Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is defined by the Mayo clinic as a chronic condition that affects millions of people starting from childhood and continuing on till they are adults. It includes a combination of problems such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behaviour.
Other characteristics present in children with ADHD include: struggle with low self-esteem, troubled relationships and poor performance in school. Symptoms sometimes lessen with age, while some people never completely outgrow their ADHD symptoms. However strategies can be learned for them to live a normal successful life.
While treatment won’t cure ADHD, it can help a great deal with symptoms, usually involving medications and behavioural interventions. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference.
The American Psychiatric Association attributes that though the causes of ADHD have not yet been identified by scientists, there is evidence pointing to genetic factors leading to ADHD. For example, three out of four children with ADHD have a relative with the disorder. Other factors that may contribute to the development of ADHD include being born prematurely, brain injury and the mother smoking, using alcohol or having extreme stress during pregnancy.
ADHD TREATMENT AND THERAPY
Behavioural therapy and medication can improve the symptoms of ADHD. Studies have found that a combination of the two works best, particularly for those with moderate to severe ADHD. Behavioural therapy focuses on managing the symptoms of ADHD. For children, therapy consists of teaching parents and teachers how to provide positive feedback for desired behaviours and consequences for negative ones. Though needing careful coordination, it can help children learn to control their behaviour. Adults with ADHD may benefit from psychotherapy and from behavioural strategies that improve structure and organization
(Sourced from psychiatry.org Physician Review By:Ranna Parekh, M.D., M.P.H.
HELPFUL TIPS FOR PARENTS
(Sourced and Paraphrased from works by Deborah Carpenter)
- Accept the fact that your child — like all children — is imperfect.
It’s not easy to accept that your child might not be normal, but a child who senses his parents’ resentment is unlikely to develop the adequate self esteem he’ll need to become a happy, well-adjusted adult.
“For a child to feel accepted and supported, he needs to feel that his parents have confidence in his abilities,” says Ken Brown-Gratchev, Ph.D., a special education instructor at Kaiser Permanente in Portland, Oregon. “.
- Don’t believe all the “bad news” about your child.
It’s no fun to hear school employees describe your child as “slow” or unmotivated or even “naughty”. But don’t let negative remarks deter you from advocating for his educational needs. After all, kids with ADHD can succeed if they get the help they need. Just like with any other medical illness like asthma or diabetes, there need to be certain adjustments in the way your child learns/ is taught.
“While it’s true that your child’s mind works differently, he certainly has the ability to learn and succeed just like any other kid,” says George DuPaul, Ph.D., professor of school psychology at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
- Don’t overestimate the importance of medication
There’s no doubt that for many children the right medication makes a huge difference in behaviour. But, by no means is medication the only way to go. Letting your child believe this will make them feel like their good behaviour wasn’t their own achievement. When you catch your child doing something wrong do not ask, “Did you forget to take your medication this morning?”. “Statements like these give your child the impression that her behaviour is controlled solely by external factors,” says Dr. Brown-Gratchev.
- Make sure you know the difference between discipline and punishment.
The common complaint is “I’ve yelled, lectured, threatened, given time-outs, taken away toys, cancelled outings, bribed, begged, and even spanked — and nothing works!”. “Many parents use the terms ‘discipline’ and ‘punishment’ interchangeably,” says Sal Severe, Ph.D., the author of How to Behave So Your Preschooler Will Too! “In fact, they’re vastly different.” Discipline, teaches the child how to behave. It includes examples of good and bad behaviours along with positive reinforcement for good behaviour choices”. Punishment, on the other hand, uses fear and shame to force the child to behave. Punishment certainly has its place; however, it should never involve physical or verbal abuse,
- Never punish a child for behaviour that he is unable to control.
In many cases, a child with ADHD won’t listen; not due to defiance, but simply because he becomes distracted from the task. Distractibility is a common symptom of ADHD — something out of his control. And when you repeatedly punish a child for behaviour he can’t control, you set him up to fail. Eventually, his desire to please disappears and he thinks “Why bother?”. The best approach might be simply to remind your child. Punishment makes sense if it’s clear that your child is being defiant — for example, saying “NO”.
- Stop blaming other people for your child’s difficulties.
Are you the kind of parent who finds fault with everyone except your child?
Note that other people can contribute to your child’s problems. But trying to pin the blame exclusively on others encourages your child to take the easy way out. Why should she take personal responsibility for her actions if she or you can blame someone else?
- Be careful to separate the deed from the doer
Kids who repeatedly hear bad things about themselves eventually come to believe them. No matter how frustrating your child’s behaviour gets, never resort to name calling e.g. lazy, hyper, spacey etc. Carol Brady, Ph.D., a child psychologist in Houston, explains it this way: “Parents must make ADHD the enemy — not the child. When you personalize a child’s ADHD-associated problems, her self-esteem plummets. But when you team up with your child to problem-solve various negative behaviours, you create a climate where your child feels loved and supported despite her shortcomings.”
Next time you and your child come across an obstacle e.g. tidying up, ask for her help and input and solve the problem together.
- Don’t be too quick to say “no.”
All children need to be told “no” at certain times. But many parents say “no” reflexively without thinking about it. And a child who hears “no” too many times is apt to rebel. It is important to know when to say “no”, and when to just say “yes”.
In many cases, a small change in the way you use the words “yes” and “no” with your child can mean the difference between a pleasant interaction and a nasty confrontation. Instead of automatically saying “no”, Dr. DuPaul says to “ask him to help you brainstorm a workable solution.” That way, he feels that he has some say in the situation and that you are trying to accommodate him. He will feel more cooperative.
- Pay more attention to your child’s positive behaviour.
In their quest to quash behaviour problems, many parents overlook the good behaviour. The resulting negativity can wither a household, affecting every aspect of life.
“… look at the positives,” says Dr. Severe. “Catch your child being good or doing something well, and praise them. When you point out and praise desirable behaviours, you teach them what you want — not what you don’t want. Bear in mind that some of the problem behaviours you see may be common to all children of that age.
Make happiness and laughter priorities, have fun and play with your children, visit museums, take them to the movies, having a child with ADHD is challenging but also rewarding.
- Learn to anticipate potentially explosive situations.
“Parents spend a lot of time in reactive mode instead of thinking ahead and planning ahead” says Dr.DuPaul. A simple plan, he says, is all it takes to keep a positive experience from turning into a negative one.
Whatever you do, be consistent. “All kids benefit from consistency,” says Dr. DuPaul, “ADHD kids, in particular, need consistency. It’s not a luxury for them.” Last minute changes to regular routine can wreak havoc with a child who already feels like she spends most of her time off-balance and “catching up.” Better to have set routines and plans and do all you can to stick to them.
“Set your home up in a way that encourages organization and responsibility, then run it like an army barracks,” suggests Shirley McCurdy, an organizational expert and the author of The Floor Is Not an Option. Make sure you and your spouse are in agreement on matters of organization and discipline. When parents present a united front, their children know exactly what to expect. Ultimately, the more predictable and consistent your child’s environment becomes, the happier the whole family will be.
- Be a good role model.
Parents are a child’s most influential role model, so think carefully about your behaviour. Kids will copy your example. Therefore “Yelling sets a poor example of how your child should handle his emotions,” says Dr. Brady. “Parents tend to think that, the louder they get, the bigger the impact on the child — but it doesn’t work. The only thing the child hears is the anger. The situation quickly spirals out of control.”
It’s perfectly normal to feel angry at your child from time to time. It’s not OK to continually shout at her. Next time your child does something that causes your blood to boil, calm down and take deep breaths, or do something else to calm yourself. When you demonstrate self-calming techniques in this way, you teach your child the importance of managing her emotions. If you do lose your temper, do not hesitate to apologize to your child for doing so.
- Seek help from others.
Some things in life simply cannot be done well alone, and raising an ADHD child is one of them. Ask your paediatrician for the name of a psychologist or other mental-health professional who specializes in ADHD.
ADHD IN ADULTS
Adults with ADHD are often unaware that they have the disorder. A comprehensive evaluation typically includes a review of past and current symptoms, a medical exam and history, and use of adult rating scales or checklists. Adults with ADHD are treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two. Behavior management strategies, such as ways to minimize distractions and increase structure and organization, and involving immediate family members can also be helpful.
(Sourced from psychiatry.org Physician Review By: Ranna Parekh, M.D., M.P.H. October 2015)