This year has been as all others we have lived since becoming a family.
It has been one where we have learned how to be a better family.
And we’re still learning.
This year saw us learning to appreciate ADHD and how we live with it.
From E’s initial diagnosis, to proposing to go medication free, receiving support from Barnardo’s, working with the school and taking a parenting factor course with Barnardo’s. To here.
Here is a new place, a new place to explore and one in which we will no doubt make mistakes.
My greatest reservation since having E’s diagnosis was medication. Like many others with preconceptions on ADHD, my point of reference was Ritalin. I also want to believe B “doesn’t have ADHD that bad” but it’s difficult with no point of reference
Which is where the parenting factor classes with Barnardo’s have helped no end. Along with further conversations with the school. Of course I’m still undecided. So, of course, I’ve come here. What use is this blog other than sharing my ramblings… to seek advice, help, reassurance… I’d love to think this blog gives more than it receives… but hey, I’m an organised mess.
Whilst my one-to-one support with Barnardo’s helped me to understand more about ADHD and my relationship with E, the parenting factor offered the opportunity to get to know other parents living with ADHD. And it was tough. There is so much opportunity for judgement, for preconceptions, for selfishness. Fortunately the team from Barnardo’s set the group off with ground rules, focused on respect.
Over the 8-week course we explored so much about ourselves, how we can negatively impact all of the positives of living with ADHD, whilst the downsides of ADHD can negatively impact lives if strategies aren’t put in place, it is the positives we should take more time to appreciate, and celebrate.
We also benefited from support sessions, from researchers, the local authority and medical professionals.
Whilst I had thought it the medical professional whom I would gain most benefit from, it was what happened in the weeks leading up to the session which made me gain most value from this time.
The other parents in the group positively challenged me on why I choose not to medicate E.
With all my fears and concerns set out. The group recognised the reality. These were my fears and concerns. The group challenging me to ask myself, where was the consideration for E?
The truth is E struggles in school. His reality is that he can’t focus for the periods of time which are expected of him. He is behind academically, although since his diagnosis the support offered has allowed him to progress.
I listened to the experiences of parents who medicate: those who can’t find a medication which calms their child; those whose children achieve educationally because of ADHD; those whose children get bullied because other children recognise a child with ADHD and their difference; those who medicate only for school hours; those who live with ADHD as an individual and as a parent to a child with ADHD, who understand why medication helps.
Things you can’t learn from case studies alone.
We had ‘meet the teacher’ evening and it became apparent, I have no clue. I don’t know whether E should be treated the same as everyone else- I want him to be but I also want his reality to be appreciated.
Testing for dyslexia and dyspraxia was discussed. No surprise really, it’s that E has now reached year 3 that testing can happen.
And I was back in the room at Barnardo’s. Why wouldn’t E benefit from being medicated in school hours? Not only is he struggling with focus and concentration, but even when he focuses long enough to see the words on the page, what is he actually seeing? How can he fight one problem when he’s busy battling others?
And so when the medical professional joined the session I was able to learn more about medication. That yes, there is medication which your body has to adjust to and you wean off, but there is medication that will start working straight away, for a chosen number of hours. So it can be ‘school time’ and ‘term time’ only, and if it doesn’t work out, for E, he can come off it straight away.
So, now it’s a time to be brave, to see if I can help my son beam a little brighter for a little longer.