“I said, turn to page 36 of your textbook, Ling.” It was Miss Lam’s third reminder to her student in class.
Ling is a Primary Four student regarded by her teachers as a fairly well-behaved girl who also gets along well with her classmates.
The trouble is, she seems unable to concentrate in class. She is rather poorly organized and terribly forgetful. Though she was taught to keep a school agenda when she was in Primary One, she kept missing a textbook or a workbook in her school bag.
Her habit of daydreaming in class often distracts her from the lesson so she needs to catch up by asking her friends.
During Parents’ Day, Ling’s class teacher told her parents what she had been observing about their daughter. Her parents were not surprised as they had already noticed Ling’s weakness in taking orders since she was in kindergarten.
Several teachers had raised the possibility of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but Ling’s parents believed their daughter would gradually adapt to school life and a visit to the doctor was not necessary.
But as Ling entered primary school, she displayed even more symptoms of ADHD. She was constantly daydreaming and procrastinating. It took her a lot more time than her classmates to finish a meal or complete an assignment.
After a serious discussion with the class teacher, Ling’s parents finally agreed to consult the doctor.
The girl was later diagnosed with a predominantly inattentive type of ADHD. The doctor’s words came as a shock to the parents, who had thought only kids who were always jumping around and screaming would be ADHD patients.
The doctor explained that even if children do not show symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsiveness, their attention deficiency can tremendously affect their daily activities. Most of these patients are girls who tend to be more disciplined and quieter than boys, and therefore receive a delayed diagnosis.
Initially her parents were worried about the side-effects of medication. However, the doctor reassured them and adjusted the prescriptions bit by bit according to Ling’s physical performance. Thanks to professional help, Ling’s attention problem has improved a lot.
The after-school courses arranged by a social worker have also helped the child build stronger executive function skills, which are now reflected in her academic results and her growing self-confidence.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 10
Translation by John Chui
[Chinese version 中文版]
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