Testimonial - Louise

Mummy what's wrong with me?

"Well it is like this baby, the doctor said you have a chemical imbalance that means? How do explain what a chemical imbalance is, especially to a child?"

"It's like this Mummy puts petrol in her car and Daddy puts Diesel in his car, what would happen if Mummy put diesel in her car?" "It would stop it would not work properly." "That's right, and that is what is happening to you, it is like you are receiving the wrong fuel to make you work." "Oh!" "The doctor also said that most people hold a committee meeting up stairs before they speck or do anything, and what happens with you and lots of other children and adults as well, is you don't have that committee meeting." "When he means up stairs he means with your brain and your mind." "So what we need to do now is to help you get the correct chemicals or some of them anyway so that you can start holding committee meetings." "If we can not do that we will attempt to teach you haw to try to do it"

That was the topic of conversation after we had visited the pediatrician with our nine year old daughter who was experiencing extreme difficulty at school with her peers and teachers. In essence our child was grounded at her growth stage of Autonomy ‘v' Shame and Doubt (Eric Erickson) "Yes your daughter has ADHD," he said. It was not quite what we wanted to hear, but it was relief. Everything else in the room meant nothing to me at that point I actually wanted to cry I felt so humble sitting there with this man, all I could think about was all the nasty comments that I had received over the years from Teachers, childcare workers and extramural workers. I looked at him and said " So I am a good mother after all" and his reply was a quote from the book Understanding ADD by Christopher Green. "Parents deserve a medal for all the coping mechanisms they have put in place to help function" This made me feel great. However my Husband sat quietly without a word, I new what this meant. He needed time to inwardly digest the information before him.

From there he went through his list of five steps of assistance. The first being environment, Second being teaching practices, Third being exercise & extramural activities and the forth diet the last being medication which I ruled out immediately, only because of my naturopath beliefs. He advised me that there was no proven natural medicine to assist us. Basically my reflection on the conversation that took place for which he gave me affirmation was that we all needed to get of the same Waka and not continue to cast judgment or fault if we were going to assist our child in continuing in her stage's of Growth and Development.

The next day her regular teacher was away and she had requested that she be placed with her teacher from last year. I quietly said to myself thank you God. I went with her to class that morning and told the teacher she was over the moon we finally have an answer "I thought so" she said "But I was told only Boy's get it" my reply was "What a radical statement" "yep" she said. "Oh how neat now we know what to do to help her I bet you are so happy" "No not really, I am happy to know though that I am not a bad mother like I have so kindly been told so many times" " I'll let the other know" she said. It has been eight days since the diagnosis and I have put every possible helping mechanism in place, we are having good days and bad days but they are definitely not as bad as they were. Admittedly the Home environment is a little different with my elderly Uncle who I have been nursing returning to his own home on day 3 of diagnosis.

With the mild progress at home I decided it was time to pay the regular teacher a visit. Her response was not what I anticipated at all. I advised her of the outcome with the doctor, for which we had received written confirmation for it that day. With that she replied "Don't treat her any differently, I won't be, I will still only tell her once to keep on task and that if she does not I do not want her in my class" "Do you know how hard it is to teach her and the rest of the class when she is disruptive" I did not say what I wanted I just continued to inform her of the changes that had been put in place at home and that I had a list from the doctor to give her if she wished to have it on tips on how to handle such situations. She then proceeded to inform me that she had a spinal bifada son who she treated no differently from any one else and he was fine, and I should do the same. I then asked her again if she wanted the copies of the documentation, for which she said "Yes I suppose we should put them in her file, we will copy them" While copying them I questioned her a bit more on her son as I had a sister with the same illness who had passed away, and the fear in the family every time one of the girls fell pregnant as it was hereditary. She informed me her son was now in England and she really had no idea of his male functions as per the norm for men, nor did she have an idea of his life expectancy, or what he could and couldn't do it was something that had never interested her and she was not aware that it was hereditary.

Wow and this lady wishes to inform me of how to handle my child and her needs. I was totally blown away by the whole conversation. Yes I agree we must treat them as the norm however we must also teach them and ourselves coping mechanisms if we are going to assist them through the walk of life constructively. I really wanted to ask her if she wished to join me on my Waka or should I remove my daughter to a class that wanted to be on my Waka.

I am a mother of three children, my oldest is 18 years, then I have 17 year old then my nine year old that I talk about here. The older two have come through life with their own personal leaps and bounds and have developed into two very typical teenagers. For which we have push and emphasized individuality. They have rules and guidelines for which they understand consequences. They have both done reasonably well at school and have progressed into the workforce able-bodied. I have always thought that the age gap and the desire to keep up with her older siblings is the reason for her behaviour, I could not have been more mistaken. Consequences are something that our nine year old takes no notice of. You give her a consequence and it goes in one ear and out the other. It takes me over two hours every morning to get her ready for school trying to avoid as many distractions as possible. My Husband has always said I am not hard enough on her! How hard can you be with a child who has more determination than you? Yes I have put in place coping mechanisms to help me and yes I grow greyer everyday with the constant nagging to completed requests. However I have never believed the nasty comments that I have received so kindly from all who encounter her. I have always stood by her and always will no matter how hard or rocky the boat gets I will not bail from it. I am her creator and her teacher and I need to complete my Job description as a Mother if she is to progress forward in life. Skeptics and opinionated individuals need to reflect and learn; in essence they need to hold their own Committee Meeting prior to casting judgment. (Wouldn't we have a wonderful world if this were to take place)?

This is probably and all too familiar story for many of you reading this but it is not fictitious it is true! I know on the road that I am embarking on now with my daughter I am going to encounter many examples of this type of ridicule and behaviour from those who believe they are more knowledgeable than the medical professionals or I. In fact they themselves are showing their own traits of ADHD as we all have at times a little piece of the pie in us. It is just how we cope with it. One in ten they say have this illness that tells you and me that out of a class of 30 pupils three are in this category. Out of a school of 30 teachers 3 are using coping mechanisms. Just a little something to ponder on!

Finally I would just like to say one Massive THANK YOU to Moira and the Team at the Learning and Behavioural Trust, because if I had not found there site by mistake while looking for the Ministry of Education Site to lay a complaint about the school, I would not be travelling this wonderful journey with my daughter that I am today. I still have a lot to learn, read and study, but I am willing to do this and that is the most important thing of all. I willing to learn with my daughter, I am willing to change with my daughter and I am willing to look at all avenues constructively and with an open mind. But most of all I am going to return to my studies on Human Growth and Development which I stopped due to overload as I see this as a wonderful opportunity to assist me with this learning process that I am embarking on. It took me three months to get my daughter to a Pediatrician due to all of our in-house personal problems. When I showed him our lifeline for the year pasted, which was full of tragedy and grief he was not surprised that our daughter had displayed the traits she had. The principal had informed my Husband at one of the many meetings that she was like a wild cat after her and two other teachers had cornered her over a situation. His response was absolutely wonderful he made them reflect on there actions as adults.

THANK YOU MOIRA AND TEAM KEEP THE HOME FIRES BURNING; Do not lose sight of your goals and outcomes for our children. After all we are all on the same Waka wanting the same outcomes so keep rowing that boat full steam ahead. God Bless and Good Luck. To all Mothers, Fathers, Grandparents & Family members out there do not lose sight of your powers and strengths as our children's first Teachers, our children are beautiful, wonderful, talented and most of all exuberant individuals who need our Love, Guidance and Support without sacrifice on either part. Believe in them and believe in yourself and enjoy the journey we all encounter at some stage or other in our lives.

PS: I have lived with dyslexia all my life the principal of my older children picked it up when I joined the Board of Trustees and the PTA and worked hard with me to help me identify my personal needs. He was of the old school of Teaching; I thank him for who I am today without his help and support I would not have gained the confidence for the many paths I have travelled. The world needs more Teachers like him.