Trying To Accept The Fact That My Son Has ADHD (And How I Was Able To Help Him Just In Time!)
“There is nothing wrong with my son! Who are you to tell me that there is something wrong with him – that he lacks focus, is inattentive and very hyperactive? He is just five years old! All kids are like that! How dare you isolate my boy like that!”
That was me a year ago and I was speaking with my son’s Kindergarten teacher. She was telling me that my boy has difficulty reading because he is easily distracted and can’t focus on school lessons. She also mentioned that he fidgets all the time and that my son is very hyperactive.
“Miss Smith (not her real name), the reason why I am paying this private school is because I want for my son to receive the best education that my money can provide. Why are you telling me of these things? If he can’t read, then, teach him to read – it’s your job as his teacher! Am I just wasting my money here?”
The guidance counselor and the school principal were walking towards us and they both had smiles on their faces. When the elderly woman arrived my side, she gave me a pat on the back and said, “Mrs. Cruz (not my real name), can I invite you to my office? I would really love to speak with you and get to know more about your son, Michael. He is such a lovely young boy.”
I turned my gaze to the guidance counselor and she introduced herself to me. “My name is Nilda Ramos (not her real name) and I am the counselor for the Kindergarten students. Michael is very vibrant and he loves to go to school. I can see that in him. How I wish all students were like Michael who is eager to learn.”
The two women sort of pacified me and with that, I gave in. I went with them to the principal’s office and sat down on that beautiful Victorian sofa.
“Why are we here?”, I asked.
“Mrs. Cruz, it has come to my attention that Michael is very special and is need of further skills development.”, the principal said. She had a way with her words and I was drawn to her. It’s like I had no choice but to hear her out and listen to her. In a way, I felt that she meant all the good things she said for Michael, my son.
I said, “What type of skills development are we talking about?”
“I will let Mrs. Ramos explain to you this skills development thing that I am referring to.”, she said.
“Mrs. Cruz, Michael’s teacher noticed that for his age, he had difficulty reading due to a combination of his behavior. I have had the honor of spending time with Michael for the last month and I can say in my professional capacity, that he is indeed a bit more hyperactive for his age group. Let me start with this – it’s not a bad thing and it’s not only Michael. One out of ten kids suffer from this condition and when given all the help he can get, Michael can cope and can function really well.”
“So, what condition is this?”, I asked.
Mrs. Ramos smiled and handed me a piece of paper. “Please go to this specialist and he will provide a series of tests for Michael. From him, we will know what steps to take in order to help Michael with his skills and behavior development. I really hope you can do this soon? For Michael?”
I managed a weak yes and said our goodbyes.
After a month, my son was observed by this specialist – a neurodevelopmental pediatrician and after the tests, he told me that Michael has a behavioral disorder called ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). It was a double diagnosis.
“Children with comorbid ASD and ADHD in this study had lower cognitive functioning, more severe social impairment, and greater delays in adaptive functioning than children with ASD only. Therefore, the presence of ADHD in children with ASD complicates children’s learning,” writes Jeffrey Bernstein Ph.D.
I was distraught. How could I not see this? Where did I go wrong? I blamed myself for not seeing this earlier on. His teacher was right and I even said those bad words to her. Oh my God, why is this happening? These were my initial thoughts and I was teary eyed.
The doctor saw my problematic face and told me that everything will be fine. He said that Michael needs therapy and with constant sessions, plus my care and love, he will make it through adulthood as a high-functioning person.
There were three types of therapy classes that my son had to take:
“The core impairment of ADHD is the individual’s inability to inhibit responses due to abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex and its connections to other parts of the brain. The individual’s impairment of response inhibition manifests itself in four areas of functioning: (1) working memory, (2) internalization of self-directed speech, (3) the self-regulation of affect, motivation, and level of arousal, and (4) reconstitution, the ability to break down observed behaviors into component parts that can recombine into new behaviors directed toward a goal,” writes Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D.
After two months or about 16 sessions, my son was able to manage his speech delay. Before the speech therapy, he was very shy and would only play on his own. I took him off the program after that and ever since then, he was speaking clearly and eloquently, was more confident and very sociable.
To this day, he is still undergoing Occupational Therapy and Educational Therapy. The good news is that at the end of each session, his therapists would tell me that Michael shows promise and improvement. He is now a very behaved boy in class and would always finish his tasks, unlike before.
“Many people I treat for adult ADHD are interested in avoiding medications,” writes Scott Shapiro M.D.
It’s not all 100% ok. It is a long way to go – I am so sure of it. But placing my son in these therapy sessions is the best thing I have ever done for him. He is not like normal kids. I have accepted the fact that my Michael, my boy, my only son has ASD with ADHD and he needs help – the professional help that I am not qualified to give. Now that I know what to do and how to handle him, I will always keep it that way. I just pray to God each day for strength because I need it to be able to assist my son every single “hyper” day.
*This beautiful story was relayed to me personally.