Falling Through the Ceiling: Our ADHD Family Memoir by Audrey and Larry Jones, MD
The memoir of Audrey and Larry Jones and their three sons demystifies ADHD in childhood and beyond.
A blend of love, humor and real-life irony, Falling Through the Ceiling makes sense of the nonsensical, shedding light on the challenges of living with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). These stories offer the real-deal reality of living with a house full of ADHD, including the ups, downs and chaos of what happened and the consequences of such. The authors, a married couple of 45 years, offer experience, practical insight and what they learned from counselors, research and their own mistakes to assist people coping with children and adults who are affected by ADHD.
Sharing their personal life challenges with the effects of ADHD, this is a real, sometimes painful, story written to help families recognize and navigate to controlling chaos and unlocking the gifts of ADHD in their children and themselves.
“We were struggling to make it and created codependency and unhealthy enabling habits. What we did, and what we didn’t do, to help our sons didn’t work, many times. The behaviors simply continued and morphed. If we had it to do all over again, we would have done things better and differently. We feel that other parents, by walking with us through our journey, will gain strength and courage to move from frustration to stabilizing behaviors and living resiliently.”
—Audrey and Larry Jones, authors, Falling Through the Ceiling
Purchase Falling Through the Ceiling: Our ADHD Family Memoir by Audrey and Larry Jones, MD
Paperback: 200 pages
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
About Audrey R. Jones & Larry A. Jones, MD
Married over 46 years, Audrey and Larry Jones are parents, grandparents, and fun-loving mates who enjoy each other’s company, civic, volunteer and cultural activities and frequent traveling. They had a whirlwind spring romance in 1970 as college students, married in late summer of 1972, and in four years had three sons, one right after the other.
As expensive, dangerous behaviors continued to be repeated, they sought help from teachers and therapists regarding their children. During his adolescence, each child was diagnosed with ADHD, just as hyperactive disorder was becoming a recognized clinical condition. For at least 20 years of his career as a pediatrician Larry did not link his children’s symptoms and signs of ADHD to himself.
In 2008, Audrey was stricken with an illness, which took its toll on her health and led to a permanent disability. Her gift of recovery included an opportunity for Larry and Audrey to seriously reflect on their sons’ actions, starts and misfires as young adults pursuing college educations and meaningful employment as they all lived with the challenges of ADHD. Rather than just writing about the road to recovery, Audrey and Larry chose to tell their whole story, with the intent of helping other families acknowledge and address behaviors that can adversely affect couples and families.
Message from the Authors
For us Falling Through the Ceiling is a blend of love, humor and real-life irony. We make sense of the nonsensical by shedding light on our challenges of living with attention deficit disorder (ADHD).
Our stories are examples of the things that can happen when ADHD runs rampant and untreated for parent and three sons. That is what defines the universality of our stories. We fell into the same trap as many other parents, thinking that Drew, Jay, and Rob were just lazy and willfully not completing assignments in school. Parenting is probably the most humbling experience of your life. Few of us are trained in parenting and we encounter events in our children’s lives, which should lead us to professional counselors and therapists. Our darling children can throw us off kilter because they really do the darndest things.
We were struggling to make it and created codependency and unhealthy enabling habits. What we did, and what we didn’t do, to help our sons didn’t work, many times. The behaviors simply continued and morphed. If we had it to do all over again, we would have done things better and differently. Hopefully our stories will give other parents relief, support, courage and solutions.
Connect with the Authors Online
Black Pearls Magazine Intimate Conversation with Audrey and Larry Jones, MD
Audrey Robinson Jones left Kansas to attend Wellesley College, graduating in 1972 with her degree in anthropology/sociology, planning to be a social worker. Instead, she worked in healthcare administration for almost 30 years with her husband, including running his multi-office pediatric practice for 24 years. She also earned master’s degrees in healthcare administration and business.
She became managing partner of an airport concessions company and purchased two business franchises with her sons. At the same time, she and her husband built a loving home with three sons. As life unfolded, her sons and husband were diagnosed with ADHD. Managing businesses and four ADHD males took its toll on her health.
In 2008, Audrey was stricken with an almost fatal autoimmune disease. Recovering and retired, Audrey remains a vital force, including participating with Larry in several international health missions trips. At home, she continues to lead a local food pantry, something she’s done for over fifteen years, in addition to family advocacy activities.
Larry Albert Jones, MD, grew up in the 1950s with an overprotective mother and grandmother in a poor section of Memphis, Tenn. His childhood was greatly impacted by the village of educators and church folks who recognized his intellect. That village launched Larry to Wesleyan University, Johns Hopkins University and The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Unfortunately, he lost his mother to cancer before his 20th birthday, but his path was set. He began to notice how much time he required to maintain his college GPA as he prepared for medical school. Keeping his eye on the prize, he persevered, never considering that he would later be diagnosed with ADHD.
For at least 20 years of his career as a pediatrician and parent, he did not link his children’s symptoms and signs of ADHD to himself. While being an effective and popular clinician, he lived in denial about his own diagnosis.
Larry is currently a departmental medical director for the SSM Healthcare System. With treatment and counseling, Larry is pursuing community projects, including facilitating a STEM program with elementary school students in Ferguson, MO.
BPM: As doctors and parents, how has that influenced your writing?
AUDREY: We had difficulty understanding my husband, the doctor’s, behaviors and the learning and attention struggles that he had in medical school, residency, and working in his own practice. He was still in denial even after our sons were diagnosed with various types of ADHD. But Larry did not receive a final diagnosis and begin treatment until my psychologist recommended testing.
We started thinking seriously about how our stories would help other parents and affected adults understand what ADHD looked like and the path to unlocking their talents and gifts. I wanted to share this story because both Larry and I thought we could help parents like the ones in his practice who were silently suffering from the effects of ADHD in their families.
LARRY: The clash of parent vs. physician is a major struggle that other professionals will have as parents as well. In work situations you have control, over your life, but as a parent you have much less control and you are faced with situations that are challenging and filled with emotion and doubt about whether you are doing the right thing. My objective was to write as a parent while using my clinical background to provide depth and understanding.
BPM: Tell us about your new book. What do you hope readers take away from it?
LARRY: We want parents to understand that they are not alone and that there is help available, and how to find that appropriate help.
AUDREY: We want our readers to: Recognize defiant, daring behavior leading to failures, including sexual acting out, running away from home and inviting danger. Find the resources necessary to support your children in growing through ADHD to unlock their exceptional personal gifts. Get out of the way of progress to do everything to make your family whole and healthy, even admitting when you’re wrong. Nurture their children to become independent adults with clear and realistic goals, along with the solid approaches to achieving them.
BPM: Give us insight into your primary message.
AUDREY & LARRY: Falling Through the Ceiling: Our ADHD Family Memoir is a book about the challenges encountered by both parents and children as they cope with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We provide our accounts in a parent-to-parent view of the obstacles in raising children with ADHD.
We want to inspire parents and adults living with ADHD symptoms to stabilize frustrating behaviors which allows the gifts of the ADHD brain to emerge and flourish.
BPM: How do you find or make time to write?
AUDREY: We worked with a writing coach and editor because of my impairment from my illness. It has truly taken a village to bring the project together.
LARRY: Working full-time, I could only write evenings and weekends. Many of the stories required lengthy discussions to recall all of the details of the events. Audrey and I had the discussions during walks and driving trips.
BPM: How much research went into sculpting this story?
AUDREY: Since our sons were diagnosed, I have sought answers from educators, therapists, other mental health professionals, and all types of counselors. I tried to read books that I really didn’t understand. I began reading articles online during my recovery because of our grandchildren.
LARRY: I was able to draw on my experiences treating families with gifted ADHD children.
BPM: What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write?
AUDREY: My favorite chapters to write was “Falling Through the Ceiling” because for the first time our son shared his personal recollection of trials controlling his behavior. I told the story as an example of why parents needed to see God’s grace in parenting. When he literally fell through the ceiling from the attic to our home office, he just called it a painful lesson that changed his perception of the consequences of his behavior.
LARRY: My favorite chapter is the “Samurai Swordsmen”. It was through this trauma that we discovered the strength of the bond between our two youngest sons. The two were always squabbling about something and never seemed to be friends. Rob protected Jay from getting into trouble for cutting him. Then after the surgery Jay made himself available to help Rob in any way that he could to express his love for his brother.
BPM: Talk us through your experiences as a self-published author. Why did you go down this route?
AUDREY: Being serial entrepreneurs, we view managing the production and selling of our book and other media as a new business venture in our retirement. We have set up a publishing enterprise, ENABLE TABLES MEDIA, to work with other families to tell their stories.
LARRY: This was the best way for us to control the printing and distribution process. We feel that we have a strong message to share with other families through our book, speaking engagements, and media outreach.
BPM: Did publishing your first book change your thought process on writing? Was it a positive or negative experience?
AUDREY & LARRY: We thought writing was just putting words and thoughts on paper. But sharing intimate details of our lives became positive because of our journey from the unknown to the known about ADHD and the positive outcomes of our sons’ lives.
BPM: What is the most rewarding part of your artistic process?
AUDREY: The journey has been so fulfilling because the exchanges with other parents made this story’s value clear. Every time I share the topic and our experiences, it’s clear that the message is a vehicle for hope. Whether the person is a parent, grandparent, or are affected themselves by symptoms that are associated with ADHD, they are engaged and express interest in reading our book.
LARRY: We have an opportunity to encourage, strengthen and support families through the process of getting to the diagnosis of ADHD. We understand the emotional turmoil that families endure and their ongoing struggles to steer their gifted offspring to resilience.
BPM: Was there an early experience where you learned that the written word had power?
AUDREY: Writing the book was group therapy for our family, discussing and communicating openly with each other about our ADHD experiences.
LARRY: The personal catharsis for Audrey and me has been uplifting and given us courage to discuss our story on a bigger stage.
BPM: What is one of the things you’re most thankful for as a writer?
LARRY: I’m most thankful to have a creative partner in this process for mutual support.
AUDREY: I’m most thankful for our Sankofa experience. We have shared our lives working with ADHD and building on what we have learned. We are thankful that we continue to nurture our precious eggs, our sons and our marriage. Of course I’m thankful to finish the book to give hope to others to stabilize behaviors and become resilient.
BPM: In your opinion, what’s the measure of a successful writer?
AUDREY: Successful writing translates as reaching the targeted audience with useful information.
LARRY: To me the measure of a successful writer is creating a story with universal appeal.
BPM: If you could pass on any advice to authors out there reading this interview, what would it be?
AUDREY: Pray for direction to understand your strengths as a writer and reach out to other industry professionals to help you tell your story.
LARRY: Get lots of feedback from friends throughout the creative process.
Connect with the Authors Online
Rosie Phillips Davis (formerly Bingham), PhD, ABPP
APA President-Elect, 2018
Professor, Counseling, Educational Psychology & Research
1. What do you think is the premise of Falling Through the Ceiling: Our ADHD Family Memoir?
I liked the metaphor of Falling Through the Ceiling. It may have helped the reader understand more had that story been presented at the beginning of the book. I kept wondering about the title.
2. Were there sections that were powerful or changed your perspective on ADHD?
Every time there was discussion of Larry’s ADHD symptoms it was illuminating. I did not realize that one could be so successful in academics, career, marriage, family, and covering up. It will be inspirational for successful individuals to read about the challenges of another successful family.
3. Did you agree or disagree on the behavioral science presented?
I did not attend to the behavioral science as much because you relayed it in a lay manner. This book should appeal to the lay public because it is the story of parents learning to deal with family issues. It also may benefit married couples.
4. Would you recommend this book to someone?
I would recommend this book to successful African American families in particular because there are no books to help us to understand what can go wrong in our families. I believe we all struggle one way or the other and wish we could do it better for our children. I would recommend the book to K-12 teachers so they can develop a better understanding of the inter-generational aspect of ADHD.
5. Who do you think would enjoy or benefit from reading Falling Through the Ceiling: Our ADHD Family Memoir?
As I said earlier, some of the problems you describe are similar for many African Americans in our generation who are first generation and tried to raise their children in ways that afforded them what was needed for success—the things we did not have. Your story sounded like others I have heard and the families may or may not have had ADHD. There are similarities to our family. Our son has a learning disability and we have “saved” him too often too.
I believe educators would benefit from reading the book because it might encourage them to be more assertive in sharing more information about children with parents no matter the financial status of the parents if they realize that all may not be well in the households and the children’s welfare is at stake.
Book Reviews: Falling Through the Ceiling
Falling Through the Ceiling: Our ADHD Family Memoir, is a poignant book about the challenges encountered by both parents and children as they cope with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The authors, Audrey and Larry Jones, provide a sensitive, knowledgeable, and often humorous account of the obstacles inherent in raising children with ADHD. They describe their personal journey, from dating to marriage to parenthood and grandparenthood. Although they put their experience in the context of every family’s aspirations, they also highlight the unique experiences of Black American families who are navigating the complex process of coming to terms with ADHD.
The authors take the reader through the early childhood years, when ADHD can result in academic frustrations and often dramatic childhood pranks. They then move on through adolescence and young adulthood, when, for youth with ADHD, the launch into independence can be fraught with more than the average obstacles. As the authors tell their family’s story, each of them stops along the way to reflect on the personal impact of the children’s challenges and to share their perspectives on how they might have handled things differently. This book will be an inspiration for the thousands of families who are confronted with ADHD.
–Elaine F. Walker, Ph.D. Charles Howard Candler Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
Director Mental Health and Development Program
Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322
I enjoyed reading Falling Through the Ceiling and gaining the perspective of parents raising three sons with ADD/ADHD. I would recommend this book to parents as a helpful way of approaching parenting children with ADD/ADHD. I would recommend it to my clients raising children with ADD. The perspectives of Dr. Jones regarding his own diagnosis of ADD would be helpful to the many adults who discover late in life that they have been struggling to cope with ADD for many years. The chapter on enabling one’s adult children and ways to help them to become independent and cope with their attention deficits would be helpful for all parents attempting to help their adult children maximize their potential for having a productive and happy life.
–Helen L. Evans, Ph. D.,Clinical psychologist
Falling Through the Ceiling provided me with an in-depth view into a family’s endeavors with ADHD/ADD. As an educator for over 20 years, I often ask what the student’s story or experiences are. The section “From Whence We Came” armed me with information of the impact of a parent who has or has not been diagnosed with ADHD/ADD and its possible impact on the student. I would recommend this book to educators and families who work or know anyone with ADHD/ADD.
–Dr. Marcie Beard, Executive Director of Schools
Falling Through the Ceiling: Our ADHD Family Memoir is an unabashed memoir of a family’s experience of red flags and ultimately red lights. It’s about proceeding without heeding the warning signs that suggest help is needed. It’s about identifying behaviors that call out for intervention and possibly psycho-social treatment. The premise of the book is an alert to parents to pay attention to the repetition of critical behaviors as noted in the section, “For Parents, Lessons from Our Lives”.
I think this book would be helpful for any parent, it points out they are not alone, in spite of everything looking right, “should be right “, but is not right. I consider this book an essential read for parents who just can’t figure out why their child/children appear to have it all, but don’t do what they need to do, nor do they keep their promise. For the parents who have done everything they can think of to support, nurture and encourage their child/children, but to no avail, the child just does not seem to get it. I strongly recommend the reading of this book. In doing so, parents may emphatically recognize themselves in the many shared stories and, thereby, come to their own “aha”.
–Review by Mary F. Griffin, Parent to grandchild with ADHD, Licensed Master’s Social Worker, Frisco, Texas
I have just completed reading Falling Through The Ceiling and I am still breathless. The central theme of the book — sharing lived experience, with honesty and lessons learned– is wonderful. As we all struggle to raise our children and our grands, as we struggle to understand and get better, nothing is more valuable than shared experience from those who traveled the road before you. The additional beauty and value of Falling Through the Ceiling is exquisite storytelling around difficult and clearly painful subjects. Dr. Larry and Audrey Jones are wonderful storytellers, making the book a pleasurable as well as informative read. There are many things in the book that changed my perspective about ADHD. For instance, I had no idea that there was a spectrum along which the disability travels. I learned that hyperactivity can show up in many ways, including disconnection or disjointed reasoning.
I was particularly moved by Dr. Jones discovering so late that he too had a form of ADHD, particularly when thinking about what his struggle through college and medical school must have been like. I was wowed by the commitment and teamwork — even in concealing some of the negative effects of the disorder on their family– of Dr. Larry and Audrey Jones. As I understand the science of personality disorder or mental illness I think this book is a very good depiction of the interplay between science and society. I also thoroughly enjoyed the race specific observations and analysis. Refreshing!
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to better understand the commonly referred to ADHD, from the real, living and in color perspective of these writers. I honestly think that anyone who wants a glimpse into how a strong middle class African American family deals with the realities life delivers to them would enjoy reading this powerful and poignant story. To the authors I say thank you!
–Sandra Moore, Parent and Attorney
St. Louis, MO
This is a beautiful offering from authors Dr. Larry and Audrey Jones. Falling Through the Ceiling is such an important story which many families and support villages will benefit from reading. Awareness is so important. I especially enjoyed the neuroscience aspect of the book as it relates to ADD and ADHD.
The title is spot on, especially in regards to sharing money and the difficulties of navigating life, as well as the emotional rewards gained through being able to teeter totter and continue onward.
Blessings to the Jones family. Not only should we read Falling Through The Ceiling, but I encourage village discussions to educate and promote awareness about ADD and ADHD.
–Sharron Cummings, Administrative Director Catholic Charities
New Jersey, Fontbonne University Alumni “77
Excerpt: Falling Through the Ceiling by Audrey and Larry Jones, MD
Being the Enabler Turns Deadly
“Parents continuing to enable adult children simply perpetuate the same behavior. Someone has to decide.” Audrey Jones after the disaster
“I was a multitasker because I was forced to be, I had so many things to do, and because I felt responsible for nearly everything. I felt like I was Falling Through the Ceiling some days just trying to cope. I am admitting this today because what I did was wrong. I want someone else to do right. Let’s face it: I was the Enabler. Not dealing with the underlying issues, but fixing urgent problems in the moment is what I did as my children grew up and my husband worked. They relied on me. I took care of all of them. It all changed one day when I could barely take care of myself. Everyone nearly lost it due to my unexpected illness, which happened as a result of me not taking care of myself.
My condition forced me into disability in 2008. I could no longer manage a business—because it takes multitasking to do that. I had successfully owned and operated airport concessions and retail locations throughout the region for 24 years, while simultaneously managing my husband’s medical practice for most of those years and co-parenting our three sons. My short-term memory was almost completely shot. Long-term memory, speech and speech comprehension were all affected. I couldn’t even finish a sentence on some of my worst days. When it all collapsed, for a time, I was unable to function without written notes. I missed appointments and even airplanes when I didn’t write things down. More than simple notes, I had to create outlines to function, describing what each task was supposed to look like, similar to creating a quilt one little square at a time.
Having a husband and sons who all had some levels of ADHD caused each of them to have their own selective memory did not change their short attention spans and “now, not now” impulses. My illness and recovery caused hell for my family. It reduced and almost eliminated my ability to manage this group of ADHD people who had relied on me to keep things going. They could not believe the 180- degree change they saw in me. I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but can you imagine that these four men thought I was faking my illness because they relied on me so much? They felt that I should just get up and manage everything as I had always done. They expected me to wear my cape as The Enabler.”
“I really was afraid that Audrey was going to die, and there was no way I could explain that to her. I resorted to being clinical and vague because I was struggling with my own feelings about her illness. The other person who had really loved me (my mother) died and left me when I was 19. I could not go through that pain again. As I have learned through counseling, I never really got over my mother’s death. My feeling of being lost caused Audrey to think that I didn’t care. I just did not know what to do and my sons were in outright denial that their mother was really sick. Drew came to realize that she was behaving differently when she started sleeping all the time and couldn’t remember anything. As he was the only son living in town, he could see her weakness. Like most parents, Audrey would attempt to hide her illness and act like she was feeling much better than she really was when the other two were visiting.”
“I devised my own plan where I thought that I could save her by taking her out of St. Louis, where she could live a calmer lifestyle, but I neglected to have those discussions with her. By that time, she was starting to recover and think better as her liver started functioning again. The fog that she was in was starting to clear.”
“It took time, plenty of therapy and earnest prayer to get through those years. The good news is that my liver is restored; it began regulating again, reducing the toxins in my brain. I have partial restoration of my faculties—not a whole lot, but some. Since I had survived, I came up with some workarounds to keep going, so things like taking copious notes continue to help me. When it comes to being the Enabler, I remind myself that my life, mind and body are on the line—literally as serious as life and death for me—so I handle things differently. In the past few years I’ve gotten better, thank goodness. Now when my sons call me with a problem, I just say, “No, I don’t know the answer, but I’ll look it up.” (That’s a joke! They have learned it means I’m expecting them to figure out things for themselves.) If it’s a real problem, I apply the tools/methods I’ve learned to help them figure out the problem themselves. If I could go back, I certainly would do things differently. However, I did the best I could with the Jones Boys and my husband.
( Continued… )
© 2018 Falling Through the Ceiling: Our ADHD Family Memoir by Audrey R. Jones and Larry A. Jones, MD. Published by Enable Tables Media a Division Of Smart Management Inc.
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