Finding Fellow Travelers
How to connect with other parents of children with ADHD to share best practices, helpful tips, and emotional support.
Each day, parents of children with ADHD ford raging rivers and battle fierce dragons — at least, that’s what it feels like. Fortunately, support and advice from other parents who are traveling the same rough path can help a lot.
Start with people you already know and trust. Friends, neighbors, or co-workers may have a child who has ADHD, or know someone else who does. Or try talking to other parents as you pick your kids up from school. The child doesn’t have to be the same age as yours. Parents with older kids have the benefit of hindsight, and have likely worked through problems you’re currently facing. Seasoned parents are often happy to mentor parents new to the ADHD diagnosis.
If you connect with someone who lives nearby, she may even be willing to accompany you to meetings with your child’s special-education team — to take notes, provide support, and help you advocate for your child.
Join a group
If one kindred spirit would be company, imagine having three, or four, or more. A parent support group can ease the feeling of isolation so common to parents of kids with ADHD. You may find a group that’s sponsored by your child’s school, by a community or parenting center, or by a therapist who works with ADHD families. Check bulletin boards at your library, the pediatrician’s office, and nearby stores for notices about informal gatherings of ADHD parents.
If you can’t find a support group in your area, think about starting your own. Post flyers announcing the group wherever you think parents might see them, and ask parents you know to pass the word. Consider opening the group to parents of children with learning disabilities and related diagnoses — it’s common for these conditions to cluster together with ADHD, and the families’ struggles are often very similar.
During the first meeting, decide when and where you’ll meet, and how the time will be structured. A support group can be strictly informal: a place to swap stories, share strategies, and find out about resources, such as tutors, educational software, and ADHD-friendly sitters. Or you may plan a discussion topic for each meeting, and invite experts to give talks. Worthwhile topics include:
- navigating the local school system
- learning your legal rights
- medication options
- talking to your child about ADD
- keeping a marriage strong in stressful times.
The ADHD online support community is booming, offering hundreds of message boards and real-time chat rooms. Approach them with your antennae up, though, as you would any online group. The emotional support is sincere, but the advice is often suspect.