How Parents should React when their Child is Diagnosed with ADHD

Let’s face it; you knew something was going on for awhile now, maybe for a long time.  You didn’t need your child’s teacher recommending that he get tested to tell you that.  Now, you have a diagnosis and nobody likes it, least of all you, but now you have it. 

You will probably have a variety of emotions now.  First, you may feel relief that at least you know something.  You may feel guilty that you feel that relief, as if you want your child to be ADHD.  Of course you don’t, everybody knows that, but you do breathe a quiet sigh of relief that at least you weren’t crazy when you had worries.  Then, hard on the heels of both those conflicting emotions, comes the thought that you don’t really believe it.

Everybody seems to have some sort of ADD these days, right?  It’s just a label that teachers slap on a child that they are having trouble with in class to excuse their own frustrations.  So, maybe your child is just spirited, bored, or so intelligent that he wants to get up and get on with more than he is being offered.  And, in fact, it could be that all that is true.

So, how should a parent react when faced with that diagnosis?  There seems to be a pattern to any diagnosis of a child that parents go through.  If you are wise and patient with yourself and others, you will take a deep breath and not go off too far one way or another.

* Be realistic.  If you have had suspicions about your child’s activity level, then get real with yourself and don’t think he is the target of a witch hunt.  Give the teacher/doctor the benefit of the doubt.  That does not mean that you need to accept everything at face value without question.  But don’t just throw it out the window, either.

* Ask questions.  Pin down exactly what the diagnosis is saying about your particular child.  Find out how the diagnosis was arrived at, how your child rated in relation to other ADHD populations.  There is a vast spectrum of conditions.  You will need to sit down and see your child’s chart, read it over and ask questions again and again until you are satisfied that you understand what the diagnosis actually says.

* Talk to a trusted doctor.  If you feel uneasy about the testing process, find a doctor that you trust.  This may not be easy.  Talk to family members who have their own physicians that they have known a long time and who they like.  Do research for doctors in your area who are highly regarded in this field.  Armed with your child’s chart and your knowledge of his new diagnosis, you can go get a second opinion.

* If the diagnosis is to your satisfaction, don’t get floored by it.  Some of the brightest, most successful people in the world have ADHD or a diagnosis much more dire.  Make up your mind that now you can get busy making both you and your child’s lives more comfortable.

* Do more research about ADHD itself.  There is a wealth of information on the web and other sources about it.  It will take some time to sort it all out, but allow yourself to be guided by your child’s physician as to the best and most reliable sources of information.  You will need to be an advocate for your child; be armed with all the knowledge you can.

* Consider talking to other parents who have had the same experience.  Your doctor can also guide you on this, or there are many websites that deal with support groups.  Becoming connected via the internet with parents even on the other side of the country can be a great comfort and asset.  Pick their brains, voice your concerns and frustrations.  They have been there; they can relate on your level.

* Don’t balk too much at the drugs.  There has been much made of how prescription drugs turn kids into zombies and alter their personalities.  That may be true when the drug is not the right one for that child, but there are a myriad of medicines that can be tried.  It will be trial and error for awhile.  But, when the right meds are found, you will be astonished at how much better your child will feel.   Ask your doctor, also, about the possibility of someday in the future tapering off the meds and see how your child does.  This may be several years in the future, but it does happen as the child learns to manage his particular type of ADHD.

Above all, keep in mind that your child is still the same lovable rascal he was before you got the diagnosis.  Keep in mind that ADHD is a very visible disorder that is getting a lot of attention in the medical world and being able to be coped with better and better all the time.  It is not as black as you may think it is.

And you and your child are just the type who can do great things with it.