The parents of Khaled (not his real name), an 18-year-old Saudi teenager diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), feel helpless. They don’t know what to do with their son.
“He tells me ‘I know I am stupid’,” said Dr. Suad Al-Yamani, consultant in pediatric neurology and director of the ADHD Group at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center (KFSHRC) in Riyadh, who says Khaled comes for counseling with his uncle because his father has given up on him.
The doctor says he tries to convince the boy that he isn’t stupid, but “one positive voice out of thousands is not enough.”
Al-Yamani said Khaled was willing to change, and promised to visit the clinic one more time, but he never showed up again. “I’m sure it’s because of his unsupportive father who completely lost hope that his child would change,” the doctor said.
According to recent statistics 551 percent of the Saudi population under the age of 15 is suffering from this disorder.
Riyadh has one clinic for ADHD counseling.
“This is not enough,” said Al-Yamani. “We need to have more branches spread especially in the Western Region and for sure the Southern Region where parents are still not aware of this disorder.”
The doctor said she is pushing to open more clinics and raise awareness. “Not all these cases are hard to treat,” she said.
“There is always hope once you believe in God and in the child you have. These children see and sense your faith in them in your eyes and try to please you,” said Al-Yamani.
She cites an example of a 15-year-old boy who was brought to her clinic with his parents who followed the doctor’s advice and managed to secure the child’s future via their support.
They changed his school to another one where the teachers were trained to deal with ADHD students. The parents too changed the way they used to behave with him.
“Now he loves his new school and friends and even progressed in his music skills,” she said.
At the clinic in Riyadh they offer their help to around 200 children, but to offer it to many more they need financial and emotional support, Al-Yamani said.
Source: Arab News
Updated: 17 December 2013 by Jeremy Varnham