Self Esteem

“She Dances in the Rain: My Neurodivergent, Wildly Resilient Daughter”

“The weight of not feeling ‘smart enough’ or ‘good enough’ that our tiny girl carried throughout her early childhood began to lift as she learned about the disorders and their manifestations.”

I have the best conversations with my 13-year-old daughter during our walks around the neighborhood. We talk super-fast, constantly interrupt each other, and often forget the point of our stories. I’m likely to share unfiltered advice that I later regret, and my daughter shares middle school gossip that she likely regrets, too.

Other times, we walk silently, side-by-side, and observe our surroundings. Other than pointing out blooming flowers or lawn decorations, we don’t speak. For my daughter, silence can mean mental fatigue or teen angst. I don’t probe. I wait until she initiates the conversation. I know that she needs time to collect her thoughts, decompress, and process her day.

She wasn’t always willing to share. For many years, my husband and I had no clue what my daughter needed or how best to support and communicate with her; neither did she. Our perplexity began when she was in kindergarten. Instead of blossoming, our bright girl wilted. Each subsequent year, she shut down more. She struggled to read, write, and spell. Mentioning “homework” would set in motion a performance packed with tears, pleas, complaints, and meltdowns.

The Gift of Her ADHD and Dyslexia Diagnoses

Despite our insistence that something was awry, teachers and school counselors reassured us. She was just a “late bloomer.” Our gut instinct disagreed. When our daughter finally received diagnoses of inattentive ADHD and dyslexia, our lives shifted from bleak to hopeful. Almost immediately, relief replaced our frustrations. We had an explanation; we could help her.

The weight of not feeling “smart enough” or “good enough” that our tiny girl carried throughout her early childhood began to lift, as she learned about the disorders and their manifestations. She eagerly started Orton-Gillingham tutoring. (A six-month regimen comprising two-hour sessions, five days a week.) She never complained, despite forgoing ballet, playdates, and after-school activities. The satisfaction of learning how to learn kept her engaged and motivated.

[Take the Dyslexia Symptom Test for Children]

As her confidence grew, she told us what she needed to thrive. We enrolled her in a private school where she could learn among other students with ADHD and learning differences. She has grown into an engaged learner and an empathetic leader. She also appreciates her alone time and prefers reading a YA thriller to playing a video game with her younger brother.

Being Resilient Is a Learned Skills

Raising a child with ADHD and dyslexia is a test of restraint and patience. I don’t show my annoyance when she remembers at 8 p.m. that she needs to bring a poster board to school the next day, and I just got home from the store. I’ve also learned to gently correct her when she mispronounces or misspells a word.

My daughter views adversity as a challenge, not a setback. Instead of being vulnerable, she chooses to be resilient. Once during a walk, we got caught in a driving rain. We had no umbrellas. The rain soaked our shoes, clothes, and bodies. We needed to run home, but my daughter proposed a different idea: She suggested we “dance” our way back. She began to twirl and skip, so I reluctantly followed along. We arrived home shivering and drenched but laughing and smiling.

[Free Guide: Signs of Dyslexia at Every Age]

We can’t control the challenges that are thrown our way, but we can control how we react to them. Years ago, during a low point when I felt that I was flunking motherhood, I came across ADDitude magazine. I realized that I was not alone; rather, my family was part of this strong, dedicated, and resilient community.

I’m no longer just an ADDitude reader but a new editor on the team. I understand how essential ADDitude is to the community of people living with ADHD and/or learning differences, and I’m grateful to be a part of it.

ADDitude has been my go-to resource—my North Star—for many years, and I will strive to make it yours, too.

Resilient with ADHD & Dyslexia: Next Steps

Thank you for reading ADDitude. To support our mission of providing ADHD education and support, please consider subscribing. Your readership and support help make our content and outreach possible. Thank you.