Before the official diagnosis, there were signs and symptoms. Either hyperactivity, inattentiveness, impulsiveness or a combination of all three, amongst other noticeable behaviors. Many of us tried to wish them away and call it a phase, when deep down we knew our child was “not like the other children”.
I remember when my oldest was a toddler, she was smart, bright, and an all around great kid to be around. Two things she loved most was jumping and running. She would jump for 30-45 minutes, if allowed, and anytime there was open space she would take off running and never look back. Because of her outgoing personality the response was always “that is so cute” but the nagging feeling was always there, that this wasn’t “normal”. Fast forward to my second child, she was the complete opposite. She was very temperamental, cried a lot, and not as outgoing. Her behaviors were met with much criticism and she was often pushed away as “hard to deal with”. Eventually the behaviors escalated to extreme, unexplainable temper tantrums as she began daycare and has continued on into her school years. Both children were diagnosed with ADHD, however, the differences in their personalities dictated how well they were received by other adults and their peers.
After the diagnosis, came the medication, and after the medication came the side effects, mom guilt, and mom shaming disguised as “I would NEVER put my kids on medication!” or “Are you SURE they need that?” AND the never ending supply of have you tried....it worked for MY kid!” Just writing this makes me cringe, because as a young mother or a new mother of any age, you know you don’t have all the answers and kids don’t come with a manual. And all of the research, helpful tips and manuals about ADHD are unfortunately trial and error until you find what works for your child.
So the question on the table is, “my child has been diagnosed with ADHD, WHAT NOW?”
1. You start by understanding that this journey is completely unique to you and your child, however there are many that have traveled a similar and seemingly identical path.
2. Don’t be afraid to seek out support. Find support groups or other parents that are willing to listen.
3. Understand what ADHD is and what it is NOT. There is an even mix of misinformation and accurate information to choose from. Do your research and don‘t be afraid to ask questions.
4. As a parent you have the sole responsibility of making judgment calls for your child. Be secure in knowing that you will try your best to do what’s in the best interest of your child. We are not perfect, we are parents and that makes all the difference in the world.
5. There will be good days and bad days, it‘s inevitable. Stay thankful on the good days and remain hopeful on the bad days.
6. Love your child no matter what. They may seem unbothered, but there are so many things they feel that they can’t express.
7. Make self care a priority. Caregiver stress is real and if you are not at your best, you can’t do what’s best for your child.
8. Remember, you are your child’s biggest advocate. Champion for them at all times.
9. Know that your life will not always look like everyone else’s. Own it, and don’t let it discourage you!
10. Make the most of this ADHDventure, it is one WILD ride!