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ADHD is not as basic as people think it is. Let’s first start by letting it be known that ADHD is a real disorder. There are plenty of jokes out there surrounding the whole ADD/ADHD stigma. While often funny (squirrel), ultimately they are both very real behavioral conditions!
Does my child have ADHD? What does ADHD look like?
With ADHD comes impulsivity , lack of self control, extreme emotions, anxiety, inattentiveness. ADHD effects all aspects of a child’s life and it makes it very hard for them to self-regulate. Letting it go, ignoring it and writing it off as “just being a kid” will only cause more stress, chaos and harm to the child’s well being. It is entirely normal for a young child to be busy, impulsive, and impatient. That alone makes it hard to determine if and when you should have your child evaluated. I’m here to tell you, trust your mom instinct.
Everyone seems to have an opinion on discipline too. Comments like “whoop his ass” or “punish him”, get real old. They have no real idea of what it’s like to live with a child with such a disorder. It’s not as easy as spanking them or punishing them. Children with ADD & ADHD truly don’t understand why they do what they do. They don’t know how to “act right” even when being threatened with punishment or spankings. Some think an ADHD child’s behavior is caused by a lack of discipline, a chaotic family life, or even too much TV. This is never the case.
Attention, activity, and self-control develop little by little, as children grow. Kids learn these skills with help from parents and teachers. But some kids don’t get much better at paying attention, settling down, listening, or waiting. When these things continue and begin to cause problems at school, home, and with friends, it may be ADHD.
When is it time to have your child evaluated for ADHD?
Does my child have ADHD? First and foremost, trust your gut. If you think there might be a chance there is something going on with your child, don’t wait, talk to your pediatrician as soon as possible. You might not know all the signs to look for but talking to someone about it will help you understand what to look for. Do not allow people to convince you that they are just being a kid. That doesn’t apply to everyone. Children with mental and behavioral health issues are not typical little people. They are extra special, they deserve to be diagnosed properly instead of brushed off as being a problem child.
If you see a prolonged pattern of behavior at home that is only getting worse, no matter what you do and there are problems at school, it’s time for the talk. If you have tried everything under the sun for discipline and every day your child wakes up not phased by what happened the day before, it’s time for the talk. Because you are so physically and emotionally drained from simple daily interactions with your troubled child, it’s time for the talk.
Early intervention holds the key to positive outcomes for your child. The earlier you address your child’s problems, the more likely you will be able to prevent school and social failure and associated problems such as underachievement and poor self-esteem that may lead to delinquency or drug and alcohol abuse.
What Causes ADHD?
- It’s not clear what causes the brain differences of ADHD. There’s strong evidence that ADHD is mostly inherited. Many kids who have ADHD have a parent or relative with it.
- ADHD is not caused by too much screen time, poor parenting, or eating too much sugar.
- ADHD can improve when kids get treatment, eat healthy food, get enough sleep and exercise, and have supportive parents who know how to respond to ADHD.
Where do I go from here?
Do not continue to waste your limited emotional energy by thinking this will all just go away. Once your suspicions are validated and you have a diagnosis, a whole new world will open up to you. You don’t have to do it alone! If your spouse is not on board or in denial, ignore them and advocate for your child! If you do not do something when they are little, it will only get worse.
The very best test (in my opinion and I’ve been through it with two of my kids) is the neuropsychological evaluation.
Neuropsychological evaluation is an assessment of how one’s brain functions, which indirectly yields information about the structural and functional integrity of your brain.
Talk to your pediatrician and mention this test, push for this test! If you need a referral, get one. Do your research first, but this test is going to give you the very best understanding of what is happening. This test will also uncover any learning disabilities your child may have that you are not aware of. Always remember, you are your child’s best advocate!
I’m personally a firm believer in therapy and counseling BEFORE medication when it comes to behavioral health. Explore all of your options. Take the recommendations made by the doctor and start immediately.
What’s the Difference between ADD & ADHD?
Technically, ADD is one of three subtypes of ADHD. The term ADD is still used by many parents and teachers. But since 1994, doctors have been calling it by its formal name: ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type. The other two subtypes are ADHD, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type; and ADHD, Combined Type, which involves both hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive symptoms. -Rayma Griffin, M.Ed.
Here are a few things you can do to get started:
- Join a Support Group
- Educate Yourself, Learn all you can
- Become your child’s advocate
- Seek Professional Help
Download this Parenting a Child With ADHD Fact Sheet
Most importantly, don’t give up. Remember you are not alone. Message me if you need to talk. We have recently been given the diagnosis of ADHD Combined with Anxiety for my 8 year old son. It’s been a very, very long and tiresome 8 years. I’ve been convinced since he was much younger that something was wrong and we finally have a diagnosis. My husband never wanted to accept it and he was not even thrilled about the testing. But now, my little dude starts counseling in two weeks and we are taking this on as a family. My in-laws live very close to us and we are getting them on board to help us manage so we are all on the same page.
If you are interested in a GREAT read from someone who has been through it, check out Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD.