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Being a parent of a neuro-divergent child.

Parent Blog – Adventurous, Determined, Hyper-Focused, Dreamer Katie Ridge, Mum of Eddie (9) and Ada (6), has written a blog on embracing the ups and downs of the ADHD journey as the parent of a neuro-divergent child.


Parent Blog - Adventurous Determined Hyper-focused Dreamer (or as some might call it… ADHD!)
My son was nicknamed by his nursery from the age of 18 months as the ‘whirlwind’. As first time parents we embraced this as an accurate description of our hyperactive, speedy, widely emotional little boy and rode the rollercoaster of extreme ups and downs believing it was normal for parenting to be this challenging… It wasn’t until he started school and found it enormously difficult socially and emotionally to interact with the class and display appropriate behaviours that we started to see that maybe his behaviours weren’t ‘normal’.
Sadly we didn’t gain a full understanding of how we needed to manage him until he was diagnosed with ADHD in March 2020, at 7 years old, after 4 years of referrals to a number of different services, positive parenting classes, calls to the head teachers office for reprimands over behaviour, threats of being banned from wrap around childcare, violent outbursts, anger, aggression and limited support. All of this contributed to the decline of my mental health as anxiety, paranoia and stress slowly amplified as I doubted my parental abilities more and more.
His diagnosis was a welcome relief and opened the door for us to get the support we desperately needed as a family to understand what he was going through and that he is not just a ‘naughty child’ as he is so often judged to be.
I have learnt so much in the last 2 years and this learning has opened my eyes to the world of neurodiversity as a whole. My son’s ADHD is a part of him, he may need adjustments putting in place to support him in life, but in response to this he brings so much more to the table. He is intelligent, inquisitive, can hyper focus intensely on things that interest him, is highly passionate and has a strong sense of justice. He is a loyal and fiercely supportive friend, highly competitive and has a knowledge bank of facts at his disposal. I have been fighting for his equality and inclusion all his life (without actually realising it!). His ADHD is classed as a disability, but it's not the ADHD that ‘disables’ him… it is society creating a box that he does not fit in. He is starting to understand his ADHD and is proud to be an Adventurous Determined Hyper-focused Dreamer ❤️. The more awareness we can raise about this will hopefully create a future where neuro-divergent people can thrive as they are.
As a parent of a child with ADHD my days are usually intense, very loud, involve lots (and lots…and lots…) of repeated instructions and require lots (and lots… and lots) of patience. They are full of surprises, I learn something new every day (usually a random interesting fact that he has read or heard somewhere and will remember for life), the ups and downs are very much still there but they are understood and are managed. Every day is different, there are lots of unknowns and last minute dashes to school to do the pick up early due to one incident or another, lots of meetings in the head-teachers office and catch ups with the SENDCo (Special Education Needs & Disabilities Coordinator) Mrs Stott who has been an absolute god send throughout all of this, the care she has for all of her SEND children is out of this world.
I am openly writing this blog to reach out to the school community; to break down the judgement and misconceptions that come with ADHD; to make the uphill battle for parents of neuro-divergents less of a struggle; to ensure every child, regardless of their diversity, is treated fairly and equally. My ask of the Northern School community is to please be more understanding… you never know what a particular person or family are going through, what differences they may be dealing with. Before going to that place of judgement shift your mind set, stay neutral, be curious and ask yourself ‘what else could be true’ in that situation?
Had I not been on this journey I would not be the person I am today. Prior to our journey of neuro-diverse parenthood, I was the person judging parents with the 'naughty' child having a meltdown in the supermarket. I was the person who thought ADHD wasn't real and was an excuse for bad behaviour and I was the person that thought a SENDCo only got involved at school when parents weren't doing something right - all of which I am truly ashamed to admit. My son has made me a better person, I have grown and developed so much and look at the world and the people in it completely differently because of him, of which I am truly grateful. I am more compassionate, more understanding and more open to people's unique needs. It's just a shame it takes lived experience to change our view of the world.
For anyone going through something similar, don’t be afraid to speak out, fight for your child’s differences and most importantly give yourself a break, be kind to yourself!