Let’s be honest, the diagnosis of ADHD has been around for over 40 years. We know what ADHD looks like, and may know a handful of children that “appear” to have symptoms. Twice as many boys are diagnosed with ADHD than girls. While 1in 50 children may be struggling with ADHD. What do children face? Here are a few items:
- Gets distracted easily
- Difficulty in School
- Coordination challenges
- Self Centered Behavior
- Attention Demanding Behavior
- Emotional challenges
- Difficulty following through
While this list feels overwhelming to parents, let’s remember they are “challenges” and they are significant in every setting for the child.
How do we help? Let’s Break In Down!
- Parental Understanding: It’s important to understand your child.
- Your child’s behaviors, while frustrating at times, are NOT intentional or defiant.
- Help your child get a thorough assessment, with a qualified mental health professional to understand what the big struggles might be. Each child is unique.
- Understand your options.
- Develop a Plan
- Medication is considered the first line of treatment.
Understand, it is not a “cure,” but may improve symptoms like focus and impulsivity, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
- Prescribing doctors are the best reference for parents and children to decide together whether medication is a good choice.
- Consider a multi-faceted approach. Look at all your options.
- There are many options for therapy to improve symptoms
- Children with ADHD may also have a lower self esteem, or struggle making friends. Therapy can address these needs.
- Social skills groups are a fun way to help children notice their symptoms, while practicing new skills in a safe setting. Working on skills like impulsivity, social cues, and appropriate peer interactions.
- Parent Management Training programs teach parents how to break it down for kids into small and manageable pieces. Praise, goal setting, appropriate expectations, and smaller pieces to improve success. These are all a part of learning for parents and kids.
- Working with Schools
- School settings can overwhelm the senses for kids with ADHD. Increasing challenges with concentration, distractibility, and work completion.
- Planners help kids record expectations and improve understanding with parents at home.
- Outcomes should focus on socially valid interventions and supports. Keep your kids socially engaged.
- Think about classroom placement such as goodness in fit with teacher, sitting at the front of the classroom, decreasing homework expectations, or shortening expectations with worksheets and reading.
- Ask for “movement breaks.” This offers an opportunity for your child to get up and walk around, take a break, and reset…without the negative attention from teachers or peers! Get a drink of water, use the bathroom, walk up the hall 2 times, and take a message to the main office.
- “Fidgets” are small toys kids can manipulate while listening to instruction or remaining quiet. A small slinky, a small piece of play dough or stress ball to squeeze, a smooth rock to rub.
- Consider Individualized Education Plans to bring supportive accommodations. Make a formal request if your child needs extra supports.
- Work with teachers and educators to improve their understanding of your child’s unique needs.
5: R.O.P.E.S (Yes, I made this acronym up while parenting my own children).
- Creating a daily routine helps your child to self-regulate, learn reasonable expectations, and practice self-efficacy.
- Try routines in sleep/wake patterns, meal times, homework schedules, and self-care.
- Decreases distractibility.
- Allows a child to work for themselves with less verbal prompts or physical interventions.
- Parents can try this in many settings such as home, school, sports, cars, backpacks, lockers, and calendars.
- Predictability is powerful. It tells your child “what comes next.”
- When children know what to expect, their moods improve. Frustration is decreased!
- Predictability speaks to consistency in parenting, scheduling, and smaller appropriate expectations.
- The outcome of predictability improves self-image.
- Improves problem solving, as there’s less to manage or worry about.
- Effectiveness is success
- When your child is effective in their world, they feel successful. They begin to see their strengths rather than their “deficits.” As a result their self-esteem improves because they feel good about they things they can do!
- These practices used together improve overall functioning.
- Success improves the lens children see themself through! It’s a win-win!
The National Resource on ADHD: www.CHADD.org
The Attention Deficit Disorder Association: www.adds.org
Healthy Children.Org (From the American Academy of Pediatrics): www.healthychildren.org/health-issues/conditions/adhd/default.aspx