October is ADHD/ADD/ODD awareness month, and with mental health awareness on the rise it is more important now than ever to make ourselves aware of the invisible struggles other people may be fighting. I know what you’re thinking, ADHD is not on the same playing field as Manic Depression or Schizophrenia or Bi-Polar Disorder. The truth is, just like any other neurological disorder, ADHD can come in varying degrees of severity and oftentimes those who are diagnosed with ADHD have other underlying diagnoses. ADHD is more than just not being able to sit still or focus, and according to the data and statistics at cdc.gov, it effects over 6.1 million children (as of 2016).
You would think since ADHD is such a commonly diagnosed disorder there would be so much understanding about it, but I can tell you first hand that as a parent of a child with ADHD (combined ADHD and anxiety diagnosis in this house) that people are very quick to judge you and your child based on outward appearances. Here I’ve put together my Top 10 list of things I have heard and am so over hearing about how to parent a kid with ADHD.
1. This one usually comes from a good place, in my experience at least. Your kid is running/jumping/climbing/completely ignoring your attempts to calmly get them to focus, and another parent nearby tries to sympathize with the old ‘I don’t know how you do it’ bit. I know they mean well, but the truth is if you have a child one day with ADHD, you will do it too, because you will love that child for who they are. My son isn’t ADHD, he has ADHD, and there is so much more to him than his diagnosis.
Do all kids behave all the time? Not at all. Does that mean that all kids who are misbehaving have ADHD? Nope. So does that mean ADHD isn’t real and just a made up illness? Absolutely not.
This is something that was absolutely said to me by a complete stranger while my son was having a meltdown at a Jiu Jitsu class. At the time I just smiled at the man and simply told him spakings don’t work with our son, but to this day when I think about that moment I wish I would have asked him if using a belt would also help him learn some manners.
This one is very common, and in my experience often comes from those friends and family that are closest to you. They aren’t saying it to be mean, but it still hurts. Yes medication may be a necessary tool your family decides to try, but coming to the decision to go that route is deeply personal and not a decision that is made easily.
If you have looked into medication for your child, then chances are really good you have heard the downsides of that choice. Usually it’s from other well-meaning parents, but this kind of choice is personal to what works best for your child and your family. And chances are, if you’re using the words ‘medication’ as a means of treatment, then you have probably already tried everything else you could think of first.
Personally our family has tried essential oils, supplements, cutting artificial dyes, flavors, dairy, gluten, limited screen time, no screen time….we have tried it all! Some of these things work, some don’t, most are great in moderation. You have to find what works for your child and go from there.
Often times, kids with ADHD are seen as being lazy or dumb. Most ADHD kids I know are some of the most intelligent and innovative people I know, they just need to be interested or engaged to let it shine. Do a google search of famous people with ADHD and you may be pleasantly surprised!
Kids make poor choices because they are learning how to make the right choice. This isn’t just an ADHD issue, this is something all parents have to deal with. And what works for one kid may not work for another, especially when you are comparing neurotypical children with those who are diagnosed with ADHD.
Any parent of a child with ADHD will tell you they have that thing they are obsessed with. Video games, Legos, dinosaurs, military vehicles, garbage trucks…we have seen quite a few obsessions with our son. And he loves to spread that knowledge all over everyone within ear shot. Yes they can talk about other things, but if you just sit and listen to them talk about their favorite things, you will see so much passion and knowledge flow out of them that it is contagious.
Yes, all kids grow and mature and develop better skills to handle what life throws at them, and kids with ADHD are no exception to that growth. However, kids who have ADHD will not simply outgrow it. There are several ways to help your child manage their diagnosis, but it will not go away on it’s own. If that were true then we wouldn’t have adults with ADHD, would we?