Parents of children with ADHD will understand when I talk about the stares you might receive, the whispered comments or the outright glares when your child acts in an inappropriate way in a public place. Most of us will have one particular memory that has stuck with us. One horrible day when someone said something so hurtful, the pain stayed with you. One day when your child did something impulsively and all eyes turned toward you, as you stood there red-faced. Mine was the day my son stopped the escalator in a crowded mall. He hit the red "emergency" button as we walked by and everyone on the escalator jerked to a stop. I couldn't move from the spot and everyone turned around and looked as my son announced loudly what he had done. I was mortified. Now, twenty years later, I can still feel all those eyes upon me, but, luckily, I now laugh at the incident.
Many times these incidents happen in stores or in restaurants and, as embarrassing as they may be, we will never see these people again. But what happens when the comments and the cruel looks come from your child's classmates' parents, people you must see every day and at times, interact with? Comments might indicate that your children are not disciplined properly or maybe comments are about how the medications for ADHD are never good. Maybe these other parents feel that ADHD is used as an excuse for being lazy or just a way of blaming something for the mistakes made in life.
Every day parents of children with ADHD face discrimination just like this and are not sure how to react, sometimes acting out of anger, sometimes shrinking away, not wanting a confrontation or simply too embarrassed to address the issue. No matter how you react, the truth is, when you are treated this way you may feel guilty and be filled with self-doubt.
One of the best ways to deal with feelings of guilt and self-doubt is to educate yourself. ADHD is not a result of bad parenting. ADHD is a real medical diagnosis. And, although ADHD is not an excuse for bad behavior, it can help to explain certain behaviors. The characteristics of ADHD can make people appear to be lazy or uncaring but that is not true. The more you learn about ADHD, the more you educate yourself, the more you will feel positive and guilt-free about your own parenting skills.
Another way of combating those with out any true knowledge of ADHD is by ignoring them. Reach out instead, to other parents in your child's school that may be going through the same thing as you. Send a message home to other parents to try to form a support group. If you cannot find other parent's willing to help create a support group in your area, check on the CHADD or ADDA sites to find out if there may be an existing group in your area or nearby you can join.
Learn about your child's rights. There are two main laws that may protect your child's rights in school. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 can help to provide extra services, accommodations or modifications to help your child succeed in school.
Although no amount of knowledge can take away the pain of someone saying something hurtful to you or your child, reaching out to others, learning about ADHD and knowing that you are doing the right thing can help you to cope.
Published On: January 19, 2009