When you first receive the diagnosis of ADHD many times you are very upset. Many people grieve the news. They only see and think about how hard life is going to be. They often feel ashamed and think they should hide the news from as many people as they can. They often do not tell the child involved or don’t know how to tell them. They fear ridicule and bullying. Parents worry about how this will affect their child’s self-esteem or how others will see their child.
One thing I want to point out is the label does not define your child. It will not change your child. Telling people or not will not change what others see of your child. If your child struggles with behavior, not telling people that they have ADHD will not change the struggles. I have heard some parents to not want their kid to be labeled. Honestly, if your child struggles, they probably have been given a label and it’s probably a lot worse than ADHD. I hear of so many parents hiding their child’s diagnosis. They usually feel they are helping their child. I understand that there are some people that do not need to know and it might not be helping anyone by sharing that info. BUT by hiding it we are teaching our children that it is something to be ashamed of! It is not! It is just a difference, nothing to hide or be embarrassed by! It should be celebrated for all the wonderful things it brings with it. Yes, it also adds struggles to the lives of those that have it, but it doesn’t have to be so bad. By educating ourselves and sharing that info with others we can go a long way in removing the stigma of ADHD. Also, we need to highlight the benefits of ADHD.
Out of the box thinking, creativity, risk taking, perseverance (when they really want something you will not stop them!), high energy, ability to think of many things at once, outspokenness, challengers of the status quo, these people are the movers and shakers of our society! They do not do something just because they are told to, they want to know the why, how, and what for! They will make you think! They will pose questions that you never even thought of asking, much less have the answer for! There are so many successful people with ADHD. Embrace it! Find out what gifts you or your child have received from ADHD. Find a way to express those gifts! Use them to your advantage! I know at times it can be difficult to see it as a gift. You can Do this!
One site that has a lot of resources on how to change your lens is http://www.livesinthebalance.org On this site you will find resources for parents and teachers to help decrease the stress around challenging behaviors that many children with ADHD deal with. Once some of these stresses are decreased you should better be able to see how ADHD can be beneficial. Once you see those gifts you can see how and where to use them.
I encourage parents to talk openly to their children about what ADHD is and how it can be an awesome benefit to them. Give them the words to talk about it and explain it to others. Empower them to advocate for themselves! If you are ashamed of ADHD they will learn to be ashamed of themselves. If you are open and honest your child will learn to accept it as just part of their journey of life. They will learn to embrace it and not be embarrassed or ashamed. As parents of kids with ADHD, we need to speak up and speak out, educate those in our lives about ADHD. Take away the stigma!