Seriously, Can We Stop Judging ADHD Parents?

1. ADHD just means hyperactive kids, right?

There are two main misconceptions about ADHD. The first one is about the disorder itself. Most people have the vague knowledge that kids who have ADHD are hyperactive, rambunctious, possibly bad-behaved because of lack of discipline and lazy parenting. ADHD is much more complex than that. It is a neurological disorder that involves six different skills that are regulated by the frontal lobe part of the brain. Here’s the 101 on these, based on the book “Mindful Parenting for ADHD” (I know, kooky title, but very helpful book):

  • Action management: basically impulse control, monitoring your body and behavior. This is what makes it almost impossible for some kids to control certain reactions, or stop themselves from throwing a perfectly still eraser across the room.
  • Task management: organizing, planning, prioritizing, monitoring time. This plays a big role in their ability to handle schoolwork and becomes a bigger issue as children get older.
  • Information management: working memory, which holds short-term information, allows you to follow a set of instructions that might include a bunch of steps. Tell a young child with ADHD to do four things, and on his way to work on the third he’ll likely get distracted by a toy on the floor and plop down to play, having 120% forgotten what he’s supposed to be doing.
  • Emotion management: kids with ADHD may be quick to get angry, frustrated, upset, or to give up. Outbursts are often swiftly followed by regret or embarrassment, as in when my young one yells at his older brother and smacks him after being accidentally stepped on and the one crying is the one who just did the smacking.
  • Effort management: processing speed is an important factor here, as some kids with ADHD have an impaired ability to work quickly and effectively. They typically need more time than their peers to handle things from school work to get out of the house. Living in a world where everyone is expecting to zoom through things, this can be a big source of stress for ADHD kids.
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Photo by D A V I D S O N L U N A on Unsplash

#2: Pediatricians hand out diagnoses and prescriptions like it’s going out of style

Now, the second big misconception is the diagnosis itself. Common lore says shady pediatricians declare a patient has ADHD after a solid five minutes with them, and readily write up a prescription for some medication or another without giving it a second thought. While everyone’s experience is different, I know ours was similar to many other families, so I’ll share our timeline as a sample.

Hudson Valley // Musing about donuts 60% of the time

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