Everyone’s on the cliff edge of normal. Everyone finds life an utter nightmare sometimes, and there’s no ‘normal’ way of dealing with it… There is no normal, Evelyn.― Holly Bourne, Am I Normal Yet?
I’ve recently discovered my sons are with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and after telling my closed ones, some would say.. “But they look normal”. And I don’t blame them as I too was only recently brought to awareness that people with ADHD don’t have a look.
The discovery did not come as a surprise and it all started with mother’s instinct (my own). I have Covid to thank as WFH has made me see the truest side of Lucas. The meltdowns, inability to express himself, not knowing what to say when he’s asked a simple question and how he would just give up answering when we didn’t give him the time to.
And yes, he looks normal.
The discovery, although after tolerating meltdowns for years, is eye-opening as it has also led us to discover that James too has ADHD. Many of you may remember that I wrote that James has dyslexia. Yes, you can have both or you can also be mistaken for one and another.
Quoting from https://www.healthline.com:
ADHD and dyslexia both make it hard for people to understand what they’ve read, despite the fact that they’re quite intelligent and often very verbal.
When they write, their handwriting may be messy, and there are often problems with spelling. All of this can mean they struggle to live up to their academic or professional potential. And that sometimes leads to anxiety, lower self-esteem, and depression.
My eldest although is very well natured. He does have his moments. Like easily irritable whenever we ask him something or when his siblings does something that he knows we would disapprove. Panicking, unable to give us answer immediately when we ask him what happened. He has shown a lot of anxiety when it came to answering us. He would naturally ask us.. “What’s wrong?” to a point that I had to tell him that “Not everything has to be wrong first” but asking him to rephrase his words to “What’s right?” doesn’t sound right too.
He can read now but his writing is still horrid. They stick together so much that I was so thankful that UPSR was scrapped. #assholemum
My boys’ most apparent sign of ADHD are:
1) Inattention – they have trouble focusing in class. Be it physical or virtual. They don’t stand up and walk around in physical classes but their mind wanders. James’s class teacher once told me that she caught him talking to himself in class. Imagining Transformers fighting and he was so absorbed to it that he didn’t notice that others were looking at him.
2) Missing out important details and inability to follow instructions – My sons can’t be told too many steps at one time. They would miss out a step if I’ve given them more than one instruction at one go. Example: I would tell Lucas to go upstairs to change out of his pajamas and on his way down, bring his dirty clothes down and call James to come down to drink his Milo. Result: He went upstairs and called James to come down to drink Milo. The other two instructions were lost somewhere in his noisy brain.
3) Zooming up and down the house: This is just Lucas. Many of you who follow may remember how Lucas ran through a glass door at my neighbours’ and it was because he was zooming around mindlessly. Til today when he ran out of things to do, he would do the same in our house. He sees it as fun. My daughter would just follow for once or twice and then find it tiring and would just stand at the side and cheer him on.
4) Impulsive – They find it tough to wait for their turn. I’m somewhat trained to speak & listen to more than one person talking at the same time. It’s a skill that I’m not proud of because it also means that the first person that started talking, had to get interrupted and then the second person, would feel frustrated that he can’t say what’s on their mind NOW NOW and sometimes the third person just wants to call “Mummy” cos #fomo (stares at my daughter).
Sound like how kids behave? Yes, you may notice such things in your own kids or others too but kids without ADHD, learn to improve little by little as they grow. However, my boys don’t seem to get better at it and it’s showing in their school work, at home & when they are with their friends.
What causes ADHD?
Before you go pointing fingers on our parenting skills (and remind yourself it’s parenting skills, not mothering skills), please know that ADHD is not caused by too much screen time, poor parenting, or eating too much sugar. #disclaimerfirst
There’s evidence that it’s mostly inherited. Many kids with ADHD has either one parent or relative with it. You may read more about it here.
Sucks to be me right now?
To be honest, I cried after the psychiatrist’s diagnosis. I somehow wish that she would tell me … “They are fine. ” Probably that 5% in me has had enough of needing to “re-start” life again. (I’m human also maaaahhhhh!)
It is what it is.
After crying my heart out, I thank my ability to share with closed ones (although they had to deal with the awkward moment when I cried), it helped to move on. I’m a firm believer that God doesn’t give you more than what you can handle. Hence, it is probably the best way that He knows how to keep me challenged and not live a mundane life. (but God ah, slow down a bit k? Lao Niang capacity at 200% filled already. Lord, hear my prayers.)
I’m glad that I have no trouble picking up and moving forward. This skill is especially useful when you have two kids highly dependent on you to make a better quality of life for them now and in future. We’re seeing a behaviour therapist. First learning how to manage them when they are having meltdowns, how they would learn to also manage their own reaction towards things and how we as parents can change the way we react to receive better reception from them.
The journey is going to be long and maybe for the rest of my life. Perhaps it would lead me to picking up something that would help my children and other children & parents next time.
I have to admit, it’s scary. Not knowing whether I would be able to help my kids. Whether or not I live long enough to see them go through what life throws at them confidently. But I guess, the future is only something I can pray for and with God’s blessings, we will overcome every obstacle that comes our way. For as long as I’m alive, healthy & able, the best is all I have got to give.
To my loved ones and close friends, excuse me if at times, you find me as scary as this little girl. I’m human after all.
If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.― Maya Angelou
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