Mom Explains in Viral Post What It's Really Like to Have Child With ADHD

August 1st 2017

A mother's viral Facebook post is providing a window into what it's like to have a child with ADHD, and how some strangers aren't too understanding.

At least 5 percent of children have ADHD, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, a chronic condition that makes it hard for people to focus that can also fuel hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. It often starts in childhood and can contribute to problems like low self-esteem and difficulty at school and work. There's also a stigma associated with having it.

On July 26, Taylor Myers wrote a Facebook post about an experience she had in a Walmart with her two children, one of which is a four-year-old girl named Sophie, who has ADHD. Myers was in line with a cart full of groceries when Sophie began misbehaving. Myers had taken a bag of chips away from Sophie because the child called her "a butthole," according to the post, which has garnered over 140,000 shares and 500,000 reactions. 

Myers said this was far from the first time something like this had happened to her:

She's relentless. I know this. I live with it. Her ADHD and obsessive little heart gets on these subjects of things she finds unjust and wrong and it doesn't stop until she eventually falls asleep or something very dramatic happens to snatch the attention off the obsessed about subject. We stood in line for several minutes, me ignoring her whining and refusing to give in. What's giving in to bad behavior going to do but reinforce the bad behavior? I've walked out of stores hundreds of times because of her. Almost every time, actually, I end up leaving with nothing I came for and a tantrum-having four year [old] attached to my hand and a baby on my hip, but this time I had to stick it out to get the groceries.

Myers told Sophie to sit down, but a stranger had another idea, according to the post.

"The next thing I hear," Myers wrote, "is a woman behind me in line saying 'oh, for Christ's sake give her a cookie so she'll shut up!'"

Myers tried to keep her cool. But she was triggered.

I could've responded in a nicer way. I could've explained to her that my four year old has pretty severe ADHD, I raise both my children alone, I'm doing my best, and had no choice but to wait it out for the groceries. Instead, I heard "she's four years old and you need to mind your own f***ing business" come out of my mouth. I kept my composure until I finished what I was doing and walked to self check out so I could avoid facing anyone else as "that person". The person with the misbehaving child. The person who seems lazy because they're ignoring the behavior. The person who knows doing anything but ignoring it is only going to make it worse. By the time I made it to self check out, tears are pouring down my face. I've lost it. I'm angry, my feelings are hurt, I'm offended, and I'm just freakin sad that I can't have one good experience in a store with my children. 

Fortunately, there was another mother who saw Sophie's behavior and responded with more kindness and understanding. As Myers began to scan her groceries, a woman walked up and began talking with Sophie, asking her questions to distract her as her mother finished The woman even had Myers' back when Sophie began whining again about wanting the chips her mom had taken away as punishment. "I have a little girl just like you," the woman reportedly told the child. "No, you can't have those today. You have to be good for your mommy. She needs you to be good for her."

Myers ended her post with praise for the woman, and a call for more understanding from strangers who might see a child acting out in public and judge the parent.

You never know what someone's going through. You never know the problems a child has that causes them to misbehave and unless you know the struggle of being a parent to a child like mine, you cannot judge me. But It also takes one small act of kindness to make a mama feel comfort and validation. Thank you to the woman in Walmart today, for showing that kindness to my children and I. Thank you for walking us out. Thank you for backing me up. Mamas have to stick together. #lovewhatmatters#MamasUnite

How parents respond to children with ADHD can impact their children, which is one reason it's unkind—and unhelpful—to make comments that might embarrass a parent in public. George Lynn, author of Survival Strategies for Parenting Your ADD Child, says children "pick up on a parent's verbal and nonverbal responses, and they identify these feelings as their own," according to article from Baby Center. The condition often gets associated with young boys. But as Gabby Bess wrote in 2015, "because of stigma and frequent misdiagnosis, girls and women suffering from the disorder aren't getting the help they need." And that's a problem, because girls with ADHD suffer more risk of harming themselves or attempting suicide as young adults, according to the American Psychological Association.

Part of the problem is that a lot of what we know about ADHD is based on scientific studies done on white teenage boys in the 70s, Vice reported:

In women, ADHD also manifests itself in ways that defy the stereotypical portrait of the disorder and is often misdiagnosed. According to the CDC, boys are far more likely than girls to receive the diagnosis. A 2005 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology posits that because girls' symptoms are "less overt than the disruptive behaviors typically seen among males," ADHD in women is virtually hidden.

That lack of understanding, as Myers' post illustrates, also hurts parents.

There was an outpouring of support for Myers' post from friends, family and strangers.