We’ve known since the beginning that our son would one day be diagnosed with ADHD. He always seemed harder to corral than other kids his age. As a former teacher I felt that I had a few tricks up my sleeve and I wasn’t afraid to use them. But he required a lot of management and many of my tricks were short lived. They would work for a while but lose their luster quickly. Friends’ and neighbors’ kids would retreat to their playroom and play quietly for what seemed to be hours at a time. But our little guy required constant stimulation and constant attention.
So when it was finally time to take him to a pediatric neurologist for an evaluation, we knew what the likely outcome would be. Immediately, the doctor knew too. When she called me back to review her findings everything was confirmed. Providing the DSM-IV diagnostic code criteria said to me, “To be diagnosed with inattention you must have six of the following. He has all of them.” Okay, no surprise there. She continued, “To be diagnosed with hyperactivity you must have six of the following. He has all of them.” Official diagnosis: ADHD combined, both inattention and hyperactivity. Medication was recommend. We knew it was coming.
Whew! What a relief, right? I’m not crazy after all. I’m not imagining it that he can be more difficult to keep engaged. I’m not a bad parent for having a difficult time managing him. I haven’t failed because he can’t sit through a whole episode of Thomas. There is a legitimate diagnosis and we can help him now that we know for certain. I know my child and I was right. He has ADHD.
And then it settled in. Shit. I was right. He has ADHD. He will likely wrestle with this for the rest of his life. It may likely mean that school is challenging for him. It may even mean that social relationships are difficult for him. Will he be successful? Will he go to college? Can he lead a normal life?
I’ve since found a more balanced outlook. Or I guess I should say that I try again each day to find a more balanced outlook. There are days when I can’t get him to brush his teeth before school without losing my temper because he has to play with every little thing he passes on his way from his bedroom to the bathroom. Or when we’re trying to have a meal at a restaurant and his medication has worn off so he can’t sit still long enough to order the food. I can be especially difficult on playdates when other children are being so “perfect” and my son is literally running laps around them. Or when my husband screams at him out of frustration because they can’t read a bedtime book without my son going on a million tangents.
But then there are the days where his joy and energy lights up a room. There are days when his creativity and problem solving amaze me. Days where his zest and love of life is contagious and he gets me to give up some of my own rigidity. Days where I walk him into his school and the whole room calls out his name happy to see him because he is a genuinely nice and fun person to be around.
And I wouldn’t change him for anything in the world.