"The teacher says Harry keeps climbing under his desk during class," my wife, Margaret, told me over dinner.
"It's first grade," I said. "He's creative. Heck, he spent most of preschool sitting in a tree."
That used to be an amusing Harry story, but it wasn't any more. Margaret told me she wanted him to be evaluated by a psychologist. Harry was diagnosed with ADHD, and soon he was getting help and accommodations, which later included /topic/adhd-treatment/adhd-medication.html:"medication for attention deficit disorder.
Now Harry is 23. He has moved out and is on his own. He's a sweet guy and is doing fine. It's a story with a happy ending. But, for a parent of an ADHD child, or children, happy endings don't come easy. Ever.
Harry’s struggle with ADHD became pronounced in middle school. By this time, we’d moved, and we also had a five-year-old daughter, Coco, who was eventually diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. From seventh grade on, Harry had no focus except for video games and rap music, and he became harder to reach. He wouldn’t do anything he was asked to do.
It looked like plain stubbornness to me, and Harry and I fought, screaming like sea lions on Nature, which did nothing but scare the hell out of Margaret and Coco. The truth was, I was having alcohol problems and job troubles. After a breakdown, I was diagnosed as having ADHD and hypomania, with short-term memory and temper problems. Next to me, Harry suddenly looked like Gandhi.
Then I got sober and started dealing with my ADHD. Margaret and I resolved to put our family first. We got counseling, did research on ADHD, and patiently rebuilt trust among the four of us. Margaret and I made a lot of missteps along the way, but if I could boil down everything we learned to nine steps, these are what they’d be.
This article appears in the Winter 2011 issue of ADDitude.
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