google-site-verification: google17a9d9ae14f90c1e.htmlA Dad’s Story: Raising a child with ADHD | Skhumbuzo Foundation

I saw my son as being different. It was difficult for me to accept that he often didn’t complete his schoolwork.  He didn’t colour in the lines and he had difficulty with his pencil grip. Sometimes he would be totally disinterested and distracted doing certain activities. On the other hand, he would also be extremely passionate and fully engaged in tasks that interested him. If you gave him an electronic device or gadget, he could master how it worked in no time at all – you wouldn’t even know that he was there! 

Homework was a totally different story though. He struggled to read an easy word like “and” but could recognize the word “because”. As a teacher, I questioned how he couldn’t read the easy word but was able to identify the difficult word.

Looking back now, I’m embarrassed to admit that I was comparing my son who was a primary school learner then to the high school learners that I was teaching.  I would say horrible stuff to him sometimes because I felt that his inabilities reflected on me as a teacher when he couldn’t grasp what I was explaining to him.

I wanted to explain something only once or twice and expected him to understand and follow my instructions. I would raise my voice and become very impatient with him. This obviously didn’t help him (or my blood pressure). I thought he was as lazy some of the learners in my class who couldn’t sit still and focus for long periods.

My attitude changed towards the “lazy and disruptive” children who I taught when our son was diagnosed with ADHD. I’d been teaching for a while at this stage and “knew” about ADHD and that some of these kids were on medication. However, I always saw them as children with behavioural problems who chose to act out.

Our son’s diagnosis allowed me to have a better understanding of children with ADHD. They certainly, didn’t choose to be restless in my class or not fully focused on their work. Our son comes from a stable home with two loving parents, and I realised that I needed to change my mindset. I had to stop blaming the children’s parents or their home circumstances for their behaviour.

I wanted my son’s teachers to be patient and supportive with him and not to label him. As a result, I had to stop labeling the children in my class because their behavior was not always something that they could control.

It’s important to talk to other parents whose children are diagnosed with ADHD, but also remember what works for them will not necessarily work for your child. Having a child with ADHD doesn’t have to be a lonely journey. More importantly, understand that your child is not alone and that he or she isn’t different or bad.  My son is normal; maybe not everyone else’s idea of normal but he’s, my child. Travelling this ADHD journey has taught me to embrace his shortcomings and accept him for the beautiful boy he is.

Don’t be afraid to challenge people when they make uninformed opinions about children with ADHD – it’s our job to educate them, but to be able to do this, we need to educate ourselves first. Read articles about ADHD and share your knowledge with others.

Don’t ever fall into the trap of comparing your child to any other child or with your own children. Remember that they are individuals and reach their milestones at different stages. You place your child under unnecessary pressure when you make comparisons about their development.  Embrace and celebrate their achievements – no matter how small. Their world has over enough pressure so don’t add to their stress by using other peoples’ successes or achievements as a yardstick.

We learnt that our son needed boundaries and clear instructions – sometimes having to repeat the same instruction over, and over again. Structure and routine are also a priority, and practicing patience and self-control helps when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Look for the silver lining because children with ADHD often surprise you with their hidden talents and giftedness.

The End

Thanks to – Hilton Gordon-Smit

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