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ADHD Parents Together
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Explain diagnosis to child?

When and how did you explain to your child about an ADHD diagnosis?

He takes medication, I’ve explained to him that it just helps his brain to slow down so he can make better choices.

I overheard him the other day asked another child what ADHD was. The child answered “that’s what I have”. And that was the end of the discussion. I’m wondering if I should speak with him about it now. He’s turning 7.

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I told my son at 6. He’s now 12, and in hindsight, I’m really glad we did! It was amazingly helpful to listen to his point of views on his meds and his emotions.... He started naming his moods, and gave us a common language so that we could help him better. I would suggest to follow his lead, and let him ask the questions. When he’s had enough information, he will stop asking....

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I struggle with this. It helps they know bc they will take meds and see adhd as not 'them', but rather a condition that needs to be dealt with. On the other hand, I don't want my daughter.. Just turned 12, to blame all bad behavior on adhd. At some point she has to own this and manage the symptoms.

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I was struggling with this myself, but then we found the “How to ADHD YouTube channel which helped me talk to my daughter about it in a positive way. She loves the videos. We watch them together and then talk about them. The most important thing she has taken away from our conversations is, “You know how you struggle with (fill in the blank)? Well it’s not your fault. And you’re not alone.”

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I also love that channel! And I’m not a big YouTube user.

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My son is 6. So far we’ve only talked symptoms, and haven’t used diagnostic labels like “ADHD”. But he is very aware of the symptoms- he’s complained to me about them before we even got diagnosed. We talk about them quite a bit.

The short analogy I’ve used with him in the meantime is Cars - his brain is like Lightning McQueen, so fast and great on the race track. But how did Lightning do on regular roads? (My son recalled he had no headlights & had trouble.) So, we’re just trying to figure out how to help your Lightning McQueen brain to drive on normal regular roads most other cars drive on.

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I really think it is a personal decision. Our son was diagnosed at 7. We started talking to him about it right away because he was getting in a lot of trouble at school. Going to the doctor, starting medication, and seeing an ADHD therapist were all new so we wanted him to understand why all the changes. My son is combined type, so he did relate to the book "Cory Stories". It helped him to explain it to friends too. He is pretty open about telling others and why he takes medication. I'm glad we started talking right away. Seeing a therapist has also been extremely helpful for him and for us. Good luck!

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Jade78-

Just the other day my son asked what ADHD "stood" for.. we have talked to him before but I think they can only take in so much at their level. As they mature, they understand more about why they make the chooses they do. He understands that his medication helps him not be in trouble at school ( that's how he describes it)

But you could ask him how much he knows and then fill in from there. Same thing we do about the birds and the bees. Once you know how much he knows then you can clarify from there or layer the knowledge on.

Hope this helps.

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You give them what they can handle according to their age. I've always found it's best to be honest with children they will imagine worse things than what you tell them.

They also need to know that medication can't do everything. We are working with a good behavioral counselor to try to teach them to manage symptoms on their own but it's hard

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My son was diagnosed in Kindergarten and it took us 3 yrs to find the right meds to work for him. Because his behavior was impacting his ability to make friends I bought a book off of Amazon to help explain ADHD to kids. It was for kids about a turtle that had ADHD. I used it to explain to my son and I let his teacher use it as well to explain why my son sometimes does things that most kids don’t consider normal. It helped for them to understand him more. I also bought a book at the same time to help with him as he moved into adolescence. I think it’s important to explain it to kids as soon as you they are diagnosed especially if you are giving meds. Just explain it on their level based on age.

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Thank you everyone for the thoughtful input. Lots to think about and decide what to do.

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