Parenthood has dealt us some unexpected hands over the years, and much of the path has been long and winding, sometimes with twists and turns and often, a total mystery. lost in the dark without a map.
Every child is of course unique and as such, when faced with raising a new human being, for the very first time, it’s so hard to know what lies within the realms of normality, and which traits in your child which may, perhaps be somewhat more, special.
In 2020 we have been on a journey of exploration trying to figure out why our eight year old daughter has been toe walking, to an extreme level for a couple of years. Having been put forward for a rigorous testing process, we prepared ourselves for a neurological diagnosis and when the MRI and EMG results showed there was no physical cause, we were left scratching our heads and wondering what was really going on.
Shortly afterwards, having followed the advice of school teachers and the consultant pediatrician down an alternate and parallel pathway, we were faced with an unexpected diagnosis by the community pediatrics team; ADHD.
Over the past weeks we have been reading up and trying to navigate our own response, as well as the reactions of others. Trying to figure out how we feel about this condition being assigned to our daughter, and wondering whether we inadvertently pushed her into a corner with unintended consequences.
But ultimately, stripping back to the simple, we ended up here due to plain facts; the toe walking and struggling to concentrate in school. Advice from her teachers after long periods of failed attempts to get her head (and her heels) down. That she is struggling in certain areas, affecting her emotionally and academically.
It was faced with the words Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) we had to admit to our own shortcomings when understanding this condition. After all, despite being familiar with term and individuals with ADHD, we struggled to see our daughter fit into the stereotype in our mind. With no idea where to start we were utterly clueless how to speak to others about this, or most importantly, her.
She is after all, bright, funny, clever, kind and creative.
But here lies our first learning. She is of course still, as are many children with ADHD bright, funny, clever and creative.
In actual fact, ADHD presents in all sorts of ways, and notably, ADHD in girls can be very different from the classic hyperactive and impulsive symptoms we had probably assumed would be the primary features.
For example many girls may struggle with fidgeting, or being inattentive in less obvious ways; day dreaming, forgetfulness or drifting away, struggling to pay attention or complete tasks.
Also, there are strong links between ADHD in girls and anxiety disorders; something which as a parent, I know we need to be fully aware of as she develops into her teenage years, fully equipped and able to offer support in the right way.
There is no denying we hesitated to accept this diagnosis initially, worrying about whether we had gone too far in trying to join up the dots of helping our daughter. But in fact, slowly we are realising that this is an opportunity to support her through some struggles she is experiencing, for now and for the future.
We are not the experts, and we have put our trust in the experience of those around us who have drawn medical conclusions; to better understand the way our daughter faces everyday tasks and the world around her. To help her reach her potential and to access additional support she might benefit from.
And so we go on learning together, with an open mind and a willingness to take advice that is offered. Without shame, without hesitation and with acceptance that whatever life throws at her, we will face it together.
If you know of any ADHD resources or support channels, or have experience in ADHD I’d really appreciate any pointers or places to find out more. Thank you.