Finding a Children’s Psychologist

August 12, 2009

in Child and Adolescent Mental Wellness, Stress Coping Strategies

There is good news and bad news in receiving the results of a special education assessment. Take ADD/ADHD for example(ADHD vs ADD: I’ll use the terms ADD and ADHD interchangeably). Symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) in children are becoming somewhat more known: inattentiveness, distractedness, lack of focus (all of these with or without hyperactivity – hyperactivity being the "H" in ADHD). The good news is that you now have an explanation for some of the wild behaviours your child has exhibited. The even better news is that, with this information in hand, you will be able to advocate for special services for your child with greater effectiveness. The bad news, however, is that you were right: you must wrap your mind around accepting that your child is not "normal."

Grieving in the notion that "normal" is the path for your child is, oddly, normal. Allow yourself the acceptance of how you feel, so you can move on through it to the other side.

What awaits you there is your enlightenment to all the opportunities that lie ahead for a child gifted with ADD or ADHD.

What? Gifted with ADD? Yes. Your child is outfitted with characteristics that "normies" don’t necessarily have: boundless energy at times, the ability to multi-task, the desire for adventure, willingness to take risks in order to succeed, resistance to being daunted by set-backs and failures. Take a look at many successful entrepreneurs, for example. They would never have reached the summit, had they not gotten back up on their feet after countless backslides down the mountain.

Along that journey, however, your child will likely benefit greatly from the services of a psychologist (or psychiatrist, counselor, therapist, etc.) who specializes in assisting children diagnosed with ADD (ADHD). These specialists see the potential that is locked away inside each of these special children, waiting to be set free by way of the implementation sometimes of medication, and all the time, by way of effective home and school strategies. Children with ADD require tasks to be "chunked," for instance, since handing them the entire assignment at once will overwhelm them right over the cliff (emotionally speaking of course). A school psychologist is often involved in the process of determining interventions that will accommodate your child’s unique learning style. Your child may be a square peg in a round hole in the classroom without the special ed help, but with strategies in place, the hole can be made suitably square, customized to his or her abilities, poised for success.

As always, your mindset regarding your child’s assessment, diagnosis and treatment plan will play a huge part in how everyone in the family copes, and how your child will perceive himself or herself. Finding the right professionals to help move things in a positive direction, will be paramount to overcoming mental illness and fostering the mental well-being of everyone in the family.

If you run across a psychologist who suggests that he doesn’t believe in ADD/ADHD (astonishingly, there are some out there still who see all child issues as a result of lack of discipline by the parents), head for the door (politely, but resolutely). A good child psychologist will validate symptoms of ADD/ADHD if they are present, and then help give you strategies to set helpful boundaries and disciplines for your child. Discipline is important, so don’t discard their help for you as a parent. Let the professional hold you accountable for following through on the limits you set for your child. Humility will go a long way, as will unity. If you, your child’s therapist, and your child’s school are all on the same page, you will be setting up your child for many future victories.

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