Unlocking ADHD writer Tahirah Mohamed shares her journey in supporting her son with ADHD. Tahirah was distraught and lost when she first discovered that her son had ADHD. She believes that with love, she can help to bring out the best in him.
It took a concerned teacher, frequent unfinished classwork and failing subjects to finally have my son assessed.
After two years of red flags, he was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of nine. I was already feeling demoralized the moment I brought him for his assessment.
As we waited for the diagnosis result, I read a few ADHD books to prepare myself against feeling more anxious. The knowledge had helped me to bounce back faster the moment the diagnosis was confirmed even though I initially felt devastated and hopeless.
Mu’az was advised to go for Occupational Therapy because he was not an active boy. His therapist taught him proper deep breathing and some light exercises to relieve his tiredness. He was also taught to have shorter study time with breaks in between.
Mu’az also saw an educational psychologist to learn how to communicate better in different situations and on how to study better. It helped him in maintaining friendships with his like-minded friends. Family and friends did not believe that Mu’az had ADHD because he was not hyperactive. This is a misconception as there are different types of ADHD.
Challenges my son faced
Since Mu’az has inattentive-impulsive type ADHD, he often daydreamed in class when the lesson did not interest him. He also frequently struggled to remember what to do next. To help him carry out tasks, I either verbally broke my instructions into parts, or wrote my instructions on paper since visuals last longer than verbal information.
On top of attention and concentration issues, children with ADHD often struggle with low self-esteem and a deep sense that no matter how hard they try, they just cannot control their bodies.
My son struggled with failing subjects since Primary Two. Whenever he pushed himself harder, his frontal lobe would become so overstimulated that he would cry just because a migraine came. He tried his hardest to understand better what he learned, he really did. But sometimes his brain just wouldn’t cooperate.
However, Mu’az never gave up. He continued to be diligent in studying. His hard work eventually paid off when he received several academic awards for the progress he made over his seventeen years of life.
Despite that, Mu’az struggled in expressing his feelings and thoughts in words. He spends more time explaining as he has a slower thought process. Hurrying him would leave him frustrated and angry. His daily frustrations over his incapabilities of good performance in school and social-emotional skills has brought him distress.
We were then recommended to see a family psychologist. I liked this arrangement because we learnt to grow together with every milestone and failure he experienced. We talked things through with the psychologist as the mediator.
The promise I made to support my son
After doing some readings, I devised the following coping systems for Mu’az:
- To build on and improve his patience, I encouraged him to engage in hobbies like origami and painting
- To keep his mind engaged and body active, I taught him new skills like sewing, baking and gardening
- Reminded him to lean closer to our faith and count his blessings by finding something positive in difficult situations
- Encouraged him to read successful ADHD stories so that he is inspired and stays motivated
- To accomplish goals, I encouraged him to have a growth mindset
- To ensure a healthy mind and body, I provided him with healthy food, supplements, fish oil and essential oils to ensure a healthy mind and body
To ensure that Mu’az continues to achieve progress no matter how small, as a parent, I strongly believe in lifelong learning. I was eager to learn more about how I can help my child.
Therefore, I took steps such as:
- Attending a parenting program ‘Triple P’ and other parental workshops
- Buying or borrowing ADHD books
- Joining my son’s school Parent Support Group for Special Needs
- Following ADHD pages, groups and youtube channels
- Continuing to provide Mu’az’s needs by knowing his love languages
- Making time to know his likes and dislikes.
This was the commitment I made to myself as my son’s first teacher in his life. I will never give up on my son because he deserves me as his champion!
With knowledge on parenting and ADHD, I understand my son’s struggles and pain better.
With acceptance, I am more patient, forgiving, respectful, happier and calmer towards my child. He truly deserves that much love from me.
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