LUCAS Andrews is a bright and bubbly eight-year-old.
He’s also my son.
Caring, kind and always putting others before himself, Lucas is proof that having ADHD isn’t as bad as it is sometimes made out to be.
ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and if I had a dollar for every time I heard an ill-informed person comment: “he’s just a naughty kid”, I would be rich.
After having Lucas’ medical condition – yes, it is actually a medical condition – diagnosed and treated – it is as though he is like any other kid.
That’s because, he is.
He’s a typical eight-year-old; he loves basketball, cuddling up with me on the couch binge watching Netflix, playing outside with his brother Bohdi, fishing with his Nana Lee and the Collingwood Football Club.
Lucas, and all the other people out there living with ADHD, are just like anyone else.
It’s just that they have a couple of differences in their brain activity and development that impacts on attention, the ability to be still and self-control.
October is ADHD Awareness Month, and in light of the occasion, I’ve decided to share our story with Mildura Weekly readers.
Lucas was born at 29 weeks back in 2012 at the Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
He weighed just over a kilogram when he was born and spent nine weeks in hospital in South Australia before being flown back to our hospital here in Mildura.
There are obviously many problems to overcome, and risks associated with being born prematurely, but it was life or death for both Lucas and myself to deliver him at that gestation.
I knew being born early put Lucas at risk of having many medical problems down the track.
For babies born at a gestation of less than 33 weeks, they are two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.
I stumbled across this fact sitting in hospital, with Lucas’ birth imminent.
I’d witnessed the critically ill babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) on a tour after arriving at the hospital, when the doctors were preparing me as to what to expect and I remember to this day still thinking we could overcome any challenge thrown at us – as long as he lived.
Lucas made it through those NICU days, although we did nearly lose him once, and he’s gone on to thrive academically and socially.
ADHD is something both Lucas, Bohdi, and I have learned to live with on a day-to-day basis.
Thre are a few “traits” Lucas carries that are typical of ADHD, he has problems focusing on tasks sometimes, he can be impulsive, he has a low frustration tolerance and he has an incredibly amount of energy and becomes restless really easily.
Unlike what others may experience, Lucas is incredibly organised, which seems to buck the trend.
I’d suspected Lucas had ADHD once he started school.
Although he loved school, the signs of ADHD became more obvious in this environment and he was diagnosed mid-way through his first year.
After consulting both myself and the school, as well as observing Lucas, the diagnosis was made by his paediatrician and it came as a relief.
Not because I could label it or pass his behaviour off, but because I could go about assisting Lucas.
We started medication and Lucas immediately noticed the difference.
He described living with ADHD pre medication as having lots of stuff going on in his brain, sending him in all different directions and he couldn’t sit still.
With medication his brain became much calmer, which allowed him to be calmer and make better decisions.
He’s more inclined to finish “boring” tasks and finds it easier to follow instructions. He’s also much less impulsive and more tolerant.
Instead of being the child who got in trouble at school, he’s now one that is looked upon as incredibly attentive and well behaved.
If you see Lucas in the street, you wouldn’t be able to tell him apart from any other kid.
In fact, I’ve had people stop me before in public and comment how well behaved and well-mannered Lucas and Bohdi are.
I’ve made sure Lucas knows that ADHD doesn’t define him – it is just something we live with, but he still feels and hears the not so nice comments made sometimes.
So, in conclusion, I asked Lucas what he would like our readers to take from reading this story, and, after going to his “think zone” this is what he said.
“I wish people knew that ADHD isn’t a bad thing and we aren’t just being naughty.
“We are trying the best we can to deal with all the funny stuff going on, but sometimes it is just gets a bit too much and it shows on the outside.”
By ZOEY ANDREWS
ABOVE: Lucas and his brother Bohdi share a close bond.