“Your son is a bully.” Even today, Diana Nasali, a 38-year-old higher planning executive, can still vividly recall the stinging words of her child’s playschool teacher.
She was told that Danny, barely two years old then, had shoved another toddler in the playgroup. The troubles didn’t let up. During his preschool years, Danny received so many complaints that he switched childcare centres six times.
His reputation as a bully also meant that parents would request that their kids be separated from him during playtime. While other pupils obediently napped in the afternoons, Danny would be the only one who couldn’t stay still.
“He could go on all day without feeling tired. Obviously, that was a major problem for the childcare centres,” Diana recalls (she requested not to use his full name).
Danny’s mischief didn’t end even when he landed in the principal’s room several times. He got so bored while in the office that he peeled paint off the walls, adds Diana.
I DIDN’T KNOW
Like Danny, 11-year-old Joven Lim cannot sit still either. Getting him to complete his homework on time is a near impossible task for his mum, Karen Wong. When he finally settles down at his desk, he ends up fidgeting and fiddling with his stationery.
In a bid to get him to complete his schoolwork, the 33-year-old senior account manager recalls how she once kept him up until 3am. “Joven is brilliant at dismantling pens and cutting erasers into small cubes. He’s also very good at folding the page edges of his homework. What he can’t do is to concentrate on his work,” shares Karen.
“The exasperating part is that I know he knows the answers to the questions.” As a result, Joven has failed almost every major examination since Primary 1.
Are Danny and Joven simply naughty, lazy and out-of-control kids? Karen used to think so, until a friend pointed out that her son could possibly have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) of the inattentive variety.
True enough, he was formally diagnosed with the condition last year.
“No one ever flagged it out to me that he could have ADHD,” she says. “In a way, I was actually relieved when he was diagnosed because I knew I could move on and try to find a solution to the problem.”
But Karen was also racked with guilt after Joven’s diagnosis. “I used to cane and punish him all the time, thinking that he was lazy and not putting in his best,” she confesses.
“In the process of doing so, I’d also unwittingly damaged his self-esteem. The truth was that my poor boy had no idea why he behaved in that manner.”
Related: Facts about hyperactivity
Next page: How to spot ADHD