How We Missed Our Daughter's ADD

Our daughter's ADHD went undiagnosed for years while she struggled with distractibility, inattentiveness, and depression. Here's how we all got healed -- and educated about attention deficit disorder.

A New Child

Two months and two ADD medication trials later, Chengming was a new child. I never imagined that we would give any of our children a stimulant medication. All nine of our kids eat organic foods and avoid excessive sugar and refined ingredients. The television stays off on weekdays, and we all get plenty of exercise working the farm. My husband and I are against pills, yet we were forced to rethink that after Chengming prospered on medication. She took pride in her ability to participate in and follow lessons and discussions.

Chengming said it best: “ADHD has its ups and downs. My parents and teachers help keep me on schedule. My medicine keeps me from drifting away. I feel less confused and annoyed with myself. Having ADHD also has its upside. I like daydreaming when I am walking home from school or before I go to sleep. It’s nice to take a break from worrying about being distracted or forgetting something important. Daydreaming gives me ideas for stories I want to write, and helps me imagine my future.”

I am appalled at the ignorance and arrogance of those who tell me that I am an awful parent for medicating my child with ADHD. When I meet someone who’s critical of our decision to use medication, I know this person never struggled for months with such problems, never read reams of research, nor talked with other parents facing similar dilemmas. “No parent makes such a decision lightly. Do not presume our medical decisions were made thoughtlessly,” I want to (and sometimes do) say. “Unless you have walked in our daughter’s shoes, don’t dismiss her struggles and her solutions.”

We Have Arrived

Our family arrived at a diagnosis of ADHD after a long journey. Those who do not believe in ADHD or ADD would be wise to heed what Benjamin Franklin said: “Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”

Chengming doesn’t see the world as do many of her classmates. As school gets tougher, and Chengming grapples with mathematics, logic, memorization, and geography, she never complains. She bears her struggles better than most adults would. She is kind, peaceful, gentle, and valiant. Chengming endures. Yes, I get petulant and impatient, but I admire her always. I am proud—always proud—that she is our daughter.

ADD is a challenge, yet it gives our daughter a unique view of the world. Chengming is a dreamer, an optimist, and a hopeless romantic. The world might benefit from more souls with such imaginations. Our family has.

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