Raising Boys With ADHD: Author Q&A
Raising Boys With ADHD: Author Q&A
PUBLISHED: Wednesday, April 28, 2021 by Andilynn Feddeler

Raising Boys With ADHD (2nd ed.) features the latest information on research and treatment for boys with ADHD. Filled with practical knowledge, a dynamic action planning guide, resources, and tools needed to help parents address the many strengths and challenges of boys with ADHD, this book provides parents with encouragement and hope for the future. Learn more in this interview with the author, Mary Anne Richey, M.Ed.

Q: What’s new in the second edition? 

A: Since the first edition of Raising Boys With ADHD in 2012, there has been an explosion of research on ADHD, highlighting understanding of the neurobiological nature of the disorder and effective interventions. This second edition includes:

  • Extensive resources and guidance on current interventions that are practical.
  • An updated discussion of new medications by two prominent psychiatrists.
  • An expanded section on treatments considered alternative or requiring more research.
  • More pull-out boxes highlighting key points for quick reference.
  • Discussion of racial and ethnic disparities in identification and treatment.
  • Inclusion of technical, career, or military training as an option for teens who don’t choose college.

Q: What’s your key advice for a parent new to their child’s ADHD diagnosis?

A: The most important thing to do after a diagnosis is to learn all you can about the disorder and specifically how it impacts your child. Raising Boys With ADHD is written with busy parents in mind so that you can quickly reference an area and have practical strategies to try. Many interventions don’t have to be weighty or time-consuming, and can be implemented just by being more aware and intentional in your daily interactions with your child. It is important not to overwhelm yourself or your child and pick only one or two areas to focus on strengthening at a time. ADHD is considered to be chronic, so be prepared for the long haul. Expect inconsistencies in performance, but keep plugging away because you can make a significant difference in your child’s life. 


Q: How do you recommend parents begin to look at their child’s strengths, rather than weaknesses? Or, what are some practical things parents can do to move away from a deficit mindset when it comes to their son with ADHD?

A: It is important to look at your child’s behavior through the lens of ADHD and to understand that many skills, especially executive functioning skills, may be delayed by 2–3 years. It is critical to understand your child’s profile—what skills are intact and which ones are in process and need support? Working as a team, how can you and your child problem solve ways to support and develop those weaker areas so that they won’t prevent them from making the most of their strengths? So often a child’s strengths can be used to support areas of weaknesses. For example, if a child is good at problem solving but has trouble regulating behavior, they can help identify strategies that would help them stop and think before acting. Or, if a child has good organizational skills but weak memory skills, they could use their strengths to set up their environment to support memory deficits, such as making and posting lists of things that must be accomplished before leaving for school or before going to bed at night. 

The presentation of ADHD symptoms is unique to each child, but often they hear 3–5 times more negative comments than positive ones. Focusing on strengths can help bolster motivation and preserve self-esteem. A review of many successful people with ADHD shows they have used their strengths and passions to become accomplished adults.


Q: How should parents talk to their son’s teachers and other family members about their child’s ADHD diagnosis?

A: Ideally, you and your son’s teachers will become his support team, so having a working relationship with them is important. Remember that they are responsible for many more students than just your child. Try to figure out how you can support them, not make their lives more difficult. Here are a few specific suggestions:

  • Share results of evaluations with the school and request a 504 plan or an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) if your child’s ADHD significantly interferes with school performance. (This subject is covered in-depth in the “When More Support Is Needed” chapter.)
  • Find out the teacher’s preferred means of communication—text, email, notes back and forth, telephone, etc.—and honor that.
  • Try to gauge the teacher’s understanding of the neurobiology of ADHD, specifically what things may not be within a child’s control and how skills like self-regulation, attention, and organization don’t develop for all children at the same time and are often delayed in children with ADHD. If they are open to more information, such as that provided in “Information for Your Teammates: Your Son’s Teachers” in “The Elementary Years” chapter, provide that in a respectful way.
  • In a concise format, provide specific information about your child’s strengths and weaknesses and let the teacher know what you are doing on the outside to help.
  • Encourage the teacher to have reasonable expectations for your child and recognize the effort your child puts in rather than focusing on the results. If your child is giving 100%, what more can be expected?
  • Recognize that there are times when the teacher or school fit for your child is not advantageous. If the teacher is continually negative to your child and reluctant to try to implement needed supports, it is time for you to advocate more strongly by requesting a conference with administrators involved. Remember that your child’s self-esteem is easily damaged.

Family members also need to be educated about ADHD, as they may be quick to judge your parenting skills or your child’s behavior. Again, figure out how best to communicate with them. ADHD is a complex disorder, so educating them often, in short bursts, and letting them know how you are addressing problems that arise are helpful. Parenting a child with ADHD is often stressful and can be overwhelming, so enlisting the support and help of family and friends can be uplifting. Sample letters to extended family, siblings, and teachers are included in the first chapter of Raising Boys With ADHD (2nd ed.).


Q: What do you hope parents take away from reading this book?

A: Children with ADHD can become very successful in life by following their strengths and improving any weaknesses, especially in executive functioning, that may keep them from using their skills. It is important to look at situations by considering the neurobiology of ADHD because often many things are much more difficult for these children. For example, in school, they not only have to put in effort to learn the material, but also often have to work to reign in their attention. Try to develop a working relationship with your child because they will have insight into what is needed and suggestions to implement. Taking a problem-solving perspective is important. Expect inconsistencies and both good and bad days. If the trajectory is trending in a positive direction, continue. If not, regroup and implement different strategies. Biographies of successful people with ADHD often point to a parent who never gave up on them as being significant in their journey.

 

Mary Anne Richey, M.Ed., is a licensed school psychologist with degrees from Virginia Tech and Florida Atlantic University. In 2012, she was named Florida School Psychologist of the Year. She worked for the school district of Palm Beach County and now maintains a private practice. She also has experience as a middle school teacher, administrator, high school guidance counselor, and adjunct college instructor. She has been a featured speaker at many national and international conferences. It has been Mary Anne’s pleasure to assist many students with ADHD and their families over the years.