While teachers search for new methods of helping children with ADHD learn, and parents struggle with parenting a child with this condition, and all kinds of experts give advice on treatment options, discipline, and activities suitable for the ADHD child, little is known or understood about how the child with ADHD feels about his condition, and learning to cope with the symptoms of ADHD.
This is what a day in the life of one child with ADHD was like.
6:00 am- Emanuel is woken by his mother a full hour before his brothers and his sisters. He is encouraged to hurriedly dress in sweats and sweater and then goes out to the yard with his mother where he runs an obstacle course that he himself devised. Although just 8 years old, the child finds it easier to start the school day if he has his morning activity before setting off to school.
6:45 am- Emanuel takes a quick shower and though he would like to linger and just watch the soap bubbles as they circle the drain, his mother’s constant knock and 5 minute, 4 minute, and 3 minute warnings, encourage him to focus on his quick wash and getting dressed for school, in the clothes he and his mother laid out the night before.
7:20 am- After playing over breakfast and barely eating, Emanuel and his mother then run through a check-list to make sure that he has everything needed for school in his backpack. He is then handed an apple and encouraged to eat while the rest of his siblings complete getting ready for school.
8:00 am- Emanuel and his siblings arrive at school where he slowly makes his way to the classroom. While he is excited to see his friends, he finds himself wondering if today will be the day that he doesn’t get into some kind of trouble or get scolded for something.
8:10 am- After a few minutes of talking with friends, he takes his seat which is right next to the teacher’s desk. He finds himself wishing that he could sit in a desk in the rows like the other children, but his teacher says she “like’s him to be near her as he is her best helper”.
8:30 am- Emanuel collects all the math papers from all students and takes them up to his teacher, but he already feels bad, because despite the fact that she has tapped on his desk 3 times during the assignment, he only has finished about ½ of the problems.
8:35 am- The class begin to take turns reading out loud from their science book and Emanuel divides his time between looking at the book, gazing out the window, and hoping his teacher doesn’t call on him to read.
His hopes are not realized, and after his teacher shows him the place, he reads through the next paragraph so fast, his teacher has to make him read it twice. While he can read well, when he is asked to read aloud, he never seems to be able to read well at all when asked to do it on his own.
10:00am- It is recess time and one of his favorite times of the day. He and his two best friends set races and run back and forth across the playground as fast as they can go. Emanuel’s friends are running for fun, but he runs to help still the strange feeling inside him that keeps urging him to move.
He accidentally runs into Susie and knocks her down and the playground teacher immediately comes over and tells him that if he doesn’t be careful he won’t get any more recesses that day. He feels like crying, but instead he just glares at the play ground supervisor and says “whatever”.
10:15 am- He’s back in the classroom and his teacher pulls him aside to talk to him. She tells him that she knows running into Susie was an accident, but it would be nice if he apologized. He goes over to Susie’s desk and tell her he’s sorry. Susie sticks out her tongue at him and tells him he is “mean”.
The rest of the day goes by without him getting into any more trouble, but he is relieved that the day is over and no one else has told him he was mean.
3:00 pm- His mother is waiting to pick him up after school and she asks him how his day went. Finally the tears come and he tells her: “I try and try and still get in trouble”.
3:15 pm- His mother pulls into a park and he and his siblings get out and play. There are some older boys playing basketball, and when he asks, they let him play with them even though he is much littler than they are. For the next half hour he forgets about his school day and simply has fun.
4:00pm- Emanuel has an appointment with his counsellor who talks to him about his day and asks him how he felt when the playground supervisor scolded him. He tells her that she made him mad and he wanted to hit her and hit her.
They talk about what he could do if he knocks down someone again and he tells the counsellor he should say “sorry”. She agrees and tells him he could also offer to help the other person up. He thinks about it a minute and nods.
He then talks about his upcoming birthday and which two friends he should invite. He tells the counsellor that he wishes that he could invite everyone to his birthday party, but his mother won’t let him because “lots of people make me mad”.
The counsellor then points out that it is much better to have fun on your birthday than to spend the whole day being mad, and for the first time he smiles and tells the counsellor that he gets to go to the “jungle” (a kid’s arcade) and play any games that he and his friends want. He leaves the counsellor feeling better.
7:00pm- Dinner is over and he has had his run in the yard and his shower and now it is time to go bed. He isn’t the least little bit sleepy and begs to stay up, but his Mom won’t let him. She does however go into the bedroom with him and rubs his back until he falls asleep.
2:00 am- Emanuel wakes up to a dark house and can’t go back to sleep. He tries to wake up one his brothers to play with him, but is told to go away. So he wanders around the house walking in circles over and over again wondering what school will be like tomorrow, whether or not he will get in trouble again.
Finally his mother comes out and he tells her he can’t sleep. She has him do some jumping jacks, and spinning in circles for a while, and then she takes him back to the bedroom and rubs his back until he goes back to sleep.
As Emanuel grows older, he learns how to sit better, and his counsellor teaches him some tricks to help him stay focused and do better in school. Throughout the years, he participates in a variety of sports, including soccer and basketball, and excels in basketball.
As an adult, he is still coping with his ADHD, but now thinks of his condition as simply a part of who he is rather than something that always has to be dealt with. He is still treating his condition organically with exercise, fish oil supplements and natural vitamins, and feels that there are times when his ADHD actually gives him an edge.
He recently admitted that his employer told him that he could work rings around all the other workers.
Looking back, he stated that what he hated most when he was a child was constantly being told by some of his teachers that he was uncooperative, unmotivated, and uncaring, when he felt like all he did was try and try to please them.
He does admit that his childhood was happier than many kids with ADHD his age, because most of his teachers were kind, and he was allowed to run whenever he felt the need.
He also stated that he really didn’t feel different from other kids his age. “I was just a kid. One with ADHD, but just a kid for all that”.
Note: We would like to express our deepest gratitude to Emanuel for sharing his story with us.
Do you, or any of your family members, suffer from ADHD? How has it affected your life?