Explaining an ADHD Diagnosis to a Child

One reader asked, "How and when do I tell my 11-year-old child she has ADD?"
The Experts | posted by Carol Brady, Ph.D.

The best time to discuss attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) is when you feel ready and have accepted the diagnosis. You may want to review the books for a child at your daughter's age level to guide your conversation. A Bird's-Eye View of Life with ADD and ADHD, by Chris Dendy, and The Girls' Guide to AD/HD, by Beth Walker, are two examples. Although parents may worry about how a child will react to the diagnosis, I have found that kids appreciate knowing that there are reasons for their difficulties, and that they are not just being "bad."

Start by asking your daughter what she thinks ADD/ADHD is about, and address any misconceptions. Point out all her assets. Reassure her that, while having ADD/ADHD may require extra time and effort for some tasks, many people diagnosed with the disorder have achieved success despite it and, sometimes, because of it.

Dr. Carol Brady is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Houston, Texas. She is also a specialist in school psychology and a well-regarded speaker in the area of ADD/ADHD, children, and families in trauma and Tourette's Syndrome. She received her Ph.D. from LSU and she is currently on the scientific advisory board for the Tourette's Syndrome Association and is an adjunct faculty at Baylor University and the University of Texas.

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