The Childhood Collective is a team of two child psychologists (Lori Long, Ph.D. and Mallory Yee, Ph.D.) and a speech language pathologist (Katie Severson, M.S., CCC-SLP). Most importantly, they are three moms who are dedicated to supporting parents of children with ADHD and anxiety. With over 40 years of combined professional experience, they empower parents by teaching science-backed strategies to raise happy and confident children!
I think my child has ADHD… Now what?
You’ve had questions about your child’s development for a while. Maybe you’ve shared these concerns with others and you’ve been met with a listening ear. Or, maybe you’ve been met with comments that are dismissive at best (“Oh, boys will be boys!” or “We’re all a little ADHD!”) or undeservedly harsh (“Yeah, because they need more discipline!” or “Oh please, ADHD isn’t real!”).
No matter how your concerns have been received, please know this: It is incredibly important to follow your instincts as a parent. You know your child best, and you are the best person to advocate for them.
Eventually, you find yourself in a place ready to take some next steps. You think your child may have ADHD… but now what?
1. First, a little encouragement.
Whether your child has or does not have ADHD, remind yourself that this is not your fault. As parents, we are all doingourbest with the information we have. AND, your child is still the same child you love madly, diagnosis or not. Your child doesn’t need to be fixed, though they may need extra support and patience. An accurate diagnosis can help you get there.
2. Now, share your concerns with your child’s pediatrician if you haven’t yet.
Come preparedtothe visit. Doctor visits can be overwhelming and bring up a range of emotions. Write down your concerns in as much detail as possible so you are ready when the time comes to share.
If possible, put numbers to the frequency and intensity of your concerns. For example, rather than simply explaining that your child has tantrums and you’re concerned about them, share that your child has at least 5 tantrums per day, you have difficulty identifying the trigger of the tantrums, and your child takes more than 20 minutes to console. At that time, your child’s pediatrician may choose to proceed further by having you fill out some behavior checklists. Other pediatricians may immediately agree to give you a referral to a specialist. You can also ask for a referral to a specialist, such as a child psychologist, neuropsychologist, or developmental pediatrician.
3. Ask your child’s teacher or daycare provider for their observations and concerns.
Sometimes there can be a lapse in communication between home and school. Your child’s teacher may haveconcerns, butmay not be voicing them until things are *too* challenging. If your child’s teacher does not have any concerns, share some of your own observations and see if they align with anything your child’s teacher has been noticing in the classroom (“I’ve noticed at home that my child has a hard time moving from one activity to another easily. Do you notice this at school, and have you done something to make it go smoother?”).
4. Trust your gut, and take the next step if you aren’t satisfied.
If you find yourself in a position where your child’s pediatrician has recommended a “wait and see” approach or your child’s teacher is reporting no concerns, but you feel very strongly that your family is in need of support, you may still take next steps. You can seek out a comprehensive evaluation. Providers most commonly offering these comprehensive evaluations include child psychologists, neuropsychologists, or developmental pediatricians. You may also request an evaluation through your child’s local school district (or early intervention, depending on your child’s age) to determine if they may qualify for additional support through the school district.
5. Learn new tools that work.
The truthis,many common parenting strategies DON’T work the same way for children with ADHD. From emotional outbursts to challenging behaviors, you need a new set of strategies to support your child. You need tools to help your child listen, manage those frequent meltdowns, and help you connect with your child. Check out our free ADHD Parenting Guide, which gives you six keys to raising a happy and independent child with ADHD!
6. Join support groups and find resources that feel healthy and supportive.
Time and time again, we hear from parents that one of the most important parts of traveling this journey is connecting with parents who “get it”. Join your localCHADDgroup or seek out ADHD parenting groups on social media. We would love for you to follow our social media, @thechildhoodcollective, where we share daily tips, tools, and humor for parents of children with ADHD (and suspected ADHD). We also have a blog (thechildhoodcollective.com), where we address common concerns and questions from parents who are just like you!
Just remember – these groups and resources should make you feel better, not worse – so know when to part ways with unhealthy connections.
And a little more parting encouragement – you know your child best, and you are your child’s best advocate. Seek out the support and guidance of professionals and parents who have “been there”. But never doubt that your concerns are valid and that your voice matters in the process.