Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common behavioral disorder that affects an estimated 10% of school-age children and is three times more likely to be diagnosed in boys. Kids with ADHD act without thinking are hyperactive and have trouble focusing.
They understand what is expected of them but have trouble following through with it because they cant sit still and pay attention. Young children act this way at most times, especially when they are anxious or excited. The difference with regular behavior and ADHD is that the symptoms are present over a longer period of time and occur at different times in different settings. This impairs a childs ability to function socially, academically, and in the home setting, too.
ADHD has three subtypes:
Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive Most symptoms are from the hyperactivity-impulsivity category.
Predominantly inattentive Most symptoms are in the inattention category.
Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive Most children have the combined type where they have hyperactivity symptoms and impulsivity symptoms.
Causes of ADHD
Regardless of popular belief, ADHD is not caused by poor parenting, too much sugar, or vaccines. It has biological origins that are not well understood and no single cause has been identified. Researchers are exploring a number of possible environmental and genetic causes. Genes are inherited blueprints we get from our parents. Studies show that ADHD often runs in families and children with this condition have thinner brain tissue in certain areas associated with attention. Chemical changes in the brain have been noted in 10% of the brains of these children. Research supports that there is a link between smoking during pregnancy to ADHD. Other risks found include premature delivery, injuries to the brain at birth, and very low birth weight. Excessive early television watching has also been found to be a problem, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. These experts recommend that children under 2 years of age should not have any screen time, including TV, DVDs, and videotapes.
Children mature at different rates and have different personalities and temperaments. Most young children are easily distracted and struggle to concentrate. Parents may first notice that child seems out of control or spaced out when they are dealing with them in everyday life. There is no blood test that is used to diagnose this condition so doctors must use an evaluation technique to conclude a child has ADHD. Most children who are diagnosed with ADHD are referred to specialists for further workup and evaluation, according to Lawanna Brock. The behavior must also not be linked to home stress that involves a divorce, a change in school, or any other significant life event. Your childs doctor will want to check hearing and vision so medical problems can be ruled out as well.
Inattentive Type ADHD
inability to pay attention to details or a tendency to make careless errors in schoolwork or other activities
difficulty with sustained attention in tasks or play activities
apparent listening problems
difficulty following instructions
problems with organization
avoidance or dislike of tasks that require mental effort
tendency to lose things like toys, notebooks, or homework
forgetfulness in daily activities
fidgeting or squirming
difficulty remaining seated
excessive running or climbing
difficulty playing quietly
always seeming to be “on the go”
blurting out answers before hearing the full question
difficulty waiting for a turn or in line
problems with interrupting or intruding
Currently available treatments focus on reducing the symptoms of ADHD and improving functioning. Medication, psychotherapy, education, or a combination of treatments may be necessary. The most common type of medication used for this condition is a stimulant. It sounds unusual that ADHD would be treated with a medication that speeds you up, but in children with this condition, the medication gives them a calming effect. Not all children respond to stimulants and the one-size-fits-all approach does not apply for all children. What works for one will not work for everyone. Parents and doctors should work together to decide which medication is best for the child and whether the child needs medication only for school hours or for all occasions too. Under medical supervision, these medications are considered safe. They do not give the child a high and there is no evidence that the use of these medications leads to substance abuse or dependence.
Many children with ADHD require social skills training and behavioral therapy, reports Lawanna Brock. The aim of this is to help the child change his or her behavior. It might involve practical assistance, such as help organizing task and doing homework, or it may involve the child learning to give oneself praise or rewards for acting in a desired way. Teaching a child to read facial expressions and tone of voice in others is another important aspect of behavior and social training that may be needed.
Children with ADHD need guidance and understanding from their parents and teachers to reach their full potential and be a success. Parents should share pleasant relaxing activities with the child and notice and point out things he does well. They should always praise the childs abilities and strengths.
Top Tips to Help Your Child Stay Organized and Follow Directions
Make a schedule. Keep a daily routine and post a schedule on the refrigerator or home bulletin board. Write changes on this as far in advance as possible.
Organize everyday items. Make a place for everything and keep items organized. This includes clothing, backpacks, and toys.
Use homework and notebook organizers. Stress to your child the importance of writing down his assignments and bringing home the necessary books.
Be clear and consistent. Children with ADHD will need consistent rules to follow and they should be simple for them to understand.
Praise and reward your child when rules are followed. Be sure to praise good behavior and avoid constant criticism.
Other Concerns and Conditions
ADHD often occurs along with other disorders. Around half of children with ADHD who are evaluated have behavioral disorders along with ADHD. The combination of ADHD with other conduct disorders makes for extra challenges for the affected individuals, educators, and healthcare providers. It is important for doctors to screen every child with ADHD for other disorders and problems. Whats more, ADHD can have serious effects on a childs development. It makes childhood friendships and peer relationships very difficult. Your childs immediate happiness may be affected as well as his long-term development. Some children with ADHD are rejected by peers and do not have close friends. In some incidents, children with peer problems may also be at higher risk for anxiety and other mood disorders in addition to substance abuse and teenager delinquency.
The cause of the social problems in children with ADHD is not fully understood but studies have found that children with inattentive ADHD may be perceived as shy or withdrawn by their peers. Research evaluated by Lawanna Brock firmly indicates that aggressive behavior in children with symptoms of impulsivity/hyperactivity may play a significant role in peer rejection.
Not every child with ADHD has difficulty getting along with others. For those who do, many things can be done to improve the relationship development. If the intervention is begun at an early stage, it has been found to be more successful. Although researchers have not found definite answers, there are things parents can do to help build and strengthen peer relationships for their child with ADHD.
Things parents can do:
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is one of the most common behavior disorders that occur along with ADHD. This condition starts around age eight and is a disorder of behavior. This results in significant difficulties in school, at home, and with peers. Examples of ODD behavior include losing ones temper often, arguing with adults and refusing to go along with rules, getting angry, being resentful and vindictive, deliberately annoying others, blaming others for mistakes.
At least half of youth between ages six and eleven years who are diagnosed with ADHD are found to have a learning disorder, too. It is particularly hard for these children to succeed in school. Proper diagnosis is crucial for these children and appropriate and timely interventions that address ADHD and LD should follow the diagnosis.
Conduct Disorder (CD) is a behavioral pattern that is characterized by aggression toward others and violation of rules, laws, and social norms. This type of behavior often leads to delinquency or incarceration. These children have increased injuries, strained peer relationships, and mood disorders like anxiety and depression. CD is less common than ODD but is a highly disruptive force in a persons life.
Parenting ADHD Kids and Their Siblings
Around half the parents with ADHD children report more negative relationships between their child with ADHD and the other siblings. Stress related to parenting demands make it hard to find time to pay attention to siblings.
Family-Centered Plan – The first step is to create a family-centered behavioral plan that can be applied to your ADHD child as well as your other children. If children with ADHD can be rewarded with a star system, allow all your children to do so. Make this true for discipline, too. If your ADHD child gets time out for a certain behavior, make sure this goes for your other children as well. You can make adjustments based on age, gender, and other considerations in your parenting strategy.
Make Time for All All of your children have special attention needs from their parents. Sometimes the stresses of an out-of-control schedule make the ADHD child appear in the spotlight. Try to schedule one-on-one time for your other children so they dont feel left out.
Keep the lines of communication open If your other children get upset, talk to them about what is bothering them. It could be that your child has some specific activities in mind that he wants you to know about but has been reluctant to bring them up.
Manage stress The demands of parenting may threaten to get the better of you so step back and take a deep breath. Learn to relax and manage your stress.
Tips to Traveling with an ADHD Child
The best way to endure your next family vacation is to keep in mind the special needs of your child with ADHD.