Drowning In the Static

“Simon is impossible to teach”
“A major distraction in class”
“Wastes his and others’ time”
“One of the worst students I’ve ever had the misfortune to try and educate”
“Will amount to nothing in life if his attitude doesn’t change”

When I was at school, they didn’t have things like ADD or ADHD. What they DID have however was me, labelled a problem child from early on, a reputation that stayed with me until the end of high school. Back then, the ‘treatment’ wasn’t a controlled diet, OT or medication; it was a solid thrashing with a cane. No matter how much I tried, I just couldn’t concentrate in class, the facts and figures that were thrown at me made absolutely no sense so I became the class clown, trying to annoy the teachers so badly that they’d throw me out of class to sit in the corridor for the remainder of the lesson so they wouldn’t have to deal with me. Needless to say, I barely scraped through school which in turn brought on its own smorgasbord of problems at home.
Being labelled like this led to some serious self esteem issues that I was only able to sort out much later in life, some of which I’m still dealing with to this day so when my son was diagnosed with ADHD, my wife and I decided then and there to give him the best possible chance, no matter what. We changed his diet, added supplements and vitamins, and sent him to occupational therapy for two years. These all helped to a degree but we finally had to accept that medical intervention was inevitable and necessary. Now before you pass judgement, yes, I agree that Ritalin is way over-prescribed and often used by lazy parents who just don’t want to deal with their kids just being kids, but for us it has been a real game-changer. Nicnac is currently in the third grade, acing his reports and getting full mark for maths at a grade four level.
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I think the clincher for us was when I asked him why he couldn’t seem to concentrate in class and he answered, “Dad, it’s like when the radio isn’t tuned in properly and all you hear is that irritating noise” and THAT was when I understood. He was drowning in all the ‘static’ and only the occasional snippet of information was getting through to him. See, ADD and ADHD don’t let you filter out and concentrate on one specific thing; you’re trying to concentrate on everything all at once. It’s like having 20 tabs open in your browser, each of them with their own audio playing at full volume and trying to understand every single one of them, all at the same time.
I’m not saying that medicine has ‘cured’ him completely though, we still have challenges, small and big, every single day. When we do homework together in the afternoon, he gets angry and frustrated easily and I have to maintain the calm by speaking softly to him. He obsesses over the tiniest details to the point where it’s all he can think about until he either has a total meltdown or the perceived problem is sorted out. Part of that problem is that he battles to see the forest for the tress. He’s a very emotional kid who is easily hurt which means we have to be careful how we reprimand or speak to him, being firm yet gentle. When he wakes up in the morning, he goes from fast asleep to completely hyperactive in the space of a minute; loud and boisterous with a dash of insane at the crack of dawn can be frustrating to say the least. It’s also a challenge because we have six year old twin daughters who also need time with mom and dad so it becomes a bit of a juggling act to ensure that everyone gets the attention that they need and, unfortunately, sometimes one of them will inevitably feel left out.
Nicnac is also keenly aware that he is different to a lot of his peers and I think that plays on his mind a lot. At his last check up with the paediatrician, he turned to my wife and said, “what if they can’t fix me properly?” and the fact that he worries about it so much is difficult for me. It’s a burden knowing that I’ve passed this on to him, making his life a lot more difficult and complicated than it needs to be. Yet, the strides he has made to overcome his ADHD leave me in awe of his determination and strong will. I’m trying to teach him to celebrate his differences, to revel in them, and to be proud of them because they are what make him, to me at least, the most special little boy in the world. And I wouldn’t change a single thing about him. He’s taught me how to be a kinder, better, more gentle father and human being and despite the challenges we face each day, we face them together as a family FULL of love and respect for each other.
I love you Nicnac. No matter what.

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11 thoughts on “Drowning In the Static

  1. greta says:

    rings so many bells! dealt with the same way, except girls didnt get caned! I’m sorry you did. I too am still dealing with self confidence issues, due to my ADHD, thankfully they did work out what was “wrong” with me and did treat me with Ritalin in primary school for 4 years and I kid you not, I would not have got to High School with out it! But in High School our principal who was yours too, made my mum take me off it! Only thing was I had no idea how to cope without it and NOBODY helped me learn how to, I was thrown in the deep end and all of a sudden going from everything making sense in class suddenly nothing made sense! I went from a good student to a scraping by student all through High School! I only found my abilities at 25!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Our children are lucky that we all know more about things like ADHD, ADD, ASD and so on. But more than that, your children are lucky to have a parent that understands, and goes above and beyond to help. Great post!

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  3. Mary says:

    I too was not diagnosed with ADHD until I was a adult. As you said, there was no ADD/ADHD back then and I went to a Cathoic school and it was a complete nightmare. One of my sons, now 33, was diagnosed in second grade and we chose Ritalin which was really the only drug out there at the time but he wasn’t on it long, it didn’t work well for him. We tried so many different things, although back then we were not yet associating diet to ADD and all the other factors that can contribute. Finally, after a lot of acting out as a teen, arrests, drug use, gang affiliation, etc. we just let him get his GED which he actually got in Juvenille Detention. Actually, the schedule and rules in JD helped him more than hurt him. Once he got out, he picked up a guitar and has not put it down since. Me? My solice when I was younger was horseback riding and owning a horse. I guess if had to give advice, which I know you are not asking for, it would be to let your child find a passion that doesnt involve a group. My son and I were never good at team sports, too many distractions, buzzers and bells but once that guitar found its way into his hands and the reins of a horse into mine, a whole new world opened up for both of us. Worlds where we could excel at our own page without all the competition and judgement of others. I can also tell you that horses are the best medicine for many adults and children with any kind of emotional problems althogh I must clarify and say, ADD/ADHD is NOT to me, either one. Horses have a natural and loving abililty to see inside of us and know exactly what we need. I’m not saying I didnt get bucked off or thrown a few times, lol, but they love unconditionally so that may be something your child might take to. I loved that you shared this, so many will relate and I love that you and your wife do what you think is best and do not worry about judgement from others. You know your child and what is best and that shines through!! Nicnac is going to succeed and thrive because you accept and love him for the wonderful child he is. I wish this country would really understand that so many children do not learn the conventional way and drastically change the ciriculum and teaching practices that are now in place. Ask any kid and 95% will sa school is boring! Keep blogging! Awesome first blog!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Antoinette Mosley says:

    I didnt know diet changes efected adhd. My son is adhd his dr has never said anything. Maybe I need a new dr lol. He isnt medicated though he needs to be. But before I can fix that I have to deal with bipolar manic disorder in a 12 yr old overly hyper intellectually disabled child. This boy makes me insane but all these little differences I see and cherish make him so sad. He knows hes not like other boys his age. He wants to be so bad. But every effort he tries is failed. Hes become so angry about it he is extremely violent at school with other boys. Been suspended 10 times in one month for fighting. Im at a cross roads. With nowhere to turn. Im glad you have the ability to see and fix. I wish I could right now. Love your blog already ill be following until you quit. And then ill find other ways to stalk your awesomeness 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Chris Z says:

    As someone who was beaten and humiliated by his parents in the late 70’s/early 80’s, flunked High School, and was kicked out of college about this exact same thing and saw it in my daughter I can simply say this: medicine can work, Try it.

    When I was prescribed Adderol in my 40’s, I saw that on it my thoughts were like rolling a series of marbles down a track instead of the normal “firing them all out of a cannon at once” feeling which is my life. On it you can think about something, do it, then do something else. It makes you relax, it makes you focus, it quiets your mind instead of having all of the chattering that goes on constantly.

    Shaming didn’t work because it’s not about shame. Forcing me to “do my homework or no activities ever” didn’t work because it’s not about simply “doing homework”. Beating me with a belt didn’t work because it’s not about physical things I can control. Thoughts are like pellets fired out of a cannon, that’s just the way it is.

    Over the years I discovered coffee (2 pots a day, any more makes me fall asleep) and a line of IT work where my ability to instantly look at a problem and see it from 50 angles at once is a VERY strong advantage. My ability to relate, empathize, and understand people has made me a top IT Director level manager. And my ability to parallelize my thought process has made me a leader in the IT problem-solving community.

    But it does not work in structured worlds like school, especially middle school and high school. It does not work in College. And I would never wish upon my daughter or any other kid the kind of hell I went through being told it was a “character flaw” that could be fixed by physical means. Sometimes it is a physical issue, and fixing it with drugs is no more wrong or bad than giving a thirsty person water.

    For me it’s a bit too late though, the coffee is good enough (don’t give your third grader coffee, it has some highly addictive qualities) and I have arranged my life where the chattering of squirrels is ok. I’m glad it works for your kid in school, it works for mine (AP classes, no problems, etc) and I hope they both have a different experience then what I had.

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    • Chris, thank you so much for the feedback. I love your marble analogy!! My son is doing so well on his meds and has already received a certificate for IT so it’s definitely something that ADHD people are wired towards.

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