Ask the Experts

Q: “How Can I Get My Parents to Take ADHD Seriously?”

Do I have ADHD? Can I get tested? What about treatment? Not all kids or teens feel comfortable asking these questions to their parents. Here is advice for starting this important conversation.

Teen girl with ADHD

Q: “How should I ask my parents to help me get a test for ADHD? I come from a very conservative, old-fashioned family that doesn’t really believe in mental illness. I don’t know exactly what to do, but I have noticed my symptoms getting worse and I feel they should be addressed soon.” – ConfusedTeen

Hi ConfusedTeen:

I want to applaud you for reaching out and asking for help. Even as an adult, it’s never easy to identify the right course of action or the most appropriate next steps when you think you have ADHD. I would imagine it is even harder for a child. I’m sure you are feeling lonely and confused.

Before we dig in, I want to make sure you understand what ADHD is. To quote from a recent ADDitude article, “ADHD is a development impairment of the brain’s self-management system.” I’m linking this comprehensive article called “What is ADHD? Meaning, Symptoms & Tests.” The article is factual and straight forward with a wealth of information.

Since I preach that knowledge is power, I urge you to first read up on everything you can about ADHD so that, when you approach your parents, you are informed and knowledgeable and can answer any questions they may have. Perhaps if they see how much research you have done to help yourself, they will be more eager to help you, too. In the article linked above, there is also a diagnostic test for children. Showing your parents the results of your completed test and discussing your answers with them might help break the ice. Or you can simply share the article with them to read first.

Another suggestion is to not use the term “ADHD” initially. I don’t know the full extent of your parents beliefs, but they might have a metal block against the term and therefore have some mistaken ideas of what it is and what it isn’t. You could write out the symptoms you are experiencing and share those with your parents instead.

[The ADHD Symptom Test for Girls]

If approaching your parents directly is too difficult, I urge you to discuss this with another adult with whom you have an open and trusting relationship. Perhaps another family member, a counselor or teacher at school can help facilitate the dialogue. Scheduling a meeting at school (or virtually), with your parents present, might provide you with the necessary ADHD support and confidence to discuss your concerns.

I want to also offer my advice to you as a parent. I know that I would want my children to tell me if they were struggling at home or at school so that I could get them the help and support they needed. I’m hoping your parents feel the same.

Good Luck.

Do I Have ADHD? Next Steps for Kids & Teens

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