By: Clara M, Intern

Today I learned that no matter how sturdy you think your fishnet produce tote bag is, it is simply not sturdy enough to hold three cartons of pre-made Chai Latte, and you were wrong to assume it had multiple purposes other than holding one’s fruit. Yesterday I learned that I can no longer do a cartwheel, and tomorrow I’ll probably learn that no matter how much time I give myself in the mornings, I will never have time to wash my hair and blow-dry it before work. No matter how old you are—or how confident you are in your fishnet produce tote bag—you will learn something every day. Should the time come when your child is diagnosed with a neurodivergent condition, you all will be learning a lot that day. 

From an early age, you learned that your child is a little different than other children. Perhaps you watched your child struggle for years in classroom environments that did not cater to your child’s needs. You learned to share your child’s feelings of discouragement when they couldn’t understand why they weren’t succeeding like others. What a relief it was when your child was identified as neurodivergent because you can finally have answers and productive solutions. You felt all that because you are a parent, but also because you may be more like your child than you think. 

As is the same for many of a child’s qualities, neurodivergence is often passed down from the parents. That is not to say that neurodivergence is completely hereditary—other factors such as environment should be considered—but the chances of a neurodivergent child having neurodivergent parents are often the highest. For example, if a parent has ADHD, there is a 91% chance of passing the disorder to their children. So, if your child is diagnosed with ADHD, chances are that you can be diagnosed as well. 

Diagnosis of neurodivergent conditions are rightly much more common nowadays than it was even fifty years ago. People weren’t even diagnosed with ADD until the 1980s, when the American Psychological Association changed the name of hyperkinetic impulse disorder to attention deficit disorder.  However, that doesn’t mean that such conditions skipped a generation, just that we have the applicable research and awareness to properly diagnose people of all ages. That’s right: of all ages. The symptoms your child exhibits may not be exactly on par with your own symptoms—we do, after all, eventually learn how to sit quietly when someone is speaking to us. That doesn’t equate to needing a diagnosis less than your child.

ADHD symptoms are easier to discern in children and teenagers because of our expectations of what ADHD and ADD should look like. The fidgeting restlessness, being too talkative, compulsiveness, and all around uncontrollable hyperactivity are all common symptoms of ADHD in children. However, those are also qualities that we equate to children. Those symptoms don’t look the same for adults because instead of people thinking it’s charming that you are so energetic and loquacious, it’s “unprofessional” and “inappropriate to be behaving so childishly.” Even if your symptoms fall under the inattentive form of ADHD, it’s not easier to let children off the hook for being forgetful or easily distracted than it is for adults. Should you grow up not being diagnosed, you learn to adapt with your symptoms. You may not be antsy in your chair anymore, but it certainly takes much more effort to focus than it does for other people. 

All of a sudden you are that adult and you’re watching your child squirm in their chair at the dinner table and listen to their teacher say they’re a great student, but they distract the other students with their nonstop talking during parent-teacher conferences and it’s sounding a lot like what people told you growing up, but you grew out of that so your child will certainly grow out of it as well and there nothing about this that is making you believe they could be neurodivergent. Then, your child is a teenager and now they think something is wrong with them because no matter how hard they are trying in school, the teachers no longer say they just have such a big imagination and are always in their head and instead say how they need to work harder and put in more effort and maybe you remember how that felt. One day, your child is diagnosed with ADHD and has decided to take medication for it and things are easier for them now. For once, it is easy. You learn, by watching them now, that it can be easy for you too. 

It’s not about the merit of symptoms; it’s about letting yourself learn from your child. They are a part of you, which means that they will carry parts of yourself that you may not even know you had until you observe them. So, all this to say: neurodivergence often does not come out of nowhere. While your child is finally getting the all-awaiting answers after having been diagnosed, don’t overlook those answers for yourself either. Or should we say: if your child is medicated, you probably should be too. 


Is ADHD hereditary? Children and Adults with Attention Deficit. (2017, March 23). 

Rodden, J. (2023, June 7). The history of ADHD and its treatments. ADDitude.