ADHD: It Can Run in the Family
A child's ADHD diagnosis is often the key to helping parents realize they could have the condition, too.
Is ADHD Inherited Behavior?
"More and more adults are starting to realize that the symptoms of ADHD they
see in their children are behaviors they've been living with since their own
childhood," says Patricia Quinn, MD, author of Putting on the Brakes: Young
People's Guide to Understanding Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
(ADHD). "So as a result of pediatric diagnoses of this condition, we are
also starting to see an increase in adult ADHD, as parents are being diagnosed
alongside their kids."
ADHD can run in families. Some studies indicate that 25% of close relatives
of kids with ADHD also have this neurological disorder. For parents, that
number is even higher: In children with ADHD, more than 50% of the time at
least one parent has ADHD, too.
Though it may not be diagnosed until much later, ADHD always begins in
childhood, so adults with the condition have had it for years, dragging their
symptoms along with them as they've matured. In fact, research shows that
between 30% and 70% of children with ADHD continue to have symptoms of the
disorder as they grow into adulthood.
"Adults, especially women, might just believe they're not smart, or they're
forgetful and disorganized," says Quinn. "They might be aware of their
difficulties, but they have no idea that it is ADHD. They suffer silently until
they are diagnosed later in life."
When an adult is diagnosed with ADHD, especially a parent, treating the
disorder is important for her own health, but also for the health of her child
living with the disorder.
"We've seen that parents with poorly managed ADHD are less likely to be
aware of their child's whereabouts, less likely to come up with solutions to
problems, and more likely to struggle with strategies for their child's
future," says Quinn.
When ADHD is managed, a parent can serve as a role model who can make the
well-being of both child and family a priority. Together, they can focus on
living with ADHD and getting it under control by attending support groups,
creating a family calendar, becoming organized, and learning more about the
different types of medication available. Family members also can turn to a
trained ADHD coach for help (as the Websters did) in coming to grips with their
new diagnosis and advice on managing its ups and downs.
"A family living with ADHD can be happy, healthy, and balanced," says ADHD
coach Nancy Ratey, EdM, author of The Disorganized Mind: Coaching Your AD/HD
Brain to Get Control of Your Tasks, Time, and Talents.
"The key is to start each day with a well-organized and realistic plan, list
of activities, and schedule, always remembering that structure is what will
help you succeed," she says.