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ADHD in Children Health Center

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.
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How to Thrive When ADHD Runs in the Family

When Richy was diagnosed and Rick realized he very likely had ADHD as well, it was a liberating moment.

"My interpretation of my life from early childhood on was altered abruptly and dramatically," says Rick. "Suddenly, my roller-coaster life history made sense."

After going through a diagnosis process similar to Richy's, where he looked back and examined his childhood in detail, Rick learned that father and son definitely had ADHD in common.

"We knew Richy's ADHD was something we would have to tackle as a family, but when I was diagnosed too, we knew how much work we had to do to get us going in the right direction again," says Rick.

As a first step, the family cleaned out the clutter in their lives -- literally and figuratively -- to help minimize their stress. Rick created a schedule that he stuck by, no matter what, and turned his once hectic-looking den into an organized and distraction-free office. They talked to their doctor about what medications were available to help treat ADHD, and Richy and his dad attended support groups to talk through their challenges, learn from mistakes, and applaud their successes.

Rick and his wife also stopped pushing their son so hard, at home and at school, helping Richy manage his ADHD in a way that worked for him.

"It's very difficult as parents to not expect your child to behave how you think he should, but that was the problem -- it was like trying to fit a square-shaped object in a round hole," says Rick. "I discovered that he had all the drive and ambition he needed to thrive, he just needed us to back off a bit and let him find his own way."

With the belief that ADHD is not a deficit -- just a new challenge to overcome in life -- Rick and his son, who is now 21 and a successful student at California Polytechnic State University in Southern California, both agreed to never use the disorder as an excuse to not succeed.

"We strive to manage the negative aspects of ADHD and accentuate the positive," says Rick. "Diagnosis is a gift of knowledge with which to build your new life -- it's a difference, but it's OK to be different."

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