The Management and Doubt of ADHD
The final article in my four-part series is about how to manage ADHD and doubt when it develops. For the last view ADHD from a different lens, I will be focusing on the "D": dedication and disbelief.
To manage ADHD personally and/or as a parent, it takes dedication. You do have to commit to making some amends to your way of life in order to successfully begin to manage ADHD. It is a bit of trial and error. After making some changes, and there is not immediate improvement, sometimes disbelief can set in. Then, often a cycle of depression/anxiety can then begin and totally derail your improvement efforts. But, the "war" is not over! You can get back on track and try some other strategies.
Let's first begin to look at some general principles of managing ADHD. If you notice, I rarely use the word, "treat". I believe it is more about learning to cope with ADHD than eliminating and treating ADHD. Unless, you do some neurobiofeedback and actually generate new cells that will create new pathways in the brain, the symptoms of ADHD will be there and you can just learn to deal with them. I certainly am a proponent of neurogenesis of cells, and truly that is the most effective way to treat ADHD. But, if you are not able to start that process right away, it is a good idea to learn some strategies in the meantime. And, these strategies will also be helpful after neurobiofeedback, too.
I have often heard that the diagnosis is the first step in the management of ADHD. Many people find it a relief to know why they have been distracted, impulsive, and even destructive or depressed. So, just knowing why they are acting the way they are acting can bring comfort. Understanding the diagnosis can be half the battle! After you receive a diagnosis of ADHD or your child is diagnosed, submerse yourself in all you can about ADHD. Learn about the ADHD brain and try to understand the scientific/medical reasons for the diagnosis. There are some wonderful resources that I have listed in my previous articles. One of my personal favorite organizations to comprehensively learn about ADHD is ADDitudemag.com. The following is a link to the web site and directly to the page about ADDitude. https://www.additudemag.com/contact-us/about/
If you are reading this as a parent of a child with ADHD, educate yourself first of how to explain ADHD to the child. This is such an important step to building them up rather than creating more disbelief. First, be honest! Don't try to run around the topic, but face it head on. All of the family can be involved, even the pets! Here is an exhaustive list of books that for you and your child to read about ADHD: https://www.verywellmind.com/books-for-children-with-adhd-20450. I find bibliotherapy to be extremely effective with children. It helps to normalize what they are going through if they feel that other children (even fictional characters) are going through the same struggles. Also, be sure to list some famous people (some were mentioned in my last article) that have been diagnosed with ADHD. Knowing people have been successful is empowering. For the child, the diagnosis can be liberating! Imagine if for years you struggled with blurred vision due to nearsightedness. One day, you actually went to the eye doctor and you received a diagnosis of nearsightedness. You would be so relieved to know that your learning problems and struggles with reading were not because you were stupid or lazy or not motivated but because you actually had a neurological condition that could be managed. What a relief! Lastly, help your child to not rely on the diagnosis as an excuse. Helping them to understand the condition of ADHD can curb this tendency.
Probably the most important facet to managing ADHD is to set up structure. This can be a slippery slope, so try to resist imputing too many do's and don't's right away. A child newly diagnosed with ADHD can become easily overwhelmed if too many changes quickly occur. First address their school organization. Involve the teachers, coaches, school counselors and administration. When you figure out what organizational t00ls work best, have a meeting with all adults involved and share the tips. Here is a great article from ADDitude about staying organized, https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-organization-tools-you-will-use-everyday/. One of the keys to being successful with structure is CONSISTENCY! I put that in all caps, because it is that important. But, that does not mean it is easy. You and your children will not be perfect when it comes to this area, but learn that perfection does not equal success. As the child gets older, I have found that over-organizing can actually be a trap or a time-sucker. You can actually over organize. Many ADHD adults find that they will be emphatic about getting organized but actually starting the project is the key. So, make the method easy to do and not too detailed. You can actually have too many colors in your color-coded calendar.
Another way to management of ADHD and not letting doubt set in is to work with a therapist or a coach that specializes in ADHD. An ADHD coach has been specially trained as a life coach specifically centered around ADHD. The following web sites are good resources for finding a coach:
You can also work with a professional counselor that has training and experience with working with individuals with ADHD. Both types of professionals will be able to walk alongside you and your family as you all manage ADHD. Each can also help to wrestle with the self-doubt and disbelief that will set in as you are on this journey.
In conclusion, remember that the road to managing ADHD has its ups and downs. When you feel you are having successes, enjoy them. When you feel you are struggling, reach out. There are professionals that can help you as you figure out the best way to manage ADHD. Remember the diagnosis is multifaceted, and it will take time to learn to manage ADHD and combat against the disbelief.