When you find out that your child has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), many parents might not know what to do or how to handle this situation. For parents, educating yourself about ADHD is key to helping your child live a full, happy and healthy life with an ADHD diagnosis. Here’s what parents should know about having a child with ADHD:
- It’s normal for parents to feel overwhelmed at first
Parents who find out that their son or daughter has been diagnosed with ADHD often go through the classic stages of grief, which include denial, depression, guilt and anger. Many parents feel overwhelmed or don’t know what steps to take. At the same time, an ADHD diagnosis for your child can feel like a relief for parents who have spent months (or even years) trying to deal with their child’s unexplained moods or behaviors.
However parents first react when they find out their child has ADHD, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Your child’s school counselor, a behavioral therapist and other parents with children with ADHD are all on hand to help you deal with your child’s ADHD diagnosis. There are also national ADHD resources and local support groups for parents with a child who has ADHD.
- Be proactive in learning about ADHD and how it affects your child
Many parents who have a child with ADHD will recommend that parents with a newly-diagnosed child take things one step at a time. Visit your child’s pediatrician, talk to the school counselor and research the right behavioral therapist that might be able to help your child handle their ADHD.
Also, parents should educate themselves about the condition. Read up on the signs and symptoms of ADHD, write down questions you have for your pediatrician or therapist, and talk to other parents about their experiences in dealing with a child who has ADHD.
- Explore different treatment options for ADHD
Not all children with ADHD act or behave the same way. Boys with ADHD might appear more hyperactive, while girls with ADHD might daydream or seem more forgetful. Age can also be a factor in how ADHD presents itself. A four-year-old with ADHD might act very differently than an 11-year-old with the same condition.
While there is no “cure” for ADHD, there are a variety of ways to manage this behavioral problem. There are some medications that doctors prescribe to help children with ADHD. Make sure to research these medications. Doctors should prescribe the lowest dose possible that produces the desired results for your child. Roughly 80 percent of children who need medication for ADHD still need it as teenagers, and about 50 percent of these children continue to need ADHD medication into adulthood. Medication is not the only treatment option for children with ADHD, but some children do see a significant improvement of their symptoms if they are taking medication for this condition.
- Consider the benefits of behavioral therapy
Behavioral therapy can help children with ADHD become more organized, pay attention for longer periods of time and help improve a child’s behavior, self-control and self-esteem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), behavioral therapy is an effective treatment method for children with ADHD.
Doctors treat some children with ADHD using a combination of medication and behavioral therapy. A behavioral therapist can also help parents make changes at home to help their child manage their ADHD. Many schools also offer behavioral therapy programs for children with ADHD to help them succeed academically.
If your child has recently been diagnosed with ADHD, knowledge is power. Parents should educate themselves about ADHD, reach out to the appropriate resources and never hesitate to ask questions. For those who think that their child might have ADHD, talk to your pediatrician or school counselor, who can direct you to a qualified health professional trained in diagnosing ADHD.