Guest Blogs

“OMG, I Just Found Out My Son Has ADHD”

One mom shares all of the feelings she experienced after her son’s ADHD diagnosis.

I’m sure you imagined your child, at some point during pregnancy or the adoption process, proudly showing you his latest A on a school test or crossing the stage during college graduation. Parents want the best for their children and have the highest hopes for them.

An ADHD diagnosis initially feels like an abrupt end to many of the dreams you had for your child. It raises the possibility that your dreams for her may not come true. But it doesn’t mean that achieving her dreams isn’t possible. Put your dreams for her aside and focus on her strengths.

Receiving an ADHD diagnosis is tough for a parent. While ADHD isn’t a terminal illness or a physical handicap, you have the right to be sad and grieve. You’ve been blindsided, and your pain is real and valid. You just found out that your child has a neurological disorder – that something didn’t go quite right when his brain was developing – and that entitles you to sorrow. If you weren’t upset about it, that would be something to worry about.

It’s natural to grieve when your child is diagnosed with any disability. Your world has changed – either your expectations have been shattered or you realize that chaos is here to stay. While it’s necessary to go through that period of grief, you have to move beyond it.

So take a little time to be sad, angry, scared, and heartbroken. Sit in a room alone for a couple of days. Take a bubble bath until you shrivel. Cry. Scream. Recoil. It’s OK, even healthy, to be irrational for a few moments as these feelings surface. Take a few days, maybe a week, to work through your feelings about your child having ADHD.

After my son’s diagnosis, I sat in front of the TV alone in my bedroom and stared out the window for a couple of days. I cried a lot, and I have a faint memory of eating lots of ice cream. I tried not to think about ADHD, yet it was all I could think about for days-years, in fact.

Gratitude and positivity are the only roads to happiness. That is how we survive and eventually thrive. It is easy to feel hopeless when parenting a special needs child. It takes fortitude and a survivor’s will to move beyond it toward optimism. I decided that wallowing in my sorrow wasn’t doing me, Ricochet, or anyone else in my family (not even the dog) any good. Denial and tears were not going to erase Ricochet’s ADHD, and they weren’t going to teach Mr. T and me how to do the best for him.

So I chose to point my compass toward the positive and left grief behind. Do I still feel grief some days? Sure. But I don’t let it consume me. I adjust my compass toward the positive as quickly as possible.

Excerpted from What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD (Grace-Everett Press), by Penny Williams.