I was going to go into some basic ADD/ADHD facts today but I figured that I should maybe first talk about our situation.
My son was a LOVELY baby, slept well, ate only occasionally, and reached all milestones on time (even earlier than the average kid sometimes). However, he didn’t particularly like to be touched or cuddled and he was EXCESSIVELY busy. It was as if he was driven by a motor, an energiser bunny on steroids and it was exhausting. I don’t know what I would have done if I was older and unfit but I was in my early 20s when I had him and I was doing a lot of exercise – I truly believe that this is what saved my sanity.
The hyperactivity was BAD. I couldn’t read him a story or do an activity with him, when I left him to his own devices he would wreck the place, he was LOUD, he seemed unable to organise himself even when playing with his toys. He would flit from one activity to the next and he was super impulsive and often did dangerous things just to see what would really happen. He was constantly seeking thrills and wild and dangerous activities and it often felt like he didn’t understand the concept of cause and effect.
I’m not one to compare my kids to other similar-aged kids but it was clear that something was wrong. I just couldn’t put my finger on it, after all, the milestones were reached and the speech was fantastic and out of this world. My son was (is) quite social and can fit into any environment and he was (is) generally well-liked.
I spoke to people (mostly family) and his teachers and they all told me the same thing: he’s a boy, they are wilder, he will settle down. I didn’t have any other frame of reference (he was the only kid that I ever had anything to do with) and yet, something still felt off.
One day I noticed that he couldn’t hold a crayon properly. I tried to show him, I couldn’t get it right. Can you believe that I never noticed it before? Probably because he could never sit still long enough for an activity. I gave him scissors and made him cut. He BATTLED. The next day I went to his teacher and told her that he could not hold a crayon or cut. I asked her WHO was doing the fancy artwork that he was bringing home. She didn’t even realise that he couldn’t hold the crayon.
There and then, I decided to change schools. He was 3.5 years old and I moved him to a (very expensive) Montessori-type environment and I have to say that it was the BEST decision that I could have made for him. About 2 weeks later I noticed significant differences in fine motor skills – he could finally hold a pencil properly and it actually felt like he was learning stuff. After 2.5 months, the principal called me in. She told me that he wasn’t settling down, as well as which areas she was concerned about. She suggested that I have him assessed at an Educational Psychologist.
I didn’t hesitate. I finally felt like I wasn’t going mad and that someone else could see what I could see: that something wasn’t quite right.
We had a consult with the Educational Psychologist, she sent us off with loads of forms for the teacher to complete as well as forms for us to complete about our son. I took him back a week later for the assessment. It was a LONG assessment – think it lasted about 3.5 hours (they do fun stuff and play games) and after a week, we went for our follow-up consultation and she discussed the ADD/ADHD diagnosis with us. She filmed him while they were busy and I honestly couldn’t believe that THAT was my kid. I was MORTIFIED!
She made various recommendations (various therapies, pharmacological interventions, natural approaches, specialised schooling etc) and after I googled myself into a frenzy I ended up doing all of what she recommended and more. IT didn’t happen over night
My son was diagnosed when he was 4 so we have essentially been living with ADD/ADHD for 8 years.
IT hasn’t been easy but it has been a learning experience and I have to say that the more we learn the easier it becomes to manage. We’ve had to learn to advocate for him and to stand up for him. We’ve had to re-define our family and we’ve had to learn to accept him for who he is. Believe me, that is much easier said than done, even if it is your own kid.
We have to continue to learn and we keep going back to the drawing board when there is a setback. We are STILL learning because we are now entering the teen years which is a different ball game for a kid who is overly excitable and impulsive and for a pre-pubescent kid who often has poor social skills. I guess we can only take things one day at a time. THAT is our mantra in this house. ONE DAY AT A TIME.