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.
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Family ADHD Coach Laureen