What do you instantly think of when you see or hear ADHD?
If you are not a parent of a child diagnosed with ADD/ADHD I bet many of you would shrug your shoulders and mutter something along the lines of its a naughty child, or bad parenting, or even a comment towards individuals just wanting extra money from the tax payers???? Yes I really have heard that comment being said. Thats just one of the worse that I personally have overheard. People are so critical of what they don’t understand.
If you have ever thought these things at any time you would not be alone. I had these thoughts.Yes ME!!! I have been a mother for 12 years and have lived with the whole referral process and diagnosis of one of our daughters since she was born in 2006.
I use to watch the television shows with out of control children and laugh. Programmes like super Nannie came out the year after i started having my own children. They didn’t seem real just sort of funny evening viewing watching children running around out of control and screaming and then a nanny telling the parents how to sort them out. That must have meant that it was poor parenting mustn’t it??? I also use to hear the kids having tantrums in the shops and see parents getting frustrated. The whole time i would just shrug my shoulders and walk on much like other new first time mum’s or another person would would do. Wouldn’t they? surely my child wouldn’t be like that??!!
Having said that I am a child of the 80’s so I generally like to think of my self as forward thinking , not prone to prejudice and certainly not unfeeling and unthinking when it comes to looking at the people around us wether they look, sound or act differently, but the more I think back I was just as bad as some people are today about my own child. I didn’t understand then what I know now. I had no experience, disabilitly wasn’t talked about, I didn’t know anything about most forms of disability. If I saw something that was new to me like an amuputee I would have proberly walked past and stared. Hearing aids were for older people, same as memory loss. My thinking started to change when i went into care work aged 20 working with the elderly.
As a society…
As a whole we still have a lot of stigma attached to disability wether its physical or mental. The newspapers seem more interested in highlighting only the bad side of mental health when it means that they can have a dramatic heading.
Just recently there was a local mother in the paper and it was the first time that I personally had seen a headline that actually highlights the shortfall in ADHD services. It wasn’t a sensational headline but it struck a chord with us parents raising a child with ADD. It made me worry about my own daughters medication and what would happen if we went through the same thing. For me it really brought it home how much of an impact medication has on not just my daughter but us as a family. Daily I wonder if I am doing right by her. Its a guilt trip we as parents I imagine will always feel.
Then there’s films!!!!
Think of the film finding Nemo which is an animated film aimed at children that came out in 2003. How does the character Dory come across? I know I have sat with my children and laughed when she loses her memory or when she says silly things, and also giggled at the fact that Nemo’s Dad really looses his temper at Dory, but now that I live with a child who since she was born in 2006 has displayed memory loss and forgetfulness I no longer find the character of Dory amusing. In fact it makes me feel sad as a parent. What is I suppose to be a harmless film now brings to the screen a highlighted condition which we as a family live with daily. Its not funny, its extremely frustrating and scary and makes me feel very sad some days. Watching your 9 year old child forget everyday things is terrifying. Even more so is your 6 year old saying that her sibling is like Dory!! I think she is just linking the memory issues my daughter has to those of Dory at least I think she is.
Why ADD/ADHD vs naughty I hear you ask???
- because ADHD comes with impulsiveness – children can be naughty all of a sudden
- outbursts that can seem to come from nowhere – concentration is harder
- shouting ; older generations use to say children should be seen and not heard
- screaming when something upsets her or she can not have something she wants.
- medication can wear of so if we are out early evening say for a meal, chances are the medication will have left her system this means fidgets/talking loudly/impulsiveness
- fidgeting can still be apparent even on medication its just a little less pronounced
- forgetfulness is a huge issue for us and so we could never leave her on her own as she would get lost, disorientated this is becoming increasingly harder the older that she gets.
- Tantrums yes ok all toddlers have tantrums but have you seen a 9 year old have one?
I as a parent try to find a way to deal with the ever increasing mental, emotional and physical strain that our daughters disability can have on myself and the rest of my family. My husband and I can become tired, our other children can struggle with challenging behaviour, disturbed sleep, not being able to go out as a family in an evening, not putting ourselves in certain situations that could cause stress. We always have to plan everything and thank god that our other three girls take this all in their strides.
At the end of the day I am just a parent like many more of us across the world nurturing and guiding these individuals to their full potential and not letting or should I say not trying to let some old unfounded archaic ideas about what or who my daughter should be and how she should be dealt with. She should not be hidden away. If you do not understand her condition research it just like I had to do. http://www.adhdkids.org.uk or http://www.adhdfoundation.org.uk are a good place to start for family and friends to gather information about ADHD. Do not stand there and stare when you come across a situation in a supermarket or you see a child having a tantrum. Unless you have the courage to go and ask or offer help walk on. Its not nice to be stared at or talked about.
Theres so many places with information these days. Libraries are a good place to start. Theres also lots of links to pages on the internet that could help with more information, education and so forth. There are also usually groups local to you either via children’s centres or even on Facebook.
Yes there is challenging behaviour when raising a child with ADHD, then again I have an 11 year old going on 16 who can throw her weight around with the best of them and shout and scream and hit out and she has no disabilities what so ever!!! Can anyone relate?
Yes there is upset and heart ache and embarrassment I am not going to lie about how I feel.It has taken me years to start to put pen to paper. So many times i have felt like a failure taking my daughter out and because she has a bad 10-15 minutes I end up feeling really embarrassed then guilty and quickly shuttle home. Weddings and events we tried hard to not go. I will never forget my best friends wedding back in 2009. I so wanted to be a part of her day but only ended up staying for the church service as our daughter would not have coped and there was no one else that could have looked after her. She was only 3 at the time but I cared inside what people would think even though I know I shouldn’t.
These days I hate that she sees people staring at her and even if she does not yet understand why…. I do and so do her older sisters. It hurts. I would much rather someone came and asked if we were ok? than to walk past muttering something that is misunderstood and wrong so that my other children hear.
Another thing about the whole ADD/ADHD vs NAUGHTY that hurts is that many family and friends can all make the same assumptions about how you are raising your child as a stranger walking down the street. Although extremely lucky in that we have a really good support network there has been the odd comment from great grandparents. My favourite has to be when my daughter is told that she can’t have something. She could literally make your ears ring with the screaming and more recently the swearing but I use to be told “YOU SPOIL THEM”. At the time I was mad but this was a comment made by someone who didn’t understand. I use to argue the point back saying that they weren’t spoilt and getting really upset but you will always come up against those that have their minds made up. The old “naughty” label that comes with a child that is too loud, boisterous always into mischief, can’t sit still etc. Maybe they are children who are just testing the boundaries like my elder daughter or maybe they do have an underlying learning difficulty or disability my point is you should not judge them or anyone else at face value.
Definitions of ADHD
I challenge you to sit for a few moments and think about what you feel ADHD is. For a professional / medical term the following are easily found via the internet:
The definition on http://www.nhs.uk is “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a group of behavioural symptoms that include inattentiveness hyperactivity and impulsiveness”
Another quick definition from http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk is “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – or ADHD – is thought to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain that affects attention, concentration and impulsivity”
My goal is to make more people aware of ADD/ADHD. To help other parents we need to help raise awareness of this and other disabilities like it. The old fashioned labels need to go. ADHD is more common than you or even I would think with various statistics around saying that as much as 3-9% of school aged children and young people are affected by ADHD in the uk alone. Thats a lot of parents out there without the right support network as I know that the referral and treatment process needs work.
Having four children can be really hectic but also fun, rewarding and I find myself very blessed to have them. ADD is a part of our family, its a part of our daughter, don’t judge us just support us.
As always am here if anyone wants to chat, I am not a specialist just a mother but when theres darkness one tiny light can pave the way for more
x leanne x