How Do You Explain ADHD to Your Child?

The more kids understand about their diagnosis, the better they can manage their symptoms. These explanations can help.

Mother being affectionate with her daughter. Explaining ADHD to your child.

I tell my child not to worry, because the people who don't get how his brain works didn't get Gates, Jobs, Einstein, or Hawking, either.

Melanie, Georgia

ADDitude asked: "How do you explain ADHD to your child?"

I tell him that neurotypical people go from point A to E in order, but ADHD brains (we both have ADHD) go from A to C, then to D or back to B. Eventually, we get to E. -Barbara, Texas

We told our son that his brain moves fast, like a sports car, but the brakes in his car are old and can't slow down his brain. -Jamye, Colorado

I told him that he takes medicine to help him be more focused, but he has to learn to behave well by himself. -Nilsa, Puerto Rico

I told my daughter that her brain is like a train that is going fast. It's doing great until it sees a deer on the side of the tracks. The engineer is fascinated by the deer, and the train falls off the track. The engineer doesn't see that it has fallen off because she is concentrating on the deer. When her brain notices it is off-track, it is difficult to get back. -Jennifer, California

Everyone's brain works differently. Some people, like those with ADHD, have brains that are so different that scientists study them. That means ADDers can get directions on how to make the best use of their brains. Not everyone has a manual for how their brain works, but you do. -Brendan, Massachusetts

Everyone is different and that's what makes us interesting. ADHD is one of the things you were born with, like your brown eyes. I love you with brown eyes and ADHD. -Tereza, New York

I tell my child not to worry, because the people who don't get how his brain works didn't get Gates, Jobs, Einstein, or Hawking, either. -Melanie, Georgia

I tell my child, who has inattentive-type ADHD, that sometimes his brain is sleepy. To wake it up, he needs to do brain exercises. -Tania, Puerto Rico

I compare ADHD to a VCR on which you have to hit the pause button every 30 seconds or so. -Sue, Ohio


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This article appears in the Spring 2013 issue of ADDitude.
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