By Cheryl Breining, Guest Contributor

“I have ADHD but I don’t let it stand in my way.”

That phrase spoken over nine years ago by my then ten-year-old son still brings tears to my eyes. He wrote this to his teacher on the first day of fifth grade. She had given him a “get to know you questionnaire” and this was his answer to her final question, which asked the students if there was anything else she should know about them.

These days with two children diagnosed with ADHD in college, on bad days I look back and question if there was anything else I should have done, but if I am lucky, I remember this statement, and all is right with the world.

Most parents after their child is diagnosed, feel that they need to solve the problem, help their children overcome their disability, and protect them from the world. Frequently, we feel that we did something wrong, that we must fix the problem, or find the magic answer. After having researched this topic for over sixteen years, and having filled several rooms with books on ADHD, my mind continues to return to these questions.


What if my child is exactly as he/she was meant to be? What if he/she just approaches life in a different manner? What if he/she looks at life from a unique paradigm?

As parents, we realize that our children have to live in the real world and deal with others, who may think and react to situations differently. They must learn to adapt to our competitive society and react to situations in ways that may feel unnatural to them.

What if we stopped trying to squeeze our square pegs into round holes? What if instead, we delighted in their differences? What if we truly accepted them for who they are, concentrated on their strengths, provided support when needed, and did not allow them to use the diagnosis of ADHD as a crutch?

What if these children were brought up to appreciate that ADHD makes them who they are? What if they were able to recognize their gifts and appreciate themselves for who they are? What if we helped them recognize their ADHD as a challenge not an obstacle, as an opportunity to develop strategies that will help them succeed, make them stronger and more adaptable than they would have been had they not had ADHD?

I can only imagine the number of negative verbal and non-verbal messages that ADHD children receive on a daily basis. What if they could depend on their families to be supportive and their homes to be an oasis of positive reinforcement? What if they could trust that our verbal, as well as non-verbal communication would instill in them, a sense of well being, rather than a source of shame and inadequacy? What if we were able to accept the fact that we, as parents do not have the power to “fix” our children or find the magic answer?

What if we concentrated on what we can control, and helped our children realize that they are creative, resourceful and whole? What if we helped them recognize that life is not black or white? That although they may approach situations in a different manner, thinking outside the box will prove to be beneficial in the future. What if we helped our children realize that because of their differences, not in spite of them, they have much to offer to the world? What if every individual diagnosed with ADHD could say,

“I have ADHD but I don’t let it stand in my way.”

CherylBreiningCheryl Breining is a CTI and ICF certified Life Coach, a certified Parenting Coach, an Edge Coach, an ADDCA graduate, and has completed the CTI Leadership Program. Cheryl holds Master’s Degree in Social Work, in School Psychology, and in Counseling. For over three decades, she worked as a guidance counselor and teacher and for the past seven years as an ADHD Coach. She also offers a series of workshops for parents and teachers entitled, “ADHD: What is it? Who has it? And how to understand and appreciate it?”