Receiving an ADHD diagnosis for your child can be very worrisome.
- What does it mean?
- Who do I talk to?
- How long will this last?
- Do I medicate?
- How should I handle academic issues?
- What accommodations are available at school?
- How can I support my child at home?
- Should I change their diet?
- Should I try supplements?
The earlier you address your child's challenges, the faster you can thwart feelings of underachievement and poor self-esteem. In other words, early intervention holds the key to positive outcomes for your child.
Currently, there is no cure, but you CAN take steps to decrease its impact.
Unfortunately, most doctors get a total of 15 minutes of ADHD training in medical school. Unless your child's teacher has specific training for ADHD or learning disabilities, they don't necessarily have the answers you need. This leads many parents to feelings of worry and frustration and isolation.
Once your child has reached Middle School, there is a much greater demand placed on their need for executive functions; planning, organizing, and time management to name a few. Impaired executive functions, combined with the fact that the ADHD adolescent's brain can be 3 to 5 years delayed developmentally, means that your child will need academic and emotional support in order to flourish.
Adolescence is such a difficult time for all involved, but when you add the ADHD component, it's really a double whammy. As if puberty is not enough of a challenge! That said, with the following support kids with ADHD can thrive and succeed.
- A supportive family
- Effective academic strategies
- Team of educational professionals
- A Dr. or psychotherapist (or both) that specializes in ADHD
A s a trained ADHD coach, I can help you find many of these answers, and support you in your search for solutions for your child and your family.
What can you do now to find answers and put the support structure in place for your child?
- Start to educate yourself. My links and resources page will provide you with an incredible array of websites to explore. To begin to understand the impact of executive dysfunction, your child may have challenges with:
- Impulse control
- Emotional control
- Working memory
- Planning and prioritization
- Task initiation
Before you despair, there are many positive character traits that accompany an ADHD diagnosis. Your child is likely to be quite bright, innovative, creative, a curious learner, hardworking, intuitive, ethical, enthusiastic, inquisitive and imaginative.
- Schedule a comprehensive assessment including medical, educational and psychological evaluations. There is always a possibility that this isn't ADHD. Could it be a medical condition that needs a different type of intervention...? Or even a food allergy, sleep deprivation, or toxic reaction?
- Where to find this assessment depends on the resources in your community. In some places you can get this through your public school system. You can also get a referral from your Primary Care Physician. Ask for a mental health clinician that is well versed in ADHD, such as a child psychologist. Chadd.org offers a list of resources for your particular state.
- Speak with your doctor and/or psychologist about the benefits of medication once you have a diagnosis. Remember to ask about side effects and know that it can take many months to choose the right medication (or combination of) at the right dose.
- Learn about your child's educational rights. Ask for a meeting at school. Your child's team should include the principal's designee, a special educator, and a classroom teacher that knows your child's challenges. You should also invite the school's psychologist, and the guidance counselor. It's important to bring any useful information that you have received from other professionals that you have consulted with. You are your child's best advocate and will work the hardest to protect their best interest, both academically, and socially. Become an active part of the team that determines what services and placements you child receives.
*Other parents are a great resource if they have been through this process. The educational system can present you with many hoops to jump through.
- Additude Magazine is a useful online resource that will guide you through all ADD/ADHD issues.
- Affinity determines Focus. Your child may struggle with lack of sustained focus. My guess is that your child can spend infinite hours on activities that they love. It's very important to help your child discover their strengths and passions. While increasing their opportunity to feel success, you will help them increase their sense of self-esteem and competence. It is their strengths that will help them navigate a path through their challenges.
- Volunteering their service is another great way to build a positive self-image. Their volunteer efforts will be appreciated and highly valued, which will in turn create a sense of pride and self-importance.
- Set up some "special time" that you spend with your child on a weekly basis. We live such a harried pace of life, that this simple effort of focusing on your child, truly listening to them, and spending harmonious time together will help fortify your child against self-doubt.
Dr Daniel Amen, a specialist in the field of ADHD, has some great suggestions in "Healing ADD".
Here are just a few:
- Be a good listener.
- Catch your child being good.
- Never discipline when you, the parent, is out of control.
- Work together as parents and support each other.
- Set clear goals for yourself and for your child and be clear about what you expect.
- See behavior as the problem to solve, rather than seeing your child as the problem.
Please check out my Links and Resources. You will find a great deal of information regarding how you can best support your child and help them thrive.
My personal training is through the ADD Coach Academy. ADDCA is an ICF and PAAC certified coaching program dedicated exclusively to training ADHD coaches. As a trained ADHD coach, I will bring knowledge, best practices, and experience to help you facilitate positive change, and move your family into a more cohesive and harmonious state of being.
If you're committed to creating a more fulfilling and satisfying life, contact me today for a FREE CONSULTATION.