The term ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is not a new one, in fact it has been around for a long time. During this time, there have been a number of myths and misperceptions about what it really is. I must honestly admit that I am one of those that failed to truly understand the implications upon a child and even a family. I presumed it was probably behavioral, until we’ve had to walk the journey with our own child. Amazing how walking a mile in those shoes has changed my perspective and judgements on others.
We’ve all seen that little boy out in public that just can’t keep his hands to himself. He is abounding in energy and appears to show little regard to the kind reminders being thrown his way to help him stay on track and avoid touching everything in his path like a tornado. Or perhaps we see the little girl who struggles with those moods and emotions, is easily frustrated, and seems to experience an astounding number of meltdowns. Chances are good that you have looked upon a child and figured they were ADHD. In fact, you may have made some hasty judgements along with that guess. I know I have.
It has been another tough week with our little guy. Feeling a little raw as we navigate the journey of Sensory Processing Disorder and ADHD together. My last post about our journey with our child and talked more about the SPD, but this time, I wanted to discuss the ADHD component that we struggle with. The past couple years have allowed me to search and study some of the effects of ADHD on a child and family. I would like to share a few of these today.
ADHD is not just about hyperactivity.
While hyperactivity-impulsivity might be a symptom or trait some children experience, it is not the only trait or struggle. (In fact, it may be just the tip of the iceberg, as I have learned and hope to share in this article.) In addition, some children with ADHD have the inattentive type. In this situation, children may struggle more with being in their own little world or daydreaming. Some children experience the combined type with hyperactivity-impulsivity and inattentive both. And some may actually struggle with energy and getting going!
ADHD is diagnosed more in boys than girls, though many believe it is just as common but harder to recognize in girls.
ADHD is diagnosed more frequently in boys than in girls. It may be more easily identified in boys, as our minds are quick to pick up on the more obvious and loud characteristics we think of being associated with ADHD. But both boys and girls can be diagnosed and struggle with the effects in different ways. Girls may appear “less difficult” than boys but still struggle with emotional control, forgetfulness, indecisiveness, problems with social skills, low tolerance for stress, and being scattered and overtalkative.
ADHD is not just a behavior or discipline issue.
While there are ADHD children who may need better discipline or don’t behave well, that is not the distinguishing factor. A child can have strong discipline and consistent consequences but still struggle to respond and behave appropriately. To assume that a child who has ADHD is poorly parented or disciplined can be as faulty as presuming that a child with cavities has feasted on candy. There may be children who have consumed far too much candy and it impacted their oral health. But there are also a host of other reasons a child may have a cavity, including poor formation of teeth in infancy, brushing habits, fevers while in infancy, genetics, and others. So, it is important to not limit the scope of what you believe ADHD to be.
The brain of a child with ADHD is truly wired differently. Testing does reveal chemical and structural differences in these brains.
ADHD affects a whole family, not just a child.
ADHD takes a toll on the whole family as they learn to navigate in healthy and effective ways. Rates of divorce and depression are higher among parents with a child with ADHD. Some studies indicate that as many as 23% of parents with an ADHD child divorce before the child’s 8th birthday (Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology study of 2008). It can be extremely difficult to find strategies that allow parents to focus both on the child’s needs and marital relationship, and that don’t cause division between the parents. Additionally, it can be hard to keep consistent with discipline and expectations for a child that struggles to learn from past situations and prior consequences.
ADHD can be a strain on sibling relationships.
Children who struggle with ADHD may have great difficulty with siblings, whether older or younger. And often younger siblings are learning the very behaviors that are problematic from the child struggling with ADHD behaviors and creating a variety of frustration (from the aggression, meltdowns, pickiness, impulsivity, etc.). Social skills can be a real challenge for those with ADHD and in the home, there’s no exception. Rather, it can be a place where struggles are consistently triggered and backfiring. One recent article I read even addressed how this journey can be traumatizing for siblings along for the ride. That is understandable.
Studies reveal that up to 66% of those struggling with ADHD have a co-morbid disorder or condition that occurs with the ADHD
Children with ADHD often have a co-morbid condition that exists in addition to the ADHD, including anxiety, OCD, ODD, depression, autism, sensory processing disorder, executive functioning disorder, slow processing speed, sleep issues, learning issues, or others. So, it is especially important to not overlook the specific issues your child with ADHD may experience.
Likewise, it is important to not assume that all children with ADHD will look, sound, or experience life the same.
7. A child with ADHD matures slower than his/her peers.
Many reports suggest that children who have ADHD tend to mature at a much slower pace. Some suggest that they mature 30% slower or may be up to three years behind their same age peers. This is a significant thing to keep in mind when dealing with this child. Expecting their behavior to match that of a peer may be unrealistic for their specific emotional maturity.
Bullying is prevalent among the ADHD population.
Children with ADHD are 4 times more likely to bully others and 10 times more likely to be bullied. Because of the struggle with social skills, reading other’s cues, and emotional dysregulation, making friends can be very difficult for the ADHD child. It is also important to understand that the lack of maturity, impulsivity, and other ADHD issues can heavily impact their ability to connect with peers socially. Social skills training can be an important piece to teaching them how to get along with others as well as stand up for themselves if being mistreated.
There are numerous ways to treat ADHD.
There are many ways for ADHD to be treated. Some options include medications, natural supplements, occupational therapy, counseling, support with essential oils, biofeedback, and many more. Often, a combination of methods are utilized for the most effective treatment. But each family needs to make the best decision for their child and their situation. It can be a stressful thing for parents to finally decide which route to go, and yet it can easily be one of those things they feel is quickly judged by others. When you are making a decision to treat your child with his best interests in mind, please free yourself from any guilt. You are doing what you feel is best for him/her to function, learn, and mature.
Children with ADHD have many wonderful characteristics and traits.
Children with ADHD tend to be creative, funny, intelligent, witty, and multi-taskers. They are often high energy and enjoy being involved in many things. They see the details, sounds, sights, and smells that others may miss. They can take in numerous details of a situation, while others may notice few. Don’t forget that despite the issues of ADHD, your child has a unique and special personality and needs to be recognized for those strengths as well.
Please keep in mind that this child is so much more than the labels used for treatment or IEP purposes.
This is a child uniquely created with talents and abilities God knew they needed for His special plan for their life.
Perhaps you are new to the true implications of ADHD and how it affects a child and family. I would encourage you to take some time to learn and even research to find information that brings you better awareness.
Whether you are taking this journey with your own child or simply aware of others who are, it can be so valuable to gain understanding.
Studies suggest 4-10 % of children are diagnosed with ADHD. So chances are good that you will know someone walking this road if you are not.
I am including a free checklist for symptoms of ADHD. It is available at this link in the free parenting resource library. You will also find a checklist for Sensory Processing Issues, which is a common co-existing condition. These tools may be helpful as you try to access what your children may need help with. There are also a number of other resources, such as the simple personality chart and self-care list that might be useful as you walk this journey! If you haven’t already read my blog post about kids who need extra, click here to bookmark it now.
If you are interested in ADHD facts, statistics, prevalence, demographics, or other details, you might enjoy this link that contains some very interesting facts. https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/facts-statistics-infographic
I have found these two sites to be extremely informative and they have a wealth of resources that have been useful as I begin to work with teachers and school staff.
This particular handout (https://www.additudemag.com/download/explaining-adhd-to-teachers/)
provided through ADDitude has been the most useful resource in my own understanding our child’s journey with ADHD and co-existing conditions. I encourage you to check out this link and get the free download. It is intended for explaining ADHD to teachers but was the most clear in explaining things to family, friends, and older siblings as well.
Another great site is https://www.understood.org/en. I highly recommend checking out the free resources and tools they provide here as well. They even have some simulations that help you understand what your child may be experiencing. I encourage you to spend some time on this site as well.
Last but not least, I want to include a link to this article that was sent my way this week. For those experiencing a similar journey, may you read this and feel the calm assurance that you are not alone. Your path is difficult and understood. And for those who are not on this journey, may this article give you brand new insight as to what other families may be experiencing. This is a difficult journey. Your grace and understanding may be just the gift that another needs to feel in their difficult season.
If you are traveling the journey of a child with special needs, I hope you can feel some support and understanding. Whether you have a child whose special needs are visible or invisible, I want you to know that the job you are doing is important and valued. Please know you are not alone. People may not understand exactly what your path entails, but through genuine and authentic sharing, we can help others have a better understanding and start spreading awareness.
May you be reminded today that you are just the parent God chose for your child. In your own power, you will probably feel less than adequate, but with God’s help and equipping you, you can do this! He will give you just what you need. I can’t imagine this journey without Him.
Here are some more great resources to check out:
If you haven’t already please read my other articles for encouragement and support! If you want to know more about personalities sign up today for my personality class here. It is self-paced, full of information and more for your parenting journey. If there was an instruction manual for kids this would be it! If you have a child who is highly sensitive, highly emotional, intense, or challenging, you might want to check out the signature program…The Calm Connection. This program is geared to help you navigate the struggles of raising a child with these extra needs. You will learn effective ways to parent, discipline, nurture, and connect. Check it out today! And if you have questions, let’s connect. I’d love to visit more about it with you!
May your day be blessed. Let’s do this!!