July 18, 2014

A Journal Entry: 'My Son Has ADHD - But It Doesn't Define Him'

Today's journal entry is a heartfelt recollection of moments shared between a mother and her son; memories of joy, tears, fear and everything in between. For one of our readers, Kate, telling the story of her son's ADHD diagnosis seemed impossible to put into words. We think she couldn't have said it better. Please open your hearts and minds to this mother's incredible journey. ~Kate

“The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers & cities; but to know someone who thinks & feels with us, & who, though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.” ---Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

Hello...my name is Kate and I'm a mum! 

Hi my name is Jack, I like sports, skateboards, music, cooking and snow. I'm 13 and I have ADHD! Yes, I have ADHD- its real. I don't completely understand it and sometimes it makes me 'really angry'! 

Now back to Mum...

When Tamara asked me to tell my story I said sure, not a problem...but it was harder than I thought! Actually mission impossible!! 

How do I articulate to the world my story, my tears, my joys and my fears?

How do I tell the world without fear of judgement?

How do share views and thoughts on a topic that has some many opinions attached to it?

How do I tell you without attaching a label to my son? 

All ask is that you listen. Open your heart and mind. 

My son was diagnosed with ADHD in 2010. After years of trying to understand how he viewed and negotiated his world, a doctor finally slapped a label on him. 

Kindergarten was great! Then school entered our world. Learning became tough. New concepts where coming at him fast and puzzle wasn't coming together. 

By grade three he referred to himself as the dumb kid! The stupid kid! The 'CRAZY' kid! I will never forget the day he came home from school, we had commenced homework and suddenly, a simple misunderstanding of a concept turned into hell!

For the next hour he threw pillows and books, banged wall and screamed, "You just want me to die! Everyone thinks it... I know it. I'm just the stupid kid!" At that point I picked up my phone and recorded 'the hell'. 

The next day I emailed the recording to the school welfare officer and within the hour I was in his office. Emotional drained and exhausted, I questioned...was someone really going to listen to us and our story? 

So, I guess this is where our story began. Doctors, psychologists and education assessments became the norm. During these times sport helped to him to remain upbeat and motivated but the battle continued! THEN... we hit rock bottom. We had tried fish oil, vitamins and a doctor had even suggested 'Mountain Dew' for breakfast ( according to research the high levels of caffeine in the drink help's calm the nervous system). We burnt oils, played music and ran big baths. I wrote notes, read and kept journals. Finally, I rang my doctor in tears, shaking I asked for the medicine! The most talked about drug in the world; ADHD medication! I still remember the moment my doctor turned to me and said "it's not your fault, he can't control it, he will be okay". 

Of course the first drug had the reverse effect...He went nuts! I withdrew, cried in corner and convinced myself he didn't need any medication! What was I thinking? "It's me, us, bad parenting and so it went on"! A few months later, I was back in the doctor office with new script for a new med. Again, no luck but this time I went back, more educated and came out with another new script and bingo we had it! Within a year, Jack came out of learning resources, he had caught up academically and had been asked to train with Red Bulls youth development squad. The drug never changed Jack, he was still cheeky but what it did was slow him down enough to enable him to unpack information, take it in, put it into practice and retain new skills. But most importantly our household was no longer in crisis and nor was he. 

My son has ADHD but it doesn't define him! He is great kids with an amazing future. Jack is quirky and 100 percent lovable. I'm a good mum but I'm not perfect. We still have the battles, we try to block out the stigmas...negative chatter but its hard, we have caved, taken Jack off his medicine and hoped that it was just moment... And then our family nearly fell apart! To drug my child for behaviour is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do! I judge myself, everyday... "I'm a teacher, I manage a class of 24 students, WHY can't I manage one child? It hurts and everyday it nibbles away at my emotional bank account. There is very little support out there for parents with kids who have ADHD. A lot of us withdraw and fight the battles alone, we fear the stigma. Silence is easier! 

What does a ADHD moment look like... For us "it's a grown up toddler tantrum"! Its sudden, fast and generally over nothing much... it can last for a moment or hours! You want to scream, respond, run away and hide... beside him I sit, waiting for the battle to end and then we chat x

This my story and I hope it helps. x


  1. What a heartfelt, inspiring story! Sounds like Jack is a great kid with an even greater Mum!