ADHD parental advocacy

Children diagnosed with ADHD face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. First, an ADHD diagnosis conjures up an unflattering stigma. The labels are despicable, but an integral part of an ADHD child’s life. Second, special precautions in the classroom arouse deep resentment among classmates and the teachers responsible for implementing the precautions. Most importantly, children diagnosed with ADHD rarely have an advocate who looks after their best interests.

ADHD advocacy is an emerging trend in the mental health industry. For years, without advocacy support, children struggled as they tried to cope in social settings and the classroom. ADHD clinicians began to heed the call for advocacy, but their role was limited to providing medical education to parents and caregivers. National ADHD advocacy groups have proven effective in lobbying politicians for ADHD legislation, particularly in the areas of education and the workplace. National organizations have a macro sphere of influence, not the micro attention to detail that constitutes ADHD parental advocacy.

Parents are the only true advocates for ADHD children. Their sphere of influence ranges from medicines to ensuring educational equity. While researching ADHD is a positive first step in becoming an advocate, just knowing about the condition is not enough to impact an ADHD child’s life. Parents need to get involved and commit to standing up for their child. Here are some key areas that require parental advocacy for ADHD:

Recognize the signs

ADHD education begins with recognizing the complicated signs of the condition. By complicated, I mean that some symptoms of ADHD mirror other disorders, such as anxiety and depression.

The best place to research ADHD symptoms is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). The manual provides a general list of 18 symptoms and the criteria needed to make an ADHD diagnosis. dr Daniel Amen breaks down the 18 symptoms further by providing a detailed list of the symptoms in checklist form.

Parental advocacy for ADHD is ineffective if parents do not understand the basic symptoms of the condition.

ADHD clinical testing and evaluation

An ADHD diagnosis is a two-step process. Parents need to make it a three-step process by carefully reviewing a list of clinic candidates. I recommend choosing a doctor based on the recommendation of your friend or family doctor.

ADHD parental advocacy involves creating a list of questions for each clinic candidate. Questions should include:

  • How do you make a diagnosis?
  • Do you have references?
  • How do you feel about ADHD medication?

Parents are usually involved in the second step of the diagnostic process, which involves the presence of a significant other. Parents should also be involved in the first step of the process. The first step is a series of psychological tests to determine if a second consultation is warranted. Parental ADHD advocacy during this step is to observe how the clinician conducts the testing. Additionally, parents must eliminate any clinician who aggressively pushes ADHD medications in the first step.

ADHD medication

The purest form of parental ADHD endorsement is understanding one fact: ADHD medication does not cure ADHD. Medications are prescribed to relieve symptoms. They are not a panacea, and there are other options to help children manage ADHD. The same concern about illicit drug use should be applied to the prescription of a stimulant narcotic to an underdeveloped individual.

If parents decide that ADHD medication is the best course of action, they need to be vigilant when it comes to monitoring their child’s prescription. Side effects occur when a child takes the wrong dose at the wrong time of the day. This usually happens at school, so parents need to clearly communicate their child’s ADHD medication treatment with a school nurse and school administrators. You also need to make sure the drug stays out of the hands of other kids looking for a stimulating “high.”

Most importantly, ADHD parental advocacy means promoting alternative treatments for the symptoms. This can cause the clinician to bang their heads. Headbanging is a good thing when it comes to your child’s health.


The physical and mental benefits of a regular exercise routine far outweigh the ADHD medications. Exercise is a long-term solution to rampant hyperactivity. ADHD medication is a quick fix that introduces powerful chemicals into a child’s system.

ADHD parental advocacy for exercise is more about changing a child’s sedentary lifestyle. Parents should encourage their children to refrain from video and computer games. Encouragement must start at a young age when unhealthy habits are easier to change.

The ADHD establishment is constantly debunking the theory that too much TV causes ADHD. While watching TV doesn’t directly cause ADHD, lying around without significant exercise does worsen the symptoms of the condition. Parents are the first line of defense in preventing a sedentary lifestyle from becoming entrenched in a child’s lifestyle.

Diet and Nutrition

Sugar was once thought to be a contributor to ADHD symptoms. Once again, ADHD science appears to be dispelling the sugar attribution as a myth. Nonetheless, a healthy diet based on nutritional components, like exercise, is an essential part of keeping the body and mind healthy.

Parents may not have a stronger advocate for their ADHD children than the choices they make about nutrition. Fast food is out. Fruits, vegetables and fish rich in omega fatty acids are in.

competitive sport

Many parents make the mistaken assumption that exercise reduces impulsiveness and hyperactivity. The energy released during an athletic competition will calm an ADHD child. The problem, however, is that distraction is a trait that ruins athletic performance.

Enrolling an ADHD child in sports leagues is an excellent strategy to avoid the mind-numbing games played in front of televisions and computer screens. True parental ADHD advocacy means thoroughly explaining to the child’s coach what exactly constitutes the condition known as ADHD. Most coaches are willing to adapt their coaching style to support an ADHD child’s strengths.

Advocacy also means not pushing your child into a sport they don’t enjoy. Find the right sport and encourage the child to participate until they reach peak performance or lose interest altogether.


A child’s ADHD diagnosis is often the result of academic performance. Teachers and administrators notice the child’s distraction and hyperactivity and bring the behavior to the parents’ attention. ADHD parental advocacy for a child’s educational achievement is irrefutably mandatory.

Be aware of how the school system is making changes to improve your child’s ability to learn. Knowledge of ADHD laws is a start, but constant monitoring of your child’s performance and persistent insistence that the school complies with ADHD laws strengthens parental ADHD advocacy. Part of Mark Norris’ work is to build a strong partnership between parents and academic professionals. With parental consent, he organizes school reunions and follow-up sessions with them, their child, and the academic team involved in the child’s success. An objective and detailed portrait of the child’s strengths and challenges is presented and classrooms are set up where necessary.

Parents can also create a nurturing environment at home, where one-to-one tuition complements the lessons at school. The ultimate ADHD parental advocacy strategy is to educate your child in a home school setting.

Political system

Political advocacy means getting involved in ADHD organizations that urge legislators to create ADHD-friendly legislation. Participation in ADHD organizations at least allows you to keep up to date with changes in legal status affecting your child.

parent coaching

ADHD coaching is a growing industry. Most of the attention given to this alternative method of treating ADHD is the utility of an adult trainer. Parent coaching is not about looking after your child. It’s about taking classes and absorbing information from a certified ADHD coach.

Parent coaching puts you in the shoes of the student. You will learn many strategies to develop your child’s strengths and alleviate the more distressing ADHD symptoms. Mark Norris is at the forefront of this invaluable movement. He has developed a comprehensive website on the subject and a detailed coaching program that he implements for adults.

It is estimated that four to six percent of the United States population has ADHD. Recent trends suggest that percentages will rise sharply. Most of the increase is due to the rising diagnosis rate in children. As the rate continues to rise, parents need to be aware of the advocate responsibilities they inherit as their child navigates the turbulent waters of ADHD.

Advocacy means commitment. Participation only occurs if you work intensively for the progress of your ADHD child.