Adhd, make your diagnosis your superpower!

 Ellen Braaten PHD says “Recent studies have looked at attention skills in the general population. They found that there’s a natural spectrum of functioning, with ADHD at the one extreme. “

It is important to understand that no two kids or adults with ADHD are exactly alike. Just like we all look different and have different personalities, ADHD affects us all differently. That can be why it can be difficult to diagnose. For our family the diagnosis became our superpower.

 I have always had a busy boy. Even in my tummy I remember him being super active and wondering if he would love sports or running? Even when he started walking, it became a run. He loved being outside and specifically being on his mountain bike and still does.

It was only in grade R that we realised his amazing energy could ever be a problem. Or was it? That was the year that his teacher told me that there was a problem. That Hayden needed extra attention. She was a truly kind teacher that managed to give him that extra attention, but she worried about moving to Grade 1 and his ability to sit still in a chair and concentrate.

I will be honest; the words were hard to hear. I do not think any mom ever wants to hear that there is something ‘wrong ‘with their child. Initially I was very defensive and was very quick to make excuses. He was born late in the year (end of Nov) was that why he was behind? Or was it COVID? These poor kids were not even at school for most of the that year. I can now look back and see that, yes, these things may have affected his progress but there was still an underlying issue. I always knew in my gut something was off and I just did not know how to help him.

So, when grade 1 came around, we knew that we needed to keep an eye on his progress. At this point, we had done a school readiness test and thought Hayden just need extra focus in certain areas. Specifically fine motor. An Occupational therapist (OT) was suggested if we did not see progress after the first term. The first and second term were hard for Hayden. He started to hate school. The teacher had mentioned some discipline issues and I was distraught. I knew my boy and he was not naughty. He was busy even a bit mischievous at times but not a naughty child. The last thing I wanted is for him to be labelled by his teacher and this label to follow him through school. I knew I needed to act quickly before this became the norm.

Then one day in the beginning of term 3 ,

I was listening to a podcast episode Goal Digger Podcast , I had been following Jen for a while and the next episode was about Add and adhd. I thought about skipping it and then decided not to. Sometimes things just happen for a reason. Tracy Otsuka if you ever read this. You and Jenna changed my life. The more I listened the more emotional I got. I have listened to that episode so many times and shared it with more people than any other podcast. Tracey’s words ran through me like a warm hug. Like she had heard my cry for help, and she had my back. After listening, I knew for sure Hayden was ADHD.

Hayden was the typical adhd candidate. He could not sit still and struggled to stay in his seat at school. He was constantly fidgeting, impulsive. He was very easily distracted, specifically by his peers, which made it hard to concentrate. The next step was to chat to a professional and get their opinion. I was incredibly lucky at the time that two friends had been open and honest in their challenges with their own children, and both recommend their psychiatrist. On average 5-10% of children have ADHD.

The psychiatrist confirmed that Hayden is adhd

and recommended we see an educational psychologist to understand if Hayden had any additional challenges (80% of ADHD diagnosis ‘also have an additional comorbidity like anxiety or a sensory processing disorder) or had he missed some foundational skills due to the distractibility? I was lucky in that that Hayden’s adhd was easier to diagnose due to the hyperactivity and impulsivity. Many children, with the inattentive type, specifically women get diagnosed much later if at all.

The power of a diagnosis was so real to me. It opened me up a group of people that understood what I was going through. Other parents that had information and guidance that I so desperately needed. I also learnt the value of talking about ADHD and reducing the shame that surrounds it. Tracy says that “by 12 years old a neurodivergent child has heard 12 000 more negative messages than a neurotypical child.” These children need out love, our patience and I want to be there to support you if you are going through this season of your life.

Having adhd does NOT mean you are slow, stupid or unmotivated.

It is rather a brain of interest, being either obsessed or uninterested. School can sometimes be tough for children with ADHD, but these individuals’ can go on to do amazing things once they find their interested.  Just look at people like Albert Einstein and Richard Branson.

To medicate or not medicate?

This is a very personal question. In deciding, it is good to understand that every drug with have side effects. That everyone is different and a drug that works for one individual may not work for another. It is also important to understand that the dosage of these drugs is also important. I would recommend working with a professional on this. Other treatment can be cognitive behavioural therapy, getting a coach to help with specific executive skills and getting support socially.

I have chosen to reframe this condition for our family. There is nothing wrong with my boy. He is a unique, amazing, caring boy. I am so proud of our progress, and I hope I can help others going through this.

Get in touch if you would like to chat about this.

Michelle xx