Being a parent can be scary, exciting, happy, sad, and frustrating. You or others around you may question whether or not you are doing something 100% right and sometimes you may find that you aren’t. When you add in raising a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD/ADD) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), those daily challenges can start to feel a bit overwhelming. Yet, none of this should defeat you! Feel more prepared with these 3 steps, which will allow you to better connect with your child and find out more about yourself.

Get a comprehensive assessment for your child.

Your child will require a medical, educational, and psychological evaluation. The sooner the assessment is done the better. Early intervention is key to your child’s developmental needs. While all this initially feels like a wave crashing over you, it will change your life overall. These assessments and evaluation will provide detailed informational about your child’s medical condition and allow for you to understand how the particular condition affects your child. If your child needs more structure, you will now know. If your child requires specific medication or therapy, this will help inform you of your options. Autism Speaks provides an amazing parent guide and details how to respond to your child diagnosis. Getting a comprehensive assessment serves to only bolster your abilities to help your child. An important thing to know is that there are other medical diagnoses that mimic or commonly occur with ADHD and ASD. Additionally, there are also conditions that may present themselves later in life. Getting a comprehensive assessment may also be a great tool to help an alternate or coordinating condition be considered or ruled out. Providing you with a step in the right direction for aiding your child.

Get yourself evaluated.

Generally, ADHD and ASD is a genetic condition, meaning that you yourself may have the same condition as your child. This statement is not to point blame! This statement is made to serve two purposes. The first, to urge you to make helpful choices for your child. A parent with ADHD or ASD may have separate and different struggles from one who does not have the condition. Both these conditions affect everyone differently, so knowing and understanding your own diagnosis helps to ensure that you, as a parent, can appropriately aid your child in living with their own condition. ADHD and ASD tend to run in families and being able to address your condition may shine light on personal underlying issues. The second purpose of the statement is to show you that your child can grow into a loving, considerate, functioning adult, who may one day raise children of their own. 

Get support.

A staunch support system when raising children, in general, is massively important. Having someone you can turn to or request assistance from is something that cannot be stressed enough. Yet, as a parent of a child with ADHD or ASD, there extra steps and requirements. There are so many documentations that you may never have even considered keeping, like that note from your child’s teacher describing how they spent half the day being obstinate. While your child is in school, you will need to form a team with the school staff to ensure educational success. You will need to meet with the school’s principal or vice principal, the special education teacher/specialist, the school’s psychologist, and, most important, the classroom teacher for the year. There are specific educational rights that your child is afforded and that the school will provide you. These people are going to assist you in obtaining an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for your child so that they are ready to succeed at school. Outside of school, there are also a number of other valuable support systems. On social media, support groups for raising children with ADHD or ASD in your area may be available. There are also more generalized groups, like ADHD Parent SupportParenting Autistic Children with Love & Acceptance, or MyAutismTeam, that provide valuable information and a place for you to ask for advice or questions from other parents in similar situations.  

Being a parent require love, patience, and discipline. The magnitude of a parent’s love and effort for their child knows no limit and though raising a child is no easy feat, it is rewarding in so many ways. Taking these simple steps can result in a confident, strong and understanding child that can learn to manage and live with their diagnosis. Mental health and Self-esteem work hand in hand and having the base understanding of a diagnosis, can change the world for a family.

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