Angel's Answers

Hi! I've been neglecting this blog pretty badly, since I've been writing more often in my personal blog about my nieces. I am trying to set up a schedule for writing in this blog, and writing more often about my ADHD issues instead of just venting about life in general! So I thought, on Fridays, I will answer questions about ADHD. If you have a question you'd like me to answer, email me or comment!

Here are three questions for today...

Q. I am in eighth grade. I think I may have ADHD. Actually I'm very sure I have it. How do I tell my parents? Will I have to go to a special doctor?

A. A good place for you to start would be with your guiu adance counselor. He'll be able to talk to you about ADHD and about what is causing you to think you may have it. He can probably give you some information to take home to your parents, or even set up a meeting with them.

If you are having a lot of problems in school, and your teachers think this might be why, you might be able to get tested for ADHD in school. Otherwise your parents might either take you to your regular doctor to get evaluated for ADHD. or to a psychiatrist. Usually the doctor will just ask you a bunch of questions about the troubles you have in school and at home, and she'll want to speak to your parents too. You may also get to do a special test using the computer.

Good luck!

Q. Why do some people not believe that ADHD exists? How do you respond to these people?

A. I think some people don't believe ADHD exists because they can't obviously see it. People with ADHD physically look like everyone else, and their "symptoms" can just appear to be personality traits. For instance, someone might look at a ten-year-old boy who cannot sit still to do his homework, and say he is just an active little boy who wants to be outside playing. If the same little boy is on Little League and has trouble paying attention to the game, some people might think he is "effeminite" or a "geek." A woman who is often late for work and has a messy desk might be considered lazy or irresponsible. Its true that symptoms of ADHD can appear as personality traits in people, but if someone has a whole lot of ADHD-like traits, then it really may be ADHD!

When it comes to people who don't believe in ADHD, I've found that these people often cannot be convinced. People who don't believe in it are often the types of people who are rather close-minded and do not like to hear that they are wrong. I'm sorry if it sounds mean, and I don't mean to speak badly of anyone! My dad and several of my friends do not think ADHD exists or do not think I can have it. I've been diagnosed by five different doctors, in five different methods, and some people still don't believe me! Sometimes you just have to let it go, and avoid the topic with them... or agree to disagree. The only time it can be really harmful is if the person who doesn't believe in ADHD is the parent or guardian of a child who has it... unless the parent or guardian is committed to finding ways to help the child with his ADHD traits, no matter what he decides to call them!

Q. My son is in kindergarten. His teacher complains that he has trouble sitting still, yells out in class, and doesn't follow directions. She thinks he may have ADHD. I asked my son's pediatrician about this, and the pediatrician says kindergarten is way too young to even think about ADHD! I explained this to the teacher, but she keeps insisting that he probably has ADHD and needs medication.

A. I'm not any sort of doctor, obviously, so I can't give you medical advice. I do think it is out of line for your son's teacher to persistently suggest that your son has ADHD... especially if you've already spoken to your pediatrician about it! A kindergartener is still very young, and not all children have the self control to sit quietly and follow directions when they are five years old. For the moment, see if you can work with the teacher on helping your son learn appropriate classroom behavior. Practice being quiet and using listening ears when someone else is talking, and raising your hand when you have something to say during classroom time. Maybe the teacher can post a two-sided sign, with a green side meaning it is okay to talk (like at playtime or times when the kids are working together on something) and a red sign meaning it is time to listen and use hand-raising.
Make sure the teacher is offering enough free time during the day, too! Some classrooms have cut out things like recess, gym class, and free play time. If your son's classroom is like that, he just may be having a hard time sitting and focusing on academic work for that long! Talk to the teacher, or even the principal, about breaking up the day a little bit
The teacher should also be playing up your child's strengths, instead of his weaknesses. Ask her to tell you what your son excels at in the classroom, and what he enjoys.
I'm not saying your little boy definitely doesn't have ADHD. He might! Within the next few years it will become more obvious. He will either learn the routine of school and get used to sitting still, raising his hand to speak, and following directions, or he will start having more trouble as classroom expectations are raised. For now, try to help your child enjoy kindergarten as much as possible. Good luck!

If you have questions of your own, email me or comment, and I will do my best to answer next Friday!
Also, I hope you'll check out my book, Why I Am The Way I Am, which answers more questions about what its like to have ADHD!


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