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.