This is a part of a series of blog posts from members of the LifeSpring Brand Ambassadors program. Staff members in this program write about a topic they are passionate about relating to LifeSpring and/or mental health.

ADHD: A Family Issue

We have heard a lot in our society about ADHD, otherwise known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It can present as predominately inattentive type, predominately hyperactive type, or combined. It is characterized by having 6 or more of the symptoms of each type. We have all probably been touched in some way by a child who has been diagnosed with this disorder and know how, if untreated, it can impair an individual’s function. However, it also has a dramatic effect on how the family unit as a whole functions and operates.

Common themes that have emerged from the families I work with, as well as my own personal experience include “Do you know how many times I have to say ‘Floss, brush, and Rinse’ each night?” or “I get the excuse ‘I forgot’ over twenty times this week!” As much as a child with ADHD is disorganized and forgetful, we as parents need to remember and be organized.

The first thing I tell the families I work with is that a new normal must be found. It is proven that structure and consistency are the best factors in improving overall functioning of a child with ADHD. This can be just as hard on parents/families at it can be on the patient. Charts, schedules, post-it notes, and verbal reminders are necessary components of effective treatment. Instead of thinking of these things as coddling or enabling, parents need to understand these are necessary keys to independence and success.

It is important to work with a trusted professional to develop a clear understanding of this issue. Next, finding support from friends or others having the same experience can help to normalize everyday stressors. Finally, remember that ADHD is not something to be “cured” in your child but accepted. When dealt with effectively, these challenges can make a family stronger!

Susan Walker Bugh, LCSW

Therapist, Washington County Office

Liz Stafford

Author Liz Stafford

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