ADHD, homeschooling

Should I Get My ADHD Child Diagnosed?

Hi, my name is Sarah, and I have ADHD.

I’ve had ADHD my whole life, but I wasn’t diagnosed until just before my 30th birthday.

Now,  I’m aware of the controversy surrounding ADHD, so from someone will lives with it every day this is why I think that your child needs not only a diagnosis but to know what’s going on and what it’s called.

I compare ADHD to type 1 diabetes.

Let’s say that your child doesn’t have diabetes.

You can’t see the diabetes, and you assume that the other person’s child is just lazy, misbehaving, etc.

You don’t like the doctor and don’t trust the diagnosis.

And voila!

Diabetes is fake!

He doesn’t need insulin!

You’re making him dependent on a drug!

How could you?

You’re a horrible parent!

Peddling drugs to your child.

Shame on you.

That’s how people think of ADHD.

As if they have a medical or mental health degree and have studied all the actual science like brain scans and genetic markers and are qualified to decide if it’s real or not.

That’s ridiculous.  

Things don’t cease to exist because you don’t like them.

 

(Can we make a rule that things cease to exist if you don’t like them? I don’t like my autoimmune disease…)

It doesn’t stop being diabetes if you refuse to label it.

Refusing to label means you’re not getting treatment, answers, and help.

That’s unhealthy –regardless of the diagnosis.  

Now, leaving diabetes undiagnosed will kill you.

Maybe not immediately, but surely the fall out of it being undiagnosed and untreated.

Leaving ADHD undiagnosed isn’t life threatening, right?

It couldn’t possibly that serious.

But It is.

The complications of unaddressed ADHD have huge, life-altering consequences including but not limited to self-loathing and depression.

It has the potential to be life threatening.

I was 7 years old the first time I thought about killing myself.

Seven.

It was absolutely a result of the ADHD.

I had a good loving supportive family.

But no one diagnosed ADHD in girls in the 1980s.

I spent my entire life until I was 29 believing that there was something severely and fundamentally wrong with me.

From age 3, I remember knowing there was something different about me.

ADHD kids are smart.

If the symptoms are strong enough to warrant a diagnosis,  you can bet we’ve noticed and we’re aware that we’re different, wondering what’s wrong.

Beyond life threatening, unaddressed ADHD kills you inside in your confidence,  your quality of life, and your self-worth a little bit each day until you believe that you made yourself this way and it’s your fault.

That’s serious. That’s life altering. That should be taken seriously.

When I was finally diagnosed after about 6 years and just as many doctors (because no one knew how to diagnose ADHD in adults at that time) I felt like a weight had been lifted from me.

I had answers.

It wasn’t that there was something wrong with me.

I mean there was something wrong with me,  but it wasn’t my fault.

It wasn’t because I didn’t try hard enough or because I was stupid.

I had spent my entire life believing I was stupid.

A few years ago my mental health nurse practitioner gave me an IQ test because I refused to believe her when she told me I had above average intellect.  

The test came out in the 140s.

I still doubt that sometimes.

I almost didn’t write that number because it seemed like boasting, but I wanted to make the point that this disorder can have a huge impact on your child!

I think if it weren’t for the ADHD and other learning problems I have,  I probably would have excelled at school but instead, I struggled.

Every day I struggled.

Public school.

Private  school

Homeschool.

I struggled in all them but by far the least in homeschool.

Even though  I’m not medicated,  a diagnosis gave me answers that I simply didn’t have before.

The diagnosis took a woman who had believed she was just stupid and lazy since she was a child and opened my eyes to see what was really going on.  

It freed me to learn to work within my strengths instead of always resenting and fighting against my weakness.

It gave me the tools I had been missing.

I tried medication and would use it again if my other health problems didn’t prohibit it.

Of course, every situation is different and each parent must make up their minds for themselves, but I’ve yet to meet an ADHDer who was diagnosed as an adult that doesn’t wish they could go back and undo the damage of not knowing.

For some people, not knowing leaves lasting trauma.

I advocate for telling the child because of how much that information could have affected my life had I known.  

I actually planned to not tell my children when they were diagnosed.

I bought into the lie about the label and how bad it was for kids.

My oldest overheard me talking to my husband about his diagnosis  (we all have it) and said: “Mama, I think I have that thing Daddy has.”

The cat was out of the bag.

But –in spite of my fears– that knowledge proved to be a good thing.  

It helped him to understand himself and have confidence without the baggage that I had growing up.

Before we told him, he had started with episodes of self-loathing, but the diagnosis explained what was going on and the self-loathing stopped.

I wish I felt like I could adequately communicate the significance of a diagnosis on someone’s life.

I wish I could put each parent in the shoes of their child for a day.

If you walked in your child’s shoes for a day, I guarantee, you’d want answers too.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

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2 thoughts on “Should I Get My ADHD Child Diagnosed?”

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