First things first – if your child has just been diagnosed with ADHD, it is not a result of poor parenting or because of something you’ve done. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disability, which, put simply, means your child’s brain has developed in a slightly different way.
Most people are diagnosed with ADHD are diagnosed between six and 12 years old, but it can also be confirmed in adulthood. Between three and five per cent of children and two per cent of adults in the UK have ADHD, and it’s more common in males. However you look at the stats, it’s important to know you’re not alone, and there are lots of other parents out there going through the same thing.
It’s natural to wonder what an ADHD diagnosis means for your child. So we’re here to tell you a few key tips to get you started, and we’re sure you’ll feel calm, prepared, and ready for anything.
Become an ADHD expert
You don’t need a degree or formal training to understand ADHD. The best understanding comes through experience – and applying reliable resources to everyday life. Be cautious of information that claims ADHD has a cure, and stick with reliable websites like the NHS and CDC.
Finding out about the educational rights of your child, and how school plans to meet your child’s needs is essential. Speak to other parents in your area, find your local parent carer forum, and research as much as you can.
When it comes to a member of your family receiving a diagnosis, there really is nothing truer than the phrase, ‘knowledge is power’. The more you learn about your child’s ADHD, the more confident parent and advocate you’ll become.
Research ADHD treatments for children
There’s no cure for ADHD, but the right treatment can help control symptoms. This often involves taking medications, but can also include behavioural therapy too.
Stimulants are the most often prescribed drugs for ADHD. They work by increasing the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain which can improve quality of life and performance at school. ADHD medications do have some side effects though, like headaches, insomnia and stomach upsets, and need to be used in caution in children with other health problems, like congenital heart disease.
Talk to your child about their diagnosis
It can be difficult to know how to tell your child they have ADHD, and you might be worried about labelling them. But it can be more damaging for them to think they are ‘lazy’ or ‘stupid’.
By explaining to your child that their brain is wired differently, it can help them understand their behaviours and feelings are due to a medical condition, not intelligence levels or laziness.
Exploring ADHD through related books and stories can be a great way of helping your child understand their diagnosis.
Understand how ADHD can affect a child’s mental health
Children with ADHD are more susceptible to emotional burnout and mental health problems, so familiarising yourself with the signs is key. By tuning into your child while finding strategies to manage their behaviour at home, you’ll help your child thrive on their terms. Most of all, making your child feel loved, accepted and cherished for who they are will have the most positive impact.
Manage your own mental health
Maintaining your own emotional health is challenging as a special needs parent, but by reaching out to others in a similar situation to yourself, you’ll get advice from people with real-life experience and find comfort and support. And because ADHD is one of the most common childhood neurodevelopmental disabilities, it’s safe to say you are not alone.