Remember the saying, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree?” And so it goes with ADHD. Many newly diagnosed kids in turn have newly diagnosed ADHD parents. If you and your family have multiple generation ADHD, it is important to learn about your diagnosis and learn the next steps too.
Creating your team
Think of this diagnosis as one that includes challenges to Executive Function, a part of your brain that involves planning and processing. It is more than just attention and hyperactivity. Executive function can affect you and your child’s daily life, not just at school or work. Aspects of ADHD include transitions, getting started, organization, prioritizing, motivation, and working memory. In every day life that might be getting ready for work and school or organizing your paper work and school papers.
Getting a good team together to inform and address ADHD is critical, including professionals in the medical, counseling and coaching arena. Developing a trust relationship, putting aside judgment, and focusing on care will help you develop a plan that works for you and your family. Start with your family pediatrician or your general practitioner to know who would be a good addition to your team. Your team may include a psychiatrist, counselor, ADHD coach, and professional organizer. Be sure to add team members who are well qualified ADHD professionals.
Learning more about ADHD
There are many venues to learn about ADD. Associations such as the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (www.adda.org) and CHADD (www.chadd.org) are two of the primary first steps. These associations have online, national and local presence for you to tap into and learn about ADD. Finding a local chapter makes for camaraderie and a sense of belonging in your community.
Reading may be a top priority for you. Blogs and books offer a look into the life of families and individuals with ADD. Among the top are Terri Matlin http://www.momswithadd.com/, Tara McGillicuddy http://www.myaddblog.com/ and Arianne Benefit http://blog.neatandsimple.com/ and Laura Rolands http://myattentioncoach.com/adhd-coaching-blog/. Books include The Family ADHD Solution by Dr. Marten Bertin, Empowering Youth with ADD by Jodi Sleeper-Triplett, Driven to Distraction by Edward Hallowell, or Journey Through ADDulthood by Sari Solden.
Basic first steps
If you are looking for a few basic solutions for your family, these are a few first steps for you.
- Set up good self care with bedtimes and good nutrition for everyone in the family. Having adequate sleep and high protein meals can make a difference for everyone. Often this is the first area that families overlook.
- Take care with over scheduling for the family. Allow more transition and down time than other families. For families with ADHD, the transitions and the rush of daily life ends up tripping them up. Be sure that you are mindful of all members’ commitments. Use a family calendar, either with Google calendar or a large month at a glance calendar, posted in the kitchen where everyone can see it. Host a family “meeting” weekly to go over who is going what, who is going where and what other new “surprises” are going on this week.
- Address the stress with exercise, yoga, art, therapy and other ways to release the tension. These activities help everyone with clarity. Just being outside, taking a walk or even just a little movement can make a difference. All families have stress, but even more so with ADHD.
- Place clocks in many places throughout your home. A timer is a great investment in helping you and your child stay on task, get started and get done. Choose a clock and timer with a “clock face” in order to see time elapsing. Use it in transitional times too.
- Put into place additional help throughout the week. A daily Homework Helper can be a blessing for both parents and students. A local college student, older high schooler or other person can help your student focus and work as a partner with less stress than the parent. A cleaning service, additional driver or daily money manager can be a blessing to a parent who struggles with these aspects.
- Make a morning plan and evening routine with your family. Talk through the plan, note the obstacles, make a chart and stick with your design for smoother family times. It is always a struggle to be consistent for those with ADHD, but implement a smooth, simple plan for both the beginning and ending of the day.
Families with ADHD do best by focusing on the positive in specific, genuine ways. Remember that a hug, a smile and a pat on the back can bring about the desired behavior and most especially the emotional feeling of being understood and loved.
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