ADHD, Parenting, Ritalin and the Do-Gooder Brigade

To All It May Concern,

I don’t need your mumbo jumbo.

Last night I received another call from another innocent do-gooder who wanted to tell me how to bring up my ADHD son.

So I decided this morning, I’ll make it official. Put my statement out there into the world.

On behalf of myself, my son, my husband, my other three children and all of the other mothers in my position:

I am not interested. I do not care. So sod off.

And in particular, I am completely turned off by what your neighbour (who has not once met my son), the old woman you met in the chemist (she definitely doesn’t know me), or your mother-in-law’s dead cat has to say on the matter.

  • A blockage in his neck? – Nonsense
  • He’s allergic to something – tried and tested
  • Mineral/vitamin/oil supplements – got the t-shirt
  • He just needs more affection – I am the official cuddle monster, but thanks for the insult
  • Just to make it quite clear I have absolutely no faith in your astrology, numerology, natural remedies, table tennis theory, or back to nature camps
  • And yes, for your information I absolutely do discipline my son, let him watch only a little TV, don’t allow him to play aggressive computer games (he’s rarely on the computer), do send him out to play and have tried to help him through sport.

In the early days of diagnosis, I did indeed try alternative therapies. Concerned about the effects of strong medicine on my son. I consulted different doctors and begged for help.

After much waiting, talking, reading, educating myself and trying and testing, my husband and I decided to try our son on Ritalin.

My son’s life changed.

Our lives changed.


He now hits his head on things (tables/walls etc) as an occasional instance, rather than on a daily basis.

He has not landed in hospital due to an impulsive injury since he started taking the tablets.

He no longer disrupts the class constantly: wandering around, climbing out of windows, sitting under the desk or in the waste paper bin, or fighting.

His concentration is still poor, but his writing is more legible, he can read a book and eat a meal at the table.

He has had no more tics. That is, his body doesn’t jerk, his shoulder doesn’t bounce up and hit him in the face and he doesn’t suddenly jump up at the dinner table then look confused, because he doesn’t know why he’s standing up.

He can sit next to a classmate in school and have friends.

It is also true to say that we have to be extra careful when the medication wears off. He’s still somewhat impulsive and is certainly challenging to bring up.

But the difference is undeniable. Incredible. Amazing. And I am truly thankful.

So Dear Do-gooder, why the fuck, would you call me and tell me Ritalin is a drug, and I should instead try him on X, Y or Z?



I’m up and about this morning and have just returned from delivering my beautiful three-year old to Kindergarten. On the way she called me “cute” which, of course, made me smile. We’ve had a lovely relaxed morning. Lots of time for cuddles, singing and just enjoying each others company.

Now I’m sitting here and I have tears at the back of my eyes.

You may think it’s because I miss her. But you’d be wrong. I’m quite aware that we’ll be together again in a couple of hours and I’m happy, to have a bit of time to myself. Time for me, is definitely one of my needs.

The issue for me is, actually, a recurring theme that haunts me, and I’m not exaggerating, when I tell you, it affects almost every day of my life.


My death, the death of one of my children. The death of my husband. Those are the ones that trouble me most.

But I also concern myself with the death of my friends. All of those I care about, in fact.

There are, many details that frighten me. For example:

  • The fact I have no real control over my death or that of my loved ones. I do drive carefully and avoid dangerous situations, I eat fruit and veg, I don’t smoke and use sun block etc. But I know that if a mad gunman entered the school, or a drunk drove into me, or one of us became seriously ill, we have no real ability to choose our fate.
  • It’s definite. It will happen. To me. To you. To all of us. Nothing is more sure. There is no avoidance.
  • I dread the pain. The hurt of losing someone I love and knowing for the rest of my days, they will not be there. That they are gone. Only a memory. Never again to witness the beauties life reveals to us. Never again to support. Never again to feel. Never again to be seen or held.
  • I fear living. Living without a person who meant so much to me.

It is at this point that I come to belief. I think the luckiest people in the world are those who have true belief. Those who believe in some kind of heaven, where they’ll, at some point, meet their loved ones once again.

If I had belief, I think I would still feel sad about leaving this life or something happening to one of us, but underneath, I’d have a feeling of, ‘I’ll see you later’, and my life would just be a much simpler existence.

As you’ve no doubt gathered, I don’t have any particular belief. I have friends from different faiths and backgrounds, and it has to be said, I am really happy for them, that their mind is clear. Because mine is, to be frank, a mess.

I lost my father, aged seven. A very traumatic experience. I cried the day he died and a stranger came to me and said; “Don’t cry in front of your mother, you don’t want to make her sad do you?” So I stopped crying. I didn’t cry again in front of my mum, or anyone else for that matter, because I didn’t want to make people sad. My mum never mentioned my dad again.

One day he was there and the next he was gone.

Since then, I have had many experiences of death, so of course losing people is a very real experience for me.

My parents were never church going people but, actually, as a young child I attended Sunday School with friends regularly. I loved it! First we’d go into church and listen to the minister and sing. Then into the hall and play games, draw pictures and listen to stories. I found it a very happy place to be. People always seemed to be smiling and helping each other. Our young minster, truly a man of the seventies, had longish hair and a big beard and he played the guitar.

I prayed a lot as a youngster and I think, truthfully that is where I lost my faith. Not because I asked for a dog and didn’t receive one. No. But because heading toward puberty, I realised, that my true faith in God stemmed from fear. I wanted to see my father again. I wanted to be protected from nuclear war. On death I wanted to be safe and enter heaven. That was what my God was for. And I grasped that I used God to fulfil my needs in life. I felt, in my young, inexperienced way, like a bad person. So I let go of God. And tried to be by myself.

Over the many years that have since followed, I have often come back to this obstacle. That believing in God, is just something that makes me feel safe. And is therefore not a true belief.

As a mature student, I at some point studied some philosophy. One of the themes taught advertised itself as ‘The existence of God’. Truthfully, I hoped for either a proof of his existence or at least a doubt of his non-existence. But neither transpired. The only slight indication of possibility described the philosophers God. That is, the ‘force’ that caused the very initial reaction to bring about the universe. On being informed of this I felt a warmth inside, however soon to be dashed by our lecturers comment, that that ‘force’ would most likely be destroyed by now. Throughout the course, the lecturer revealed himself to be a dedicated atheist. Which would, of course, further explain his teachings.

I am not an atheist. Rather an agnostic. I don’t know if there is a God and I have not been able to figure out how to find out. But I would really like there to be a God and a heaven too. I could go to a minister and try to have him or her convince me of their faith. To help me sleep at night. And just enjoy my life. But that would truthfully be their belief and not mine.

I have some foundations though. I think true faith can only be found deep inside oneself. And inside myself I am convinced that if there is a God, he is good. My children have never been baptised and I’m absolutely sure that if there is a God and a heaven they would be accepted there with open arms. As would I and my husband. And every person from every belief. From every race. In my mind it’s absolutely clear that God would be good and therefore unable to discriminate.

That deficiency is only present in us humans.

Are you religious? If not, or if you’re an unsure like me, how do you reconcile your fate?

Invitation for discussion: ADHD

Hello. I am interested in your experiences with ADHD. I am a mum of four, three girls, and one boy aged ten, who is ADHD positive. I am myself British, as are the elder three of my children including my son. But I live in Germany and truth be told, I feel often quite lost in the whole German system. I am a foreigner living in a foreign land. Which is all fine and dandy when everything is running without a hitch, but when faced with a disorder like ADHD, I am forced to realise my inadequacies.

For instance: the diagnosis of ADHD only finally came aged nine, would this have happened more quickly had I had a better understanding of the school system/the health system/the language?

It strikes me that I have never stopped doing/fighting/crying/worrying/questioning/researching/making appointments on behalf of my son since the start of school.

And I am continually astounded by the amount I have been criticised/accused/yelled at/insulted by people who my son and I are supposed to hold respect for.

Both before and after the diagnosis.

Is Germany particularly poor in dealing with ADHD children (and their parents, for that matter)? Is it because I don’t know the system? Are other countries better?

Apparently, a primary school class here should expect to contain three or four ADHD children. If that’s the case, where is the support for those children? The teachers? The parents?

My overall impression at the moment is one of a ‘pass the buck’ phenomenon. The teacher blames the parents for their child’s poor behaviour in class and their inability to concentrate. We go to the GP the GP blames the school/teacher/system and does nothing. Many visits later you are finally referred to a psychiatrist who blames a missing chemical, makes sympathetic faces and then after another few months (mostly of doing nothing) hands out some medication.

Meanwhile the child becomes more and more disturbed and the parents more and more disillusioned.

Surely, experienced, well-trained teachers should be able to spot those three or four children, have a quiet word with the parents (note: not shriek at them in the corridor in front of other parents and pupils, “Your child needs a psychologist!” – this just makes the teacher look irrational, the parent annoyed and the teacher is no longer taken seriously).

Parents could then go to a GP or pediatrician, explain the situation at school (probably the one at home too). Who could then refer onto the relevant professional without much fuss. Instead of informing the stressed out parent that under no circumstances would they feed their own children Ritalin. Although, it becomes apparent that their children are actually not attempting to climb out of upper floor windows to see the moon better, or dismantling the antennae from toy aeroplanes to test the actual power of the electricity in the socket, rather than do the homework that the school demanded must be done in the bedroom. Not under the watchful eye of the mother. (The teacher had already taken the time to inform me that my son’s lack of concentration was indeed caused by me sitting with him to do his homework).

It occurs to me again and again that had my son been diagnosed, and thus medicated age six or even seven, he would probably not have encountered the problems that he then met in the following three years: the aggression, the bullying, the lack of social development, the frustration, the loss of friends, the tics.

And I am 100% positive that we would have spent much less time at the hospital.

The reason being, he would have been on medication, Ritalin. And Ritalin actually works.

It doesn’t fix everything and we are still having some teething problems.

But on it he can read and importantly, enjoy a book (not just a picture book).

I can read his handwriting.

His tics have stopped. Completely.

His sleep has improved.

He can sit at the table for lunch without jumping out of his seat. Though not necessarily for dinner.

But for me, the most magical thing of all, is, for a few hours a day he stops being impulsive. He really can: Stop. Think. Decide. Like we taught him. Instead of just do.

Now, really, I could go on and on about experiences, like when his school tried to ‘sell us’ the all day school in town with small classes. We went with open minds (despite the bad reputation) and found a school for children and/or parents out of control. The focus that of discipline. No support. No counselling. No therapy.

I could tell you about all the busybodies who criticised and advised. Stop the sugar and the e-numbers, the computer games and TV. To start with supplements and discipline. To be honest we tried it all. And more. With no change whatsoever. If you are the parent of an ADHD child, I’m sure you’ve met them too.

I would like to know your experiences. Your opinions. Hear your voice.

Thank you.