He is my first born and from day one he was hard work - he hardly slept and cried lots wanting attention all the time, he was also hard to get into a routine of feeding. Health visitors and myself put it down to me being a first time parent but by the time he was 18mths old I realised something was not quite right.
He would go to sleep eventually about 10/11pm at night then be awake screaming and hyper by 1/2am. I was surviving on little sleep getting complaints off neighbours and no help off anybody. He was also refusing to eat just small little amounts and I soon learnt he preferred plain bland food like boiled potatoes, no gravy just plain old boiled potatoes or sandwiches with chocolate spread on or ham. By this time he was also showing differences to other children his age - he was dominating play and being very bossy, other parents at mums and tot groups would try to keep their children away from him.
By age of 2 he was throwing things at me during tantrums, throwing things at his windows, totally trashing his bedroom, having major tantrums when out and about. He was out of control and I was covered in bruises. The health visitor started to be concerned as he was very small in height and weight, and we sat down and went through everything from diet to behaviour. By this time he was on a diet of plain pasta, ham sandwiches, cereal and boiled potatoes, oh and he had developed a liking for fried egg. So it wasn't even too many e numbers affecting his diet and his main drink was water or very diluted orange juice, he hated milk and cheese and would eat the odd yoghurt now and then.
The health visitor referred me to the GP who referred me to a paediatrician. It took 18mths for the appointment to come through, by this time he was 3 and a half and I had literally stopped going anywhere with him as his hyperactive behaviour was too much to handle, as were his violent tantrums. When he couldn't get his own way I would get hit or kicked if I didn't pay him 100% attention whilst out. He would do everything possible to stop me talking to somebody professional, and friend wise it was a nightmare - family and close friends would keep saying "he's spoilt, he's spoilt, he needs a good smack on the bottom." Even the GP said to me he is out of control and needs discipline.
I was trying my best, his dad just moaned at me all the time to shut him up and calm him down - not much help really! So at times I would give in for a quiet and non violent life. I admit and I knew I shouldn't give in but when you're struggling and don't understand why it is so bad you do give in, it doesn't mean you have failed. I learnt fast that everybody gives in at times, some times it is the only way to get five minutes peace.
The first appointment day came, we went to it and Adam decided he was going to be a very good boy and he sat quietly next to me and smiled and acted shy when they paediatrician spoke to him, it totally made me look a liar. The paediatrician asked a few questions about nursery and asked about his behaviour there, which was good but they had said he was loud and hyper and couldn't sit through story time or concentrate for long. The paediatrician turned round and said he has just got learning difficulties, he will get better - tell the school to get him help with his learning. I was gobsmacked, upset, I didn't know what to do and walked out thinking everybody is right it is me and my doing.
Shortly afterwards we moved to a bigger house so Adam and Chloe had a room of their own, which helped loads as we could do controlled crying better with him and Chloe could go to sleep when she went to bed and not have to listen to her brother or watch her brother trash his bedroom and throw things at her to get attention from me. By this time he had started hitting her to get my attention and it wasn't fair on her at all. He was still awake till 3/4am and surviving on three hours sleep a night. I was exhausted and looked forward to him going to school each day plus by this time I was pregnant again and discovered it was twins which didn't help my exhaustion.
Adam started at his new school and straight away his class teacher asked to speak to me. She asked if his previous school had raised any concerns - I told her no not really, they had just said he was quite hyper and not good at making friends and taking turns etc. She asked what I felt and how family life in general was and I told her what life was like with Adam, how it affected everybody and how I wondered if he had ADHD, which I had read about but didn't really know much about at this time. She said that she felt there was definitely a problem and said I was to go to my new GP and request a second opinion and referral to the CAMHS service.
Again this took another year to happen and she put him on an IEP so he got extra help in school. I was and still am lucky this teacher was the school's SENCO and she is one of the best SENCOS in the whole Trafford area. Without her help, encouragement and advice I would have given up and continued to blame myself as everybody else was.
She wrote a letter to the CAMHS service. I was devastated when I read it, cried loads - it was all true, everything she wrote, but it makes it real when it's down in black and white. Adam wasn't naughty at school at all, he was and still is lucky to be in a small school where his class size has always been under 20 pupils. He just struggled in school to do group things, keep attention, sit still etc. He was also struggling to learn and read and write. The SENCO started the process for assessing his learning needs and then the CAMHS appointment came through.
I took all my children along to this as by this time the twins were born and I felt they should see Adam with his family not as an individual child who is a totally different child when alone with myself or others. Firstly they took the other three children into a room with a nursery nurse to play, whilst myself and Adam chatted to the team of psychologists and paediatricians. We chatted about his bahaviour at home and school and his learning difficulties etc. They chatted to Adam who fidgeted the whole time there and walked about, climbed on the chairs and bed and wouldn't keep still. They then took him to play games etc with his siblings and I waited in another room chatting with the paediatrician and other people about courses I could try to go on and ways to try improve our lives.
After 30 mins or so I was asked to go sit with my children while they discussed what they thought and how the play session had gone and discussed various reports from school and the GP and health visitor. It took 20 minutes and they all came into the playroom and told me Adam definitely had ADHD. They told me they had played lots of simple games with him and Chloe and he had struggled with everything, his attention and concentration span were terrible and he was snappy and bossy with Chloe during the time spent trying to play the games.
I was so relieved I cried - at last I was believed, at last I was right as by then I had read up on ADHD and realised it was a medical condition not a spoilt child, and it was such a relief to know I wasn't a bad parent after all. We discussed medication and because Adam's weight and height were still low it was decided no Ritalin - he was put on strattera to see if it helped any. I felt a failure that my child was being put on controlled drugs just so he could do normal things other children can do without a problem, but within weeks I and school could see the difference and we could see the difference if he didn't take a dose.
Adam at first refused to take the meds so I told him it was special medicine and it was even more special because he and he only was allowed it. This worked - I made a big deal every morning when he took it. He was also prescribed melatolin to try and help get him into some kind of sleep routine.
I talked to the school and they said until Adam was 7 they couldn't assess him for dyslexia as by this time it was suspected he was dyslexic but he was down at school as having general learning difficulties. I worked with the school and they helped loads in controlling Adam's behaviour. If he had bad tantrum I would film him and show his teacher the next day - this embarrassed him and his teacher would tell him she was sad seeing that kind of behaviour. I went on the webster stratten course which was my life saver, it taught me how to ignore the bad behaviour, ignore the tantrums etc and concentrate on the good behaviour. I got into the habit of overdoing the praise, I still do now with all five of my children but it works!!
I started taking him out shopping with me and the other children and I would totally ignore him when he started running around the shops under the rails etc and screaming for things he wanted but I wouldn't buy. BUT the minute he would come stand by me, hold onto the pram, follow me quietly to where I was going I would constantly say "oh good boy Adam, well done Adam, I'm so proud of you Adam." I do get strange looks and I do get the comments like omg he has just been running about like a mad man yet you are stood there praising him - to these I say "but what harm really was he doing? was he putting anybody in danger or hurting anybody?" They can't reply to this as they know he wasn't doing any harm and if I kept shouting him back to me or chasing him it just gives him the attention he wants and I'm wasting my energy and getting stressed which doesn't help any situation at all.
So for the last five years I have used the praise system and for severe bad behaviour Adam loses his most treasured possessions ie. his mobile phone or psp, or even worse he is sent to his room and ignored which he hates. He still has tantrums, he still goes to hit out but this has calmed down and since Lee came into our lives and started being a dad and role model to Adam he has calmed down 98%. He goes out doing one-on-one boy things with Lee, he is now non-medicated and you can see this as he can become very hyper and still awake at night till 11/12 at night and is always the first up. It also easier now he is older and understands right from wrong. The difference in him since having Lee in his life is amazing and obvious to everybody involved with Adam.
Two years ago the assessments were done for dyslexia - they came back and he is dyslexic, he struggles a lot and we are currently fighting to try and get Adam statemented. I am waiting for the results at the moment from lots of assessments done before Christmas to see if he qualifies to be statemented. At the last parents evening I was told Adam's reading age and spelling age is on par of a 5 year old. I will always continue in my fight to get him the help he needs to get a decent education.
One thing Adam is outstanding at is football and any kind of sports, he is on the school team and excels. His school coach has said he has all the potential to become a professional footballer and with that set as a goal for Adam we will get him into local teams to hopefully be spotted by a scout, as this would be a career he would love and thrive from and it is something that comes to him as naturally as reading does for others.
This is Adam's story so far.