When Judy Kirzner was hired as an instructional specialist at a Cincinnati school for children with special educational needs, she figured her work would mostly be with students and teachers.
Instead, she wound up spending more than half her time with parents.
OK, well, surely they would spend their time on the subject of academics.
Instead, as they got to know her, Kirzner said these mothers and fathers began talking about things outside of the classroom, the way they felt excluded from friends and neighbors because their sons or daughters were different, how their "ADHD wild-child" was tearing their marriage apart and even fracturing their relationships with their own parents.
"They were one more battle in the day instead of being a support system," Kirzner said last week.
"I felt these people needed a voice ... somebody needs to let grandparents know what they are doing, because the grandparents are doing it out of love but it's hurtful."
With the help of online surveys to which hundreds of families with children who have attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder responded, Kirzner wrote a book entitled Help! My Grandchild Has ADHD: What These Children and Their Parents Wish You Knew.
It was initially accepted by a California publishing house, but the publisher wanted to make so many changes to the work that Kirzner withdrew it.
About two years later, Gale Klayman, a friend of Kirzner's and a tutor at the Marburn Academy in the Northland area, learned about the book and asked to read it.
"She was blown away by it and said to Judy, 'You've got to publish this book,' " Marburn Academy Headmaster Earl B. Oremus said.
Spurred on by Klayman's enthusiasm, Kirzner went the self-publishing route and Help! My Grandchild Has ADHD came out May 26, 2012. It has become something of a phenomenon within the ADHD community.
Kirzner will be the featured speaker at Marburn Academy for a special seminar at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, for parents and grandparents about children with ADHD, who have problem with inattentiveness, overactivity, impulsivity or a combination of all three beyond the norm.
The event is free but advance reservations are required by calling 614-433-0822 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.The school is located at 1860 Walden Drive.
"It's stunning," Headmaster Oremus said of the book. "It is a very slender little volume, and that is its glory, actually -- that and the fact it tells the plain unvarnished truth."
"It was probably the best book ever written for a grandparent, parent or anybody who has a child with ADHD," said Northwest Side resident Evelyn Pappas, grandparent of a Marburn Academy student.
"It was a wonderful book. It gave a better understanding of ADHD," she said. "It told how grandparents can help without causing problems in the family, and it talked about all the challenges we all face with a child with ADHD.
"All the information in the book was so encouraging," she said. "I thought it gave some wonderful suggestions and activities. I really, really enjoyed it."
"I've had people say, 'Thank you,' " Kirzner said during an interview while on a tour of Marburn Academy last week. "They thanked me for giving them a way to tell their parents -- these are adult parents telling their own parents -- things that they were uncomfortable saying face to face.
"I'm hopeful that parents will come and bring their parents so that they can hear these things that are so hard to say face to face."
Each chapter in Help! My Grandchild Has ADHD deals with a specific issue, why it exists and how to better cope with it, Oremus said.
"When grandparents follow that advice, what happens is they actually are more helpful to the parents and the child," he said. "The distance that was created among those three generations is essentially corrected. They become allies again instead of seeing things from a different perspective.
"The gift that grandparents bring is most often unrestricted acceptance and affection, not qualified by any hesitance," Oremus added. "It's a wholehearted, true embrace of affection and regard.
"It helps grandparents understand (that) this is neurology, this isn't character."