Amanda, mother of 4 wonderful children ranging from 5 – 15 years old

I would like to share a bit about the struggles I faced as a former student and struggles that I face as a mom to a current student who happens to be my eldest son. These issues are important to myself and my family. They open many wounds inflicted when the system failed not only myself but my grandfather, my father, my brother and now my son!

We look normal and seem fine on the outside when compared to others at the same age. We can often hold a good conversation and come up with solutions and perspectives that make us seem smart. But we suffer on the inside.

People have a hard time seeing it so therefore do not take it seriously. I have often been left to feel like I am just overreacting as it clearly cannot be that bad. Our impairments, though not noticeable, affect not only myself and my son but my entire family and impact almost all areas of our lives. This includes not only work and school, but basic everyday things like reading writing, paying attention, impulse control, remembering, focusing, organizing scheduling, following routines, communicating with people and completing normal everyday demands.

The disorder that has created such havoc in our lives is classified as a neurodevelopmental disorder. Learning disabilities (LDs) like dyslexia, are also classified as neurodevelopmental disorder. This disorder can also be classified as a Psychiatric Disorder and is called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder also known as (ADHD).

Many who have ADHD are likely to also have other disorders such as learning disabilities.

It is an “invisible disability” since you cannot see it. For me it is like

being blind and deaf on the inside. I have trouble processing information and understanding what is being said to me. Although I can, it just takes me 3 times longer than average. It actually took me 2 months to write out this story and I feel that it would not have taken me as long if perhaps I was recognized and given the proper skills and tools in school back then.

We all have wishes. I have many, but one is that my son and I were recognized as having ADHD sooner. I wish that I had been taken seriously when I mentioned his struggles at age 4. I believe early intervention in our case would been an important factor in reaching our educational goals. Instead, we remain undiagnosed and under treated and continue to be falsely labelled as ones who lack discipline and motivation, or simply, as “bad”.

It is known that children, adolescents and adults, if left untreated for learning impairments, are at a greater risk for less academic success, school dropout, fewer years of schooling, additional mental health disorders and problems with self-esteem, substance abuse and a greater chance of becoming involved in the justice system.

This has all proven to be true in our situation.

When my son was in grade 3, his teacher came up to me and said, “Your son has a high risk of school drop out.” Little did she know that those words changed our lives.

…continue to part 2 of story

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