By Stephanie Pappas
Ever since the second day her son went to kindergarten, Penny Williams has worried about him. That’s the day Williams, a real estate broker in Asheville, N.C., got her first call from her child’s teacher. Luke wasn’t ready for school, the teacher told Williams. He couldn’t sit still and didn’t want to participate. The insinuation, Williams said, was that she had failed as a parent.
Luke, now 8, would later be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a neurological disorder marked by distraction, disorganization, impulsivity and, as the name suggests, hyperactivity. About 3 percent to 5 percent of school-age children in the U.S. have ADHD.
Since the diagnosis, Williams has immersed herself in those children’s worlds. She edits a group blog of parents with ADHD kids at adhdmomma.blogspot.com and devours books about ADHD, trying to understand her child’s mind.
“He has a really high IQ and he’s really gifted, and he comes home from school and says how stupid he is,” Williams told LiveScience, referring to Luke. “It’s hard to watch your kid struggle … It adds stress and anxiety.”
A new study finds that Williams is far from alone in her sensitivity to her son’s moods and needs. Parents of children with ADHD are more in tune to their child’s behavior than parents with neurotypical children, according to research published in June in the Journal of Family Psychology. All parents’ moods ebb and flow based on how their children are behaving, said study researcher Candice Odgers, a psychologist at the University of California, Irvine. But the link between a mother’s mood and her child’s behavior is stronger when the kid has ADHD.
The problem is that those ups and downs take a toll on parents.
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