I am furious at the idea that people can still refer to ADD or ADHD as a fictitious disease that will go away if we pretend it doesn’t exist.
I was asked what I did the weekend when a colleague commented that I am not doing my child a favour by helping them study for their very first exams. According to him, I should provide my child with all the needed resources – pens, paper, visual material and the internet – and allow them to self-study the topic.
Generally, I am able to keep my cool when confronted with ignorant comments, from people who have no experience or frame of reference. Today wasn’t one of those days.
Instead, I asked him, whether he (1.) has a child with special needs and (2.) have a child who has started writing exams at school. Full well knowing the answer (no.).
Full well knowing the answer.
What is ADHD?
ADDitude defines ADHD as a complex neurological disorder described as a “developmental impairment of self-management functions linked to complex brain operations.”
The path parents of children walk to get their kids the best possible workable solution for the behavioural issues, is exhausting. I can only speak for myself, but the journey from realising that my super intelligent-perfect-in-every-way little angel was – less than perfect – was torture.
I went into denial and I even went as far as to call his teacher(s) incompetent. Secretly, I thought the medication would just give the teachers breathing room to teach my kid in a conventional way. I expected them to find creative ways of teaching my child. I knew my kid was busy and a little different, I knew he was extremely persistent and didn’t pick up on social queues they way other kids would have. Logan was also my first born and my everything. I was determined to fight for him and his rights as a kid and as a student.
The road to reality was so hard. I went from constantly fighting with the teacher(s) to fearing parent evenings at school.
Once I got over my denial, I had to come to terms with the fact that we needed to treat Logan’s disorder. I tried every herbal remedy, I even combined different remedies and doses. We changed Logan’s diet, added additional stimulation in the form of physical and mental exercises. Logan and I worked endless hours to try to get him to read basic English words or see the pattern when looking at numbers Mainly because ADHD isn’t his only battle, he also battles with auditory processing.
The road to reality was so hard. It involved paediatricians, occupational therapists, clinical- and educational psychologist, speech therapists and all them came to the same conclusion.
Medication isn’t a magic potion
I wish I could say, medicating my child saved the day and we lived happily ever after. But that wouldn’t be true. Medication has helped Logan tremendously, but it hasn’t solved all our problems. Perhaps, I am reluctant to keep increasing his dosage, but let’s be honest, as much as he needs assistance in the form of medication, he also needs to learn coping mechanisms and strategies.
As a parent, I still long for my child to live a ‘normal’ life. One where he doesn’t need medication just to cope. I still aim to help him learn skills and develop different types of intelligencies to help him cope better. These include the development and strengthening of executive functions and practising Capoeira.
Back to my colleague… I continued by recommending he googles the term executive functions.
Executive Functions are neurologically based skills that help you do, what you decide to do. My argument was that all children need to learn these skills to enable them to:
- Decide to prepare for their exams and
- Plan and execute their decision well.
The above theory of providing your child with the needed tools to execute a task is great. If your child has the needed executive functions and mental abilities to execute the task.
Reality check – executive functions are only fully developed by the age of 25-30 years. In other words, we could all do with a little guidance from our parents.
The colleague in question was way too busy with his own agenda, to listen to my argument. This was both hurtful and ignorant. If anything, the whole argument has given me time to reflect on a really tough journey. To evaluate where we are at the moment.
How often do you have conversations that stirred so much passion and anger in you, that it bothers you for days?
Being Logan’s mom, comes with a whole different set of challenges, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. My little boy is destined for great things. Regardless of whether the journey is easy or the criticism is light, he will get there. One step at a time.
P.S. Logan is super intelligent and perfect in his imperfect and stubborn ways.
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