Ask the Experts

Explaining an ADHD Diagnosis to a Child

How and when do I tell my 11-year-old child she has ADHD?

The best time to discuss attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (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 ADHD is about, and address any misconceptions.

Point out all her assets.

Reassure her that, while having 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.