ATTENTION DEFICIT/HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER (ADHD)
WHAT IS ADHD?
- ADHD is a medical condition that affects how well a child can sit still, pay attention, focus, take turns, regulate behavior, and finish things in a timely manner.
- ADHD is a developmental disorder, meaning it lasts throughout a child’s life, into adulthood. However, sometimes the symptoms lessen over time.
- ADHD is an executive functioning deficit, which means it affects motivation, planning ahead, mental flexibility, inhibition and organization.
WHAT CAUSES ADHD?
- Research is still exploring the causes of ADHD.
- What we know is that ADHD runs in families.
- There are also conditions which are associated with ADHD, including premature birth, smoking and/or using alcohol or nonprescription drugs during the pregnancy, and traumatic brain injury.
What are the symptoms?
- ADHD is comprised of deficits in the areas of inattention and/or symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity.
- Some children will display primarily attentional deficits (ADHD, predominately inattentive types)
- Others will exhibit more pronounced hyperactivity and impulsivity deficits (ADHD, predominately hyperactive/impulsive type)
- Some children experience a combination of both (ADHD, combined type)
- Difficulties sustaining organization, concentrating, and becoming easily distractible.
- Difficulties with organization, losing things, needing frequent reminders, and making careless errors.
- Difficulties following through, getting started on tasks, and finishing tasks.
- Described as constantly “on the go”, busy, active, restless, and can’t sit still.
- Leaves seat in the classroom when remaining seated is expected.
- Talks excessively
- Acts and talks without thinking.
- Has difficulties taking turns, blurts out, and interrupts others.
HOW DO WE TREAT ADHD?
Research supports a combination as the most effective treatment options for ADHD:
- Medication (contact your primary physician or psychiatrist)
- Therapeutic intervention (Contact us for information about assessment, therapy, and our COACHES program)
STRATEGIES FOR HELPING CHILDREN WITH ADHD AT HOME:
- Provide verbal and visual cues and reminders.
- Ensure that directives are short, clear, and simple. Allow your child time to comply with the requests.
- Focus on the positive behaviors (i.e., setting up reward systems, charts, etc).
- Provide a quiet, organized space for studying.
- Use checklists to remind children of daily tasks and responsibilities.
STRATEGIES FOR HELPING CHILDREN WITH ADHD AT SCHOOL:
- Preferential seating (in the front of the classroom away from distractions)
- Provide accommodations, allowing different formats, and use of computers for written tasks.
- Children with ADHD often struggle socially. Whenever possible, support social skills enhancement (i.e., assign buddies, adult monitoring during unstructured times, turn-taking).
- Do not penalize children by taking away recess and gym. Children with ADHD need the physical activity to help them refocus and attend.
- It is important to work closely with the child’s parents throughout the school year. Sometimes, a daily behavior chart is effective.
ADHD IN GIRLS:
- ADHD affects girls differently than boys. Girls report more depression, anxiety, distress, and poor teacher relationships. They have more trouble with cognitive tasks and school achievement.
- In clinical practice, girls with ADHD often go undiagnosed because they are less disruptive at home and in the classroom. The challenge to parents, teachers, and clinicians is to recognize when a girl has ADHD, as early diagnosis is key to effective treatment outcomes.