Written by Mary Stedman a Clonlara School guest blogger (***Clonlara School does not endorse or recommend any product/service in connection with this author***).
ADD/ADHD Parenting Tips
There is nothing more natural for a child than to be restless, absentminded, to forget things, to show inability to focus or sit still in some situations or in certain places, usually where it is required to be calm, quiet and concentrated. However, all of the above are also symptoms of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), one of the most controversial disorders of our time, and, ironically, the most common psychiatric disorder in children and adolescents.
Following are some less known facts and tips for parents whose children suffer from this very common problem.
What is ADHD, and what is ADD?
“Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a psychiatric or neurobehavioral disorder characterized by significant difficulties either of inattention or hyperactivity and impulsiveness, or a combination of the two.” (Source: Wikipedia)
ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is a former name of one of the types of ADHD, labeled as “predominantly inattentive” (full name ADHD-PI), the other two being predominantly hyperactive-impulsive (ADHD-HI) and previous two combined (ADHD-C). ADD is today sometimes used as a synonym for ADHD, which is incorrect, and the name itself has officially been changed in 1994.
Why is it controversial?
Diagnosis and treatment of ADHD have been considered controversial since the seventies, with differing opinions of teachers, the media, clinicians, parents and policymakers. There are still scientists who don’t believe that ADHD exists as a medical problem.
Though very few health care providers today deny the existence of the disorder, the debate in the scientific circles regarding the methods of diagnosing and treatment, as well as the causes of ADHD still rages on. Those methods wildly vary from one country to another, which is the reason for large differences in the number of diagnosed cases. For example, only one percent of children and adolescents are diagnosed with ADHD, compared to more that 10 percent in the US, depending on the sources. Australian Child and Adolescent Component of the National Survey of Mental Health and Well-being reported ADHD being present in 11 percent of children and adolescents.
Similar differences exist in guidelines regarding the use of medication in the treatment. For example, UK’s National Institute of Clinical Excellence recommends their use only in severe cases, with most US guidelines recommend it in almost all cases.
How to spot it
As said before, the nature of ADHD makes it very hard to spot, since the symptoms (identified as lack off focus, impulsivity, hyperactivity and disruptive behavior) can easily be misinterpreted as normal phases in growing up. Generally, the rule is that the symptoms must be observed in at least two settings for a minimum of six months, and they must be more noticeable than in other children of the same age. Seventh year of life is excepted as the boundary for the appearance of symptoms.
It is considered that, by the age of five, most children should learn to pay attention when expected, not to talk out of order frequently and not to say everything that pops to their mind. Most parents will draw the obvious conclusion themselves – if you notice any of the symptoms reoccurring, don’t hesitate to have your child examined. In order for the treatment to be successful, it is crucial to diagnose ADHD as soon as possible.
Keep in mind that, as said before, there are two distinct types of ADHD – inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive, and the third, with the combination of the two. Inform in detail exactly what symptoms to look for, in order to be able to spot them on time and help your child in the best possible way. Also, know that difficulties in learning don’t always constitute ADHD, as there are various learning disorders that can be, and are relatively often, mistaken for ADHD.
Helping a child with ADHD
If you spot some (or all of) the symptoms of ADHD, don’t wait. Go to the doctor as soon as possible. Also, there is no need to wait for a diagnosis. As said, it can take some time. Inattention and/or hyperactivity can cause a person big problems in all areas of life later on if left untreated, whether they are a part of ADHD or not. There are numerous ways you can help your child yourself. These include changing the diet, organizing your home environment to minimize distractions, encouraging the child to exercise and getting him or her into therapy.
Excluding medication, these are generally accepted strategies in helping kids with ADHD and similar problems in coping with them. If your kid is diagnosed with ADHD, the treatment will probably essentially be the same, but you will develop a plan in accordance with the doctor’s recommendations. In addition, treatment for childhood ADHD usually consists of parent education and training, social support, behavioral therapy, and assistance at school.
About the Author: This article was written by Mary Stedman, inspired by Shine Education, tutoring agency from Sydney.