Your ADHD Kid Will Turn Out Fine

Marj Hatzell

Border collie sepia
All Dogs have ADHD?
I'm sure you've heard the jokes. Folks joke around that when they forget things or are otherwise distracted that they see "Something shiny!" or "I'm concentrating! SQUIRREL!" And everyone erupts into laughter. Except for those of us that actually HAVE Adult ADHD. It's no laughing matter for us. Too defensive? Too touchy? Maybe. But if you knew how most of us have gotten to this point, you might also have some sympathy.

It is estimated that 3 to 5 percent of children are affected by ADHD, 60 percent of those have it into adulthood. Some people grow out of it but a large majority of us do not.

The thing is, some of us weren't diagnosed until we were adults in the first place. As children, we might have been impulsive, chatty, unorganized, easily bored, moving at the speed of light, and emotional. While we were growing up, we may have been told we were lazy or that we weren't applying ourselves. We've been told that we're intelligent but get lousy grades so we must be goofing off. We've heard all our lives how we're clumsy or need to slow down. Sometimes, folks have compared us to Speedy Gonzalez or the Energizer Bunny.

If we had a dollar for every time someone told us we had "tons of energy," we'd be independently wealthy. It isn't an issue of energy. It's more that no matter how tired we are, or how much we want to sleep, we just cannot stop. And neither can our brains. Trying to fall asleep at night, I can remember who I sat next to in 12 grades and all of the answers to the trivial pursuit game. This might be useful someday if I'm on Jeopardy. Otherwise? Brain, GO TO SLEEP.

Many adults that were undiagnosed as children (and undiagnosed as adults until a certain point) ended up irritable, depressed, self-medicated, unorganized, and possibly unemployed. Many of us procrastinate like it's an art form, have low self-esteem (you would to, if you were told you were lazy your whole life), and suffer from relationship problems. Untreated Adult ADHD can lead to anger problems, poor life choices, and substance abuse problems.

The good news? There is help. I was one of the lucky ones. Through therapy I was receiving for postpartum depression, my therapist was good enough to tease out information that revealed I was a classic case. And of course my reaction was, "OMG! NO WAY! That's what's been wrong with me my whole life!" After some testing, organization skills, and medication (turns out that the antidepressant I was on is also great for ADHD! WIN!), I was on my way. My life was never better. It does take quite a bit of hard work, but with the right treatment, Adult ADHD is something you can overcome.

How can you overcome it? Treatment. Counseling. Medication. Organizational skills (look for Flylady and Motivated Moms, they saved my life. And marriage). Exercise (many people with ADHD turn to running and other forms of exercise to channel their ADHD in the right direction).

But hey, there are some well-known folks with ADHD that did some awesome things with their lives:

  • Cammi Granato (girl is a mean hockey playah!)
  • Albert Einstein (also suspected to be on the Autism Spectrum)
  • Justin Timberlake (say what you want, Dude's loaded)
  • Jamie Oliver (yummy)
  • Will Smith (getting Jiggy with it)
  • Henry Winkler (heyyyyyy!)
  • Jim Carrey (NO! YOU DON'T SAY!)
  • Robin Williams (no one is surprised by this)
  • Paris Hilton (okay, maybe not the best example)
  • Howie Mandel (also has OCD)
  • Bruce Jenner (that's Olympic Gold Medalist, to you)

With some hard work and determination, you can channel ADHD into positive directions. If you suspect you have ADHD, don't be embarrassed. Talk to your practitioner. It can be treated and your life can improve. And check out a book called All Dogs Have ADHD. It's a lighthearted look at ADHD that also explains it pretty well. And it's cute overload, so it's a win all around.

Do you or someone you know have ADHD?

Image via Marj Hatzell

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