Fifteen years ago Lew Mills, now 53, realized his daughter was having trouble with social relationships. He also realized that he had some issues with completing tasks (it had taken him 30 drafts to finish his PhD thesis). But even though he’s a psychologist and his then wife is a psychiatrist, they didn’t recognize the symptoms in their own family.
His daughter, Erica, now 24, was diagnosed that year in the fourth grade, but Mills went to several doctors before being diagnosed. Both he and Erica are bright and not hyperactive, which made their ADHD more difficult to recognize. Several years later Mills son Matthew, now 17, was also found to have ADHD.
“The hardest thing was just staying organized,” says Mills of being an ADHD parent with two children with ADHD. “Having a kid means remembering who you have to pick up from a soccer game and who has to go to the dentist. I wasn’t particularly good at it. I was always making excuses and apologies, and that was very stressful.”
Mills and both his children were treated with stimulants, which he says “made a huge difference.” Erica and Matthew also had therapy and coaching. The family used elaborate calendars to keep track of schedules and planned everything well in advance. “Everything has to be overly organized not to fall apart,” says Mills. He also admits that it is very helpful to have one parent without ADHD to keep things under control.
“I think you can raise kids successfully. I think it takes more energy and commitment than you’ll ever know coming in. All the years in teachers’ or principals’ offices the advocacy, research and, work that goes into it is immense. But I think you can have a really good outcome. In some way it’s helped my kids to face some adversity,” says Mills.