You have ADD.
We found out that in a very bad way when you were 9 years old, which I think is one of your bad years.
Your Primary 3 years
We couldn’t get you to remember things. You constantly have to be reminded of the simplest things. It frustrates the hell out of us when we have to tell you things again and again, for a span of minutes. We thought it was a kid thing, for us to keep reminding you, nagging, and repeating our instructions. But something’s got to break, you results was deteriorating and despite of our coaching and helping, we can see that you are failing and we were desperate, a little scared ourselves perhaps.
The Last Straw
We didn’t know what to do. Simple instructions said had to be repeated countless of times. The last straw came when I told you to write your date format as DD/MM/YYYY, and that was told to you more than once, and you came back with MM/DD/YYYY or something else. I flew into a fit of rage and kicked you in the chest. I think the whole drama was too much for our neighbours and they called the cops, who came, took down our details and that was that.
While I was screaming at you, ‘WHAT ELSE CAN WE DO!?’ ‘DO YOU WANT TO SEE A DOCTOR ABOUT IT!?’ You mother in the room picked up my vibe and checked online, she googled your condition and we learned that you might have Attention Deficit Disorder, which was the first time we heard about it. We also learned that the ADD will be most obvious around the 9-11 years of age, where the child will be tasked with more challenging and complex functions and responsibilities, and this will aggravate a child with ADD conditions.
It didn’t help when your Form Teacher and Co-Form Teacher was too inexperienced and immature to help you with your challenges; you were having problems with your classmates and even with us bringing this matters up to the Form Teacher, she was inadequate in understanding how easily other students can distract you from your work.
We eventually went to seek professional opinion from the Institute of Mental Health, so that we know what we re dealing with and if what we know is on the right track. Most of what we know is what they know, but more importantly, we want you to know that we are seeking help and there is nothing wrong with you. You spoke to the psychiatrists and psychologists yourself and have you explained your behavior and conditions to them and I think you did quite well in your meetings with them.
They helped us by informing your school about your condition and it is not that you are ‘stupid’, it is indeed a diagnosed condition.
We are thankful we didn’t protect you by protecting you.
The Responsible Thing to Do
Once we knew what we were dealing with, the very first thing we want to is to response in an able manner, we want information, knowledge and facts about the situation, we want to be educated, realistic, and pragmatic about what can be done. What we do not want is a stereotype, type cast, and discriminate, blame and label you. We as your parents have to be very careful, and we think the best way to protect you is to keep you informed. And also educate you on how people will see you. We are thankful we didn’t protect you by protecting you.
I know this was the approach when we realised that you have Tourette. We didn’t want to change you, or stop you, make you suppress your Tick. You have it, we will learn about it and manage it. With that approach we try to manage your ADD.
It is not easy, but we have to manage our expectations at a whole new level. There are things we have to explain again and again. we tried to label and colour code your tasks (that helped a bit). Diet wise, we heard that Fish Oil helps (the verdict is still out there). But more importantly, we want you to live your life, your way. Having ADD is you and we have no intention of removing that, we can’t.
What we have is you, the Lim Ian, our child, my favourite eldest son. You’re not perfect, you’re work in progress. As much as I loathe the ADD in you, you are a personality on your own, lovable, affable, aloof at times, very innocent.
Sometimes, I do get angry with you, and I strike fear into your heart, but I have to be very, very aware of who you are. Anger are ineffective as a tool in ADD management, raised voice is the best I can elevate the urgency to, anything higher, I’ll lose you to fear, panic and ADD. this tests my patience and having you as my child change me as a person, man, father and husband.
This condition will never leave you, you are, like what Dr Chng said to you, ‘You have a very special gift.’ and you have to see that you you it to you best. It is very unique to you, nobody else can understand you, and your butterfly mind, constantly fluttering from one flower to another. Ever settling down and never able to hold your attention for long, constantly distracted by yourself.
Just a couple of days back, you came into the room and asked me if I should clear the laundry, and I told you to do so, you took the laundry out from my room and the next thing I know, you are at the sofa, reading your book, and the laundry, left out at the living room, task not completed. I brought this back to your attention, and you told me that while you are kicking the laundry out with your leg, you saw the book and you wanted to keep it, which meant that you walked towards it, and the next thing you know, you sat down reading the book, and the laundry was left on the floor. It was always a new day when you are living with someone who has ADD. Everyday is a new day, a challenging one, and as your dad, I see that joy in your eyes, knows that every moment is worth it.