Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder have a brain difference that results in specific and unique behaviors, and many can be strengths. For example, they tend to be creative and athletic, and they can learn quickly due to a special ability to hyperfocus on topics that interest them.
However, as a parent, you may not be feeling like the behaviors your child exhibits are positive. Indeed, the authors of ADHD: What Everyone Needs to Know remark, “It takes a heroic amount of effort to raise a child with ADHD.”
So what should you do? First, if you haven’t yet gotten an official diagnosis, make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician for advice and referrals to local mental health professionals who diagnose and treat ADHD specifically.
It may take a while to get an appointment, so while you’re waiting, learn as much as you can about ADHD. There is a lot to know about, and you won’t learn it all in one online article. Many well-researched books are available, some free at your public library, as well as podcasts.
If you’re feeling upset about the idea of your child having a “disorder,” know that what you think you know about ADHD probably isn’t entirely correct. There is a gross misunderstanding about this brain difference, and more importantly, there are safe and effective ways to treat it. By seeing the right mental health provider, your child’s behavior and performance in school — and your relationship with them — can significantly improve.
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Karen Swanger is the Director of OSU KidSpirit Oregon 4-H Youth Programs kidspirit.oregonstate.edu