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It is not the end of the road if your child is diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Here is a mom’s story of dealing with the situation, with patience and positivity.
I was called for an immediate Parents Teachers Meeting (PTM) at my daughter’s school. She was merely 5 years old but the tone of the sister in-charge seemed to be very serious.
Tensed that something serious had happened to my daughter, I called my husband, asking him to immediately reach Rohini’s (name changed) school and I rushed too.
As I reached Rohini’s school a gush of cold blood rushed through my body and I could sense the cold of the darkened corridor of one of the renowned Convent Schools of Kolkata. There was pin drop silence in the school even though it was school hours. That is one of the beauties of discipline maintained in Convent Schools which I always appreciated, but today this silence was killing me. I wanted to hear the voice of my child and my ears were striving for that.
As I approached the Headmistress office I could feel the tremors in my legs and could listen to my own heartbeat. Before entering the room, I took a minute to catch up with breathe and said to myself, “Sudhriti, everything is alright, Rohini is OK, It’s a random PTM, just go and face it”.
The wooden glass painted door creaked as I pushed it to open. Sister Maria was sitting in her chair behind the 1940’s old fashioned British Mahogany Wood well-burnished huge table with a green table-lamp over it. She got up from her chair the moment she saw me and greeted me with the most innocent, childlike smile that glowed through her face and in return gave me the assurance that Rohini was doing fine.
“Welcome Mrs. Chatterjee, sorry for calling you both at such a short notice. It’s better to start once Mr Chatterjee is over here. I could feel the drops of sweat running down my backbone. I grasped Sister Maria’s hand and in a quivering voice hushed, “What’s the matter Sister? Is anything wrong?” She clasped my hand in a friendly manner and patted it lovingly saying, “No, Mrs. Chatterjee, it’s just…..”
Before she could complete her words Partho rushed in and she looked towards him and smiled in the similar way she had done with me indicating him to take the chair next to me. Partho looked at me and summoned with his eyes trying to assure me, “Everything is alright”.
As educated and disciplined adults we sat down on our seats and there was that death silence again, until Sister rang the bell beside her to summon the peon and asked him to call Rohini from her class. Nodding silently he left.
This time I couldn’t stop myself and tears just poured down my cheeks. Sister Maria tried to console me but there was something in her eyes which she was trying to avoid revealing.
The bearer came in with two glasses of water and I grasped one and drank it in one breath. Sister Maria folded her hands and started to rub them together as if trying to find words to start with. After inhaling a deep breath which was enough to give me a heart-attack she started with a fake smile on her face this time, “Mr and Mrs Chatterjee, Rohini is a very sweet and active child, I mean to say that she is very active, more active than the rest of the children in her class. But, we are afraid that this activeness doesn’t seem to be normal…”
I almost jumped over from my seat, “Yes, she is super active, but then it doesn’t mean she is normal, many children are super active and some are lethargic, sorry to say sister what absurdity are you talking about…”
Partho grasped my right hand indicating me to stop, and I looked at him with all the angerof motherly instincts clarifying them that my child is alright. He sternly said, “Sudhriti please be seated let’s listen what Sister Maria has to say”.
I controlled myself and like a disciplined yet doubtful child sat back on my chair. Sister Maria, paused a bit and said, “Mrs. Chatterjee I do understand your concern and love for your child but let me tell you that I am just trying to put forward our concern for her based on her behavioral activities. It might be that we are wrong and your child is absolutely normal but her overactive nature has lately becoming a sign of impulsiveness too and that is why I have called you both today. We have noticed and even written several times in her diary that she has been found inattentive in her class. Although children of this age ought to be inattentive, her extreme aggressiveness has been increasing lately and we think this needs to be consulted.”
Sister Maria took a long pause and restarted again, “Dekhun (See) Mrs. Chatterjee I know right at this moment I might seem like an enemy to you, and I understand your concern about your child. But I have been dealing with children from the past 40 years and my experience indicates me that there is something which needs to be checked. I can’t be a sugar coated person. Rohini’s IQ test also shows her percentage to be less than the rest of the class. I again say, it might be that I am over-thinking and I shall be happy if I am proved wrong in medical terms, but for Rohini’s concern kindly have a medical expert opinion taken”.
Right at that moment, Rohini rushed inside the room and seeing Sister Maria she just hid behind my seat and started playing with my saree’s pleats. I rose from my seat and cuddled Rohini lovingly and she jumped on my lap. As we rose to leave, Sister Maria spoke again, “I shall be happy if I am proved wrong Mrs. Chatterjee, very happy. Rohini is a sweet child and our organization shall be happy to get her back”.
The last line of Sister was alarm enough to leave me sleepless for the next few nights. However, this interaction with Sister told me that Rohini was indeed different from the rest. She was a late learner, but then my mother-in-law had said that Partho was a late learner too and there is no harm in that.
Then why was I searching for words on the Internet which my sub-conscious mind thought could answer my scientific query overcoming my motherly nature? And every time my query was answered by a term, ADHD – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. God knew what it was but I was becoming surer that my query needed to be addressed.
That night I talked with Partho, who seemed to be similarly concerned about the matter. He said that he would book an appointment with a renowned child psychiatrist. We left Rohini with my in-laws who also understood the gravity of the problem as we discussed it over dinner that very day and said that they were ready to support us in whatever way possible so that Rohini could have a better life. This was a big satisfaction for both me and Partho.
The next day as we approached the Psychiatrist, he listened to both of us for about hour taking moments to write a bit in his notebook. After we finished he offered us with tea and then spoke over tea in a very calm and dignified manner but keeping a positive aspect to it always.
He spoke, “We can never assume before we do the diagnosis. Let’s think that everything is OK and start with the investigation. But, even if we come out with some results which likely might be dissimilar from the normal children of Rohini’s age there are several ways we can manage them together. But, the only thing is that you both need to have patience and be ready to help and support both me and Rohini to nurture her through. I hope we are good to start off. Right, Mr. and Mrs. Chatterjee?”
This was the first time in almost the last two weeks that I took a breath of relief and just like a sheepish, disciplined child nodded, “yes”.
Rohini’s diagnosis started with her audibility and vision tests to rule out physical causes for symptoms. This was followed by her Intelligence Quotient test and the results were bringing us closer to solving the puzzle. Partho and Partho were also involved in the sessions where we were given checklists to complete asking about the child’s behaviour at home.
At one stage Rohini’s class teacher was also called to gather information about her behaviour in the class. The school was very supportive during this period and Sister Maria always understood the importance of the sessions. Slowly and steadily we moved together and the Psychiatrist revealed that Rohini had ADHD: combined type which is characterized by impulsive and hyperactive behaviours as well as inattention and distractibility. However, the diagnosis didn’t make us nervous since now we at least knew the issue and could begin proper treatment.
Rohini was put on a treatment plan which comprised of behavioural treatments, and medications were to be recommended once she reached 6 years of age, only if her hyperactivity didn’t decease. Through the sessions we came to know that although ADHD can’t be cured yet it can be managed successfully through therapy, social skills and lifestyle changes.
We learnt and helped Rohini learn too, to manage her hyperactivity and inattentiveness. We joined swimming classes together. At first she was afraid to go for the classes but slowly she started enjoying it. But, the activity which really groomed her was dancing; she loved to dance and somewhere it helped her to divert her extreme energy towards something creative. She started imagining and although she finds it still difficult to cope with calculations, art has helped her to keep going.
Today she is 16 years old now and soon will be appearing for her school finals; although her overactive motor drives her restless sometimes, we all know that together, we have come a long way through. The fight is still on and somewhere when I look back to the PTM with Sister Maria I feel thankful to her that she was able to understand what our child was going through.
Sometimes as parents we tend to ignore the gravity of the situation thinking that everything is perfect. But, this experience has taught me that everything can’t be perfect and patience is the only key to keep everything going with a positive attitude.
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Cancer Stem Cell Researcher , loves to write about various experiences experienced in life.
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