Our ADHD Journey

To say Barclay is active would be like comparing a kitten and a lion.  It’s nowhere near an accurate description!


At around 2, Barclay was diagnosed with a speech disorder called Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). This caused him to suffer a significant regression in speech and fine motor skills. However, his gross motor skills remained completely intact.

In fact, he could do things some typically developing kids physically couldn’t do.  I used to take Barclay to a kids’ gym, and he could hang upside down on the monkey bar and then raise his feet to the bar, almost flipping over.  He also had zero fear of heights.  He could jump on one foot and walk backward with his eyes closed.  He could run for hours!

Cause for Concern

There were definitely also things we noticed that concerned us.  Barclay was impulsive to the point that it began to be unsafe.  It was as if his brain couldn’t think as fast as his body would move.  I constantly worried about him running into traffic or jumping off of high places.  Unless he was sleeping, it seemed as though his little body just couldn’t stop.

The ADHD Diagnosis

We took Barclay to a developmental pediatrician to see what was going on.  It didn’t take the pediatrician long before she said Barclay had severe Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It was impacting every aspect of his life.

ADHD is a neurological disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of impulsivity, hyperactivity, and the inability to focus. It also impacts a person’s executive functioning skills, such as planning and working memory.  No wonder Barclay struggled to learn to speak.  His body couldn’t rest long enough for his brain to catch up.  This made so much sense.

How Our Family Adjusted

Barclay had already been receiving speech therapy and behavior therapy services, but we also realized that we needed to adapt some of how our family functioned. For example, we decided that going to public places like parks that didn’t have physical boundaries, such as a fence, was off the table for now. No physical boundaries for Barclay meant he needed to explore as far as the eye could see, which was a safety issue.

We also had to learn to scale back our expectations. Children with ADHD are approximately 20-30 percent developmentally delayed behind their same-age peers. So at age 3, Barclay was just hitting many of the milestones a 2-year-old would hit. That meant expectations such as potty training and dressing and undressing himself dropped down the list of priorities – for now.

Our Current Status

It has been a little over a year since Barclay received his ADHD diagnosis.  We continue to help him overcome the challenges this brings.  However, we have also learned each day to look for small changes we can make to help him and our entire family thrive.

Are there ways in which your family has adapted for your child with ADHD that have worked?  Please comment and share!

Update May 2021: A few months after Barclay’s ADHD diagnosis, he was also diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and, most recently, an Intellectual Disability. He takes several daily medications, has been in behavior therapy for 3 1/2 years. Although he still has challenges, he’s come such a long way. He will be starting school in the Fall, and we couldn’t be more proud!

You can’t change who you are, and you shouldn’t be asked to. – Jonathan Mooney

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Amy Nielsen lives in Orlando, Florida. She is the proud mother of four children ranging in age from 5-33! She and her husband, Brent enjoy sports and traveling. Amy is a former teacher with nearly 20 years of experience, a freelance writer, and a special needs advocate. Her mission is to help educate and empower families of children with disabilities to focus on their child's interests and strengths.

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