Did your child lose something again? Or did they forget to mention practice started today? Maybe their impulsive overreactions are making you crazy.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 5 million children between the ages of 4 thru 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2007. New research shows that the brain activity for those who have been diagnosed with this disorder is different than those who are not. Some of these differences include changes in blood flow to certain parts of the brain, and more or less electrical activity in parts of the brain than is typical.
Until recently, parents might hear about ADD and ADHD, but according to the CDC there are three categories of ADHD, and suggested that ADD now falls under one of these categories. This is how the CDC describes the different types: Predominantly Inattentive Type: It is hard for the individual to organize or finish a task, to pay attention to details, or to follow instructions or conversations. The person is easily distracted or forgets details of daily routines. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type: The person fidgets and talks a lot. Smaller children may run, jump or climb constantly. The individual feels restless and has trouble with impulsivity and may interrupt others a lot, grab things from people, or speak at inappropriate times. It is hard for the person to wait their turn or listen to directions. Combined Type: Symptoms of the above two types are equally present. Does this mean if your child has been diagnosed with ADHD they are destined to a life time of failing grades and short term jobs? Not at all. It’s important to consider the patterns you engage in with your child. If they don’t seem to be working, think about the following suggestions. Be a good role model. Are you frantically looking for keys, lists, and shoes yourself? The house doesn’t have to be spotless, but important things should be kept in predictable places. Spend a weekend removing clutter. Reorganize the house so that everybody knows where keys, backpacks, purses, and sporting equipment should go. If your child sees the strategies you use to stay organized chances are good they’ll begin to use them too (with gentle reminders, of course). Create a routine Predictability is essential so children know what to expect. While not everything needs to be the same every day, having a basic routine helps. What happens just before dinner? Before bed? What cues suggest it’s time to settle down? To leave for the hockey rink? For some children with ADHD, visual cues are crucial. Take pictures of the necessary steps to brushing teeth, for example, or have a picture list of everything that needs to be placed in the equipment bag. Determine homework Does your child do homework best right after school or after they relax? If you do homework after dinner, will you be too tired? It might be best to chunk it by doing some work right after school, then take a break, then do some more before dinner. This way, if homework is done before dinner, the rest of the night can be fun. Change how you interact with your child Instead of long drawn out lectures or negotiations, use fewer words. Be clear and concise in your directions or expectations. If dinner is in ten minutes, or you need to get out the door, don’t expect to yell “Let’s go!” and have your child come. Give the five minute warning and set the timer. Then turn off televisions, computers, or phones as a visible signal. Help your child find a passion There is evidence that children with ADHD suffer from lower self-esteem and may struggle to make friends. Find out what they are good at, what they enjoy. This can help boost their self worth, teach valuable life skills, and can be a great outlet for energy. Just don’t forget to make the picture list of expectations before you head out to wherever it is your child wants to go! For more suggestions on how to best help your child cope with issues related to ADHD, visit www.cdc.gov.
Julia is a freelance writer and works with SUNY Fredonia in the Education Department. She has learned not to use birthday candles that sparkle or continue to relight! Contact her at email@example.com.