As the mother of a child with severe ADHD, being the recipient of constant judgment is something that I am familiar with. My oldest son suffers with this disorder to the extent that he often has trouble controlling his own body movements. Simply walking from one room to another without falling or getting sidetracked proves to be an almost impossible task, one that you and I take for granted.
Other parents question my decisions on an almost daily basis, they question the love I have for my child. The truth is, so do I.
No, I don’t question whether or not I love him, I question whether I love him as much as I should. Enough that it doesn’t get lost through the constant “sit down,” “stop running,” “slow down,” and “don’t do that.” I don’t want him to question the love that I have for him but, I can’t help but think that he does. I can’t help but feel the constant guilt that comes with it.
I have never met a parent that didn’t assume they knew everything there was to know about a child with ADHD. There are those that have concluded it is merely a way for doctors and drug companies to earn a quick buck, a bogus disorder that is over diagnosed and over prescribed. There are those that believe it is simply a hyper child that would be cured if that child’s parents would simply send them outside to play and “run all of that energy out” more often. Then, there are those that believe it is a true disorder that doctors are too quick to diagnose, resulting in a tremendous amount of children being prescribed medication unnecessarily. I suppose I would fall into that last category.
Regardless of which of those scenarios are in fact the truth, like all disorders, an accurate conclusion cannot be made until they’ve been experienced first hand. The saying, “Don’t judge anyone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes” comes to mind. I learned this lesson the hard way.
Since the age of 2, I’ve had doctors, teachers, sitters, friends, and family tell me that something just “wasn’t right” with my oldest child. I wouldn’t hear of it. I was angry, irritated, and disgusted that these people had the audacity to even mention the possibility that something might be different about my child. I had heard of ADHD, I was in the category of people that concluded the disorder was bogus. My child is a boy and, after all, boys are hyper, clumsy, and seek danger purposely. “Boys will be boys.”
Not until the age of 4 did I begin to accept the fact that maybe, just maybe, was there something to what those audacious people had been telling me. After a good amount of time soul searching and coming to grips with my pride, I took the plunge and made the appointment with a behavioral psychologist. And then another, and another. Three professionals and three absolute positives later, it was time to come to grips with reality. My son WAS different.
It was a hard diagnosis to accept but, the truth is, it brought me a small amount of peace. To me, it meant that I wasn’t a horrible mom. It brought clarity and answers to so many questions. Questions I didn’t know I even had until then.
If there is one thing I want those of you who haven’t experienced life with a child who suffers from ADHD to take from this is, don’t be so quick to pass judgment. Parents of children who suffer from a disorder, any disorder, are regularly faced with decisions that others, not in a similar situation, wouldn’t be able to fathom.
The decisions that these parents – I – make aren’t done so out of enjoyment or a cry for attention, they are done so out of love for the children that they affect. They are made because without them, my child can’t sit down long enough in class to learn how to cut a piece of paper or write his name. They are made because without them, my child is 10 times more likely to self medicate himself with an illegal substance as an adolescent. They are made because, without them, my child can’t function during the day because he can’t settle himself to sleep at night.
Yes, boys will be boys. Yes, some children are just more hyper than others and that doesn’t necessarily mean they have a disorder. And yes, some children are diagnosed with this disorder improperly. Some children, however, aren’t. Before you make the call and pass judgment on another, already guilt stricken parent, you must first determine… are you qualified to decide which ones are which?
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