My son was diagnosed with ADHD. Can he grow up to lead a normal life?


One of the classical symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), is chronic procrastination. FILE PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

My son was diagnosed with ADHD. Can he grow up to lead a normal life, marry and even be a CEO?

The simple answer to your question is yes, a fact supported by a simple Google search on famous people with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

In this search, you will come across current and past business, political and even academic giants diagnosed as having ADHD. Richard Branson and Bill Gates fall into this group.

The more accurate answer to your question however is “it depends on many factors”.

If your son is say seven years old and is already showing marked symptoms of the condition, it might be that he has a severe condition that might interfere with learning unless he receives professional care and supervision that might include medication.

If on the other hand, your son has mild symptoms that have been detected in a routine evaluation at school, it might mean that all he needs is minimal psychological support for him to understand the condition and how to cope with it.

Other factors unrelated to the severity of the condition might include the level of family support you are able/willing to give.

For example, if you as parents are available to give him all the support the doctor advises as required, this would make it more likely that the outcome would be good.

If on the other hand, you are unavailable for example because of your fighting and drinking habits, the hostile environment might make an otherwise good outcome impossible.

Last year, we saw a 15-year-old boy who had been expelled from the third school he had been attending in as many years.

The week before, at a church health talk, his parents had heard of the condition ADHD. They pleaded with the school to give their son one last chance at the school on the condition he was taken to see a psychiatrist to examine him and hopefully treat him.

The diagnosis was staring us in the face the moment he entered the consultation room. He was restless, dreamy and seemed distracted.

The history was typical of ADHD in that from an early age, he was a restless boy with poor concentration whose school reports had described him as a clever but lazy boy.

His parents were clearly loving and caring and during the following months were fully involved in the treatment programme which in his case included medication.

As part of their commitment to the process, his parents read a great deal about ADHD. They made sure he took the prescribed dose of medication at the right time.

His response to treatment was dramatic. He is back at the top of his class and both his parents and the teachers are confident that he will do well in the final exams.

Another boy was not so lucky. He was brought by an uncle who lived near his school. Upon suspension had nowhere else to go other than to his uncle.

When they called, the mother she was in the Far East where she would remain on a business trip for the ensuing three weeks. She sounded irritated by the news.

The father was also contacted. He lived with a girlfriend who threatened to walk away if the boy was brought to their flat.

She did not care that he had no one else to look after him. The man chose the girl over his son.

The clinical examination left no doubt that this boy had ADHD. The teachers had described as unruly behaviour of a clever boy who played all the time and did not concentrate in class were symptoms of ADHD.

The uncle knew little about the boy or his upbringing and said his duty of care ended when he brought him to us.

All he wanted was a report to enable him to take the boy back to school. When contacted by phone by the clinical team, the parents blamed each other for the predicament now facing their son and neither would accept the responsibility for his care.

A distant cousin who lives in Narok had taken him home. The last we heard is that he is not yet back to school. So, the same diagnosis, different potential outcomes.

Send your mental health concerns to [email protected]

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