Could our child have ADHD? Might our son actually have ADHD?
“Why is my son’s lunch sitting beside the tooth paste in the bathroom and he has already left for school?”
“I told him to meet me outside the school at 3pm, why has he taken the bus home?”
“Why is the homework on the dining table? He told me that it was due yesterday?”
“What do you mean you can’t find your cleats, we just got them back from the lost and found…”
“Why is the fridge door open?”
Welcome to the world of living with a boy with ADHD.
Whilst I understand that many of these things are just normal things for boys (and some girls, sure!), the frequency and intensity at which these types of things occur when a child has ADHD, is at times unbelievable. Read this great article on A Day In The Life Of a Boy With ADHD.
Here’s another tough thing: often if you talk about this with your friends, they will invariably tell you that it’s all normal. That their boys are just the same. Take a chill pill. Someone even said this to me:
“You grew up with girls, you just don’t understand boys. Welcome to the world of boys!”
However, I just knew that something was not right.
And then there’s the guilt…
All the guilt for thinking that there was something wrong with my son. How could I have thought some of the things I did and said some of the things I said. I thought and said some horrible things for which I am not proud. But honestly, you’d have to be super-human to not think this way. It left me feeling guilty and it is something that I have had to work hard on to get over and put behind me.
One day however, things changed.
While speaking to a dear friend, who happens to be a counsellor, (and also knew my son fairly well) she said this:
“You know, why don’t you take him to see a Counsellor. Have him tested. Always trust your intuition as a mother. You know him better than anyone.”
TIP #1: Always trust your intuition:
You know your child better than anyone else. If you think there is something not quite right. Trust that.
I chose to first discuss this with the principal of the school my son attended. He got the ball rolling and had the teachers fill out a questionaire where-by the answers can reveal patterns particular to learning, attention, effort and focus.
Attention….. Effort…. Focus…..
These were words we had seen a lot of, way too much of… especially on report cards over the years:
“Needs to focus more in class.”
“He has to try and pay attention more.”
“Putting more effort into his work will help enormously.”
The consistent patterns revealed in the questionaires completed by the teachers led us to the decision to have our son assessed by a Child Psychologist and him undergoing a Psychological Educational Assessment (PEA).
TIP #2: Find the right person to do the PEA
Speak to friends, ask around and get some information on who might be a good fit for your child to take the PEA with. I found a Psychologist who only deals with kids, many of whom were boys with ADHD. He was highly experienced, personable, down to earth and easy to chat to. I think that it is incredibly important and valuable that your child can relate to the person doing the tests and the person doing the tests can relate to your child. You will either get a good feel for this person or not. Trust this. Again, you will know when you have found the right person.
For those of you reading this who have had your child assessed, you know that it is a big deal. Like six, one to one and a half hour appointments over the course of a few weeks. This is a lot of time to spend with one person so it is highly beneficial for your child to at least vaguely think that this person is okay! My son thought that his Psychologist was a highly cool, interesting and awesome guy. With hindsight, a huge bonus, hence tip #2.
The wait for the results and feedback with the counsellor seemed like forever. All sorts of things went through my mind: from doubt to knowing. From fear to peace of mind. From a desire to be proved right to wanting to be wrong. It’s hard. It’s a highly emotional time for parents.
My intuition was right. Intuition is after all, seldom wrong.
Could our child have ADHD? Yes, our son had ADHD.
As much as it was a relief, seeing the letters was a bit of a shock. What now?
I felt sorry for him. But I had to put this behind me. And Fast. The last thing I wanted was for him to feel sorry for himself. I knew that this would not be a good start. Sure, it was a relief to have good reason for the behaviour that had got us here in the first place. And the validation for thinking that there was something wrong did feel good. But I also had to change my perspective from believing that there was something “wrong” with my son.
The conclusion I have now come to is this: There is nothing wrong with having ADHD. Nothing wrong at all. And this “thinking that there is something wrong with having ADHD” is the exact mind-set that we have to put behind us if we are to stand a chance of destigmatizing ADHD and seeing some of the gifts that it actually can present. But it is hard.
TIP #3: Get yourself a copy of the book The Gift Of ADHD by Lara Honos-Webb PH.D
Help yourself understand that having a child with ADHD is not the end of the world and that there are some amazing things that will be revealed to you by viewing it this through this particular, rosy lens.
I am so thankful for the parent coaching training I have and all the work experience that I have gained from working with parents as it has definitely equipped me well for dealing with this. Not only for how to guide and usher my son on his path but also in finding a way to tell him that he had ADHD in a way that mitigated him being over-whelmed and fearful about it all. More importantly, I had developed the skills as to how to handle myself and support myself and all the emotions I felt and was going through and be the parent he needed and needs me to be.
My son took the news incredibly well, in fact, so well, that he chose to do his Grade 9 Masterworks project on ADHD. He spent a year working on it and not only nailed his project but gained tremendous insight and information on ADHD and how to best manage it. His Psychologist ended up being his lead project advisor for the year!
If you want to hear it, as it is, from the mouth of babes, I highly recommend you to watch it:
Thankfully, in this digital age, there is no shortage of information on ADHD, for parents and for kids and there are now better support systems for the kids who have it, both in the schools and in the medical system.
In all of the support I offer here, it is not my aim to turn my writings into more information on ADHD. There is enough of that out there, just ask siri or google!
There is a lot of information regarding what you can do to help your child so I want to give you something different.
Something that I do not feel there is enough information about and parents do not understand the importance of is this:
Support for YOU.
TIP #4: Seek support for yourself:
With support you will be better equipped to handle the symptoms of ADHD in a way to not damage the connection and relationship you have with your son AND establish a way in which to parent him that builds his self-esteem – HUGE and not to be under-estimated. I have spoken to many boys with ADHD and almost all of them struggle with low self-esteem:
“Mom, I am such a loser. I can never remember anything. Why is it always me who forgets, or is late, or can’t focus and pay attention. I hate myself.” – was so hard for me to hear.
Parents need help and they need support.
As a parent of a son with ADHD, I know only too well how hard it is and what a toll it can have on families and the relationship and connection we have with our children. Parenting is hard enough without the added challenge of a medical diagnosis on top of everything else:
- Finding more patience when you are at the end of your tether with your son is hard – I know only too well
- Being compassionate and not getting frustrated or showing your frustration with them for having forgotten something for the 50th time – incredibly difficult
- Not judging them for being the way they are, is, at times, next to impossible
If we want to parent our child who has ADHD in a way to deeply meet their needs and not screw it up, for them or for us, and for the relationship, these are some of the things we have to learn to deal with and need support in doing.
I strongly believe that parents need as much support if not more support than the kids if they hope to find themselves in a position where they are really able to and going to help their child manage this condition well.
I spoke with a mom recently who shared her story with me and I am sharing her story here because I believe that it is in the sharing of our stories that there is such valuable learning. And not only learning, but helping us feel that we are not alone. So very important. I think that we can all learn from each other. She had so much wisdom and advice for moms who have sons with ADHD and she is happy for me to share it with you.
I have found that the parents who find and get the support they need, and meet their needs, have children who learn to thrive with their ADHD and work with it rather than resist it. They thrive, not just survive.
I consider myself lucky. My son does not see his ADHD as something to be embarrassed about. Is this due to me, my background, his temperament, his spirit, my husband, his siblings, his friends, our crazy Bengal cats (!!)? I don’t know. Probably a bit of everything.
TIP#5: Try to shift your perspective of ADHD:
Instead see it as a hindrance rather than an asset. When you fully understand the intricacies and nuances associated with ADHD, you will begin to see the GIFTS that it can present to a child with it.
In the work I do and with the training I have, I know exactly what I have to do in order to make sure that I can manage myself, control my frustrations and emotions so as to not strip my son of his self-esteem in the process of parenting him. Trust me. This is HUGE. I highly recommend that you read the blog post I wrote about this. It is titled: 7 Essential Steps To Support YOU To Support Your Child. It is quite possibly one of the most important things you can do for your child. I made the mistakes, have learned many things and share this with you in the hope that you can avoid this.
I am hoping that in me sharing my story will serve you in many ways. To help you feel that it is not just you, you are not alone. That you learn something from me. And that you feel heard, seen, validated and supported.
Do you have a friend who has a child with ADHD? Please feel free to share this blog post with them.
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PS. If you’d prefer to listen to this on a podcast, tune in to my new Anchor Podcast – Parenting In The Thick Of It
Other blog posts on ADHD that you might find helpful:
Helen’s Story – The Vital Piece Over-Looked By Parents When Parenting A Child With ADHD Learn from Helen, she shares some amazing things which will help you
The Gift Of ADHD – In this blog post, I share with you the 5 gifts of ADHD and how you can change your perspective to see it as an asset over a hindrance
FREE Download: Help Your Child Thrive With ADHD (under ADHD Tab)