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When I Realized That My Son's ADHD Diagnosis Isn't My Fault

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This month, my son will be evaluated for ADHD. We filled out forms for Vanderbilt, and the pediatrician said the information we gave could suggest attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but my husband wants a formal diagnosis from a psychologist, which is understandable. My son is only 5.

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I’ve had a lot of time to ponder this situation. I won’t lie — when my son’s teacher first suggested he has ADHD, I felt so guilty. I just knew my son’s diagnosis was somehow “my fault.” I went home after our parent-teacher conference and Googled whether there’s a link between mothers having mood disorders and kids with ADHD. There is.

But I don’t think that’s helpful. It doesn’t matter that there’s a link between my conditions and my son’s possible ADHD or that ADHD runs in my family. It’s not “my fault” — ADHD is just something my son may have, just like I have depression and anxiety. Will we have to adjust some things if he has ADHD? Yes. We’ll do therapy and look into medication if the doctor suggests it. We’ll do what we need to do to make sure my son’s on equal footing with his peers.

It’s hard not to feel guilty, but there’s nothing to feel guilty about. This isn’t something I “did” to my son — because nothing is “wrong” with him. He’s not “broken” or “flawed.” He’s my beautiful, sweet, bright boy who loves to laugh and cuddle with his mama.

I’ve always considered my various mental conditions as an albatross, but I don’t want Eli to feel that way about his possible diagnosis. So many people have something, whether it’s anxiety, depression, addiction, or struggles at home. We’re probably all dealing with some sort of challenge — that’s life. That’s why we need to be kind and compassionate — you never know what someone is going through. We’re all in the thick of it, and we all need support.

I’ll be there for my son, and we’ll navigate this diagnosis together. It’s nothing more than a bump in the road because we can do hard things.

This story originally appeared on Unruly Neurons.
Getty image by Portra.

Originally published: July 5, 2022
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