Okay so you have just gotten the diagnosis for your child of ADD or ADHD. And you are still in shock wondering what it all means and what you can now do to help your child. The period of time after the diagnosis can be one filled with confusion and worry. I am going to give you some suggestions of what to focus upon so that this time will not be so emotionally overwhelming for you.
- It is good to keep in mind that this is the same child you knew before the diagnosis. Nothing has changed except now you may have a greater understanding of why your child behaves the way he or she does. More than this understanding is the fact that you can now get specific help to treat your child's symptoms of ADHD.
- There is a great focus upon early intervention and help for younger children who have ADHD. But what should be kept in mind is that you are in this for the long haul. I know when my son was diagnosed with autism and a developmental delay I sunk every bit of my energy into treatments, therapies, and help for him when he was young. I am glad that I did. However, I do wish I had spent more time just being a mom and enjoying him. According to a 2007 Washington Post article entitled, "Will Kids Outgrow ADHD?" it seems a majority of children who have ADHD will still have symptoms when they reach adulthood: "While a lot of people with ADHD do improve with age, as many as two-thirds still have symptoms of the disorder which persist into adulthood..."
So it is imperative to keep in mind that you will always be a parent to your child no matter how old they get. Try not to get burned out early on in attempts to "cure" your child of his or her ADHD.
- You will need support. On the National level there is CHAD which stands for Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Just follow this link to their web site. Of course there are also live support groups which you can look for in your geographic area. Here is the link to find CHAD local chapters. In addition to this site there are also a good many on-line support groups for either parents who have children with ADHD or for those who have this disorder themselves. Here is a link to a big list of such support groups. A support group can be invaluable to hear from people who share the same experiences and to realize that you are not alone in this.
- You will want to set up a communication system between all parties involved in the treatment of your child. Your treatment team may include your child's pediatrician, teachers, therapists, and any other type of educational or therapeutic consultants. It is important that everyone is on the same page as far as what treatments or strategies should be employed such as behavioral programs, medications, supplements, or dietary interventions.
- You may be overwhelmed with information after the diagnosis. Try to take in only what you can. There is only so much that you will be able to do at one time. The two most prevalent forms of treatment for ADHD are medications and/or behavioral and cognitive therapies. I believe we can break this down into even broader categories of how to help your child's body and mind. Remember that what works for one person may not work for another. Look to reputable research to guide you in making choices about treatment. There are a lot of quack cures out there and people who wish to part you from your money. If it seems to good to be true then it probably is. Choose methods and treatments which are do-able. If you will not be able to consistently provide the chosen therapy or treatment then it will not be effective.
- It may seem like common sense to say but take time out for you. You will want to help your child to the best of your abilities but it is very easy to become so consumed with caretaking that you forget your own needs. As I stated earlier you are in this for the long haul. If you have ever flown on an airplane you may remember what they say about the oxygen masks. Parents are to use them before children so that parents can be there to help their kids. You will need breaks from your parenting duties. Find a trusted babysitter or helper to watch your child so you can get out for awhile. Having a child who has behavioral issues can be tough on a marriage. It is very important that you make time to be alone with your spouse so that you can both rejuvenate.
- My last bit of advice is to take the time to just have fun with your child. Forget about the label of ADHD and how to fix things and just enjoy some time together. Get to know your child and accept them for who they are. Try to find humor in the tough times. I believe a family who can laugh together can also weather the bad times together.
I hope this list was helpful and if you all have something to share or to add to these suggestions we would love to hear from you!
Published On: July 20, 2009