Just Diagnosed: Next Steps

What Was Your Reaction to Your Child’s Diagnosis?

An ADHD diagnosis brings out strong emotions. Parents and adults with attention deficit share how they felt when they got the word.

happy mother and little ADHD son at sunset
happy mother and little ADHD son at sunset

ADDitude asked: “What was your first reaction after you (or your child) had been diagnosed with ADHD?”

My first response was “I knew it.” Now people can stop blaming me for everything. — An ADDitude Reader

Guilt. It is irrational, but I felt I had caused my child to be born with ADHD. At the same time, there was relief that we could now figure out how to help him. — An ADDitude Reader

I said to myself, “What a waste my life has been.” James, California

Part of me was relieved to finally have a name for my symptoms, and part of me was upset because nobody wants to have anything “wrong” with her. I wasn’t surprised, because I always knew that I was a little bit “different” from most people. I tried for years to “fix” it, but, one day, I realized that it wasn’t a disease to be cured, it was a personality trait to be understood. — Cherese, Utah

[Self-Test: Could Your Child Have ADHD?]

I will never let someone humiliate or put me down again. That happened all through school, and it was terrible. I was hard on myself at work before my ADD diagnosis. Now I understand better what my deficits are, and I develop strategies and get the right supports in place to be successful. It has been a big shift in my life. — Clare, Canada

My reaction was surprise, disappointment, relief. When my daughter was diagnosed, I had understanding and empathy for what she was going through. — Candy, Texas

We worried. We didn’t know anything about ADHD when our son was diagnosed. Our perception of attention deficit was mostly wrong. The diagnosis forced us to learn more about the condition, and that made us better parents. — Dan, Canada

When my child was diagnosed, I was relieved. It was also a clue that I might have the same problem. I went to the doctor and found out that I was correct. — Monica, Missouri

[Guidelines for Pediatricians Diagnosing ADHD]

I felt heartbroken after my son was diagnosed, but I was determined to get him the help he needs. — Janita, New Jersey

I felt guilty knowing that ADHD didn’t just affect me but also my family and other close relationships. Helen, New Jersey

I said, “I will never allow my child to take a Ritalin-type drug,” a position we gave up on. — An ADDitude Reader

Torn. I was afraid that medication would affect my child’s growth and development. Ultimately, I helped my son advocate for himself and understand what he needed to do in order to grow. — Jennifer, Canada

I thought, “Maybe I have ADHD, too.” It turns out, I do! Patricia, Texas

“What do we do now?” We were unsure what the future would be like for our son. We pulled away from our friends who had children the same age, because our child could not compete with them (or so we thought). It is hard to put into words what parents feel when their child is diagnosed with a disability. — Mary, Connecticut

I felt fear, anger, and outrage when people suggested that my child take powerful drugs. However, after a while, I realized that I was doing harm to my child, and his self-esteem, by withholding treatment. So we went with medication. — Gwen, Indiana

[ADHD in Children: Symptoms, Evaluations, Treatments]

3 Comments & Reviews

  1. Part of my reaction when my now 13 year old daughter was diagnosed at 7 was guilt, but also relief and frustration. Relief that I knew what was going on, but frustration with her 2nd grade teacher at the Catholic school she was attending at the time for even suggesting retention and more at the school district that wasn’t providing support because they considered themselves separated from the Catholic school though they were part of the same district. Because it was such a tiny, private school, they didn’t have funding to help kids with learning disabilities of any sort or kids with any kind of special educational need so they suggested that if I didn’t wish to retain my daughter in second grade, she should go to a public school for 3rd grade. It was a very difficult decision since the parents and staff were like a little family. I chose public school. My daughter had an awful time in third and fourth grade because of the teacher. She did great with the private – public school transition and remained in that elementary school until she graduated the sixth grade last June. This year she began middle school as a seventh grader at the middle/high school. Middle school for our district is 7th and 8th grade. She has wonderful teachers!!!

  2. When my was first diagnosed with ADHD I felt relieved, sadness and guilt. I was relieved because her dad and I suspected it. I was saddened by the diagnosis because I wasn’t sure how she would handle school (she’s in kindergarten). She’s doing great. She’s 5 and doing 3rd and 4th grade work. I felt guilty because I thought that I’ve done something wrong when I was pregnant. After doing research, I found out that I didn’t do anything wrong. We’re doing everything to help her succeed in school.

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