Attention Deficit Disorder - my journey

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) – I am no expert but I am the mother of a child (now grown) with ADD – and I thought I would share some of my journey. Even from toddler-hood I knew that my son was bouncing around far more than other children and when he hit pre-school the first thing his teacher said to me was “your child is hyper-active”.  I said “no way, he is just lively”.  I wasn’t going to have labels placed on my son!  However the problems began to show right from the start once he started school (this list is common across most children with ADD:

  • He couldn’t sit still
  • He struggle with following instructions
  • He was impulsive
  • He had a short attention span
  • He would stare out of the window rather than focusing on what he was meant to do
  • Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others
  • He wasn’t a team player (lost count of the number of times I have heard this)
  • He was poorly co-ordinated
  • He didn’t make friends
  • He was a loner
 However for a child that found academic life so hard, he had one talent that surpassed his schools pals and that was art.  My son had the most amazing attention to detail.  He saw things that others missed and would spend hours drawing (having no problems at sitting still and focusing).  This is not uncommon with ADD children.

Everything was difficult, a up-hill battle —many tears were shed in this mammoth journey through school.  I was called into the school on many occasions — I got to the point that I hated phone calls from the school as it was always bad news.     However things improved in Years 11 and 12 when he could choose his own subjects – such as photography, ceramics, graphic design, art.  He excelled.

After leaving school he did a 2 year certificate in 3D animation.  His ability to sit and focus, creating 3D animation is just AMAZING.  I couldn’t sit for the hours like he does and focus – I would be bored and frustrated.  So why can a child with ADD who could never sit still, can do so now as an adult – because he has found the one thing he can do well.

We did go down the controversial path of drugs —  Ritalin  — it worked for my son, but it may not work for all.  He stopped at the age of 16 and I taught him to live without it.  We used herbal stress relievers and this did help and then he stopped those to.  Now he is drug free and learning to coping with his difficulties on his own.

I used the “Elimination Diet” for a number of years - cutting out foods/drinks containing artificial colours and additives would make him hypo-active and emotional (it has nothing to do with sugar).  I had to go back to the “way grandma would cook” as almost all processed foods contained the back “stuff”.  In fact my son was part of the trials to test the Elimination Diet.

What is interesting, as adults, ADD sufferers still struggles with:

  • Focusing — A muddily brain that can’t focus
  • Poor organisational skills
  • Coping in crowds (can’t cope in crowded shopping centres etc)
  • Panic attaches during stressful situations
  • Following instructions
  • Remembering details (e.g. what to say to someone)
  • Blurt out inappropriate comments
  • Seeing the world in black and white
 If you want to know what it feels like to have ADD - my son describes it as “walking into a crowded shopping centre and hearing all the noise - very loud - and being unable to tune ANY of it out”  Overloaded by sound, motion, light and colour.   He gets very frustrated when people say it's just kids acting up and being silly —its far more than that.

PS you may be wondering why we didn't do home-schooling.  Simply, it wasn't popular 17 years ago, I knew no-one who home-schooled and as a result I never even thought of it as an option.  Looking back it probably would have worked much better than conventional schooling.


  1. That must have been hard for you... It's great that he doesn't take any kinds of meds now, and has found his 'niche' though :)

  2. That is an inspiring story, really. It must have been very difficult for you both, but what a devoted mom you have been, and what a triumph for your son to have found his calling and be able to focus. Good for you both! I like the description your son gives, comparing ADD to the noisy, crowded shopping center and being unable to tune any of it out. Hooray for you both and your victory!

  3. Wow my friend. Thank you for an insight of what it's like to have a child with ADD and make it through.

    I know it had to have been so hard, especially if you were around people who just didn't understand.

    I bet you could use your knowledge now to help others who have children with ADD.


  4. Jo, I am on this journey myself. My sweet 11 year old daughter has FAS as well as Agenesis of the Corpus Collosum. (missing Corpus Collosum)

    I do homeschool and I will testify that she is my child who the Lord has used to refine me and give me much is required.

    Thank you for testifying to loving a child with special needs.

    Grace to you.

  5. Adoption Mama - the journey with my son had both highs and lows and he (as far as I am concerned) has turned out a nice young man. But he does say to me that he wishes he had more friends and that he didn't suffer from depression, but he has found ways of coping - eg listening to quiet music, walking away from the noise, having a sleep (to wind down) and he also goes to the gym 4 or 5 times a week which allows him to get rid of that extra energy.


  6. Thank you for sharing this with us Jo. I am so glad your son found something he loves doing. Does he do this 3D animation thing for a job? I am sure he would get lots of opportunities in this day and age using his skills and passion for it.

    It is hard for us as mothers, when life gets lonely for our children. My children have often had bouts of loneliness and I feel so sad about that.

    I believe you would be a wonderful mother... your eldest is blessed to have had your help and support...

    hugs to you dear sister xoxo

  7. Jo: I homeschool my youngest precisely because she is ADD ~ yet has wonderful attention fot both music & art. Everything wlse, forget it! ☺

    My oldest struggled through school until I couldn't cope with the idiots running the place anymore & we pulled him out so he could finish at home. It took a long time.~ He is 27, but has finally found his niche in life.

    Unless you have walked this path its difficult to convince people it's not just about behaviour management & discipline. So may of the ADD kids I've met have been incredibly talented ~ just outside the norm. ☺

  8. Ganeida - couldn't agree more with you. I don't always tell people about ADD or about giving our son Ritalin, as you get this disapproving look and you know what they are thinking.

    These children/adults are often incredibly talented, they often see the world differently - I read somewhere that many of our most famous inventors and others such as composers fell into this category. To have this talent you need to be outside the "norm"

    Thankyou for dropping in:)



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