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ADHD boys' mama

Recording my journey with the boys

Being a full time working Mother and bringing up special need children is never a smooth sailing task. And for my case, I have 3 loud, super active and chatty boys that need additional support and care. Everyday is a learning journey and I can only hope for the better.

I am glad I force myself to quickly get over the emotions and self-pity. I started to source for help as soon as I found out about my boys’ condition. Lots of trial & error, especially with DS1. But lesson learnt from my experience with DS1 helps  me make better decisions when DS2 is being diagnosed.

I can only hope that tomorrow is a better day.

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Reflection for 2016

2016 is coming to an end.

Time for reflection on what I have done/ achieved in terms of helping my 3 easily distracted and VERY active boys. The journey with my 3 boys has never been smooth sailing, all the emotions, learning journey and trial & errors to cope with their conditions and finding solutions can sometimes take a toll on me.

1) DS1 – Officially diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD

At the beginning of the year, I transferred him from a special needs school to mainstream school and downgraded him to P2 (he is 9 this year). Although he loves getting to know people, he has problem retaining friends at school. His impulsiveness causes him to blurt out inappropriate statement and his classmate starts avoiding him.

He always come back saying he has no friends in school and he always end up staring blankly at the field during recess as nobody wants to play with him. And I found out about his misery from his occupational therapist when he confided in him. He has been keeping it to himself for 5 long months. I was so disappointed in myself for not noticing this.

What have I done? I am the reason he has to go through this miserable experience. I pulled him out from him previous school which he used to be happy as he has always been a popular person as his friends enjoyed his company.

I have been pushing back the psychiatrist’s recommendation to prescribe him with Concerta. To help him cope socially and stay focus in class, or maybe to help me feel better, I gave in to medication. Albeit developing minor ticks, which is only apparent in my eyes, he started to change for the better. He is coping well academically and socially. He even “graduated” from the educational therapy and occupational therapy sessions.

The guilt stricken me…… “I should have started him on Concerta earlier! It’s all my fault that he was unhappy.”

Term 4 ended and he was performing so well academically that he has been streamed to the top classes in P3 next year. Yikes…… 

Very happy with his academic achievement, but not too happy that he is going to be placed in the same class as other high achievers. Well… DS1’s condition makes it harder for him to understand and break down instructions/ lessons. He always require further elaborations or the same instructions to be repeated several times. He is also slow in copying or taking notes and he has problem multitasking (listening, writing and understanding/ interpreting at the same time). His P2 teachers were very understanding and patient in helping him cope in the classroom.

I was very concerned that he is not able to cope in P3 since teacher is likely to progress with the lessons at a faster speed as his classmates are high achievers. I have asked for him to be downgraded to an average class, but my request was not accepted.

The kan chiong spider in me started to panic. Comb through the internet and forums for solutions. When I saw this interactive video tuition thingy, I thought I found the solution. Without hesitating, I invested by subscribing for the video tuition in Science, Math and English for P3 in the hope of helping him catch up next year. I was hoping that the video tuition can supplement as lessons in case he does not pay attention in class or the teacher does not have time to entertain all his queries.

To get him prepared for next year, I made him sit through Lesson 1 for each of the 3 subjects. Oh….. Guess what…. he finds it boring and I can see that he struggled to sit through the entire lesson. Darn…. Lots of money invested, but I expect this to go down the drain.

2) DS2 – Officially diagnosed ADHD

I made the right decision to place him in a new school for his P1 this year. As the P1 cohort is the pioneer batch and there are fewer students in each class, DS2 receives dedicated attention from the teachers, counsellor and allied educator.

He is always all over the place, fidgety and his impulsiveness can be unbearable at times. He will have bouts of prolong tantrum outburst, screaming and crying. Although his school finds him very manageable, the after school care is having problem managing him behaviour. He tends to act out more in the after school care. Not too sure why.

Not proud of myself. But to help him fit into the mould of socially acceptable behaviour, I took the psychiatrist’s recommendation and prescribe him with Concerta. He is coping well academically and show signs of improvement in managing his emotions. He still needs to attend occupational therapy sessions, but “graduated” from educational therapy.

As DS2 is very competitive academically and take failure very badly, I thought of helping him progress faster by subscribing to the same video tuition thingy for P2 Math and English. Well…another failed investments. He reacted the same way to the video tuition as DS1.

I lose my cool a couple of times when they whine or not paying attention when going through the video tuition lesson. I even reprimanded their play time. All I can think of is the money invested and it never cross my mind that I am trying to force my kids to fit into a system that more that work for them. Guilty guilty…. My original goal for my kids’ education is always to let them learn at their own pace and enjoy the learning journey. I realised that they absorb so much more when they are discussing topics that interest them and will even use the internet to research for more in depth understanding. Then, home-schooling cross my mind, but hubby shot down the idea as we cannot survive on single income and he is not willing to downgrade our current lifestyle.

I do pray that the video will sort of come in handy during revision time for exams, only if they are willing to sit through it. I reckon there is no point forcing them to sit through it if they are not interested at all since they will not be picking up anything after all.

After a cooling off period, I told myself that I should be persistent and stick to my goal. My kids’ happiness is my priority. Research and research again. I must say Google is my best friend. I don’t get much support from hubby when sourcing for therapist/ psychologist/ school, etc. Google gave me the answer. He always give me the same response “You know them better. I don’t know anything. Blah blah blah….”

Oh heck…. I’m going to do things differently. I am going to do it my way. After all, mother knows best. As long as they understand what is being taught in school and getting average results, I am contended. Having said that, I want to help them learn in a different way. I guess the idea is sort of like homeschooling the schooled?

I found this website: http://www.all-gifted.com/. The articles shared are very inspiring and gave me an idea of the direction I am heading. I have decided try subscribe to their Reading and Math program. My personal view, reading is very important. There is a saying “Reading is the window to world”. As for Math, my boys love math and the program seem to be presented in an interactive way. As they are visual learners, this may be suitable for them. I will make sure to see them through the program as this require some level of dedication and persistency on their part. Deep down inside there is still a kiasu parent in me that hope to accelerate them in a some way. Hope this time the investment does pay off. Finger crossed…..

In this modern age, IT knowledge is very important. I am starting to expose and getting them interested in coding. Code.org (https://code.org/) seems to be a good place to start. First of all, it is free. And you can either go for the structural lessons or pick and choose from a buffet of different coding programs. As the lessons are presented in the form of interactive games, the boys love it. I may consider signing them up for a proper coding lesson in a year or two, once they know which coding program they are interested to learn more in-depth.

3) DS3 – Not officially diagnosed, but show signs of ADHD, dyslexia, delayed fine motor skills and behavioural management problem

DS3 has been getting complaints from teachers in childcare on his behavioural issue. I noticed that he also needs help with his fine motor skills and he is writing/ copying with letter reversals. As he is progressing to K2 next year, I have signed him up for behavioural therapy and occupational therapy sessions to help him cope better in school. His behaviour does cause a concern at times. When he is upset, he will suddenly stop in the middle of the road/ carpark and refuse to move. Or he will just run off in crowded areas. He has caused us many panic attacks.

He loves books and he likes being read to, but he still cannot read at his age. He will look at pictures in the book and pretend to read the prints based on his own imagination. Even though he knows the sound of all the alphabets, he still cannot blend words together. Looking at how DS1 struggle with reading previously and how this affected  his confidence negatively, I wanted to help DS3 to avoid him having to face the same frustration as DS1. To help him with his reading, I signed him up with I Can Read. But I do not see much progress in him as he tends to be distracted easily and playful at times. So I decided to stop his lesson there once the coming term ends in Dec 2016.

I confided in Google again. As I search through the internet, I found a children reading program which help to build the foundation based on phonics. I calculate the cost. The entire program cost less than 1 term in the I Can Read program. But the parent, being the teacher, has to be persistent and must spend at least 5 -7 minutes a day to go through each lesson with the child. As I can almost certainly spare 5 -7 minutes each day, I decided to purchase the reading program (www.childrenlearningreading.org). Quite happy with my purchase so far, the founder has broke up the lessons into simple steps with audio clips to help people like me whom never learnt phonics during my schooling days. I have completed Lesson 1 so far (I repeated it over 2 days even though he is already familiar with the Letter A) and DS3 is ready to move to Lesson 2. Baby steps as I want to build a strong foundation. I am confident and hopeful that I can complete the entire program within next year.

2017 New Year Resolution – Continue to support my boys, be more patient, hug them more and most importantly take good care of myself

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