Mental Health Awareness Month: How to manage ADHD diagnosis as a parent


About 2% –16% of school-aged children are estimated to suffer from ADHD, according to the South African Journal of Psychiatry. There is no clear understanding of what is the cause of ADHD although genetics may be a factor.

Nicole Jennings, spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics says that Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is, as the name implies, hyperactivity is one of the most common neurodevelopmental conditions that affects children.

“Although ADHD is typically diagnosed in children as they begin school, it can occasionally go completely undiagnosed or only be discovered much later in life. It affects both males and females.”

ADHD patients have compromised impulse control and an impaired ability to concentrate. Furthermore they need to have a strict timeline, it helps if you tell your kids to visualise their day, Jennings told IOL Lifestyle.

“Much of the success of the treatment outcomes for ADHD-diagnosed children depends on the commitment of the parents. For many the responsibility can be overwhelming, let alone a parent who is also on the ADHD spectrum, said Abdurahmaan Kenny, Mental Health Portfolio Manager for Pharma Dynamics.

In SA, there is poor identification and treatment of common mental disorders at primary health-care level and limited access to specialist resources with a service delivery and treatment gap of up to 75%. Picture: Freepik

Jennings points out that not only parents are responsible for their children, but also teachers or other secondary caregivers, whose links to the child may aid in controlling the disorder.

It is important to take into account a holistic approach in managing the condition of your child as well as yourself by knowing when to take medication and which activities the child is struggling with and which they excel in.

She says people with ADHD are frequently highly creative, intelligent, and competent, but they frequently become frustrated as they are misunderstood.

“We must remember that not everyone is neurotypical. More and more people are beginning to recognise that people’s minds differ. There are many high performing people who excel exceptionally well in other areas, such as Elon Musk and Albert Einstein, who are not neurotypical but are still extremely intelligent.”

What are some of the potential difficulties of living with ADHD for my child?

“It helps being in tune with your child and not to expect them to act like a neurotypical child but rather try to hone in on their specific interests and encourage them to excel in their unique way.”

The child will be different in that they are more emotional and which can appear like a child is just throwing a tantrum when they’re struggling to emotionally cope with what’s happening, Jennings said.

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One way to diffuse situations involving young children, is if you can divert their attention with something amusing, but only if they are consumed by emotion. One of the best ways to manage the condition is for parents of children with ADHD to take a step back and speak to their child calmly. Emotional reactions in children with ADHD may be stronger than in children without the disorder. It is crucial for parents of children with ADHD to recognise that their children are overwhelmed and try not to get frustrated.

According to Pharma Dynamics, people with ADHD often face these difficulties:

  • Prone to accidents and injuries.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Risk of substance abuse.

Children with ADHD are more prone than others to have co-existing or related conditions, such as anxiety disorders, even though ADHD does not cause other psychological or developmental issues. “As much as there’s a lack of focus in general, they obsess over things.”

ADHD is familial. It has been shown that about 40% of children who have ADHD usually have a parent who also has ADHD, there’s definitely a genetic predisposition. Parents should handle the disease as best they can; they should not place the blame on themselves.

“Emotional consistency and structure are very important in managing ADHD.”



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