By: Elizabeth Diep
I am a mother, wife, sister, cousin, and aunt of adults and children who have ADHD. I’ve only recently been aware of what it is and how all the people in my circle have been affected.
My daughter is the only person formally diagnosed with ADHD. My husband, brother, cousin, and niece have not been diagnosed but it’s clear they have it.
My brother passed away five years ago in part due to his ADHD. He had hepatitis and put off getting his prescriptions refilled. His hepatitis developed into liver cancer and ultimately liver failure. By the time he sought medical care, it was too late. He passed away leaving three young children, one of whom now also exhibits symptoms of ADHD.
My cousin has many symptoms of ADHD and struggles with social relations and depression which resulted in her attempt at suicide.
My daughter, who just turned seven, was diagnosed with ADHD in kindergarten. Since then my husband and I have had a lot of “Aha” moments, not only based on our struggles with her but also with my husband as well. His ADHD certainly places a great strain on our relationship. Understanding how it manifests in him helps me be more forgiving.
Over the past year, I’ve researched and educated myself on what ADHD is and how I can help my daughter overcome it. I’ve become a better mother through my knowledge and understanding. I’ve been working very hard on my parenting skills so that I can support her. But it is hard! Every day is a struggle. But when I look at her and see the adorable and cute things she does and says, it makes it all worthwhile. Not only do I struggle with her staying on task and completing work in a timely manner, but I struggle with her messiness, emotional outbursts, arguments, and social interaction.
We also struggle with the community and how people respond to her ADHD. We’ve become educators and advocates at her school, extra-curricular activity teachers and child care agency. We also educate our neighbors and friends. We even have to struggle with her health care provider in getting her appropriate care and her therapists on what kind of behavioral therapy works for a child with ADHD.
It’s a constant worry how ADHD will effect relationships with her peers, success in school, her self-esteem, and general success in life. We believe in “prophylaxis” preventative treatment.
Sometimes it feels like a constant battle to get the support she needs. We’ve moved and changed schools so that she can be better supported in a more nurturing environment. I’ve changed jobs and taken a pay cut so that I can be more available for her.
It’s gratifying to hear from so many people that they wish other kids with ADHD had supportive parents like us.
It certainly hasn’t been easy. I was angry and frustrated a lot of the times dealing with what we perceived to be our daughter’s perceived willfulness and misbehavior. I’ve had to overcome social and cultural expectations to be a better parent. I remember being so frustrated once that I hit her in the face and child protective services got involved. That was my wake up call. I don’t ever want to be so angry and frustrated that I can hurt my child. It has been a difficult journey and I empathize with every parent out there who has a child with ADHD. But it can be done.
I know ADDA’s focus is on ADHD in adults. But I think we can prevent so many hurts and struggles if we focus on early childhood intervention and parental support.