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
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.