Home › Welcome to the ADDitude Forums › For Teens and Young Adults with ADHD › looking back,what advice would you give your parents about treating you? › Reply To: looking back,what advice would you give your parents about treating you?
First of all, thank you for asking such a thoughtful question. Your son’s chances at success and happiness are already better because he has a parent with such insight.
Both my sister and I were diagnosed with ADHD later in life, so we did not receive treatment. I am on medication now, and I sure wish I was taking medication during my school-aged years! My sister and I had a recent similar conversation to your question. She was expressing frustration about my nephew’s temperament (he is her TWIN! lol!), and I asked her “What do you wish mom and dad had done differently for you?”
For both of us, we talked about wishing our parents understood how ADHD is not confined to any one part of our life. ADHD affects everything about how you perceive and interact with your environment. Behaviors that those with a neurotypical brain may define as “lazy” or “defiant” are often the result of having executive function “deficiencies”. Its not that I was too lazy to complete book reports, I had no idea where to start! I would have benefitted from an empathic parent who walked me through the process of prioritizing, chunking my work, and setting deadlines for myself. This would’ve saved me from anxiety-ridden procrastination in grad school and late bill payments these days. Its not that my sister had a “bad attitude”, she was discouraged and defensive from repeatedly getting into trouble for constantly spilling juice or forgetting her homework sheets at school. She would have benefitted from more patience than tough love, and she probably would’ve flourished if she had more structure. A daily schedule, teaching her how to keep her room tidy, responsibilities around the house (even if it took more energy to get her to do them then to actually do it themselves), patience and tons of encouragement for things she did well would’ve saved my sister much self-doubt in her adult life. As a parent, this may mean guiding your child for longer than you think you ought to, but if you are teaching your son how to fish instead of fishing for him, eventually he will be able to feed himself.
To speak to your question about whether to share the diagnosis with your son or the school, I will put on my professional hat; I worked for several years in schools with children diagnosed with learning and developmental disorders. In short, my two cents is that it has a lot to do with how the parent approaches it. If parents feel helpless in themselves, then it can easily become an excuse for the child. If the parent understands the power, hope, and benefit behind the diagnosis, then the child is empowered with knowledge about themselves and is freed to ask for the supports he or she needs. Understand that we know, deep down inside or present in our awareness, that we function differently. For many of us, the diagnosis helps alleviate the shame tied to our struggles and failures and imparts hope. I’ve seen the change in attitude in students I’ve worked with, parents I’ve supported, and have felt it myself. Receiving my ADHD diagnosis at 28 years old came with a sigh of relief and a huge confidence boost because suddenly there was a real reason (NOT laziness) I struggled to get all my work done on time, AND there was a wealth of knowledge, treatments, medications, and strategies I could choose to use to get better. And I did!
Clearly, I could go on and on. However, I will close by really emphasizing that you get to know how ADHD manifests in your son (because it is different for everyone) so you can find strategies to teach and support him, that you are patient and highlight the things he does well, and that you take care of yourself, too. Find a support group, keep asking great questions, and do things that bring you some peace and pleasure. Then, you’ll be good for both of you.