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On Parenting
Posted at 02:52 PM ET, 05/09/2011

Parents’ role in facing up to ADHD

This post has been updated to correct an error.

A few recent stories in The Post have reminded us that one the toughest challenges for children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is getting diagnosed.

Parents have a crucial role to play in changing this, perhaps more crucial than we want to acknowledge. We can help our children tremendously if we can look back on our own school years and recognize what might have been missed at the time.

Studies strongly suggest a genetic link in ADHD. Anecdotes abound among professionals: When a teacher or pediatrician meets one of the parents of a child they’re treating, they say it’s like blinders coming off: ”Oh, that’s where they got it.”

Two Washington Post stories last week addressed problems with adults denying their own ADHD.The first, a Brigid Schulte story, followed a mother as she struggled to get her own diagnosis. Another was a Carolyn Hax column about a father’s denial.

When today’s parents were growing up in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, ADHD was barely diagnosed. Many of the afflicted attributed their school struggles to character flaws. Those same folks may have outgrown ADHD or may be in denial about it. But if there is a chance it’s been passed down to a child, the problem needs to be acknowledged and communicated. Experts say if parents were more forthcoming, detection and treatment could come earlier and prevent years of frustration, disappointment and stress.

Chris Denby, an ADHD expert who advises school and parenting groups said that is especially true for the ADHD cases that do not involve hyperactivity, sometimes called inattentive ADHD. She calls them the “daydreaming” ADHD children, These are often girls and they don’t resemble the typical Dennis The Menace types. Though they might seem to be sitting quietly, they are not listening, Denby said. By the time a problem is detected, there are big gaps in education and problems with self-esteem.

One easy way for parents to assess themselves is by checking out a symptom list. If the symptoms sounds familiar, either to your life now or your life as a student, it’s time to start talking.

Do you suspect you had or still have ADHD? Do you think your child may have it? Will you bring it to a professional’s attention?

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By  |  02:52 PM ET, 05/09/2011

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