The Impact Of ADHD On Families

Years ago, when I worked at a residential hospital for profoundly and severely intellectually disabled people, a major goal at the facility was normalization. We wanted to make the environment as normal as possible. Let me tell you, that was no easy task!

Currently, one of the issues which concerns me is the normalization of ADHD families. When one or more child in the family has ADHD, it can impact everybody else and even impair the relationships between the parents, between the parents and the children, and among the children. Of course it is not unusual for one or both of the parents to also have the disorder as well, even further complicating the situation.

Let’s first briefly examine some of the potential effects. To begin with, the child with ADHD, particularly the Combined Type, might take attention away from the other children. Not only can this create anger and jealousy, but also it can allow the other children to get away with inappropriate behaviors because parents are just too busy taking care of the squeaky wheel.

Secondly the ADHD can exhaust other family resources. Medications and doctors appointments take time and money.

Thirdly the ADHD can increase the amount of yelling and anger in the house. This climate change impacts everybody.

Fourthly the ADHD can lead to parents putting excessive time into making sure that the the child who has ADHD completes homework. Work that should take 45 minutes to one hour might end up lasting 2,3, or even 4 hours each night.

Next the parents can feel tired, inadequate, frustrated, and depressed. The mothers are at a particularly high risk for depression.

All of these factors can reduce the time that the parents enjoy their children. Parents are just glad when the day is over and the children are asleep. If, during the day, they have some time for themselves, they might be unlikely to share it with their children.

The above list is not exhaustive but does begin to illustrate how ADHD can affect the family. In my next article I will discuss some normalization strategies.

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