It isn’t uncommon for us to have parents or teachers come to the center for support to help a child with ADHD. Before we get into the meat of what ADHD is, it’s important to note that not all children with attention difficulties have ADHD. ADHD is diagnosed by a medical doctor and there are a number of consistent markers that need to be present.
When looking at a child’s ability to attend and focus, it is also important to look at their age. How much should your child be able to focus? How long should your child be able to sit still? Although every child is different, today we are going to look at ADHD in children. We are going to explore the signs and symptoms and essentials for success. In Next week’s episode we are going to look at Adult ADHD. Yes, you heard me, Adult ADHD. This is important, because not only may some of you out there as listeners have some of the symptoms and could benefit from strategies, but our children with ADHD grow up to be adults with ADHD and we want to ensure that we are equipping them with the skills they need in order to be successful.
ADHD is a chronic condition marked by persistent inattention, hyperactivity and sometimes impulsivity. It begins in Childhood and often lasts into adulthood. As many as 2 out of every 3 children with ADHD continue to have symptoms as adults.
Find out more about ADHD:
Diagnosis and Treatment
According to the American Psychiatric Associations DSM Manual, there are three types of ADHD
- ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type
- ADHD, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type
- ADHD, Combined Type
Let’s break this down a little bit. If we look at ADHD – Predominantly Inattentive type, children in this category may have
- Trouble paying attention to details
- Difficulty sustaining attention
- Problems with organization
- < >< >Leaving seat at inappropriate times
- Talking excessively
- Difficulty awaiting one’s turn
- Interrupting others
And then we have the combined type, which may combine some of all the earlier mentioned markers.
As mentioned earlier, ADHD is diagnosed by a medical doctor. There are four components of assessment
- Medical examination
- Clinical interview
- Teacher and parent rating scales
- Behavioral observations
ADHD is more common in boys. Often ADHD in boys with impulsivity and hyperactivity manifests itself as disruptive behavior. On the other hand, with girls, we find more inattentiveness as a hallmark of ADHD. Although they may not be as disruptive as boys, this presents another challenge as they often are harder to diagnose because they may appear to be paying attention and it takes some time before it is realized how much they are not getting in the classroom due to their inattentiveness.
I am sure by now you are beginning to wonder what causes ADHD. Let me make this clear. ADHD is not caused by poor parenting, too much sugar or vaccines. Parenting and dietary choices can have an affect on a child with ADHD, but they do not cause ADHD.
ADHD has biological origins, but it is not yet completely understood. There has not been one single cause identified, but researchers have found genetic and environmental links, as it is not uncommon to find kids with ADHD who have a close relative with the same disorder.
ADHD is often found in conjunction with other disorders…or co-morbid as educators and researchers like to say. These disorders include, but are not limited to Oppositional defiance disorder, learning disabilities, anxiety and mood disorders.
- Medication – A variety of medication is available. Choosing to use medication is a big decision and be sure to discuss this with your child’s pediatrician and to do your own research thoroughly. Medication may be essential for some children to be able to reach their potential , but not necessary to others.
- Diet – Watch your child’s diet. This goes beyond the typical reduction in sugars. There are tons of resources online that can suggest ways to monitor food dyes, diary intake, carbohydrates and other dietary choices that can be made to help manage symptoms of ADHD.
- Behavioral therapy – Behavioral therapy can be used to explores ways to change behavioral patterns.
- Routine – Routine is essential for children with ADHD. Create a routine for everything. Predictability and clear expectations help to keep children with ADHD on track.
- Organization – Children with ADHD often have difficulty with organization. Help them out with this. In addition to routines throughout the day, help them keep their areas at home and school organized. Reduce visual clutter and ensure that everything has its place.
- Clear expectations and goals – Be clear with your child in terms of your expectations and goals. A rewards system may help you with this. Rather than ‘clean your room.’ Make expectations clearer: Have a list on their wall that states
- I have made up my bed.
- I have put my dirty clothes in my hamper.
- I have cleaned up all the toys from my floor.
- Effective Discipline – Put some thought into an effective discipline plan that is clear to your child. Clear consequences. Take as much of the abstract out as possible.
- Self Esteem – Be sure to keep an eye on your child’s self esteem. ADHD can be very tough on a child and it’s important that you highlight their talents and successes. Create and encourage environments where they excel and help them move these qualities into areas of challenge.