Apparently, according to some know-it-all experts (who are not experts), it’s because I’m too soft on them and they lack discipline. Bet you’ve heard that one before. It gives you such a warm fuzzy feeling in your stomach, being told your rubbish parenting caused ADHD. No wait, I think that’s just the bile rising up!
Truly funny is that my daughter with ADHD is a twin. The other twin, my son, does not have ADHD. Despite my telling them it is clearly not my crappy parenting that has caused this, if indeed it was, then why would the other twin not have it, ADHD still doesn’t exist in their eyes.
I mean what do you say to someone who is that stubborn-minded? Is it worth talking to them or should I just sit and talk to one of my house plants? At least house plants don’t make my blood boil to the point I could steam veg. Even certain teachers at my daughter’s primary school clearly thought she was a naughty child. I, an inadequate parent. They were not backward at coming forward about it either. Being a single mum didn’t help, I was an easy target, it must be me!
I remember being told to collect my daughter from her mainstream primary school because she was ‘out of control’. When I arrived the Deputy Head was there, a lady who absolutely did not understand ADHD. Unfortunately, I had to deal with the old draconian as the more understanding Head Teacher was off. So, there was my daughter, sitting in her school reception. Schoolbag on her head. Contents scattered all over the floor, arms folded, totally shut down and non-verbal. I calmly went in, told her mummy was here and gave her two clear choices. Did she want to sit in the reception of school, with a bag on her head, or come home with mummy?
Before she had a chance to respond, I was reprimanded by the Deputy Head. She screamed that I should not give her a choice, I was the adult. And breathe. In my calmest voice possible I replied, let’s be honest, was that really a choice, to sit here in the reception with a bag on her head (and you, YOU OLD DRAGON!)? Or come home with mummy where she would feel safe and calm down. However, by giving her a choice she felt back in control in her out-of-control world and would leave without commotion. I realised at this moment. I had to get her out of mainstream school.
I always knew my daughter wasn’t ‘quite right’ at an early age. There was something about her tantrums that were so different to her twin brothers. She was so unable to calm herself, or as we now know, self-regulate. I would so easily be able to distract her twin, laugh him out of it. With her it was different. I was told it was the terrible twos at 18 months. A year or so later I was told it was ‘girls’, girls are so hard? Hard, this is impossible! Then perhaps her diet. One nutritionist even wanted me to post my daughter’s poo samples to her regularly (I drew the line here); lack of structure; lack of discipline; not the right discipline; it was me, you name it, it wasn’t ADHD.
My gut told me otherwise.
Fast forward to the many challenging years of mainstream school, Constant phone calls to come and calm my daughter; collect my daughter; have meetings with or about my daughter; paperwork that probably tore down an amazon rainforest; reward cards, star charts, targets; support plans; home/school plans; CAMH’s, Barnardos, Social Workers and the PRU to name a few, she has finally been diagnosed with ADHD and ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder). And is now happily ensconced in a specialist SEMH school, thriving and doing academically well for her. And that’s all I can ask for, thriving for her.
Considering all the years of primary school she missed under a table lobbing fruit at her classmates, being taken out to bake cookies, squish play dough and basically learn to calm herself, and the support staff who hadn’t a clue what to do with her, I’m happy to see her happy to go to school! Oh, and the new school quickly discovered that she is very dyslexic and has dyscalculia! Imagine the frustration and anger she must have been feeling. But remember, ADHD doesn’t exist (insert eye roll*)
So, yay! I felt I had achieved. I mean, you don’t get a label just to label your child. A label helps you find what to do next to help your child. Understand your child’s needs. Understand them. I felt so good. But during this pause, this exhale at the achievement, I became aware of my next hurdle. Yep, the youngest son was, how shall we say, exceedingly energetic, like the rabbit on the Duracell battery ad. He literally talked non-stop, on and on and on. I wondered how I hadn’t noticed before. Had I been so consumed with my daughter that I had let my boys down, oh great, more guilt!
I hoped that maybe now I had more time with him it was just a case of him spilling out all those thoughts he’d been holding in because I was with his sister! Perhaps he had kept them locked up for so long? Perhaps he would run out of energy and things to say? As I write this, two years on, let me tell you it has never stopped. He wakes up and talks from the second he opens his eyes, it’s like a train of conscious thoughts. And by train, I mean one of those super, fast jet-propelled ones! Duracell should consider using him in an ad. Although people could claim false advertising due to the fact he never runs out and their product does.
Now, imagine how well the conversation went down when I had to tell their dad, who totally doesn’t ‘get ADHD’. That our youngest son looked like he was following the same path as our daughter. That his primary school would like an assessment done. Yep, you’ve guessed it, ADHD doesn’t exist. I’m too soft on him, he lacks discipline blah blah blah dee blahhhhhhhh!
Apparently, there was no ADHD in his day. It’s all made up, you just got the cane and that fixed it. Wow, a magical cane! Sounds almost Harry Potter-like. Imagine, all these books, therapies, counsellors, supplements, medications, and specialist schools could all simply be replaced by a cane. We’ve all been wasting our time and I shall rename this blog, The Cane. It will be a very short blog. Just whack your kid and they are cured!
However, should you not want to follow this advice, then please do read these blogs; participate in group chats; let me know things that have worked for you; things that haven’t; and above all, let’s support and have humour in this group. Sometimes laughing about it all is the only thing that gets me by.
Oh, and I’ll keep you posted on the youngest one’s assessment. Not sure what they’ll find, as ADHD doesn’t exist remember? 😉