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Old 09-29-08, 12:26 PM
Dizfriz Dizfriz is offline
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Dealing with grief and ADHD

Grieving because your child has been diagnosed as ADHD

When they find out their child has a disability such as ADHD, most parents will go through a period of grieving. It is normal and expected. Often, however, they will not know it for what it is. Here, knowledge of the process helps.

Why do your grieve? You grieve because your child is different from other children. Your "perfect child" is not perfect any more. It is a terrible loss. I have been through it and it is real. You not only grieve for the child but also yourself. You had envisioned a wonderful life raising this perfect child, especially if it is your first. Now it is not to be and, in a way, is the loss of a dream.

Let us first start with explaining the Stages of Grief. It is important to understand these as part of a necessary process. Understanding helps shorten the grieving but you have to go through it so you can proceed to healing and helping.

Understand that people do not always go through the stages in the same order and often will go through more than one simultaneously. Some will skip a stage. Each of us have our own way of grieving but in form or another, these stages are pretty much universal.

5 Stages of Grief*

First is Denial and Isolation. "No, this can't be true, my child cannot be ADHD!" How many parents do not want and cannot handle what is happening to them and their child? Often this is accompanied by the search for the "magic bullet". "I don't want to give my child drugs! What miracle vitamin, book, or treatment will "cure" my child and make it all go away?**

Second is anger. "Why is this happening to me and my child?". It is not fair! Other people's children do not have this, why mine?"

Third is Bargaining-this happens sometimes but not all. "If my child can be normal then I will..."

Next is Depression. The situation is overwhelming and you don't know what to do. You try to figure out what you did to cause your child to be this way. You feel it is somehow your fault and you experience a terrible guilt. You want to cry for your loss and often do....a lot. While this stage is truly miserable, it must be gone through before healing can begin. Do not fight it, go with and through it so you can better help your child.

Finally there is Acceptance. There is where you begin to heal and can focus on the needs of your child. You have accepted the disability for what it is and now begin to hunt for better ways of helping your child cope. You realize it is real, it is not going away, and must be dealt with. Your child needs you and you must be as centered as possible so you can help your child become what they can be even with the disability.

Be warned that you will get reoccurrences of grieving at times and this is also normal. Something will trigger it and you have to spend a short time going though the process again. This is very real.

What you do not want to do is to be hung up on a stage and not be able to leave it. Growth stops. You may have seen someone, after a great loss, get stuck in anger or depression and waste years or even the rest of their lives there. Your child needs you and you cannot afford to expend a lot of yourself on this. You do need to spend some necessary time here and occasionally revisit. For your child, you need recognize it for what it is and move on to healing.

A version of a metaphor I picked up Russell Barkley:

You get on a plane to go to San Francisco. Going to San Francisco has been your dream. When you get off you discover you are in San Antonio. It is not what you expected but it is where you are. While I like San Antonio, it is not San way.

You had your heart set on San Francisco. Now you can fuss, gripe and mourn over not being in San Francisco or you can begin to accept being in San Antonio. It is really a pretty nice town and there is a lot to see and do there. What you thought you were going to get was California and cable cars, what you got was Texas and the Alamo. How you deal with this is your choice to make.

Take care and keep on plugging. These kids are worth it.
This is to help. Use what you will and let the rest go.

The statements of feelings are general ones that are common to many people. Each person's feelings and thoughts are unique to themselves. Take my examples as just that-examples.

*Stages of Grief from the work of Kubler-Ross

**Not to be confused with looking at other methods of treatment as a way of helping. In denial, the parent feels that if the child can be "fixed" then all this will go away and the child will then be normal.
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