us its been every 4-5 years, for some it is more frequently. That’s why most of the military wives I know are stay-at-home moms.

I have been fortunate in that I have found a job I am very qualified for, but took no training. I’m not sure if extensive experience is necessary, but my personal experience with special needs children probably didn’t hurt. I am a substitute para-educator at our local elementary school. The wages are great, all things considered, and the hours are perfect for a mom. If I chose to do it full time in the future, it would be great income. I can even take the experience with  me when we move; I’ve already looked at the website for the school district we are hoping to go to in NY and they pay their paras 12.75/hr. So yeah, its one of those rare entry-level jobs that pays well… but at the same time, not just anyone can do it.

Let’s play pretend :) Say you’re part of a two-parent household. One spouse works full time cause, ya know, someone has to. Then there’s you. Hmm… well, you have no college education, so you’re pretty much stuck with some type of entry level job. There’s places like Wal-Mart, who pay their employees absolute SHIT considering all the dicks they have to put up with when working customer service. Or you could work in fast food; more dicks, same bullshit wages. And who’s going to watch the kids while you’re making McFlurries? The babysitter wants HOW MUCH??? Ridiculous. Yep, maybe you should just stay at home.

Oh, well, if you do that, you don’t feel as if you’re contributing to the household. And maybe your spouse feels the same way. You’re both a little angry and you fight about finances all the damn time. You don’t get much of a vote when it comes to managing money, cause hey, YOU aren’t the one working for the dollar. Oh, you “need” a new car? You don’t even work, so you’re not worth the cost. You’re already going stir crazy from spending all your time at home with the kids, and now its worse…

Example #2 – You’re a single parent, with a dead-beat ex who almost never pays child support. You also have little college education, and you’re forced to work for just a little more than minimum wage. You make… let’s say $9/hr. You and your kids have to live in a tiny one bedroom apartment because you can’t afford anything bigger. (If you’re reading this, you know who you are.) You have a car payment, and piles of debt that you’ve racked up. You are on food stamps, and have to get child care assistance from the government. Maybe its just me, but wouldn’t it make more sense to raise the minimum wage so we can get you OFF the government assistance? (And don’t give me shit about the debts, cause almost everyone has some.)

But I digress. The point is, minimum wage, as it stands, is not enough for the average family. Yes, AVERAGE! Why is that? Welp, people can’t afford to go to college anymore! Even if you do get student loans out the ass, it’ll take you around half your working life to pay them off, and you’ll continue to eat ramen noodles 5 days a week until you do. You STILL can’t afford to raise a family. You probably have to work two jobs, and maybe your spouse does too. A CNN Money article states that most recently, around 260,000 college graduates were making at or below minimum wage. Cause just having a degree doesn’t guarantee you a good job. How the hell do we get outta this?

I’ll tell you. Colleges need to STOP increasing their fucking tuition so god damn much. And government assistance needs to focus on educating people and finding them jobs. Less enabling, more empowering. Look into it. And finally, of course, minimum wage needs to go up. I’m not saying it has to be twenty dollars an hour, but for fuck’s SAKE this is ridiculous: the Federal minimum wage at the moment is 7.25/hr. I’ve already explained why most families can’t live on that. With one hour of work, you can buy… a pound and a half of hamburger. Maybe. Two gallons of milk. But you’re never ever tasting steak again. So, ya know, if there’s any possible way to regulate the ridiculous increase in prices of essential things like food, utilities, gasoline, etc… that’d be great. Again, not super educated on this shit, I’m just… I dunno, pissing into the wind or something. Its futile.

Personally, we’re good right now. My income is mostly disposable.. kind of. I spend it on shit like soccer gear and new shoes and books. The military, in most instances, takes good care of us. We aren’t wealthy but we’re comfortable. But I HAVE been down that far… I have been a single mom with poor income… I have been on WIC and food stamps and gotten things from food pantries. I can sympathize with these poor souls  who are struggling to survive in a country that doesn’t seem to understand how unbalanced it is. Just know, I am on your side, as are many others, and hopefully together we can affect a change.

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But if you’re dead set on it…

There are those of us that, despite all the reasons not to, will still have children. A friend encouraged me to make a list for positive things about parenthood, and I acquiesce. Apparently, despite my best efforts, my last post made me look like a baby-hating bitch. That’s not at all true, and I’m going to prove it.


7. Unconditional love.

Yeah, you love your partner. And you love your friends, but so many things can ruin a relationship. And while some things can throw a wrench into our relationships with our children, for the most part a parent’s love is unconditional. You love them even if they get arrested, suffer an addiction or disease, you love them regardless of their sexual orientation. Even if, every time they come to a crossroads in life, they still manage to choose the worst possible path, you will continue to love them. Unconditionally. And even though they will say they  hate you about 80 billion times over the course of their lives, they love you too. Its a special love, completely different than how you feel about your own parents, siblings, friends and lovers. It is pure, it is sweet, and it is never-ending. A piece of you unconnected by any visible means, but more precious to you than your own old, ugly, failing body.


6. Wonders await you.

Ah, the first steps. The first word. That time you were in a crowded elevator and your little guy said, “Mommy pick me up, I can’t see! Your butt is too fat!” May not seem funny at the time, but trust me, it will be. There are so many experiences singular to parents. Its amazing to spend so much time with these tiny people, watching them change and learn and grow. You will, as the years pass, find yourself marveling at them, waxing nostalgic on those early days spent cuddling that sweet little cherub-faced bundle of chubbiness. Their first day of school, when you are more nervous than they are. Teaching them to cook, to drive, to do their own laundry! Oh blessed day! Every single time they say, “I love you” puts a mark on your heart. There’s nothing comparable to the preciousness of those moments.


5. Leaving a legacy.

You always hear, “Maybe he’s the future President!” or, “One day he’ll grow up to cure cancer!” These are a little optimistic, and we don’t want to put too much pressure on our little ones, but the possibilities are endless. One day they (probably) will grow up to be contributing members of society, in their own way, be it large or small. And you, the parent, get to stand there with pride in your eyes, and tell people, “That’s my kid!” They will have an impact on the world, and you will have made it your life’s work. Raise them right, and they will make you proud.


4. Grandchildren.

You sometimes hear grandparents “joke” that the only reason they had children was to get grandchildren. I personally look forward to the day when I can enjoy the company of little ones with all the fun and none of the work! I know my kids are always better behaved for Grandma than they are for their own mother, and one day I will get to wear that smug little look myself. (Bastards.) Grandkids are their own special joy, filling the days of retirement, begging to be spoiled and loved to bits. Its not the only reasons to do your part to continue the species, but its a damn good one.


3. Someone has to change your diapers.

Seriously, though. One day, if you are lucky, you will grow old and decrepit enough to not be able to care for yourself. You will at LEAST need someone you can depend on to toss you into a home so you don’t die on your bathroom floor because you’ve had a stroke and can’t reach the phone. You  may lie there for a week until you starve to death, possibly having landed on something lumpy that will wear deep, deep bedsores into your bottom. Yep, I’ve seen that with my own eyes, and its not pretty. So yes, it is important to have someone care for you in your dotage. Its the circle of life, American edition.


2. Because what else is there?

Oh sure, you might want to have a career, or a social life, or hobbies. But for me, my dream was always to become a mother and housewife. A little dated, I know, but I couldn’t imagine anything more meaningful. Though I have since learned that there are many, many occupations that can enrich your life and the lives of others, parenting is still by far more fulfilling. In my opinion, of course. This is an opinion piece. Duh. Even so, some parents can do it all, bless their motherfucking hearts. If you can do it, do it. But some of us have had to choose between work and family, and I chose family. And I don’t regret it one bit.


1. Your future best friend.

Our relationships with our children evolve over time. In the beginning they are utterly dependent upon you. Then they begin to grow into their own person, and as they do you drift apart and back again. At a certain point after entering adulthood, you realize… you are contemporaries. You’ve both reached a certain maturity and can now relate to each other, even while continuing to learn from each other. They may come over for a cup of coffee while their kids are at school, and you find yourselves having a conversation that you never thought would happen when they were slamming their door and screaming their hatred from the top of their lungs. You’ve made it, they’ve grown up, and now you are good friends. Its a satisfying feeling, I hear.


When it comes down to it, the choice is yours. Don’t let anyone, even and especially me, influence you. There are ups and downs in parenting, and you just have to decide if its worth it. I mean, it is. All of it has been worth it. But that’s me, and you are you. Do the benefits outweigh the negatives? You decide.

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7 Reasons NOT to procreate.

Now just wait a goddamn minute. This is not another “My kids are assholes” rant, even though they are. Okay, maybe a little, but these are all perfectly valid reasons to not have kids. And I’m sure we all know that person or couple who doesn’t want children – this is my effort to help parents understand those people, and to let those people know I do not blame them one bit. Some of these reasons will come across as purely selfish, but one can argue that having children is selfish as well. These are also all reasons childless people have given me for why they don’t want children. And I’m not claiming perfection myself, or saying I’m better than others. Just that I’m judging you, harshly. Here we go!


7. Your career will suffer.

Some people can make it work. It is certainly harder for single parents. I am married, but my spouse is not usually here. I do feel like a single parent at times, and it has affected my ability to work. My last job, I was only able to work part time, during school hours. No weekends. There just wasn’t a good option for child care. Even if I were able to find someone, I’d have ended up paying them almost all the money I made, so what would be the point? Now I’m working as a substitute para-educator with our elementary school. Its only weekdays, only school hours. No holidays, summer off – basically whenever the kids are home, I’m home. And I don’t have to work 40 hours a week – sometimes I don’t work at all for a week or two. A lot of mothers end up staying home with the kids, and they feel guilty about it. I know its hard to feel like you aren’t contributing. Even if both parents do work full time, there is always the possibility of having a child at home sick, because most day-cares and schools won’t allow a sick child to come in. Then there’s soccer practice, and doctor’s appointments, and all manner of frustrating things you have to take off of work to deal with. And when you do work, you feel guilty. Working mothers often feel like they are neglecting their kids, or they feel like taking a day off isn’t fair to their boss. It can prevent you from getting promotions or being able to do your share of the work. I’m not saying you have to choose between kids and a career, but its a lot easier to be successful with just one of those things instead of both. And you have every right to choose career – don’t let anyone tell you different.


6. Your social life evaporates into the ether.

Okay, this may seem unimportant, and it isn’t necessarily true for everyone. There are those with enough wiggle room in their budget to afford a decent number of nights out. But a lot of parents will go out less frequently with the arrival of each child. The more children you have, the harder it is to find a babysitter willing to watch them all. If you’re like me, you have guilt issues and HATE pushing your kids onto an unsuspecting teenager, even for a few short hours. And you feel bad for leaving your children. Its ridiculous, but its instinct. I tend to overpay, which in turn leaves me cashless for the next possible social affair. Eventually you resort to only going to places you can bring your kids, such as family functions or play dates. When you’re finally able to spend time with another grown-up, you feel like a dying man in the desert who comes across an oasis. It is pure and sweet and life-giving, and you treasure it. You may even cry a little, reducing the chances that this person will ever want to see your crazy ass again.


5. You will never have extra money, ever ever again.

Its no secret. Kids are hard on your wallet. An article on CNN Money states that the average cost of raising a child for 18 years amounts to $241,080. That’s assuming you don’t end up supporting them for the next however-long-it-takes-to-get-them-out-of-your-basement. Those numbers take into account the cost of childcare, food, health care, housing, clothing, transportation and the occasional miscellaneous expenses. Did you see college on that list? NOPE. College is extra. My husband and I started saving for each child when they were born – our 13 yr old currently has 2,000 in his savings. That will get him a few credit hours, surely! You can always hope for scholarships, of course, and they can acquire their own student loans, but who wants their children to start out their careers in hopeless debt?


4.  Your mind will break.

This one may be colored a little by my own experiences, but its still appropriate. Having children makes you crazy. For starters, women get “pregnancy brain” causing them to be forgetful or absentminded. I remember once putting a spatula in the freezer for no discernible reason. Even 7 years after my last pregnancy, I have moments like this. There is no cure for pregnancy brain, you simply have to learn to live around it. I can’t remember how many times I’ve whacked my head on a cupboard due to inattentiveness… probably because the pregnancy brain won’t let me. But that’s a form of stupidity; lets look for a moment at how the little parasites can send you screaming and frothing at the mouth. For a few years I wasn’t able to take my youngest to restaurants or stores, because he’d have meltdowns that I simply couldn’t control. Get off the floor, don’t put that in your mouth, share, stop screaming, no hitting, that is not a urinal. But this type of behavior occurs at home as well, and I swear to god one day I’m going to have a stroke. Its cool, I’ve taught them how to dial 911. Some day you will see me on the news as the mother of a brilliant, life saving child… and I’ll be in my hospital bed weeping and moaning, “Why didn’t you let me die??” Anyway, there are plenty of us already affected by mental illness. Depression is prevalent, and we have seen increases in many other disorders. Can this make parenting difficult? I am here to tell you it can. We had all of our children prior to my diagnosis with Bipolar Disorder, and I sometimes feel that it was selfish to have them, when I couldn’t be the mother they deserve. My husband and I have decided not to have a 4th child because of this. Furthermore, teenagers are famous for sending their parents into hysterics, simply by experiencing puberty. Do yourself a favor – if you don’t want to end up in an institution, listening to your roommate furiously masturbating all night, every night, just… use birth control.


3. Population control.

This may seem crass, but its a real concern. There are roughly 7 billion people on this planet, and growing. Due to advances in medicine, people are living longer, and we are less capable of taking care of our elderly. As a CNA, I watched many an elderly patient waste away in a nursing home, rarely visited by their relatives. Its a heartbreaking sight. We’re basically shunting them off to a place where they won’t get in the way so we can build our own little families. That isn’t at all fair. You also have to consider the drain on resources – food, water, etc. How many children are starving, or freezing, or dying of disease while we keep on fucking and bringing more of them into the world? In my opinion it is just more socially responsible to put a leash on the genitals and slow this down a bit. Maybe just have one or two instead of 5 or a dozen. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt really have something going with their adoption strategy. And maybe China isn’t so wrong, either. Maybe. Kind of.


2. Some people are just not fit for parenting.

I can say this, because I’m one of them. I’m not judging. Well, I am. A little. The standards for what makes a “good parent” are pretty ridiculous. All you have to do is love your child, right? Well, that is important. But you have to make sure they are healthy and happy as well. If you aren’t able to provide for dental and medical insurance, among other things, its pretty irresponsible to be having kids. This is why I am all for the availability of birth control for all. I don’t give a shit if the owner of your company is catholic and doesn’t believe in it, its kind of a basic human right to choose whether or not you want kids. I bet the logic behind it is, “Well if we don’t give them birth control maybe they will try abstinence.” Um, yeah right. EVERYONE is having sex. And its apparent that they’re going to do it whether or not they have birth control. And if you deny women their birth control, there will be an increase in abortions and toilet babies, and probably suppurating infections. An ounce of prevention, people. Come ON! I’m not saying the poor and the disabled should be sterilized, because as I said, basic human rights. But we need to increase education and encourage people to make responsible decisions about their reproductive health. We need to take a long hard look at ourselves and ask, “Will I be a good parent?”  or even, “Is this the right time?” More people need to do this; I wish I had done it. I would have waited. Don’t boohoo at me on this one; you all know someone that you think should have never had kids, you know you do. And finally…


1. Its a shitty, shitty, shitty, shitty world.

Alright, so I mentioned hunger and poverty, but that isn’t all this Hell has in store for our little ones. There are various types of crime, from pedophilia to kidnapping, to domestic violence and even murder. Maybe your child won’t be directly affected by these things, but even indirect exposure (such as watching the news) can be traumatizing. There are natural disasters, accidents, school shootings, childhood diseases and disabilities, and a lifetime of sadness and heartache. Even thinking about my daughter being rejected by a love interest brings me pain. I want to protect them from everything. And I can’t. You can’t. We can only do our best, but it is not always within our control. Maybe you and your spouse get into a car accident, leaving your children orphans. Maybe there are no family members who can take them in, and they end up in the foster system. Which is oftentimes its own special level of hell. I know, I know… you have to let them experience things, such as “simple” heartbreaks, so that they will grow to be well rounded adults… but there are a lot worse things out there. Evil things that no one should ever have to go through. Maybe its extreme, but then again maybe its merciful.


Despite my frequent, angry ravings, I love my kids, and I wouldn’t ever go back and not have them. Yeah, I often wish I had gone to college first. I wish I didn’t get knocked up at 19 and spend the next 3 years as a single mother. I wish I had never been mentally ill, because I could be a much better parent if I weren’t. I’m not exempt from any of the above reasons, even if it does make me hypocritical. This is the voice of experience talking. In a perfect world, we’d all have plenty of money and be perfectly stable. But this will never be a perfect world. All I can ask is that if you do have children, do the best you can. Not for me or for the rest of society, but for them.

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Doctor: ADHD Does Not Exist

Originally posted on TIME:

This Wednesday, an article in the New York Times reported that between 2008 and 2012 the number of adults taking medications for ADHD has increased by 53%, and that in the case of young American adults, it has nearly doubled. While this is a staggering statistic, and points to younger generations becoming frequently reliant on stimulants, frankly, I’m not too surprised. Over the course of my 50-year-long career in behavioral neurology and treating patients with ADHD, it has been in the past decade that I have seen these diagnoses truly skyrocket. Every day my colleagues and I see more and more people coming in claiming they have trouble paying attention at school and at work, and diagnosing themselves with “ADHD.”

And why shouldn’t they?

If someone finds it difficult to pay attention or feels somewhat hyperactive, “Attention-deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder” has those symptoms right there in its name. It’s an…

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