The Secret Stress of Having a Child With ADHD
You remember back to the days when he was toddler. Friends and family laughed when you expressed worry. “He’s just an active boy,” they told you. Even your pediatrician seemed less than concerned. Call it mother’s intuition but somehow you knew he was somehow different.
You were, however, forced to suffer in silence, perhaps even your spouse blew it off. When the school years began his constant activity and talking finally began to receive notice.
You realize his young kindergarten teacher meant well when she implied that some redirection and structure at home would help him at school, as if she were suggesting that you were too permissive of a parent.
She gently suggested a referral for evaluation and alluded to the idea that your son may have ADHD. Sure enough, once an evaluation was completed, a diagnosis was confirmed. On some level, it was a relief, a validation that you were right. You anxiously awaited for someone to tell you what the ‘quick fix’ would be; over time it became clear, however, there would be none.
Over the next few years you and your spouse began a journey. There was therapy and medication. You quickly realized that finding the right medication seemed more like an art than a science.
At home there were star charts and rewards and a lot of structure, structure, structure. As parents, you and your spouse quickly learned how to help your son negotiate even the most mundane of situations such as going to the grocery store or out for a family dinner.
You learned to help your son capitalize on his strengths and talents.
Even so, there are continuous bumps in the road. He has trouble making and keeping friends. His ability to stay focused on one task is compromised along with his low tolerance for frustration. This often means temper tantrums or angry outbursts at the most inopportune times.
Homework completion is always a battle and although he now has a tutor you still dread the two hour war you must endure every night. You long for a break.
Some days you feel tired, alone, and frustrated.
Your friends acknowledge your son’s diagnosis but, because ADHD is seemingly so common and supposedly innocuous, very few of them really know what you go through day in, day out. At times it gets depressing.
Some days you lose it and then feel guilty about yelling. If you have other children you struggle with balancing your time and focus so that no one feels left out or ignored. You love your son but some days, you just wish you could run away.
According to the NIMH, 9% of children ages 13-18 are diagnosed with ADHD. Boys are three times more likely to be diagnosed than girls. The average age of onset is seven years old.
These days there is a lot of information available to parents and teachers regarding ADHD. Effective interventions have been researched and validated. Although information regarding intervention abounds, as a parent of an ADHD child, this does not dilute the daily struggles you may encounter in parenting your child.
Here are some hints on how to cope: