Raising an ADHD kiddo automatically puts you into a tribe – a tribe of tough, brilliant mamas and papas. A tribe whose members appear, at first, to be quite ordinary, but who find themselves in situations, over and over again, where they exhibit superhero-like powers.
Katherine Quie, Ph.D., L.P., author of, Raising Will, Surviving the Brilliance and the Blues of ADHD, is one of those women in our tribe. Her new book chronicles the ups and downs and ins and outs of raising a son with ADHD, while sharing the unique perspective of her work as a pediatric neuropsychologist.
This is truly a “must read” ADHD parenting book, and it will enlighten anyone impacted by ADHD.
I immediately felt a kinship with Katherine as I read through the chapters of her book.
She tells her story in a compellingly honest fashion, expressing her feelings of exhaustion, surprise, fear and above all, hope and undying love for her son. We travel the road with her from diagnosis through many trials of meds, different therapies, tutoring, more doctor visits, and teacher conferences. I saw my son in hers, over and over again; his restlessness, school struggles, even his ability to pick a single raisin out of an entire batch of oatmeal.
As you know, raising a kid with ADHD will push you to your limits, and I, like Katherine, have taken this to be such a gift. I am doing things and discovering things that I would have never done without my kids. Having to learn, support, and most importantly just love my child has taught and brought me to places I never would have gone before…….
Like interviewing Katherine!
Check out our conversation below.
How do you find a reputable testing agency?
Katherine Quie: The first thing to do is find a facility that treats kids with developmental and learning disabilities. They may have pediatric neuropsychologists on staff. If not, they should be able to direct you to several in your area. Get at least three names if you can. Then, call each one and ask about their testing process. See who calls you back. You can get a good feel for psychologists and their testing process over the phone.
What if you fear that your child will be “labeled”?
Katherine Quie: Getting a diagnosis helps you and your child get the support you both need. Public schools require a diagnosis to get a 504 or IEP in place. The testing also provides you with such great information about your child’s strengths and weaknesses so that you, their teacher and others can come up with a plan to help your child grow.
Once testing is complete what are the next steps?
Katherine Quie: Most neuropsychologists have parents schedule a feedback session to review test findings on a separate day. At that appointment, they’ll help you to prioritize your next steps.
When I meet with parents, I work with them to prioritize three “next steps”, such as scheduling an appointment with a reading tutor, child psychologist, and the special education team at their child’s school.
Medication is a touchy topic with parents. I advise people to never say never. At the same time, medication is not usually my first recommendation for a child with ADHD. However, if a child’s ADHD is so severe that it limits his or her ability to be successful in many aspects of his life, then meds may be something to strongly consider.
What do you do after the first three steps?
Katherine Quie: Treating ADHD is typically a lifelong process since ADHD doesn’t usually “go away.” Instead, it changes over time. That’s why I often recommend that kids and their parents work with a psychologist skilled in helping families address ADHD-related symptoms. This doesn’t have to be weekly or even monthly. But having a specialist in your court to help with problem-solving is great support for parents.
How has having an ADHD child changed you? This question is triggered by one of my favorite quotes in your book: “I wondered what my life would have been like if I hadn’t had a kid like Will who’d pushed me to my limit. Would I have discovered creative writing? Written a book? Taken up yoga?”
Katherine Quie: I think having a son with ADHD has made our family closer. We talk more openly about our frustrations and high points than we would have. My daughter developed stronger organizational skills than she may have otherwise because she had to overcompensate for her brother when she was little. We couldn’t get out of the house otherwise!
Don’t get me wrong. She gets frustrated with Will, but she’s really “gets” his ADHD. It’s made her a more compassionate person. She greatly admires Will’s strengths too, like his guitar skills.
Having a son with ADHD has made me a much better psychologist too. I am better with parents and kids. I simply get it in a way I never would have if all of my son was neurotypical. I make better recommendations because I know what it’s like to try to get a young ADHD kid through homework! I could go on and on. (laughs)
What do you say to unsolicited advice? You know, all the people with well-meaning, yet awful parenting advice?
Katherine Quie: Nod, smile and change the subject. That’s my best advice.
Your job is not to convince someone your child has ADHD, either. Sometimes people will challenge your child’s diagnosis when they have no background in child development. My own mother used to do this with me. I think it was hard for her to acknowledge that I was struggling. She wanted to believe that it was temporary, that my child was simply acting out. She may have had good intentions, but it wasn’t helpful. Finally, I told her that this discussion was off the table. She got it. Sometimes we have to be direct with others. I try to be loving at the same time ☺
What type of self-care works for you?
Katherine Quie: I journaled my way through my ADHD parenting journey. It’s a real release, for me. Writing helped me stay centered. I would wake up early before anyone else and just write down my thoughts. I got out on the page what I did not feel comfortable telling anyone else.
It was these journals that eventually turned into my book.
What’s your advice for someone just starting their ADHD parenting journey?
Katherine Quie: Don’t do this alone. I remember feeling so envious of moms in my neighborhood who could stay home with their kids. I had just moved to Minnesota and my social network was basically my husband and his family. I had spent years in graduate school so it didn’t make sense for me to stay home. Plus, we needed the money. Ultimately, I found my tribe (slowly, but surely). I exercised at the YMCA in group classes, which helped me make friends and release stress. Exercise has always been a big part of my self-care routine.
Where can we find you online?
Katherine Quie: My website is https://kqadhdandu.com/ I founded ADHD&U when my son left for college in 2018. I have blogs, a podcast, a newsletter, and I’ve been published lately as a guest blogger with organizations, like ADDitude Magazine. https://www.additudemag.com/author/katherine-quie-ph-d-l-p/
I hope you all enjoyed this interview with Katherine Quie.
A huge revelation I had in talking to Katherine was how as parents we are treading unknown territory. Treating the symptoms of ADHD is not a one and done thing…it is a long process, one that takes a lot of focus and energy. But if we know the right questions to ask and the right steps to take, it can be a very successful adventure with lots of positives for our children…and ourselves.
Need more help with ADHD?
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