So, there I was with a five-year-old I thought was just an average busy boy and I struggled at first with a very difficult pill to swallow. I am a single mom, trying to balance everything, and had to now understand what exactly these teachers were talking about. My son? There is nothing wrong with him!
Yet in the back of my mind I had to question: but what if I am wrong and set him back further?
I didn’t want to make a rash decision, so I started talking about his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). I spoke to family, and realised it was hereditary. I spoke to friends who had both more severe and fewer symptoms, and I had to start accepting what I needed to do.
So, along with this ADHD “title”, you need to understand how they branch out into different combinations of predefined types:
- ADHD primarily inattentive type:
Someone with this type of ADHD:
- Fails to pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes;
- Has difficulty sustaining attention;
- Doesn’t appear to listen;
- Struggles to follow through on instructions;
- Has difficulty with organisation;
- Avoids or dislikes tasks requiring sustained mental effort;
- Is easily distracted;
- Is forgetful in daily activities.
- ADHD primarily hyperactive/impulsive type:
A person with this type of ADHD:
- Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in a chair;
- Has difficulty remaining seated;
- Runs about or climbs excessively;
- Has difficulty engaging in activities quietly;
- Acts as if driven by a motor;
- Talks excessively;
- Blurts out answers before questions have been completed;
- Has difficulty waiting or taking turns;
- Interrupts or intrudes upon others.
- ADHD combined type:
This is the most common subtype. These individuals meet both sets of inattention and hyperactive and impulsive criteria.
And they couple further with other coexisting disorders, such as learning, mood and being disruptive.
I was feeling like a failure at this mom thing. I was exhausted, I was in a bad space, physically and emotionally, but I knew I needed to take out all the feelings and just think logically how I was going to go about fixing this.
And then the journey began.
I had already taken him to see a psychologist, who advised me that he seemed well put together.
So, where to from there? After lots of online research, I still can’t say I understand ADHD very well, but I have learned coping mechanisms to deal with it.
I started off with a consultation with a doctor I was referred to by a teacher at the school, and just after a 15 minute chat, this doctor prescribed Ritalin. I was taken aback and nervous. What was I to do? Shouldn’t there be more tests?
This really upset me and after more research, I found a well-known educational psychologist, Jenny da Silva, who I met with. She explained what her process would be, to access my son, and I felt more at ease. She was going to ask him questions about his home life, do physical tests and then give me a full report. This test then came back “positive”. My baby was hyper ADHD with impulsivity.
They would need to start him on medication, but he would need a few consultations so we could monitor its effects. This was not an option for me, with these consultations costing R2 000.
I then opted for my third and final opinion. I went to a government hospital.
This actually was the most informative place and they also arranged for me to sit in group sessions with other parents (it makes you feel as if you are not alone). With the stories each person shared of their experiences, things began to fall into place and I realised his case was not that bad. It was manageable.
This option I could afford, even though it entailed hours of waiting on a monthly basis. It was worth it.
On the flip side, I had an open relationship with my son. His appetite was suppressed (the doctors warn you about the side effects of the medication) and he said it gave him a feeling of anxiety in his stomach for no reason.
After a year of medication, we agreed to attempt three months without it if he could keep his grades up. He kept his grades up…
Today he still has the impulsive tendencies, however it’s our journey and we will take it one step at a time.
My advice to parents out there is, just be hands on and figure it out as you go.
You’re doing a great job! Hang in there, it gets better…
35-year-old single mom of two fabulous but busy kids 8 (Daughter) and 11 (Son). Creative mind – 3D Interior Design Software specialist, Working & Living in the Bustling City of Gold. To stay sane my hobbies include the occasional glass of wine and Arts and Crafts in all forms from wood work to small DIY renovations.