I was actually relieved when we got the autism diagnosis. Autism is more debilitating and less treatable, so why was I happy?
Because people take it seriously. People still have the impression (either conscious or subconsious) that ADHD stands for Adamantly Defiant, Hardly Disciplined.
Funny - 30 years ago psychiatrists were told autism was caused by "evil mothers."
This summer I've been taking my kids to every church daycamp I can find. It's a bitter-sweet experience: I get a break, but I also have to explain to stranger after stranger what's different about my child. I tell them about high-functioning autism, not ADHD.
But it's there nevertheless. When I have to say, "K., do you want a snack?" 7 times before he looks at me, that's the ADHD. When he responds like a parrot with "K., do you want a snack? K., do you want a snack?" that's the autism. When he runs up and down the hall, that's hyperactivity. When he throws his body into the wall at the end of it, that's sensory input seeking associated with autism.
Here's what I recommend for an ADHD parent's survival kit:
*tons of patience! ADHD is a disease of inefficiency. Homework, bedtime snack, and the walk to school will take 3 times as long as it should. When you want to scream, remember underneath that infuriating wandering turtle is the baby you watched as she slept.
*an open mind. Try medication, try removing food colouring from his diet, try different routines, tones of voice, and reward system. Most won't work, but don't give up.*thick skin. Strangers will walk by you and your adorable little whirling dervish, muttering, "There goes a posterchild for Ritalin," whether he's on it or not. And an equal number of strangers will tell you ADHD doesn't exist, Ritalin is really cocaine, and your child just needs a good spanking. Ignore them. Or ask if they'd like to babysit.
*a great resource teacher. School is tough. A resource teacher is your advocate, adviser, and support system leader. Mine believes in K. even when I doubt.
*faith that your child is doing the best they can. You may wonder why they can focus on video games for hours but can't look at their math sheet for more than 30 seconds at a time. Are you that different - How long can you watch movies compared to how long you can concentrate on filling out your tax forms? Their brain make-up makes it that much harder.
There's so little known about ADHD but if you want to watch a good documentary go to