Sheila Gumede* was surprised when her son’s teacher informed her, in a letter, that he had Attention De cit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This is a condition that affects one’s ability to be attentive, and function optimally. At the time of diagnosis, her 11-year-old son was in a sought-after public school with classes accommodating up to 40 learners.
“My son has always been energetic and very playful, and I declared this to all his teachers. His paediatrician said he was fine and just being a child. He’s very bright and does extremely well academically and in sports,” Gumede explains, adding that her son only loses attention when not stimulated. The single mom was shocked to receive a letter inviting her to a meeting with the school’s psychologist to discuss the diagnosis as well as the option to get him medicated. So, she decided to seek a second opinion from an independent psychologist.
HANDLE WITH CARE
Joburg-based clinical psychologist Sinqobile Elevia Aderinoye says society tends to box people, and direct them to follow certain patterns of behaviour. “With the manner in which systems of life are set up, children are rarely permitted to just be children. When pointing out flaws to a child, you need to communicate with compassion and in a manner that instils hope, rather than hopelessness.
“You also need to validate them and their emotions. If not, they internalise negative feedback and believe it to be true, resulting in long-lasting negative effects,” she adds.