It was pretty clear from when I first met my stepson Zane he had issues at 3 years old he was capable of telling lies he could lose his temper over nothing, he could turn a room into a tip within seconds of entering, keep running round until he fell asleep, yet my wife and I were simply told "he's naughty deal with it" At nursery he was pretty much left to do his own thing "because he's naughty" they would tell us at home time. That same story kept repeating itself through reception and year's one and two.
Now he should have moved up at that point but the deputy head saw fit to keep him in her year one/two class (we later found out this is illegal!). A new headmaster took over and Zane was moved up to the correct class things seemed to improve then he really slumped swearing in class, bullying other children. storming out of the classroom etc. Having read about it online we were sure he was ADHD (ATTENTION DEFICENT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER) he matched the symptoms so well we asked to be referred but were told no he didn't have it. The local family centre had been brought in by the school we were sent on every parenting course you could imagine all action plans and reward schemes failed despite our very best efforts.
Trips out were a nightmare he would try his hardest to wreck the day even before we had gone out the front door by attacking his younger brothers. Another issue that had appeared was the also the strangest to cope with, the worst thing you could do was praise him words like well done would send him into an almighty tantrum. Yet again at review meetings we were told he was just naughty and we would have to face up to this in our roles as parents.
By Year 4 (aged 8) He had been moved into a special class run by the schools SENCO (SPECIAL EDUCATION NEEDS COORDINATOR) She quickly realised Zane was really struggling with basic English and through her own tests realised he was dyslexic. She got the proper tests in place and the results confirmed her suspicions he was indeed dyslexic. It was a start and also meant he got some one to one help in class and his work slowly began to improve however his behaviour certainly didn't. Another review meeting and everyone from the school to the doctor seemed convinced that the dyslexia was the sole issue and yes he was a "naughty child"
After our last parenting course trained technique had failed we went back to our GP's and begged to be referred to the specialists at the hospital, the doctor realising our genuine frustration did so. When we finally saw the Consultant we were both gob smacked when again we were told "no he doesn't have it face facts he is just a naughty child" The Doctor looked up and realised in the 2 minutes we had been talking since Zane left our side he had emptied an entire cupboard of toys the doctor had in the room. The doctor some what surprised at the speed this had been done said he would send the Conners Test to both us and the school. The Conners test is a tick sheet where you rank behaviour in many different areas on a scale of 0-3 to get a diagnosis there needs to be a clear agreement between the parents one and the schools one.
Fast forward to September of year 5 (aged 9) we went back to get the results and yes he did have ADHD finally we weren't mad despite our best efforts trying to be firm yet fair there was indeed more to it than simply him being naughty. Perhaps a little arrogantly I took great pleasure in ringing the school and informing the headmaster he was wrong and that Zane was now on Ritalin. This of course led to issues for the SENCO she had to reapply for a new statement to cover the fact that he was ADHD as well as dyslexia. If anything this led to a new problem the school became far too keen to send him home if he was naughty, things that other children would have lost break time for resulted in my wife or I being called to bring him home.
The flip side was in year 6 (aged 11) when doing his SATS Zane actually achieved the correct level for his age for Science proving that yes ADHD is an issue but a child can still achieve good things in their education we were very proud of him for that.
Aged 14 now he goes to a special needs high school and is doing well, yes there is the odd flair up we still see the red mist descend over nothing but life is much more positive for him. The one thing is he does need a few days notice to cope with the idea of change (so no surprise days out).
Recent research has shown there to be a genetic link with some cases of ADHD, now with there being at least 8 (that we know of) cases in Angela's family I think it's fair to say yes there is. So when Lucas our youngest son started showing signs we were a little concerned but thought it might just be us imagining things. Then it really began to go wrong when he started nursery he would attack teachers after blowing his top over nothing. In the worst incident he bit a teacher so hard he almost tore a chunk out of her arm.
He over reacts to situations and goes on what me and Angela call "mega crys" these can last for over an hour and be set off by simply saying no, by the time he finishes he usually explains he was crying over something totally different to what originally started him. He does so much without thinking that he needs to be kept under close watch (even washing his hands alone is a no no he has flooded the bath room in the past) The daft thing is Lucas goes from one extreme to the other in such a short time, it is like there are 2 totally different little boys.
Voicing our concerns to the school we were a little surprised by their reaction. Yes they wanted us to go on yet another parenting course the sort that recommend reward charts the very sort that a child with ADHD lose interest in very quickly. Questions were asked of Angela and me. We were once again facing a fight to prove the blame didn't lie with us there was something more after a year and a half of issues a simple conversation between Angela and Zane's consultant made a light appear. She asked for us to get Lucas referred. Listening to us explain the senior consultant reading the notes made from the meeting we had attended over Lucas and seeing Lucas just haring round just simply said "you know don't you" Finally someone had listened true it was quicker than in Zane's case but still the questions asked of Angela and me had put a strain on us. The Conners test has been issued again we've done ours the school will complete theirs and we go back in October for the results. (UPDATE Lucas has been confirmed as ADHD)
The sad thing is ADHD is clouded by a lot of myths it's a "poor kids illness" or "it's just bad parenting" or simply and wrongly "it doesn't exist" even the one that really annoys me "to easy to get diagnosed" It is very real it effects people from all walks of life and as I've explained it most certainly isn't easy to get diagnosed. That said it is also not a cop out excuse for letting a child run wild that is bad parenting.