I HAVE a 10-year-old son who was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of three. We have kept this diagnosis secret from all family and friends, as we don't want him labelled.
However, our son has been bullied since the age of three; firstly in creche, then in school. He lacks some social skills, which in turn became a problem with some of his classmates.
It is always the same three boys' names that he mentions. The school does recognise that there has been a problem with the boys but tells me that my son is not so innocent himself.
Lately, he stopped sleeping again and a nail-biting habit has returned.
Then, on the road near our house the other day, I witnessed him being dragged to the ground by two of these boys. A larger group of five boys was laughing at him. I was furious.
I started to shout at them for doing that to him and gave out very strongly to them.
One of them ended up crying, but I didn't care at the time.
My husband went straight around to the school, whose response was that it happened outside school, but my husband told the vice-principal that it had started in the school and that the bullying must be still happening to him there.
I have arranged a meeting with the principal but I don't really know what to do or what to expect.
IT IS easy for a child with ADHD to experience lots of social problems. For example, we can expect that a child with ADHD may be impulsive, have difficulty planning, be distractible, giddy, talk over people, interrupt others, be restless and unable to settle to tasks or activities.
If your son has these kinds of behavioural difficulties, then that may lead other children to get frustrated or annoyed. Consequently, he may be vulnerable to being socially isolated and possibly targeted for name-calling or teasing.
It sounds like his peers have no patience with him and may blame him, ostracising and targeting him, for annoying them. When this happens in school, it is absolutely the responsibility of the school to intervene.
I could imagine you would like the school to take action to help your son with his social interaction and to make sure that the other boys treat him fairly and understandingly. I suggest that this should be the focus of your meeting with them.
In fairness to the school, they can't deal with attacks, like the one near your home, that happen outside of school time and away from the school grounds. However, you, no doubt, want the school to acknowledge that no matter what social difficulties your son has, nothing warrants the kind of attack that he was subjected to.
Even if the principal has never witnessed such an attack in school, it does, indeed, seem to be part of the overall pattern of interaction your son has had with these boys for a long time.
If you'd like the school to be more proactive in building a better relationship between your son and these boys, then I think you need to be much more public about the difficulties that your son has with ADHD. It may be the key to getting the other boys to be more tolerant and understanding and to pick on him less.
I think it would be of benefit to him that other people (both teachers and pupils) are fully aware of both the nature of his difficulties and the reason for them. It may help others to understand why he behaves as he does.
All you can ask of the school is that they fully implement their anti-bullying policy to ensure that these boys do not target your son. Ideally you want them to be more alert and more supportive of your son during school time.
At the same time it may really help you, your husband and your son to go and get some professional advice and guidance to help your son with his ADHD, since any improvement in his behaviour and social skills will also help with his interactions in school.