If Your Child Is Newly Diagnosed With ADHD
If your child has just been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you may be feeling a mixture of emotions. You may also have a lot of questions and be unsure of the next steps to take to move forward. It can all feel a bit overwhelming! Here are six things that are helpful to know as your family begins the journey in learning more about ADHD and how to best manage it.
1. ADHD is a Neurobiological Condition That May Be Caused By a Number of Risk Factors, Including a Child Having an Inherited Genetic Predisposition to ADHD
ADHD has a strong genetic component. In other words, it tends to run in families. Research suggests that ADHD is linked to differences in brain development and a deficiency in certain brain chemicals (most notably, the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine) that regulate the efficiency with which our brain helps us to inhibit behavior, sustain attention, and control mood.
ADHD is not the result of poor parenting or a lack of discipline at home. It is not caused by eating too much sugar or watching too much television. It is important to understand the neurobiological factors that contribute to ADHD. With this understanding, there is often a great burden lifted from parents who may find themselves bogged down and stuck in feelings of guilt or shame, trying to figure out what they could have done differently to prevent ADHD.
2. Learning About ADHD and How It Affects Your Child and Family Is a Process That Takes Time
ADHD is a complex and chronic condition that can present very differently from child to child, with new challenges arising as a child ages, and with symptoms that can be expressed in changing ways as the child moves through different developmental stages, elementary school, middle school, high school, college, and beyond into adulthood, work, marriage, and parenting. Actively work to educate yourself, your child, and your family about ADHD. Make sure that your child is an active participant in his or her treatment planning. Encourage questions. Talk openly about ADHD. Keep a solution-focused outlook.
3. Be a Strong Advocate for Your Child and Teach Your Child These Important Self-Advocacy Skills
It is important for your child to have an accurate understanding of his or her areas of weakness, why certain struggles occur, and what strategies are most helpful in minimizing these difficulties. Teach your child early on so that he or she is better able to work on finding effective solutions, asking for help when needed, and advocating for oneself. With these self-advocacy skills, your child will be better able to be clear, assertive, and proactive in getting resources and accommodations in place as needed throughout his or her life to minimize areas of weakness and allow areas of strength to develop, grow, and shine. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the ADHD-related impairments, but it is just as important to help your child identify and understand his or her wonderful strengths and to create opportunities for success, both large and small.