Just Diagnosed: Next Steps

The “Aha” Moment I Realized My Child Has ADHD

Parents who’ve been there share their “aha moment” — the exact moment they realized their child could have ADHD, and what led them to seek professional help.

Lightbulbs representing the moment that parents realized their child could have ADHD
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"I Knew My Child Had ADHD When..."

Some parents suspect ADHD before their child's first birthday — but fear the repercussions of labeling or medicating. Others don't realize it until high school or college — and suffer guilt for missing the symptoms all that time. But just as no two children are alike, no two cases of ADHD are ever the same — and some are more obvious than others. Here, parents share their unique 'aha' moments — those eye-opening snapshots that lead to greater understanding. For even more 'aha' stories, click here. 

A little boy with a superhero cape, a new perspective for his parents after they wondered how they would manage his ADHD
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A New Perspective

"My 'aha' moment came when I began to reflect on the way I thought about my child. I realized my child was not going to change the way he was meant to be — it was me who needed to change my expectations and thoughts of my son. My son was made into a star shape, and cutting his unique points off to make him fit into a square-shaped box was not fair to him." – twest

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Rolling On the Floor

"My 'aha' moment came when my grandson’s first-grade teacher called us in for a conference and related how he was literally rolling in the aisles during math instruction. She asked him to answer the question she had just put to the class and he answered it correctly — while still rolling around on the floor!" – cmonti

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Handwriting and Hyperfocus

"I realized something was different with my daughter when she could focus on one thing that really interested her, but then hear a pin drop in the next room and be totally off-focus after that. I was hesitant to give her medication and tried the behavior-therapy route with a psychologist first, but that was not effective. The day after she took her first medication — my 'aha' moment was when her printing completely changed; it went from messy to nice and neat." –rosebud21566

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Trusting Your Instincts

"My 'aha' moment was when a teacher said to me, 'Sometimes it’s like he is not even with us. He just zones out.' I had always had my suspicions, but I had never followed through on getting my son evaluated for ADHD. That 'aha' moment came in his freshman year of high school. How I wish I had moved sooner on my instincts!" – amwoodward

A young boy smiling at a clock; his time management struggles were how he was diagnosed with ADHD
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Scheduling Snafus

"My 'aha' moment was when I realized my son couldn’t plan his behavior like most other kids. He could not follow a routine until we had done it exactly the same way for weeks. He doesn’t remember to turn in the homework he spent hours doing. He doesn’t remember to write down his assignments. He doesn’t know how long it takes to do certain tasks, so they tend to build up. He is a wonderful son — on his own schedule." – jsac919

A young girl struggling in school — how her parents knew she had ADHD
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Hints From the Teacher

"Our 'aha' moment came in third grade, when my daughter’s teacher said that, while she was doing okay in school, she had to work twice as hard as the other children because of her inattention and difficulty with focus and executive control. Although, to be honest, I knew waaaaay earlier. I homeschooled her for kindergarten because she was nowhere mature enough to sit still and hold herself together for a whole day of school!" – kaylie

A boy standing up while eating a cookie; this behavior was how his parents knew he had ADHD
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Finally Under-Standing

"My 'aha' moment was when I realized my son ate all of his meals standing. This allowed him to constantly move his feet while eating. If I forced him to sit at the table, he wouldn’t eat." – lisa.antle99

A boy eating in a restaurant; his behavior in booths was how his parents knew he had ADHD
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The Little Things

"You would have thought the 'aha' would have been his lack of progress or incomplete work at school. But, bless his heart, he was just painful to sit with in a restaurant booth!" – mkwahlert1

Mother and daughter discussing how the daughter might have ADHD
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Right From the Source

"My 'aha' moment was when my 14 year old came to me and said, 'Mom, I think I have ADHD!'" – tbiwillnotstopus

A hyperactive child waiting in a doctor's office so his doctor can let his parents know if he has ADHD
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Wiggling In the Waiting Room

"My 'aha' moment came when we were in the pediatric psychologist’s conference room discussing our concerns regarding our son, who had just turned four. He was running around the room, climbing on the stacks of chairs, jumping off and climbing again. My husband and I kept catching our son and strapping him in his stroller. It took no time for him to unstrap himself and be off and running! We tried holding our wiggling son on our laps. I kept looking at the psychologist’s face. I knew there and then it wasn’t our parenting. Our son really did have ADHD." –nadineg8622

Two boys doing homework and discussing how to know if they have ADHD
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Not Just "Boys Will Be Boys"

"My ‘aha’ moment came after watching my son and his friend do homework together. My son was bouncing around, looking everywhere but at the paper, tapping his pencil like crazy, and answering questions in random order. His friend was calmly sitting there doing the homework and methodically going through the problems. That helped me to not just discount it as boys' behavior, but to realize there may be more going on than I originally thought." – ccoryell

A hyperactive boy running around while his family sits on the couch; how they knew he had ADHD
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Movie Madness

"My 'aha' moment was when my son was trying to sit still while we tried to watch a family movie — and he just had to stand up and run around the living room five times. He said, 'Mom, I can’t sit still no matter how hard I try — I just can’t do it.'" – shymoboo

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Pre-Birth Premonition

"My first inclination that my son might have ADHD was actually when he was still in utero. Every time I went in for a biophysical profile (BPP), the technicians would say, 'This is the most active baby I have ever seen!' Sure enough, while in preschool, he was diagnosed with ADHD. His early identification and treatment helped allow him to be successful socially and cognitively." – Jessica

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Not-So-Identical Twins

"It took me awhile to add all the signs up — the impulsivity, the 'motor' always running, the over-emotional reactions, etc. In first grade though, as she struggled in school, I could compare her to her twin and the differences were obvious." – attebow

Two shirts; a backwards shirt problem helped one parent determine that her son might have ADHD
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More Than Carelessness

"My 'aha' moment came when my son wore his shirt backwards again — even though I told him not to many, many times before. At that point, I had to admit: That’s not careless inattention; that is ADHD." – annie_hooi

3 comments

  1. We use the timer on the microwave to help our son who was diagnosed with ADHD hyperactive type in November of 2016. We use our timer in 10 minute increments with a 20 minute maximum. So for instance I will put 10 min on the timer and hand my son 2 raffle tickets. Once the microwave goes off my son will ask for another 5 minutes and I will ask him for a ticket. This way he will visually see that he only has one more ticket to “cash” in for his extra 5 min. increment which gives him a maximum 20 minute time limit for an activity. So far it seems to be working.

  2. My daughter told me that when my granddaughter started school she couldn’t sit still and would keep getting up from her desk and walked around the classroom. Then she started to run out of the school room down the hallway and scream and holler. They took her to their doctor and she was diagnosed with ADHD. She couldn’t sit still. She’s 13 now and has been on medicine but she still has trouble sitting still and is always figity.

  3. When our daughter was born there were tons of babies in the hospital. When they needed something they would start gradually fussing and then cry weakly. Our daughter would fuss twice and start screaming like she’s being skinned alive. We said “Uh-oh”, and nothing was a surprise afterwards. Fortunately we have a lot of personal experience to draw on.

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