Just Diagnosed: Next Steps

“I Wish I Had Known…”

“…our rights in school and how to get what was best for my child without the school pressuring us to do what was easiest for them.” 10 things parents wish someone had told them after their child’s ADHD diagnosis.

A light bulb shedding light on ADHD
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What I Wish I Knew...

Learning to parent a child with ADHD is a journey. It can take a long time  — and some back-tracking — to find all the answers to questions such as: Who can diagnose my child? How do I differentiate symptoms from puberty, stress, or life? What are our rights at school? Here, our readers share the things the tidbits of knowledge and understanding they wish they'd had from the moment their child was diagnosed with ADHD. Learn from their wisdom!

[The ADHD Road Map for Parents]

A doctor examines a boy to determine if he should be diagnosed with ADHD
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1. YOU Must Be the Expert

"I wish I would have known to go to a specialist — not a pediatrician — who understood the symptoms and that kids won't outgrow them." — Amanda

"I naively thought the school district would be a resource on ADHD, and that teachers were educated on the subject. It was the other way around! I had to become the educator." — Katie

"Many doctors still don't know how to test or diagnose kids even though it's been around since the 1970s." — Zuleyma

Many people, even doctors and teachers, aren't educated about ADHD. Check out the short list of professionals qualified to diagnose ADHD — and the pros and cons of each — and this comprehensive guide to getting school accommodations.

A woman holds a bottle of pills after being diagnosed with ADHD by her doctor.
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2. ADHD Rarely Acts Alone

"I wish I'd known the types of ADHD, the possible related conditions, and the least invasive means to treat them, including behavior modifications and dietary changes." — Heather

There are a number of common conditions that occur alongside ADHD, and many options out there to treat all of them, from natural treatments to medications.

[The ADHD Symptoms We Misdiagnose]

A child who was diagnosed with ADHD in a classroom at school
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3. School Accommodations Don't Magically Appear

"I wish I had known our rights in school and how to get what was best for my child without the school pressuring us to do what was easiest for them." — Karen

"Knowing what kind of learner our child is made a huge difference in our IEP. With the right assistive technology, he is able to learn grade-level material." — Jenny

Finding and then putting in place the right accommodations in school can make a huge difference for kids. Learn how to navigate the process from start to finish, and become your child's own best education advocate.

A mother comforts her daughter after she is diagnosed with ADHD
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4. Don't Apologize. Do Advocate.

"I spent so many years apologizing for my son, until I realized he needed me to be his advocate." — Michelle

"Educate yourself, educate the teachers. I have found an archaic view of ADHD and a negative association. I vow to help people better understand ADHD and how to best help the kids." — Cee

You can help others understand ADHD with three easy steps: Protest: dispute misinformation; Educate: provide a few facts about the condition, and Contact: speak from your heart to give a face to the disorder.

[“Don’t Call It a Disorder.”]

A boy who was diagnosed with ADHD goofs off in class
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5. He's Not Doing It on Purpose

"I wish I could've seen that my son wasn't being defiant when he didn't do what was asked. He was only getting distracted and not being able to follow through." — Christina

"He really can't help some of the things that he does. We thought he was a kid just acting out." — Marcia

One of the most common myths about ADHD is that it's just bad behavior. In fact, it's a neurological condition beyond our kids' control. Learn the truth about ADHD!

The definition of the word forgive, something many people diagnosed with ADHD need to learn to do
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6. Forgiveness Will Save Your Sanity

"Forgive your kid. He's not trying to be ADHD. Learn to live with good days and bad days. Forgive yourself. You have to raise a difficult child. You don't have to be a perfect parent. Forgive others that judge. They don't know what you're going through. This is your child, and it's your decisions that count." — Apryl

"As a parent, I wish I understood and accepted myself more back then." — Marisol

"Every day is a clean slate, a new day. It can be better!" — Samantha

Don't buy into the myth of supermom. Cut yourself, your child, and others a little slack. Let go of guilt! The alternative is an unhealthy lifestyle that will take its toll on everyone.

A father jokes with his son after he is diagnosed with ADHD
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7. They Have a Lot to Teach Us

"Know that your child will grow, change, and surprise you. Don't believe the many negative things you read on the Internet. Your child will teach you many things if you really listen to him." — Lora

"I love the analogy, 'You have a Ferrari brain with bicycle brakes!' I wish I would have had that analogy! I have learned patience, but I have also learned how amazing my daughter is, and so much about myself, too!" –Mia

Though some days it feels impossible, try to focus on the positive sides of ADHD, and all the joy that your child brings to your family.

The word ADHD on a scrabble board
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8. It's Hereditary

"I wish I knew that, if my kid has ADHD, then I (and all of you, too) probably do as well. Seven years later I was diagnosed, and then my husband was diagnosed." —Tracy

"That I had ADHD, too. Pediatricians don't make the link clear to parents." —Terrie

Luckily, sharing your child's ADHD diagnosis means sharing a special understanding with her. Don't let misconceptions and stigmas keep you from pursuing the diagnosis that's been eluding you for a lifetime.

A mom and her daughter research ADHD using a laptop after being diagnosed
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9. You Can't Always Fix It

"How to help them be successful." — Maureen

"How to help him without hindering his own ability." — Misty

It can be hard to know where to start. Luckily, we have resources for each area: organizational skills, homework help, or your child's social life. Just pick where your child needs the most help.

A lantern with a heart cutout, a symbol of hope for people diagnosed with ADHD
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10. Love Heals

"Love unconditionally. Your home is their refuge." — Luisa

"Be patient, take the time to have fun. Love unconditionally. Express your love often. Give lots of hugs!" — Cee

Family love, teamwork, and support are key to success in school, and life for kids with ADHD.

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