I’m sure many of you are thinking, “Well, that could be every young child on the planet”, and you would be correct. The difference with ADHD children is that their behaviour is outside what we would consider ‘normal expectations’. It affects children’s and adults’ lives in a negative way and their ability to function within society’s norms.
There are three different types of ADHD. Your child’s doctor will decide which diagnosis fits your child’s symptoms.
ADHD-Inattentive Type: Children who have trouble paying attention, but are not very hyper and don’t have problems acting without thinking first. This type of ADHD used to be called ADD.
ADHD-Hyperactive/Impulsive Type: Children who are very hyper and have problems acting without thinking first, but have few problems paying attention.
ADHD-Combined Type: Children who have problems paying attention, being hyper, and acting without thinking first.
If you think your child may fall into one of these 3 categories, (Download Checklist at the bottom of the page) then you should seek the services of a medical practitioner who can diagnose the condition.
ADHD behavior doesn’t happen in only one place, like at school. It may happen every day in the classroom, on the playground, and at home. ADHD can lead to problems with learning, friendships, and family life. Parents of children with ADHD are often worn out and frustrated.
Some educational psychologists can diagnose ADHD but they won’t offer medication as one of their recommendations. The issue of medication is widely debated and would probably require another blog.
WHAT DOES ADHD LOOK LIKE?
As stated, it is normal for all children to have problems paying attention, being hyper, or acting without thinking sometimes. But for children with ADHD, these behaviors are more severe and occur more often. To be diagnosed with ADHD, a child must have more symptoms than other children their age, for 6 or more months.
Children who have problems paying attention may:
- be easily distracted
- miss details
- forget things
- often switch from one activity to the next
- have a hard time focusing on one thing
- become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless they are doing something enjoyable
- have a hard time planning and completing a task or learning something new
- have trouble completing or turning in homework
- often lose things (e.g., pencils, toys, homework) needed to complete tasks or activities
- not seem to listen when spoken to
- daydream, become easily confused, and move slowly
- have a hard time thinking as quickly and precisely as others
- struggle to follow instructions
Children who are hyper may:
- fidget and squirm in their seats
- talk nonstop
- dash around, touching or playing with everything in sight
- have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, and story time
- be constantly moving
- have a hard time doing quiet tasks or activities
- be very impatient
- blurt out inappropriate comments
- show their emotions without restraint
- act without regard for consequences
- have difficulty waiting for things they want or waiting their turn in games
- often interrupt when other people are talking or doing something else
DO CHILDREN ‘OUTGROW’ ADHD?
Many people think of ADHD as a childhood problem. However, ADHD can continue through the teen years and into adulthood. Symptoms of ADHD do change over time. Hyperactivity is often seen in very young children. The hyperactive symptoms often decrease over time with or without treatment. Children’s tendency to act without thinking because of ADHD gets better over time. This problem is often replaced by a tendency to talk without thinking. Trouble paying attention may not get noticed until demands at school increase. These problems often continue in the teen and adult years. Using routines, study skills, and coping strategies can help people with these problems.
DO OTHER PROBLEMS OCCUR ALONG WITH ADHD?
Some children will have more than just ADHD.
- Learning Disabilities: Many children with ADHD – up to 30 percent – also have a specific learning disability. This can cause problems with reading, writing, spelling, or math.
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD): As many as 33 percent of children with ADHD will have this. These children are defiant and stubborn. They have temper outbursts or become loud-mouthed. They argue with adults and refuse to obey.
- Conduct Disorder: As many as 33 percent of children who have both ADHD and ODD will develop conduct disorder. This is a more severe pattern of antisocial actions. These children frequently lie or steal. They fight or bully others. They are at risk of getting into trouble at school or with the police. They are aggressive toward people and/or animals. They destroy property. They break into people’s homes. They carry or use weapons. As teens, they are at greater risk of substance abuse. They need immediate help.
- Anxiety and Depression: About 25 percent of children with ADHD also are anxious or depressed. These problems can be treated. Treating ADHD may help these problems get better. Likewise, treating anxiety or depression may help ADHD get better.
- Tic Disorders: Children may have eye blinks or facial twitches. They may clear their throats frequently, snort, sniff, or bark out words. They cannot control these behaviors. The most severe form of tics is Tourette’s Disorder. Very few children have this disorder. The evaluation process helps find out whether something besides ADHD is the problem. ADHD is very common and has the most established treatments. If your child does not respond well to treatment, other evaluations may be needed. Even if your child responds well to treatment, other problems may develop over time.
SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN DECIDING ON ADHD TREATMENTS
Every child is different. You know your child better than anyone else. As a parent, trust your thoughts and feelings. ·Balance possible benefits with side effects, cost, and time. · Discuss treatment options with your child’s doctor. Gather as much information as you need to make a decision that is right for you and your child. ·Track and monitor your child’s progress. Realize that your decisions may change over time as your child’s needs change.
WHAT ARE ADHD TREATMENT OPTIONS?
Every effort should be made to manage symptoms and direct the child to helpful paths.
There are four treatment options to consider. Watchful Waiting Behavioral Treatment Medicine Combined Treatment (BOTH Behavioral Treatment AND Medicine)
WHAT DOES THE BEST RESEARCH SAY TO DO?
It is still not clear. Here’s why: A study called “The Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD” (MTA) showed that behavioral treatment, medicine, and combined treatment all help some children with ADHD. Still, it is impossible to predict how your child will respond because every child is unique. The only way to find out if a treatment will help your child for sure is by trying it.
Watchful waiting means that you do not start active treatment yet. You and your child’s doctor watch your child to see how he or she performs at home and school. If you become worried by your child’s struggles, you can always start active treatment.
PROS & CONS
How can this treatment help my child? You do not have to deal with the possible side effects from medicine. You can always change your mind and begin active treatment. · It is low in cost (i.e. time, money). What are possible problems with this treatment? Your child’s struggles at home and school will likely continue or get worse.
Behavioral treatment is an active treatment where parents and teachers learn methods to help children with ADHD.
TYPES OF ADHD BEHAVIORAL TREATMENT Children with ADHD have different needs than other children. As a result, different methods are needed to help them do their best. Parents and teachers can learn methods to help children with ADHD. Three types of methods have been proven to improve performance at school and at home:
- Methods for parents to use at home
- Methods for teachers and parents to use to improve classroom performance
- Methods to improve peer relations in classroom and play settings. It is possible to learn about these methods by contacting the school’s counselling or therapy team
METHODS FOR PARENTS TO USE AT HOME
How does this help? Parents learn how to manage their child’s problems caused by ADHD. For example, parents can learn to give better commands, set small goals, and use time-outs, reward systems, and point systems. This shows parents how to help their child with ADHD to behave better. Because the focus is on the child’s behavior, these methods are also called “behavior therapy” or “behavior modification.” Unlike other therapies you may have heard about, this does not mean talking with the child about how they feel but implementing everyday strategies such as boundaries, rewards and consequences to develop positive behaviour patterns.
What can I read to learn more about this on my own? ·
Taking Charge of ADHD: The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents By Russell Barkley PhD. This is a book for parents of elementary-aged children with ADHD.
You can learn more about ADHD from Professor Berkley’s site which is chock full of resources for parents on ADHD
ADHD in the Young Child By Cathy Reimers, PhD, and Bruce A. Brunger.
This is an excellent book for parents of children 5 and under.
Teenagers with ADD and ADHD: A Guide for Parents and Professionals By Chris A. Zeigler Dendy, MS.
This is a book for parents of teenagers with ADHD.
- The series “Supernanny” has three shows that deal with children who have ADHD. Families in these shows learn methods that help them manage their child better. Watching these shows or reading the episode guides (links shown) may provide helpful thoughts on how to work with your ADHD child. – Season 3, Episode 12: The Goins Family, originally aired 2/2/2007 http://www.Supernanny.com/tv-show/episodes/the-goins-family.aspx – Season 4, Episode 9: The Prescott Family, originally aired 3/5/2008 http://www.Supernanny.com/tv-show/episodes/the-Prescott-family.aspx – Season 6, Episode 6: The Beck Family, originally aired 12/11/2009 http://www.Supernanny.com/tv-show/episodes/the-beck-family.aspx
- The “Supernanny” website also provides advice on ADHD. – http://www.supernanny.com/Advice/-/Your-child/-/Child-care/Helping-your-ADHD-child-to-behave-.aspx
How to Establish a Daily Report Card (Home-School Note) http://ccf.buffalo.edu/pdf/school_daily_report_card.pdf
The website “Parents Helping Parents” offers a sample letter to request further educational testing be done at school. – http://www.php.com/specialed/story2