Thursday, March 18, 2010

What fun - Parent/Teacher Interviews!

I only found out this event was scheduled for last night as we were on the way to school yesterday morning. I asked Bradley to list his teachers and subjects and he did so, marking a cross or tick next to each teacher's name, to indicate if I had to see them or not. I had to see the teachers for English, Afrikaans, Maths, Geography, Physical and Life Science and LO. They had all the teachers set up behind individual tables in what they call the Lifestyle Hall (basically an indoor games hall) off the sports field. As I walked in and saw the queues of parents behind the tables, my head started pounding again. The next trick was to find the teacher. The teachers were identified with namecards on the desks but the way Brad had spelt the teachers' names was creative, to say the least. 'Miss Van' turned out to be Mrs Van Wyngaard, the Geography Teacher. Mrs Ontment (Ointment!?) was actually Mrs Ortmann, not that I would ever have guessed but he eventually pointed her out to me, the teacher with the black and gold (black trouser suit, blonde hair). With each teacher a similar story: Bradley is slow, doesn't concentrate, easily distracted - some were very sympathetic and eager to help Bradley to achieve his best and one nosy one in particular who seems to have been cross-examining Bradley during school to try and discover if his issues with schoolwork stem from a dysfunctional or abusive family life.
I get this every year and every parent/teacher conference. Sometimes I feel like I invented the condition - ADHD - as an excuse for the lack of interest in schoolwork of my offspring. The one thing I really enjoyed was the yummy cheese and biscuits that was on offer for parents to snack on and as I was really hungry by then, kept on popping back to the catering table in between queueing for the different teachers.

Dael has been out of contact mostly since Wednesday. He cannot pick up cellphone signal where he is situated but he seems to be enjoying himself on his working camp. Basically he is a trainee instructor and the camp they are hosting is probably a school leadership course for Grade 7's. That kind of thing is his kind of job though - informal setting, different things to do, not having to get dressed up, outdoor work in a nature setting - ideal! I can see he's going to want to carry on and do more camps so I hope he gets the opportunity to do so.

Both Dael and Bradley have kept me busy over the past few years with their issues with school and now Dael has some special needs with regard to the career path he wants to follow. The work cannot be too repetitive or boring because then he stops concentrating and doesn't want to do it anymore. He enjoys doing a variety of different tasks not just one repetitive task. The boys are right brained and artistic. They can learn something very easily if they are shown how to do it or if they can try it themselves. Dael has picked up more from the Discovery channel on tv than possibly his whole last year at school because obviously television is so visual and not just verbal. His brain doesn't have to battle to process the information. Also at school you have to reproduce what you have learned in written form to prove that you have learnt it. This doesn't come naturally to right brained thinkers who battle to concentrate. They can think of better ways to be spending their time.

I had thought that my daughter had escaped being affected by ADHD, being female, although she is very artistic and imaginative, clearly also a right brained thinker. Fortunately, she didn't battle too much at school and in fact achieved a very good pass in her final Matric year of school, even achieving a distinction in Geography. However, in the last couple of years she has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety and has been medicated as such for this. Yesterday, after reading a post of fellow blogger Hard Spear who mentioned in his latest post that sufferers of AD(H)D often suffer from depression and anxiety as a co-morbid condition, meaning that sufferers of AD(H)D can have the symptoms of AD(H)D as well as suffering from depression and anxiety or that they can just experience the onset of depression without the other symptoms. Either way, the fact that we have this condition in the family with both brothers diagnosed with ADD, bears investigation into the possibility of this being the cause of these feelings.

Now I'm just the mom not the doctor so Robynne has done the smart thing and forwarded some information which I sent her together with a brief family history through to her doctor for the doctor's opinion as to the possibility of this being the cause of the depression and we are at this moment waiting to hear what the prognosis is. Thanks to Spear because I really hadn't connected the two sets of symptoms properly until I read his post and that started my brain cogs working. I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon researching on the internet reasons why this, if it exists, hadn't shown up during the school years and for the main part the thinking seems to be that girls, unless they are tomboys, are conditioned to cope with sitting in a schoolroom situation and if they are bright, this is usually enough to get them through the school years successfully without being diagnosed. They internalise any problems they might be experiencing and this sometimes manifests in substance abuse and/or smoking. So basically boys and girls react differently in school. The symptoms in girls might only crop up as the pressures of work, relationships, managing money, marriage, motherhood, etc. start coming into existence. Only at this stage, way into adulthood sometimes, are some women diagnosed with AD(H)D.

I live and learn. I know either way that my kids being competent, intelligent and popular young people will make a success of whatever they turn their hands to. And I will be there for them as long as they want me to be and for however long I am on this earth.


  1. Its frightening to me how often girls are only diagnosed as adult ADHDers AFTER they've spent years battling everything from depression to addiction!
    As for parent-teacher evenings... they were one of my least favourite days when my knucklehead was at school. Repeating myself over and over, and asking over and over for the same type of assistance, and explaining again and again. And the fargin teachers NEVER take notes!!!

  2. I want u to be my mommy;)
    Yeah,but seriously,I really didn't know about girls being misdiagnosed...I think that I may have been one of those girls.

  3. Thanks for the linklove!

    Girls often do not have the hyperactivity part - just the attention part, estrogen has a calming effect on ADD whereas testosterone worsens it... just two of many factors why ADD is missed in girls. Such girls get the label - she is a 'dreamy' girl, which is perfectly acceptable, since girls tend not to cause so much trouble as boys. Them being C candidates also causes them not to be diagnosed (With treatment they could have been A candidates)

    From an ADDer (undiagnosed at school) PTA meetings was just as much of a nightmare for me, because I had to hear the same damn things over and over and over again myself. Imagine what that does for your self image...

  4. Angel - I think some of symptoms that teenage girls go through are also written off to teenage hormones as well. With Brad's school, some of the teachers were really sweet and receptive and enjoyed Brad's personality and sense of humour while some teachers were just seeing a problem and not understanding what makes my son tick.

    Lorna - Thank you. Sometimes I feel like a real dummy but as a mom, even if you don't get it right first time, the trick is to remain open-minded and learn all the time. I think some girls are not so much misdiagnosed as not diagnosed at all. I can remember some of the girls at school and amidst all the trauma and drama going on, I think a sincere problem might easily have got missed by even a concerned teacher.

    Spear - Only a pleasure to link to you. You helped me a lot and thats interesting about the oestrogen and testosterone factor. When I'm giving Bradley 'the lecture' I'm quite aware that he is just switching off and I try to keep it short and to the point. It must seem that the whole world doesn't understand and basically the 'world' doesnt otherwise there wouldn't be such an emphasis on the achievement of Matric and all the academic written subjects that most schools aim for. If you cant manage then you feel like a failure before you even start.