“How I’ve helped my son manage ADHD”

Tina Tan describes her struggles raising a child who has ADHD, and how she helped him manage the condition.

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“I have three sons. My oldest, Mark, is in Secondary 2. He loves drawing and reading and is a mature and sensitive boy who shows responsibility and great care for his brothers.

My second son, John is in Secondary 1 this year. He is very creative and often thinks out of the box. He loves programming and coding, as well as drawing and reading.

Our youngest, Paul, is in Primary 2. He’s a humorous little chap who often makes jokes and cracks the family up. He is very outgoing, loves playing outside and enjoys cycling. He also reads avidly and loves to draw, like his older brothers.

My boys, who have distinct personalities and differences, are very close to each other. Now that the two older ones have longer hours in secondary school, it’s very fun to watch all three of them reconnecting when they return after school. They have a lot to update and talk to each other about.

John, my second son, has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). He was also diagnosed with dyslexia and Asperger’s Syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum.

Besides being very hyperactive, I first noticed that John was struggling to learn to read when he was in preschool. So, in K2, at 6 years of age, I got him tested and he was diagnosed with dyslexia. Through the tests, he was found to also have ADHD.

In the initial years after he was diagnosed, he had all the symptoms: He was highly impulsive, often acting before thinking, highly distractible and extremely hyperactive. He had high anxiety ― he bit his finger nails and pencils regularly, had low communication skills, and was unable to maintain his attention and focus for long periods of time.

“He bit his finger nails and pencils regularly, had low communication skills, and was unable to maintain his attention and focus for long periods of time.”

I have a degree in psychology, so I knew a bit about ADHD. But I was also under the myth that it was more to do with parenting abilities, and how the parents were able to discipline the child. So, I didn’t focus much on it for a few months after his diagnosis.

Instead, we focused on his dyslexia and got him a personal tutor trained to help such children. He improved exponentially within a few months.

On the other hand, his ADHD symptoms started to affect his school life. He got into trouble with teachers in his kindergarten, and started to refuse to go to school. It was then that I realised that I had to find out more about ADHD and get support for him and myself in this journey.

How did ADHD manifest itself in John? Tina explains…next!