Learning to live with ‘quirky’ ADHD
OPINION: At the beginning of September 2021, my six-year-old son was diagnosed with attention-deficit-hyper activity-disorder, more commonly known as ADHD.
We’d known for a long time that he had a few ‘‘quirks’’, so it was great to have a formal diagnosis which would help us learn how to manage him better.
When we started the journey though, Iwas apprehensive about giving him a label.
I didn’t want people to look at or treat him differently because of a few letters.
But the more we learned about ADHD and the support that’s out there, the more we realised that it’s not about the label, it’s about empowerment. Knowledge is power.
The more we understand how our son’s brain works, the more we can support him as he navigates school, friendships, and social interactions.
He can be very passionate about the things that interest him - and equally passionate about the things that don’t.
We knew he could easily be labelled as the ‘‘naughty kid’’ at school ifwe didn’t advocate for him, so having a diagnosis that we can talk to school about and keep at the back of our minds will help us make the decisions that will set him – and our family – up for success.
Psychiatrist and psychologist appointments have been good and necessary, but themost help we’ve had has been from other parents.
A good friend of mine has a neuro-diverse daughter, while another has a son who’s in the same boat.
Chats with these mates have been so reassuring and encouraging because we can relate to each other in the real world.
I’ve found connecting with strangers online really helpful, too.
Whenwe tried my son on Ritalin and he experienced big moods and feelings in response to it, I asked an ADHD online community for advice.
Many other parents had experienced the same thing, and I felt heard and understood.
I will never take their medical advice as Bible truth - that’s why we engaged with a child psychiatrist in the first place – however seeing how other Kiwi families cope with their kids’ neuro challenges in real life is invaluable.
We still have a long way to go to understanding ADHD, but now that we’ve started the journey and have a great support network around us, we feel far more equipped to cope with what these four letters may throw at us further down the track.
In the mean time, we’re enjoying learning more about our son, what makes him tick, and how he perceives the world around him in ways that might be different to us.
He is teaching us patience and grace, openness and inclusivity, and an appreciation for the small things that we’ve not really had before.
And most importantly, we’re not scared of these four letters anymore.
If anything, we’re excited.