Reply To: Everyone has an opinion – how do you deal with critics?

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We went through the same thing…you are not alone! Until our son was diagnosed at the end of second grade, we were rather ignorant about ADHD ourselves, although my husband had been taking Adderall for some time, based on trouble focusing at work. We were very hesitant to use medication with our son (even our family doc discouraged it). Although our son did fairly well at first without medication, I now wish that we’d started medication sooner. Three years of meltdowns and transition-to-bedtime misery could have been greatly diminished. He really “hit a wall” at the beginning of fifth grade (he also has Asperger’s, and we had just moved to a new state and new school as well), so we decided that it was time to go the pharmacological route. The difference made by the medication was tremendous…far fewer meltdowns, and his academic performance began to match what we suspected was his innate intelligence….his grades improved, and his test scores went “off the charts”, his social skills improved. He made a real, “long-term” friend who actually invited him over to play!!!!! Although lifestyle changes certainly help him (but who DOESN’T perform better with good sleep, exercise, and diet??), I am certain that ADHD is real…our family is such a good example…my husband and one son are impulsive, “lost in their own worlds”, inflexible, emotionally volatile, forgetful, careless (but also fun, spontaneous, and adventurous), while I and my other son are organized, conscientious and detailed, aware of what people are saying and doing around us, adaptable, excel academically with no effort (but are meek and hesitant to try new adventures, which is balanced out by our thrill-seeking family members). What has worked for us is to NOT be afraid to at least TRY new interventions (medication, but remember that behavior therapy is critical as well!!!), to explain to both kids how ADHD affects our son’s behavior and our entire family, but to still hold our ADHD son accountable for trying to change some of his bad behaviors….we see (and try to teach this to our son) that ADHD is a challenge and an explanation, but is NOT an excuse to stop trying to cope and improve. Our son struggles with self-esteem, so we put effort into pointing out things he does well and encouraging him to pursue his talents and interests. I strongly feel that ADHD is NOT, NOT, NOT a result of bad parenting; it may be made worse by taking the wrong approach as a parent (we are guilty of that at times), but it is a real entity. Parents of ADHD kids need support, not blame….find friends and family who will listen and understand, get counseling from experienced professionals, even seek out appropriately prescribed medication if things are not going as well as you think they could. I have two very different kids, and I love both. But I can tell you that I could have 5 of my non-ADHD kids more easily than dealing with our ONE child who has ADHD. Not a pleasant thing to say, but it is reality. People who don’t have very “difficult” children really do not have any idea how challenging it is. It is a continual process of educating yourself, trying new approaches, and adjusting expectations as your child matures. Don’t let people make you feel guilty….we’ve been there. It’s not productive. I’ve heard all sorts of advice about spanking and punitive measures….if your kid is like mine, these techniques only create more defiance and poor self esteem. Collect information from many sources and figure out what works for your individual case.