Raising kids is hard enough as it is as each child comes with their own unique challenges. But does it seem your child is especially challenging and wonder if they might have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
what is ADHD?
ADHD is a condition caused by problems related to the structure and wiring of the brain and can affect one’s ability to focus, sit still, and make appropriate decisions. Scientists aren’t sure exactly how ADHD is developed, but we know it can be linked to family history as well as brain injury. It is usually diagnosed in childhood but can often continue into adulthood.
What does ADHD look like in children?
Psychologists have categorized ADHD into three groups or “types” based on their symptoms: inattentive type, hyperactive/impulsive type, or combined type.
If your child has been showing six to nine of ADHD symptoms for the past 6 months, it is likely that they could have ADHD. It’s important to note that you as a parent might not see all these symptoms displayed in the home. Be sure to talk to your child’s teachers, parents of friends, and other adults who they interact with to get a better picture of how your child is behaving in various situations.
Here are the two types of ADHD and their corresponding symptoms:
- They don’t pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in school or tasks
- They have problems staying focused on tasks or activities
- They don’t seem to listen when spoken to (seems to be elsewhere)
- They don’t follow through on instructions and doesn’t complete schoolwork or chores
- They have problems organizing tasks and work
- They avoid or dislike tasks that require sustained mental effort
- They often misplace important things
- They are easily distracted
- They forget daily tasks, such as doing chores and running errands
- They fidget with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat
- They are unable to stay seated (in the classroom, workplace)
- They run about or climb where it is inappropriate
- They are unable to play or do leisure activities quietly
- They are always “on the go,” as if driven by a motor
- They talk too much
- They blurt out an answer before a question has been finished
- They have difficulty waiting for his or her turn, such as while waiting in line
- They interrupt or intrude on others
HOW CAN I KNOW FOR SURE IF MY CHILD HAS ADHD?
If you have wondered if your child might have ADHD, the first step to managing your child’s behavior is to first find out if your child does indeed have ADHD.
First start by talking to your child’s pediatrician, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, or a therapist who specializes in ADHD. They can help set your child up with a treatment plan based on their diagnosis. If your child’s pediatrician is unfamiliar with diagnosing and treating ADHD, they may refer you to a child psychologist. Some mental health clinics may offer ADHD screenings as well.
You can go to this website to look for psychologists in your area that can better help with diagnosis. You can even go to your child’s school counselor to seek help.
From there, you can work with professionals to find the best form of treatment for whatever diagnosis your child has.
What treatment is available for ADHD?
An ongoing study from the National Institute of mental health has shown that the most effective treatment for ADHD in children is stimulant medication. This type of medication is designed to help children in their interactions with others, reduce symptoms of hyperactivity, and help them focus more. Ritalin, Adderall, and Vyvanse are some of the common brands of stimulant medication. Talk to your child’s pediatrician or a psychiatrist about whether or not your child can benefit from this treatment.
Psychologists and counselors will not be able to prescribe medication for your child, but they can help your child with behavioral issues that come with ADHD. Studies have shown that a combination of medication and behavioral therapy can significantly improve symptoms, especially if your child is struggling with any other type of emotional disorder.
You should also look into neurofeedback as a non-medication option for ADHD. It has been shown to help kids with ADHD think more clearly.
What can I do to help as a parent?
Catching and treating ADHD early is crucial to your child’s social and educational development. One of the most important things you can do is to praise them for their efforts and notice when they show good behavior. Reinforcing good behavior and appropriately addressing bad behavior will not only help their self-esteem but also help them learn right from wrong.
ADDitude Magazine has outlined 12 “Dos and Don’ts” for how to best help your child with ADHD. Some of them include punishment and positive reinforcement, avoiding blame, and modeling appropriate behavior.