There is no shortage of opinions or information when it comes to the hot topic of Attention-Defecit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. In fact, there is an emormous amount of false information regarding the disorder. The CDC identifies ADHD as a neurodevelopmental disorder, and is listed as being one of the most common in children. What it isn’t is poor parenting, lack of discipline, laziness or sugar consumption. My son was 17-years-old before he was officially diagnosed with ADHD. While it had always been a concern, we didn’t seek out professional help until late in his childhood. Here are things I wish I knew about ADHD as a Mom.
To Follow My Gut
In the beginning, his grades didn’t suffer. Certainly we had teachers who sited his inability to sit still, impulsive behavior and difficulty turning assignments in as factors in his learning. But we also had teachers who reveled in his energy, loved his creativity and enjoyed his humor. So deciding to pursue a diagnosis was challenging, because no one could come to consensus. Doctors, teachers and coaches all had differing opinions and we didn’t feel as though we knew enough to make the right decision. I continued to advocate for him on my own until it was clear we needed more help. Unfortunatley, by then there had been a lot of damage done to his love of learning and self-confidence. I wish I had listened more closely to what being his momma had taught me, instead of who I thought the experts were.
You Have a Choice
Did you know that it is estimated that a child with ADHD hears 20,000 more negative comments than their peers before the age of ten? Early intervention can decrease that number–and I’m not just talking about medication. Knowledge is power. The fact of the matter, the only difference in having a diagnosis or not was what treatment options opened up to us. We were already living with impulsivity, lack of focus, reckless behavior and an absolute inabiity to sit still. My son was already living with the shame that comes with the challeges ADHD presents, and people’s reactions to them. If I could go back now, I would tell myself seeking a diagnosis did not marry us to any plan of treatment.
Don’t Be Afraid of ADHD
My son has an enviable ability to hyper-focus when it’s something that has strongly caught his attention. His fast-thinking, need-to-move brain helped him become one of the best lacrosse players in the state. ADHDers are sometimes found to have highly creative minds. My boy read music before he read words and has been playing guitar, singing and writing songs since. While the lack of focus, impulsivity and reckless behavior (he broke 18 bones in his first 18 years) were detrimental in a lot of ways, ADHD is a part of who he is. Scientists now believe that genetics play an important role in the causative factors of ADHD. It is literally a part of his DNA, and I wouldn’t change who he is for all the unfinished English papers in the world. All of us have challenges to endure. Follow your gut, you have choices, don’t be afraid.
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