5 Things I’ve Learning About ADHD
Jumping into the world of ADHD has felt a little like falling down the rabbit hole and into Alice’s Wonderland. It really has been an eye-opening experience that has led to an increase of love, compassion, and understanding for my daughter and other children and adults with the disorder. Receiving the diagnosis was a bittersweet confirmation that the concerns we’ve been noticing over the years are real. Elle is still Elle, but the diagnosis allows us to know how to better help her achieve her dreams and be successful in the things that matter most to her.
There is so much information out there, it’s easy to fall into analysis paralysis. But I’ve also found the plentiful resources empowering. To chunk up what I’ve learned so far, I’d like to share the 5 things I wish I would have known about ADHD when we received the diagnosis.
1. The Signs and Symptoms
I thought ADHD was just about not being able to sit still. Or always getting sent to the principal’s office. I didn’t know the emotional and mental signs and symptoms of the disorder. There can be mood swings, frequent lying, lack of desire for personal hygiene, constant forgetfulness, and lowered executive functions.
2. Other Issues Typically Accompany ADHD
Depression and anxiety are some of the most common emotional companions to ADHD. From my research, a positive support group at home and a therapist can help with both of these issues.
Dyslexia, dysgraphia (trouble writing coherently), and dyscalculia (trouble with math) are some of the learning issues that can accompany ADHD. Seeking support from your child’s school or a one-on-one tutor can help with these issues.
3. Finding Your ADHD Tribe Makes a World of Difference
The negative stigma around ADHD can make it hard for you to be understood by other parents. When you talk about how homework is hard, other parents agree. But think about all the multi-steps instructions surrounding homework time, the organization required to find a pencil or eraser when you never leave it in the same place twice, or the time it takes to just do it. When you have a hard time staying focused (and avoiding inappropriate hyperfocus) a 20-question math worksheet can take an hour. Parents of ADHD kids can probably understand this situation easier because they know about splitting up periods of sitting with periods of movement or discovering your kid got distracted by their new library book and left the math worksheet only half done.
And then there’s medication. Elle isn’t on medication, but my perspective on ADHD medications has changed a ton since joining the ADHD Club. Before I truly learned about ADHD I reasoned medication was a sign that the kid and/or the parents weren’t trying “hard enough” to manage the ADHD. But now, I see medication like I see prescription glasses or contacts: an opportunity to get correction on what you absolutely cannot manage on your own. No matter how much I squint there isn’t any way I could drive without my glasses. For some ADHDers, no matter how much they “try” they wouldn’t be able to live the life they want without medication. Finding your ADHD tribe can help you feel at peace with whatever your treatment method is.
4. Managing ADHD Is a Full-time Job
Maintaining a fairly reliable routine is so important and so helpful. It’s also quite taxing to maintain. The need for reminders is endless and constant – at least for our situation. Some nights I go to bed so mentally exhausted I just scroll through Pinterest without even really registering what I’m looking at.
Using my calendar app on my phone, my paper planner, sticky notes, a whiteboard in the dining room area, and lots of washi tape to affix reminders around the house, I can usually keep up with it all. Other days I am so exhausted with all the reminders that I allow myself to take a break and just be ok with a less productive evening. Finding a balance between constant structure and teaching how to cope with spontaneity will take some more time to figure out.
5. There Are So Many Resources Available
There are websites, books, YouTube channels, and (when you’re ready to share) friends. Don’t be afraid to join that Facebook group, follow that ADHD blog, or check out that book on ADHD from the public library. I strongly believe knowledge is power and the more power you have, the more you can share with you child.
If you’re interested in learning more about Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD, please check out my other post chock-full of resources.