Gene Editing and ADHD — A Mother's Perspective

By Lesley Todaro, Co-Founder, Hallowell Todaro ADHD Center


Having a child with ADHD is a journey.

My husband and I were talking today about the genetic modifications scientists are investigating to make embryos that one day may eliminate certain learning or personality traits. This is such a deep philosophical conversation and cannot be discussed even partially in this writing, but I will share with you our conclusions as they relate to our son with ADHD in particular. If we knew he would have ADHD before he was born and could somehow eliminate it, would we?

We both answered with a resounding NO, for so many reasons. We believe there is an incredible upside for children in understanding how to deal with some of the challenges ADHD presents (although frustrating in real-time)—learning to tolerate confusion, being resilient, finding creative solutions, to name a few. 

 
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“If we knew he would have ADHD before he was born and could somehow eliminate it, would we?"



I also have seen over and over again, the strengths that people with ADHD possess that can make their lives interesting and exciting. Our son is intellectually gifted, charming, interesting, curious, sensitive, insightful, etc. etc. etc. All of these traits outweigh the inconvenience that goes along with his impulsivity. 

For example, our son thought it perfectly reasonable to fill the chair cup holder with ketchup as he ate his french fries.  Due to his ADHD he had no memory of having done this, causing a ketchup mess with the next cup placed in that holder. I could recite hundreds of events for you that are similar to this one but, after 15 years, they elicit laughter not anger—especially when he says, "how do you know I did it?”

 
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"Our son thought it perfectly reasonable to fill the chair cup holder with ketchup as he ate his french fries."



The journey gets easier as your connection to your child gets deeper. Highlighting the positives, letting go of the negatives and expectations that lead to constant battles will self correct with maturity and an even deeper connection. 

I do not mean to minimize or make this sound easy. What is easy is that, when you sit in a calm moment and reflect on your life with your child with ADHD, a smile will likely cross your face as you remember past experiences. Hold that smile, integrate it and your love for your child with ADHD grows deeper and deeper.


 
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Lesley Todaro is the Co-Founder of the Hallowell Todaro ADHD Centers in Seattle and Kirkland.

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