‘What it’s like to be me’ is a series shining a light on people living and working in Southland. This week, reporter PETRINA WRIGHT found out what it is like to be Dominic Buckby, an Invercargill teenager living with ADHD.
ENDURING systematic bullying, social isolation and depression are among the many challenges Invercargill teenager Dominic Buckby faces on a daily basis.
Dominic is a 14-year-old boy, the youngest of five brothers.
Outwardly, he looks like any other strong, healthy teenage boy, but Dominic’s experience of life is very different.
He was diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) when he was 9 years old, but his parents Rachel and Keith said they noticed something was different about their son from as young as 2.
“He just wouldn’t sit still,” his mother said.
Dominic was easily upset, had difficulty sitting still, acted impulsively at times and was easily distracted.
He now also suffers from depression and Bipolar Disorder.
Mrs Buckby said she and her husband had been strict on him, raising him the same way as his brothers, yet his behaviour was very different. So, it was a relief when they received the ADHD diagnosis and understood what was causing their son’s behaviour.
“It is not easy to bring up a child like that.”
Mr Buckby said he used to think children with ADHD were just naughty, but after being on this journey with his son, he now realised their challenging behaviours were a result of their brains being “wired differently”.
Dominic said a common misconception people had about children with ADHD was thinking it was simply bad behaviour or a result of being spoilt.
“It is actually a real thing.
“We actually try our best and want to fit in.”
As a result of Dominic’s differences, he had been the victim of sustained and systematic bullying throughout his school career.
Not having any friends at school and being bullied were among the most difficult challenges he faced, he said.
Despite school staff being proactive in dealing with the bullying, it got so bad at one point he became suicidal, he said.
His coping strategies were trying not to listen to the negative comments, and taking time out to calm down, he said.
Mrs Buckby said when Dominic was feeling angry or depressed, he would spend time with his puppy Bella, who had a calming influence on him.
Staying focused and on task at school was also a challenge for Dominic.
Dominic was academically advanced.
Mrs Buckby said Dominic was reading at a 14-year-old level by the age of 9.
He would finish his work before his classmates, get bored and start playing up, she said.
Aggression was a common problem for people with ADHD, and Dominic was no exception.
It was when Dominic started acting aggressively towards his brothers, his parents decided to put him on medication, they said.
Mrs Buckby said the change in her son was immediate. He became much calmer and his mood improved.
Despite the challenges, it was not all doom and gloom living with ADHD.
Mr Buckby said the condition was manageable with medication, and Dominic would be able to live independently as an adult.
And, things had started to improve for Dominic in recent years.
He had secured an after-school job at K9 Cribs dog boarding and day care facility, which he enjoyed.
Joining the Invercargill Army Cadets two years ago had also helped.
Dominic said he enjoyed the structure and discipline involved in the army cadets, and the group had accepted him and looked out for him.
“I enjoy feeling like I’m part of something.”
His dream job was to join the army, but he recently found out the army would not accept him because he was taking medication, he said.
He was now considering a career as an actor or a chef.
His role models were Robin Williams, Jim Carrey and Will Smith, all of whom had ADHD, he said.
“They are really funny. I look up to them because they have ADHD and they are a success.
“It shows you can still succeed in life.”
His advice to other children with ADHD who may be struggling was – “Stick with it and try to keep your head up and talk to someone if you need help… it does get better as you get older.”
Dominic encouraged people to wear orange today, the last day of ADHD Awareness Month.