You just got the news you were dreading for a while now: your child was diagnosed with ADHD! This is the moment every parent fears; the moment when they learn that their precious child suffers from a disorder or a syndrome, a problem that will forever mark them as being ‘special’.
ADHD is also known as the attention deficit disorder and it manifests in hyperactivity, and the impossibility to control certain impulses. It can also show up as a lack of focus and, according to specialists, it is more common in boys than girls.
The problem with ADHD is that, even though doctors, scientists, and people of good education all over the world recognize it as a mental disorder and recommend treatment for it, many people only see it as a behavior problem that can be controlled through good parenting. So, whenever your kid will throw a tantrum because he/she can’t control themselves, even the people you love and respect will have the well-known comeback ‘that kid needs more discipline’ or ‘can’t you control him?’.
Words like these hurt especially when they come from people you respect and you thought knew you and your parenting techniques. But your main and first concern is to understand the world your child is living in. ADHD can be controlled with medication, but it will still put a mark on your kid’s social life. Of course, there are ways to help your child in school or to function in society and improve their condition as they grow older and become adults, but you should also learn how to cope with ADHD as parents.
It Doesn’t Go Away
Many parents struggle with the idea at first and hope that the lack of focus and behavior commotions are all part of being a kid, and that they will go away in time.
Sadly, this disorder is not an infection you can simply treat and move on with your life. It is a condition that will be with your kid for the rest of their life and you have to address it by talking to specialists and opening your mind to a new type of parenting.
ADHD affects your child’s relationship with siblings and friends, it affects their learning capabilities, and they often are impulsive which leads to dangerous situations. All these situations are created because the brain is not capable of processing these situations normally – in conclusion your child is not physically capable of getting better without help. Furthermore, the disorder continues in the adulthood and usually shows up in the inability to keep a job or establish a serious relationship, run-ins with the law, and behavior that is usually attributed to undisciplined kids.
While talking to specialists that can help your child is mandatory, you should also look for support and people who can help you cope with the situation.
There are online and offline support groups, therapists, and people who can show you the way to a better life for you and your child, and you should take advantage of these opportunities.
There is Treatment
Pediatricians should be able to give you some form of medication that will help keep the erratic behavior under control, but there is no cure for ADHD. This means that, without treatment, your child will lose control and focus, so they will have to be under medication their entire life.
However, with a good treatment plan, your child can be happy and healthy. Still, you, as a parent, have a very important role in your child’s future (even more important than you first thought) as you will have to explain their special situation and make them understand the necessity of a long-term treatment.
While medication can be effective, many parents worry about the side effects treatment will have on the body of a very young child. And they are completely in the right to think about this! Even the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend treatment before the age of 6, and many specialists recognize that behavior therapy can be extremely helpful. Not to mention, there are studies (however few) that prove treatment becomes ineffective on long-term.
According to Richard Gallagher, PhD, of the Institute for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity and Behavior Disorders at the NYU Child Study Center, a combination of treatment and therapy is the best approach, especially of ADHD doesn’t manifest with hyperactivity and impulsivity.
Behavior therapy works best when it’s based ona reward system and the child is being praised for his/her achievements. For instance, if they sit at the dinner table with the entire family, without being disruptive, for 10 minutes, they get a reward. It’s also useful to find a school or an education establishment where teachers are used to dealing with ADHD.
Other solutions include a healthy diet based on Omega-3 fatty acids, low-sugar foods, and zinc, combined with brain training techniques. Exercise and time spent outside also proved helpful because they lead to the release of endorphins that reduce hyperactivity and make you feel happy and content.
Specialists believe it’s best to keep your options wide open because each child is different. There is no guarantee that a certain medication treatment will work as there is no guarantee behavioral therapy will be as effective as parents hope. However, when you try different approaches and combine a healthy diet with exercise and various training therapies, the result may be a lot more positive.
A Few Final Words
ADHD is a scary diagnosis, but once you have the confirmation, there is no use in fighting it. It’s important to accept it in your life and make sure you don’t let your child feel your troubles (they are already going through so much!).
The situation can get better in time, but the only way to go through it is with love, patience, and an open mind. As parents, you must present a united front and conquer this problem as a strong family – this is the only way to move forward and enjoy the happiness of your kids!
Rachel is a mom of 7 and the owner of Parenting Pod. Rachel has a Bachelors degree in Applied Science and Engineering and has contributed her expertise to information pieces such as the “How Car Seats Work” visual.