Unlocking ADHD writer Tay Jih May writes about her journey as a parent in supporting and advocating for her daughter over the years. The importance of unconditional love and being available for her child makes the mother and child bond stronger.
My journey towards my daughter being diagnosed with ADHD started when she was 8 years old.
I was called to her school due to a misunderstanding between my daughter and two classmates. The discipline mistress asked them to write an account of what had happened. The other two children wrote identical accounts. Mine refused to. She said she was not guilty.
The teacher then pronounced her guilty and complained to me that my daughter had the audacity to be disobedient this way. Another senior teacher backed up the first teacher with her professional diagnosis after spending all of 5 minutes speaking with my daughter. According to this senior teacher, there was “something wrong” with my child. She had not interacted with my daughter before this but she was able to pass judgement within minutes.
Being a trained teacher myself, I felt that if there were something truly behaviourally off with my daughter, I should be able to tell. However, I had met parents who were in denial and I feared that perhaps I was guilty of the same thing. Perhaps they saw something that I could not (or refused to) see. Hence, I brought my daughter to a child psychologist, wanting to know if there was indeed something that I had refused to see about my child.
The diagnosis from the psychologist was that my daughter had displayed some symptoms of dysgraphia, particularly in her self-expression through written language which explained why she did not like to write. We proceeded to work on helping her in this area by finding her an English tutor she could relate to to help her with her writing.
Fast forward to Primary Six. I became increasingly concerned when I observed that she was unable to score in exams in school even though she seemed to know her work when she did practice test papers at home.. Her tutors had no complaints about her not understanding concepts and everybody was puzzled. This initiated my second trip to the child psychologist to have a clearer understanding of her learning style.
The second time round, her difficulty with self-expression in the written form was again picked up. However, this time it was diagnosed to be Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). She had trouble staying focused on tasks that require sustained mental effort. We sent her to language therapy and found her a tutor who specialised in helping with written expression. This worked wonders for her when her grades in English showed marked improvement.
We also took her to see a psychiatrist to discuss the option of taking medication and a regular fish oil supplement to help with her focus during exams and tests. My daughter has always been actively involved in sports – gymnastics, cheerleading, rock climbing and soccer – which her psychologist encouraged her to continue to actively pursue to help with her concentration. In fact, her psychologist said that her active involvement in sports had helped her cope with ADHD.
Work in Progress
My ADHD journey with my daughter is a work in progress. We learn as we go along. These past two years have seen her transition into a teenager going down the path of finding her own identity. As a teenager, she has turned into a bespoke blend of angst, hormones and peer pressure.
There are times when she looks to me for guidance and relies on me to make the decision for her. Then there are times when she insists that she knows best and battles me every step of the way. The journey may be frustrating at times but it is also rewarding as we work through the challenges together. She knows that I am here for her no matter what and we will get through things together. I believe that when children are assured of their parents’ support, it empowers them to live life with confidence.
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