ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactive disorder. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can be very impairing for many children. It can manifest either predominantly as inattention, primarily as hyperactive and/or impulsivity or in a combined manner. In order to diagnose ADHD it must occur by the age of 12 and be evident in two or more settings.
Several symptoms of ADHD include: difficulties in emotional regulation, a child that is fidgety, is inappropriately active (such as running in a classroom), difficulty with quiet playtime, intruding in conversations, excessive talking, struggling with school work, etc.
These symptoms are difficult both for the child and those around the child, such as parents, siblings, friends and teachers. They can lower the child’s self-confidence, cause them to lose friendships and evoke indifference towards the child. This is especially difficult because it results in children often blaming themselves.
ADHD can be treated in a variety of ways. It is vital to first diagnose your child and get the psychologist, developmental pediatrician or psychiatrist’s input into what is the best approach for your child. ABA is useful and has been shown to be helpful for children with ADHD. In addition, medication can reduce many of the symptoms and help your child concentrate and behave more appropriately in school or other settings. Furthermore, due to the fact that ADHD is comorbid with many other mental disorders, other types of therapies can be vital and can target other symptoms they may be presenting. The most common therapy children with ADHD undergo is Occupational Therapy as it can help a child with ADHD release pent up energy, increase the child’s motor skills and deal with any sensory processing issues that may arise. In addition, most children with ADHD display difficulties in sensory processing that manifest through sensory overload to seeking stimulation. This is can indicate a Sensory Processing Disorder and can be dealt with through Occupational therapy. A combination of therapy and medication can be the most advantageous, however it is crucial to remember that you know your child best and you can decide along with your child’s doctors and therapists how best to approach their ADHD.
A few pointers for things that can be useful at home to assist your child with ADHD:
- Use positive reinforcement as opposed to punishment- reinforce positive behavior when your child behaves appropriately. This will encourage him or her to continue such behavior and seek out your compliments and warm words.
- Psycho-education can be useful and help your child let go of some of the blame they may be feeling. along with normalizing what he or she is going through.
- Help your child release some of their hyperactivity by doing at home activities. Have your child roll something heavy on the ground, ask him or her to run in the backyard with the dog or give a few exercises to do at home (10 push-ups, 2 0 jumping jacks and 100 jumping rope).
- Heavy work activities that can be done around the house are also helpful. Have your child rearrange the furniture or safely move heavy objects from one room to another.
- When the child is required to sit for longer periods and maintain his or her focus (for example, during homework), giving the child something to chew on (like gum or a pretzel) can help organize the sensory input through the mouth and can elevate the ability to retain focus.
Don’t wait for your child to make statements that they feel “dumb”, like a failure or lacking friends! Take care of their ADHD and help them reach their potential before they arrive at important developmental milestones.