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When the First Signs of My Child’s ADHD Were Revealed

“Does my child have ADHD?” If you are wondering this question, chances are that others have picked up on the signs, too. And sometimes ADHD doesn’t even enter the picture until family, friends, teachers, and others suggest it. Here, parents share their kids’ paths to diagnosis and understanding.

The abbreviation ADHD made out of polymer clay letters.
ADHD. The abbreviation ADHD made out of polymer clay letters. Close up. ADHD is Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The path to an ADHD diagnosis is rarely a straight, neat line. But it does start with someone — an attentive doctor, an observant teacher, a caring friend, or a family member — who takes notice of your child’s behaviors and struggles. That someone may even be yourself or your child.

What follows these comments and observations may be denial. Or guilt. Or a wait-it-out period to see if symptoms clear up. There might be relief and clarity and trepidation, or a bittersweet mix of it all — especially after the diagnosis.

This is what parents of children with ADHD told ADDitude in a recent survey about the first signs, inklings, and suspicions that their child might have the condition. Read their stories below and share your child’s diagnosis story in the comments section.

Does My Child Have ADHD? The First Signs — Revealed

“I asked our son why he didn’t like to wash his hair. ‘It takes too long and it’s boring,’ he told me. ‘Yeah, it is kind of boring,’ I replied. We decided right then and there that we would be taking him to be evaluated for ADHD. (Having been diagnosed with ADHD myself, I told him he might have inherited mommy’s ‘silly brain.’)” – Liz

 “My husband first mentioned it when our son was about 18 months old. But I told him all 18-month-olds have ADHD! He mentioned it again when our son was about to turn 7. Having ADHD myself, I knew all along that my son was showing signs, but I didn’t have the heart to admit it — until my husband spoke up and took that burden off my shoulders.” – Anonymous

[Get This Free Download: Your Ultimate ADHD Diagnosis Guide]

 “Two different pediatricians at two totally different practices both said to me, ‘ADHD can manifest itself like that’ while pointing to my son. I basically dismissed their comments. It wasn’t until my son started Kindergarten and was sent home for behavioral problems a couple times per week that I realized his impulsivity is a problem. Then, in the first grade, he couldn’t read or write at grade level. He was tested for learning disabilities, but that wasn’t the issue. We learned later on that it was ADHD. Now, he excels at school and has been chosen as the Kindness Ambassador for his room!” – Courtney

 “A friend who works with kids suggested over coffee one day that my 17-year-old daughter might have ADHD. She thought I suspected it, too, but it had never crossed my mind. I was shocked by her observation, and I felt like a terrible parent. How did I not see this? After 13 years of schooling, how had no teacher suggested it? And why did the educational psychologist we hired years ago never test her for ADHD? I felt like we held my daughter down and wondered how different her school experience might have been if we had known earlier. We are glad that her meds are making a difference for her now.” – Anna

 “I found out from a psychologist who was evaluating my daughter for giftedness. The psychologist said my daughter wasn’t just gifted, but ‘PROFOUNDLY’ gifted. And then came the but. As I sat with my breath caught in my throat, the psychologist said that my daughter also has ADHD. I walked out of that office, made sure I was far away enough, and cried.” – Anonymous

 It was my daughter herself who first mentioned it to me. I knew very little about ADHD, except the stereotypical views I had about disruptive, hyperactive children in the classroom. My first thought was ‘No, you’re just disorganized.’ None of her other ‘symptoms’ stood out to me either. In fact, I was sure that someone had sown the seed of ADHD in her mind, and that she had quickly latched onto it. It was then that my daughter said, ‘Maybe you have it, too.’ Things started falling into place after that.” – Anonymous

[Read: The “Aha” Moment I Realized My Child Has ADHD]

 “Two different friends suggested it to me at the same time. My child was failing her first year of middle school after coasting by in elementary school. I couldn’t put my finger on what was going wrong. My friends sent me two different articles that explained how ADHD can present differently in girls. The articles were spot on profiles of my child. I felt relieved to finally have an answer. I quickly moved on getting her assessed, and, in the end, she was diagnosed.” – Reyna

 “My son’s second grade teacher brought up ADHD, though I was pretty sure he had it from the time he started kindergarten. His teacher back then had shared cute stories about how silly and imaginative he was. She also said that he seemed to be very much in his own world.” – Becky

 “Something in my heart was telling me that there was much more to my daughter’s present behavioral struggles. A simple text conversation with our developmental ARNP (who was a family friend) cemented it. My daughter received her diagnosis soon after that. I know now that we can get her the help she needs to kick kindergarten’s butt and be prepared for the rest of elementary school.” – M.K.

 “I already knew that having children with ADHD was highly likely given the heritability of the condition (I have ADHD myself). I noticed that my son seemed really active in utero, and I joked that he must have it. As he got older, we realized that he was showing signs  but decided not to seek a diagnosis until it started giving him trouble. He ended up with a diagnosis in the first grade. Because of my own diagnosis, the thought of having children with ADHD gave me mixed feelings. I know that there are benefits to ADHD, like creativity and passion. But I also know firsthand how difficult it is. I worried about my ability to help my children through it when I struggle to manage ADHD myself. I still sometimes worry, but thus far it hasn’t been as bad as I thought.” – Jenalyn

Does My Child Have ADHD? Next Steps

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