Instinct is not enough.

“We eventually came to understand that ADHD is merely a symptom of ESSENCE (Early Syndromes Eliciting Neurodevelopmental Clinical Examination). Nobody had all the answers, but each one of the specialists we consulted added a piece of the puzzle in explaining my son’s behaviour and provided us with more insight.”

A mother knows … 

When our children are born, we are overwhelmed with the primal instinct to protect them. 

Mothers may differ in expectations and experiences but we all share the mystical conviction that instinct will guide us through the million decision-making processes that child-rearing requires. We are good at detecting when something is ‘different’ about our children. For most mothers however, this is usually where the instinct stops and speculation, worry and fear take over. Instinct gives cause for departure but professional assistance provides a map.

My son was not that much different from other babies and toddlers. Besides the fact that he rarely slept and became quite ‘busy’ when he started walking at the age of 10 months, he behaved within the norms of our peer group’s children. 

Slowly but surely, small behavioural snags started to develop as he grew older. Sensitivity and awareness of surroundings turned into over-sensitivity. Other times, even things like bad weather or animal sounds would cause severe anxiety for him. 

During the first term of his grade one year we were called in. 

He’s very fidgety and disruptive. He cannot concentrate for even short periods of time. 

We started the process of doing all the necessary tests and evaluations. The result? ADHD…Not a big surprise. 

Coming from a family of doctors, l was not set against medication when it was due. But when the side effects began to manifest in my primary-school-age son, real concern started to kick in. I couldn’t stand to see my son suffer like this. 

And then there are all the “what if’s”. What if my child is not capable of attending a main-stream school? What if he’s not able to cope on his own with learning and doing homework? What if my child is not OK? 

Difficulties in social interactions started to appear. Not being invited over to friends and to parties confirmed that something else was up. As he grew older it became evident that he was not maturing at the same rate as his peers. He’s sensitive to atmosphere but struggles to interpret how he feels or why, which sometimes leads to inappropriate or akward reactions.

More evaluations (by an educational psychologist as well as a clinical psychologist) brought better insight and more knowledge. 

Eventually we came to understand that ADHD is merely a symptom of  ESSENCE (Early Syndromes Eliciting Neurodevelopmental Clinical Examination). 

Nobody had all the answers, but each one of the specialists we consulted added a piece to the puzzle in explaining my son’s behaviour and provided us with more insight into the problem.

The reports and suggestions made by the respective specialists we’d consulted helped to give my son’s school insight, too, as well as guidance on how to handle him. We were lucky enough that they were understanding and accommodating. 

It is a continuous, rocky journey with good and bad days. I am very involved in helping my son study for tests and with his homework. 

Fear and anxiety about his future and happiness alternate with peace and hope. Every day seems to bring evidence to validate both outcomes. 

Getting answers proved to be as valuable as finding solutions, at the very least in helping us to differentiate between the real problems and “normal” growing pains. 

The field of ESSENCE is still vast and new. And we have a lot to learn. Fortunately, there are people who dedicate their careers to helping ESSENCE children (and their parents) cope and thrive.

My son will be OK… A mother knows.

Educational Psychologist: Ronel Bosch

Clinical Psychologist: Friederike Frank-Schultz