Family ADHD Life Coach

Lets Talk ADHD…

There are many misconceptions of ADHD in the world. A person who is newly diagnosed or a parent who has a child diagnosed must sort out what is truth and what is misguided information. This can be very overwhelming! There are many reliable sources to gather information from and I will list a few at the end of this blog.

Lets start with ADD vs ADHD. It use to be that medical professionals distinguished hyperactivity by using ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). ADD was then used to describe those who did not have the hyperactive component. Now, however, professionals use the term “ADHD” to cover all ADHD types.

There are 3 types of ADHD which are used to classify where people fit in the ADHD world.

  1. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive: This is the type most often noticed by teachers in the early years of school, but not exclusive to children. These children squirm in their seats, often act like they are “driven by a motor”, fidget, talk a lot, interrupt others, struggle with self control and blurt out answers. This type is more common in children and men according to ADDitude magazine.
  2. Predominantly Inattentive: Formerly known as ADD. Kids with this type of ADHD often are not diagnosed as quickly. They are daydreamers, easily distracted, and may come across as shy. They are not disruptive in class as they have less struggle with impulsivity and hyperactivity. They do however make careless mistakes because they have difficulty paying attention to detail, and organizing tasks and activities. This is more common in women and girls. (ADDitude Magazine)
  3. Combined: These people present with both of the above characteristics. Kids/Adults with this type of ADHD have difficulty with hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention. Typically, as these kids mature they have less difficulty with hyperactivity and impulse control according to Understood.org. I believe often the hyperactivity/impulse control is still there but they have learned to manage it through exercise and other strategies.

Boys and girls, regardless of the type of ADHD, tend to be diagnosed at different ages. Typically boys are diagnosed at a younger age, around age seven. Girls on the other hand are usually not diagnosed until the age of twelve. According to Dr. Kathleen Nadeau, “girls are less rebellious, less defiant, generally less ‘difficult’ than boys. They’re socialized to please teachers and parents making ADHD harder to spot”. Boys are twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD whereas girls are often overlooked because they don’t act up as much.

My son was not a “bouncing off the walls” type of child so when he was diagnosed with combined I was surprised. He was active but not in the way I thought hyperactivity played out! My son fidgets alot. You will find him picking at things, tapping, twirling pencils and occasionally he just can’t sit. In preschool he would sit on his mat… and twirl around on his bottom like a top! He knew enough to stay seated though! These are all components of the hyperactivity portion of ADHD. What helps him? Physical activity is a must! It is getting harder in his teen years to just go outside and play but he does well shoveling the snow or mowing the lawn. He also can be found often with an elastic on his wrist that he plays with when he has to sit.

Here are a few of my go to resources when I am looking for reliable information on ADHD. This is not an exhaustive list by any means!

Family ADHD Coach Laureen

My child’s been diagnosed with ADHD, Now what?

There can be many questions and emotions involved when a child is diagnosed with ADHD. Questions such as

  • “What does this mean”
  • “What is ADHD?”
  • “Do we have to medicate?”
  • “Was it something we did?”

There are emotions such as fear, sadness, anxiousness, surprise, and disappointment. These are all real and they are all normal. They are all questions and emotions we had as a family as well. Occasionally they still rise to the surface as this journey of ADHD discovery never really ends!

Our son was first diagnosed when he was in grade 2. I had worked with ADHD children in the past and so I had some knowledge but experience working with children is much different than when it is your own child! My husband had limited knowledge of ADHD and was taken back a bit by this diagnosis. I remember sitting watching my son as he played with toys and listened as the pediatrician spoke to him. The “responsible mom” wanted to have him stop what he was doing and look the pediatrician in the eye. As the pediatrician explained to my son how is brain was like a Ferrari with bicycle brakes, I remember wondering what this was going to mean, asking myself “why him? why us?” Even though I knew this was not the worst thing in the world I was still sad, disappointed, and afraid.

So what’s a mom (or dad) to do?!
First of all, know that all of you will be okay! You will get through this. You are stronger than you think or feel at the moment.

Second, let yourself feel all of your emotions. When we become parents, whether we mean to or not, we have certain expectations of what our child may be like. We expect a normalcy, though now I know there are many variations of normal! Let yourself grieve. Some may not understand this but many of you will. When we discover that our children are wired differently there is a sense of loss. Give yourself permission to feel that grief and work through it.

Thirdly, learn about ADHD but more importantly learn who your child is. Every ADHD person is different. Each with their own struggles and gifts just like the rest of the people out there. ADHD people have certain struggles that make many parts of life more difficult. Learn what those are for your child and give them extra support in those areas.

And finally, this is a journey of discovery. This is not a race for information or a mentality of fixing your child. You will need extra patience, gentleness, understanding. Take it a day at a time. Go easy on yourself and your child, find your tribe that understands you, AND PRACTICE SELF CARE.

Seven years ago we knowingly started this journey. It has been hard. There have been tears, realizing my son eats lunch and plays at recess alone, or hearing how he “takes a temperature test” to see if kids are able to have him around. There has been anxiety and fear, wondering how he will learn to fit into the expectations of school, hoping his new teacher will have patience for him. BUT there has been joy, happy tears, and much success as I see him comfort a younger child on the playground, or include others because he knows what it feels like to be left out. I never would have thought this journey would have taught me so much. Not only on what ADHD is but on my child’s unique outlook of life, and on who I am as a person and an ADHD mom.

To find more people in the same tribe follow me on IG @familyadhdcoach and FB @adhdcoachlaureen

Family ADHD Coach Laureen