ADHD – New Parents Guide: What you need to know

Friends ask me all the time about my boys’ ADHD diagnosis and what I did to help them, and me, survive it. I thought I would write-up a blog post to help others along this path.

So your child just got the ADHD diagnosis…

For me, it was validation. I had known something was “off” with my child since birth. He was colicky as a baby, then a hyperactive toddler and preschooler who was no stranger with the timeout chair. He just kept repeating the same mistakes….like he couldn’t control himself. He couldn’t get along well with others and couldn’t follow basic directions. The biggest difference was that he didn’t seem like the other children. I wondered if he had ADHD, so when a teacher finally suggested we might get tested, I felt relief.

But after relief, I felt confusion and overwhelmed. What do I do now? Here are some things I wished I known and that helped us. (Disclaimer: Everyone is different, and these are things that helped us, but they might not be right for you.)

1. Medication Saved Us

For us, medication is the best answer. We have tried a lot of different ones, but really, everyone reacts differently, so what worked for us, might not work for you. It is a trial and error, but it really is worth it. I hate when people say meds are bad and their child is a zombie, because obviously, if this is happening to your child, it’s not the right meds. Just keep trying…it is worth it. Medication helped one son with his impulse control and the other with attention. One child was getting in trouble all the time — behavioral issues — and since medication, it has been much, much better. The other one, was pokey and inattentive, and his grades were on a downward spiral. That child is a straight A student now who was even tested for the Gifted Program, and enrolled in Honors classes.

2. Develop a Talent

For us, a psychologist didn’t seem to help so much. I really like the guy as a person, but I wasn’t sure if he was getting through to my son. I did learn one big lesson from him though. He said that the biggest thing for ADHD kids is to help them feel good about themselves, so they don’t have low self-esteem and wind up with the wrong kinds of kids. Everyone has talents and gifts, and it seems like ADHD kids have even more than the average bear. I think that is a way God helps keep it all balanced. One of my sons is an excellent builder and mechanical/technical engineer. He can fix anything. He is also a fast runner and good tackler in football. These have been skills that we try to encourage him to build, so he will find joy in life and feel good about himself. My other son has the voice of an angel. He’s great at singing and acting. We put him in plays and camps and whatever else he needs to develop his talents and build self-esteem. By doing this, they have friends with their same interests as well.

3. To-Do List, Chore Charts, Schedules

Organization doesn’t come easy to most ADHD people. Having a chore chart and to-do list has completely helped them both stay on tasks. We have lists for the morning before school, after school, and before bed. I usually laminate them and put them somewhere they prominent.

4. Social Skills Books & Lessons

 This was a big one for us. We found books on social skills at our local library and started doing nightly social skill lessons. What comes easy for most people, may not for your ADHD child. We learned about sharing, taking turns, eye contact, etc. The best books have a workbook or activity attached to the end of the lesson where the child can practice it the next day. These things we are still working on, but they have totally helped.

The last thing I wanted to mention is ADVICE from well-meaning friends whose kids do not have ADHD…..

So once a person knows your child has ADHD, they will probably tell you about a friend whose child stopped eating red dye, or gluten, or chicken, or fast food, etc., and how it helped their child. They will probably tell you it cured their child. Usually the person is a friend and well-meaning, but in reality, you have to take this with a grain of salt. I think people are so wanting a natural cure and explanation for something, that they search and search for something. I’ve found all of this exhausting. Now when some well-meaning person tells me about a natural cure, I smile, thank them for their help, and keep going. I’m not judging these people either, because I know it is coming from a good place, but I do know, that for us, it’s not going to change anything. Just like you wouldn’t deprive a cancer child or diabetes child from medicine, why would you deprive an ADHD child from medicine that is life-changing.