An ADHD diagnosis, now what?

ADHD diagnosis super kid

An ADHD diagnosis, what does this mean?

Unreasonable. Stubborn. No wait… Obstinate.  Impulsive. Definitely defiant.  Or maybe all of the above describe how my son is.  He is also, when he’s in the mood, humorous, witty, caring, compassionate and kind.  He is such a bubbly little boy with an amazing gift for maths and making us laugh.  For a lot of the time though his ways and personality have been diagnosed (by a highly qualified psychiatrist) as being ADHD with anxiety and ODD (opposition defiance disorder).  Together with this mouthful of a diagnosis, which I may add was thrown at me after an almost 3 hour assessment; I was given a script for Concerta (similar to Ritalin), epilim and some Omegas.  The script is still lying in my drawer, unused.

I won’t lie, it wasn’t an easy choice.  Some days I feel like pulling my own teeth out, most days pulling his teeth out and other days I just crawl into bed, glad that the day is over.  Every single thing is a struggle with him.  Getting him to wake up for school, brush his teeth, wear his clothes, eat his food, tie his own shoe laces… You get the gist.  He can’t play with his siblings, he can’t lose a game, he can’t sit still and he has the memory of an elephant.  He. Doesn’t. Let. Things. Go.  There are feelings of resentment, frustration, guilt, self-pity and more self-pity.  Everyone bears the brunt of the tantrums and the shouting (mine not his).  Everyone gives in just to keep the peace which is very unfair.  So why not just give him the medication and save ourselves the agony, right?  It’s like a magic potion, a solution in a pill, that will fix the bad behaviour.

I’ve done a lot of research about treatment of ADHD,  I’ve met with people who have experience in this field and read volumes of opinions on the subject.  I had moments of agreeing with each side of the argument.  One of the things I came to realise is that ADHD can be genetic and in our case it is.  And no surprise here, he gets it from me.  Granted I’m not hyperactive (that would be funny) but I have many of the other symptoms of ADHD.  And therein lies the difficulty.  It’s my inability to remain calm, to be patient, to be rational and reasonable.  To realise that he is 7 years old and that I am an adult.  To not engage in a power struggle.  That he is a kid and he is meant to want to push boundaries.  That he does have difficulty concentrating and that we are both highly sensitive.  So the best person to understand what he is going through is me.

We’ve decided to take the alternative route, the more difficult, it-takes-longer-to-see-results route because we don’t want to fix my son’s behaviour.  Instead we want to embrace who he is and the way he expresses himself without using mind-altering drugs.

We have some natural supplements to help with concentration and to help calm him down.  We’ve changed his diet and incorporated more exercise into his day.  I give him time to relax and watch TV for a little while before we get onto homework because that’s what he needs.  I admit that I tread more carefully with him than I do with my other kids, to avoid an outburst.  I give him more time to complete a certain task and the instructions for the task are given one at a time.  We play mind games without him knowing, to strengthen him, help him focus better.  I’ve changed my mind set and way of dealing with him.  I sometimes feel devious because I do things in a sly way but you know what, it works.  For all of us.  I’ve definitely seen a change in the past 6 weeks since we started the ‘campaign’ and aside from his treatment, I think it’s because we understand him better and act accordingly.  It’s exhausting and can bring me to tears some days… but I feel wholeheartedly that I am doing what’s best for him, not what’s easiest for me.

I know that I’ve made this decision because he  is only 7 years old.  I don’t want him to be dependent on drugs.  He can be his true self and when he is old enough to decide for himself, he can decide if he wants to take medication for ADHD.  I acknowledge that it is a lifetime disorder that changes its nature as he ages. I know this from experience. I also know that as his mother, as the person responsible for his well-being, that my instinct tells me I’m doing the right thing right now.  I know that if he had diabetes or cancer that I would weigh up options differently.  I may change my mind at some point, can’t say I never will but right now, I feel that this is in his best interests.

This article was originally written for Jozikids by Fatima Kazee in 2015.

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Author

Fatima Kazee

Fatima Kazee

Fatima Kazee, mum to a teenager, a pre-teen and ‎a little princess.  Part-time wife to a fanatical fisherman. She’s addicted to sneakers, anything chocolatey & is an invaluable member of the Jozikids and Kznkids team.

42 Responses

  1. Thank you Je'anna. We have coincidentally been looking at alternative schooling for him because I feel he is not reaching his full potential or it isn't being recognised. Maybe he needs an environment where he can be himself and learn in a way that suits him. True that we have many options nowadays.

  2. Hi Nadene, sounds like she may not have ADHD as such or all the symptoms thereof. It may just be something that she dislikes so she does it in any way that's distracting to the task at hand… I'm not an expert but I've noticed that even with my other kids. If it's something they like or enjoy they do it with complete dedication but other stuff is done in a way to annoy us! Maybe she just learns in a different way… moving around. Best would be to see an educational psychologist maybe just to rule out anything else. good luck!

  3. Well done, Fatima, I salute you.

    And I'd like to highlight that if marks deteriorate there is another excellent option:

    Having seen so many homeschooled and unschooled kids so happy and well and learning drug free, I can really see nothing special enough about "doing better at school" to justify drugs.

    Old-fashioned school designs that are not supported by educational research in any way, are the problem. Not the child.

    There are now so many homeschooling options for educational and social support and yes, childcare if you have to work, really, I think this is a best-education first choice even for kids who don't "need" drugs.

  4. Hi Fatima! My instincts as a mother tell me daughter has this problem however my husband disagrees and we fought about this excessively because I try to bring it up every so often. My daughter is not hyper, she isnt misbehaved all the time. She is also very smart I must add as Mathematics and music seems to be her strong subjects. However when asked to do simple things like read, i find her doing upside down or in a position which is not normal. She cant sit still when doing things that require her to do so. Im concerned anout this! But i know my husband wont agree to get her diagnosed. Im mentally exhausted and run out of options with her!!! What would you suggest?

  5. Hi Kelly I chose that picture because it so reminds me of my son. And I think what you do is amazing. I've been told about brain gym and I'm keen to learn more about it. I'm glad you found a way out and a way to help others that need you.

  6. The picture used in this article is from my centre, Neo Education. I started this centre because of what I had to go through. After reading the article and all the comments, I really feel that I must share my story. As a child I was diagnosed with ADD. For years I used Concerta, just because I did not know of better, and my parents did not know of better. Medication was the easy way out, and no doctor ever tried anything else. I could not eat, and I felt like a zombie. As a child this is very hard to deal with. After a few years I discovered something magical and I have never looked back. It is as simple as Brain Gym. We live in an era where everything is about quick fixes. Doctors and professionals describe medicine cause it is easier. I applied Brain gym to my own life, along with a sugar free healthy diet, lots of water and regular exercise. I have never looked back. People do not understand the devastating effects of sugar. The day I decided not to eat it anymore, was the day my life changed forever. I do Brain gym with my kids at my centre every single day, this is part of my curriculum. The results… unbelievable. All our kids are different. All our kids have special ways in which they learn. We can not put a child in a box because of how they need to learn. This happened to me. I used to irritate teachers because I had to move around when taking in new information. "Please sit still Kelly, don't fidget like that." All that time I thought there was something wrong with me, actually it was the lack of knowledge my teachers had. Humans are supposed to move around, we are not suppose to sit at a desk for hours. We learn through movement. A child can thrive when they are integrated. To take in new information comes naturally to all human beings. External factors block these natural ways of learning. I had an opportunity to help myself, and today I am helping others. It is very easy to label someone with an disorder and it is easier to give them medicine. Changing something naturally will take longer, but with dedication the body, mind and soul will come around.

  7. Hi, my daughter used to get into so much trouble at school as she was always distracted! The teacher blamed my husband and I, and that she is not getting enough love at home! We also could not understand why we struggled every day with the simplest of tasks… One of our friend told us to take her to a phycologist. I thought that maybe she would just open up and tell the dr something that she was keeping from us. Only to be told that my daughter is ADHD… We put her onto concerta only when she goes to school, the change in her school results are astounding and she is not getting into trouble anymore… We still struggle with the mornings and evenings, but she is happy that she is doing so much better at school and wants to try better!
    Each to their own, but I really owe it to the "meds"

  8. I didn't want to go to the psychiatrist either (especially since it cost us a small fortune) and it was a bit of a waste because we aren't following his advice. But it has helped me to know what it is and how to deal with it in my own way. It might help to know that I was never told by his school or teacher that he needs to be assessed, I think I could see it myself and relate to it from my own experience. Good luck and go with your gut!

  9. aah thank you Feriyal. That's very kind of you. I don't always feel amazing especially since I lose it so often! But knowing now that he actually can't control how he is and that it is part of him, makes it a bit easier to deal with.

  10. Salaams Reziena, I will also look into this Synaptol because it is natural and I don't mind anything natural. Leoni please let us know what products you are using. Sounds like it's made a huge difference to your son. For myself I take something called 5-HTP which is helpful for anxiety and mood but not sure if there's a kid alternative. Good luck and much strength to you both!

  11. It would sooo much easier Dianne if we just put him on it. But I know that I will feel guilty about it and it will change him. I think there is so much knowledge and resources at our disposal nowadays that it is definitely worth searching for something other than hardcore medication. thank you 🙂

  12. Cathleen when I was at the psychiatrist he showed us a video of a little boy, screaming, hitting tantrums. Then he says, impressed with himself, "look what happens after he took the medication for a week." The kid sat in his moms armpit and couldn't even answer a question that he was asked! He was withdrawn and motionless. Granted it may help his mother to have a quiet sublime child but it changes them. I'm not willing to have my son like that. Good luck with finding answers and please do share when you do. PS we have him on omegas(6 a day) , magnesium and iron (both from the Floradix range) and it seesm to help.

  13. Hi Portia, I definitely agree that when I'm calmer he is too. I also take natural supplements to help me cope and I think it helps. I come from a divorced home as well and I have to admit, I think some of the anxiety I have stems from that. But at the same time as an adult now understanding how he feels, I can relate and do what I think will help the situation and him. Good luck with your son and yourself. 🙂

  14. The worse part of it for me Zaheera is that he gets it from me. Which I feel is why it is so much harder for me to deal with. If I were a 'normal' person, like my husband and all the other perfect moms, then I'd take it in my stride and be well equipped to deal with it. But the reality is that we are who we are and perhaps this is my test in life.. I pray always for divine help and most days, I think I get it or else… 😉

  15. Every time I mention that he was diagnosed, I get the "you're not giving him that stuff are you?" accusatory comments. I think that so far he is doing relatively well at school and if he does seem to be deteriorating I will consider Concerta. Because that decision will also be for his benefit, not mine.

  16. I have recently had a QEEG conducted on my son. The findings were that he had mild temporal lobe seizures. However, when I took him for an EEG with a neurologist he told me there are no signs of seizures and he has ADD. I am so confused, I dont know where to turn and what to do. One thing I do know is that I will never put my child on Ritalin/Concerta or Stratera. Do the research as to why they were originally invented and the long term effects of these drugs. They are mind altering drugs and in the end result in brain atrophy. Another thing is for certain, I will not give up trying to find an answer as to why my son behaves like he does. Yes, to me he is a normal 7 year old boy. But that no longer seems to be the norm and acceptable. To others he is noisy, busy and lacks concentration.

  17. I love your honesty and the fact that you are making decisions that are right for you and your family. We too have a son that has been diagnosed with ADD and it has been a real struggle on all fronts. I tried the alternative route for 4 years and this year decided to try Concerta. It has really helped him so much at school and he reports that he can "think more clearly" It is important to be aware that choosing the drugs route is not always the easiest choice. I deal with a lot of guilt that we "took the easy path" and often wonder about the long term consequences. Having said that it is also important to say that Concerta is not a miracle cure – we still have to deal with difficult behaviour, him pushing every boundary, his anxiety, compulsive behavior and we constantly struggle to get him to tow the line and do what needs to be done. Its helped with his concentration and he gets less flack from teachers at school but he is still who he is and he still has difficulties. We are determined to love him for who is is rather than who he is not and as you said of your son Fatima, he also brings us so much joy. Keep us posted on your journey.

  18. Hi Reziena … the therapist also recomended Concerta 🙁 i have my son , 11, on natural products. Just bought another batch today. I gave it to him , starting on a weekend, and told no one at his school ( the look differently on them if they know they are on medication , ) the teacher called me the Monday, asked what we did.. She has a book in which the kids must write your name when you are done., and after the time specified for the homework, she draws a line. He was always in the LAST batch, after the line. The Monday she called ,me, he was first in class. It is drops, and tablets. THe link is https://www.naturalkids.co.za/products/focusformula-natural-remedy-adhd andhttps://www.naturalkids.co.za/products/brightspark-natural-remedy-child-add-adhd
    Hiope this helps for you …. it realy did for us .. Goodluck

    1. Hi Leoni

      Very interested in the natural products you buy for your child. However I am having problems with the link you provided….Please can you assist by giving the name of the product and perhaps the website details. Many thanks

  19. Goodluck with your journey. My daughter is on concerta and it has definitely helped her. I have often had comments by friends shocked that she is even on concerta because she is still so bubbly and playful but when it's time to knuckle down in class she is able to do that too. I also notice a difference in her reading and writing so until she matures and is able to cope without concerta which is probably in high-school it's definitely helped make her school journey a little easier and is thriving in the class.

  20. Thanks for sharing. My son has been diagonised with autism and is hyperactive a lot of the time. I first dealt with dietary issues. When we stopped giving regular oats, for the first time in 4.5 years, he started sleeping through the night. I have a couple other dietary changes with positive results. However most of these gains were wiped out when he was put under sever stressful conditions when my husband took him to his home in the Eastern Cape. His routine was completely disrupted and he only gave him his supplements for two days out of the 10 days they were away. He left with people he is not really familiar with. Needless to say when my son got back, he had OCD like tendencies. He had diarrhea and had unconsolable crying spells. Eventually I conceded to have him put on medication. He is on Kepra and Rispriredal. The OCD like tendencies have gone but he is still hyper. Apparently these medicens are supposed to calm him. It has now been 3 months. We are also going through a divorce which doesn't help his situation. I have noticed that when I manage my stress, he is also a lot calmer. So the environment is also a big factor in children's behaviour. The neurologist we took him to disagrees but I have seen from experience.

  21. Thank you for this awesome article! I don't think you should be an ostrich about real problems but I also think that often we choose the quick & easy solutions. I'm sad that there is so much pressure on these very young people to perform and to fit in.

  22. Thanks for sharing. My son has been diagonised with autism and is hyperactive a lot of the time. I first dealt with dietary issues. When we stopped giving regular oats, for the first time in 4.5 years, he started sleeping through the night. I have a couple other dietary changes with positive results. However most of these gains were wiped out when he was put under sever stressful conditions when my husband took him to his home in the Eastern Cape. His routine was completely disrupted and he only gave him his supplements for two days out of the 10 days they were away. He left with people he is not really familiar with. Needless to say when my son got back, he had OCD like tendencies. He had diarrhea and had unconsolable crying spells. Eventually I conceded to have him put on medication. He is on Kepra and Rispriredal. The OCD like tendencies have gone but he is still hyper. Apparently these medicens are supposed to calm him. It has now been 3 months. We are also going through a divorce which doesn't help his situation. I have noticed that when I manage my stress, he is also a lot calmer. So the environment is also a big factor in children's behaviour. The neurologist we took him to disagrees but I have seen from experience.

  23. i can totally relate to this, i have an 11-yr old daughter with ADD. Have to say though, Concerta has worked for her, and for us as a family – it wasn't an easy choice and we still would like to take her off it at some point, but we've tried – her marks drop, she can't cope very well without it. It's not a drug, it's like putting on a pair of glasses – everything becomes much clearer! Fact is, it works! Hopefully she can stop taking it one of these days, but that will be her decision.

  24. I hear you, feels like I wrote this. I have a 9 year old boy who has ODD and we now willing to try the natural meds Synaptol because I cant run with the "campaign" anymore. Strength to you.

  25. The school wants my son to have a QEEG at the ADD Lab. I already know what they will diagnose and prescribe. Do I even bother going knowing that I will not give my son these drugs? Thank you for your inspiring article.

  26. Brilliant article Fatima! I'm also dealing with a defiant and obstinate 7 year old boy, and yes he gets it from me too. This just helps put things in perspective. Keep us updated on the campaign

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