No, Doctor, I’m Not Kidding

During my son’s ADHD diagnosis, I told the doctor he showed hyperactive signs well before birth.”

“When did you first notice something was different with Holden?”

My son, at 3 years old, had been in Early Intervention for nearly a year when we piled into the family SUV and headed off to the big city hospital looking for more answers from the professionals. This was more than a speech delay; that, I knew.

Thankfully, I had a strong background in Child Development and Special Education prior to having Holden, which allowed me a unique perspective when watching him develop. When, at 2, he had fewer then 20 words, I made the phone call that began our roller coaster ride of intervention assessments. Now here we were at his first assessment with an ADHD specialist.

As we all know, an ADHD assessment involves getting a detailed history on our pregnancies, births, and the early months with our children. The doctors want to know if, perhaps, he was deprived of oxygen during delivery, or if I dropped him as I was bringing in the groceries one morning. I’ll never forget the look of shock on the doctor’s face when she asked me when I’d first noticed Holden’s hyperactivity and I answered: “At 16 weeks. Gestation.”

“No, really,” was the doctor’s reply when she lifted her chin from the floor. Being a very young mother, I was used to doctors (and in-laws) not taking me seriously. But I was dead serious.

“Really. I felt Holden’s first kicks when I was 16 weeks pregnant. From his first kick until his birth, he never stopped moving. Even in utero Holden didn’t sit still. He would kick and turn, push and wiggle. Through my pregnancy I often felt as if I was carrying a litter of Tigger clones. Being constrained by the limited size of my uterus didn’t deter him.”

I was finally able to convince the doctor that I wasn’t kidding. His activity level was, and always had been, off the charts. This, to me, and his doctors, proved that it wasn’t our lifestyle, diet, or parenting that made Holden act this way.

Holden’s ADHD diagnosis that day was not news to me. We’d lived with this assumption for quite sometime. In fact, I’ve always said that under the word “hyperactive” the dictionary should paste a picture of him. But it would be very blurry, because he’s always on the go.

So, though I know in my heart that Holden has always been the way he is, I do have moments of doubt and guilt like any parent. At those times, I look back on his initial diagnosis as a reminder to myself that Holden isn’t broken, or damaged. I didn’t make a mistake. He was made this way; it’s who he is. And I love him, bouncing around or not!

[Is Preschool Too Early to Diagnose ADHD?]