What Does ADHD Mean? GOOD NEWS …The Treatments Are Getting Better
What does ADHD mean to you and your son and daughter’s welfare? As in all things related to mental health and the world of special needs, once we have knowledge in the subject we can start to build a plan and put in place elements for family balance.
- But what is ADHD?
- How do you identify if this is why your child is struggling?
- And what can you do?
The acronym, ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and this term is used now rather than ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder. In some literature you may see it as AD/HD which delineates that the disorder presents in three major ways; 1) predominantly inattentive, 2) predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, and 3) combined, symptoms of both equally present.
It is interesting to note that kids who are diagnosed with ADHD do not grow out of it. They become an adult who is struggling with the same challenges for attention, losing things and having social problems.
What exactly does this mean? Here are some commonly observed characteristics of a child that is diagnosed as being ADHD.
• Talk too much
• Forget or loose things
• Make careless mistakes or take unnecessary risks
• Have a hard time resisting temptation
• Daydream allot
• Squirm or fidget
• Have trouble taking turns
• Have difficulty getting along with others
How is ADHD Diagnosed
There is no test that can be done to determine if a person or child has ADHD which is amazing considering an understanding of this condition has been studied for 100 years. Yes as early as 1902, a British doctor, Sir George Still, tagged a condition he was seeing in his pediatric patients as “an abnormal defect of moral control in children.”
There is something really amazing about this doctor’s insight that more recently is being studied. There is a growing understanding that what is happening is less an attention issue as a malfunction of the brain’s center for controlling and choosing behaviors with insight as to outcomes. It is an ‘executive function’ of the cerebral cortex in the brain. Now this is ongoing research and as yet not fully entrained in the manual used for identifying mental health conditions. You really should watch this video, a presentation by Dr. Russell Barkley:
Medication Is NOT the First Thing To Do
A major element affecting the welfare of a child, young person, or adult who has the ADHD condition is how in the world are these difficult conditions to be managed. In years gone by both doctors and school staff would recommend Ritalin. I’m guessing many of you know about that troubling trend. Frankly, that kind of ‘freaked me out’ thinking someone close to me could have been on this very powerful medicine. I admit that medication may have a place, but it shouldn’t be the first thing that is done to help our loved one because there are pretty severe side effects from prescribed meds. In fact, the strong recommendations of the CDC is to …
First Work on This
- work on behaviors through behavioral intervention strategies
- support the family with parental training specific to the issues
- ensure that school accommodations and interventions are in place. And then…
…when adequate time to has been allowed to anchor good results from therapy and family and school supports then determine if and which medication can be combined with the therapies and training. It is a balancing act to be sure. Therefore, I recommend that it is important to remember the first-line of defense is NOT medication but therapy. And a good treatment plan needs to be in place where the child is closely monitored, follow-ups are occurring, and changes are made as needed.
So, you can get some balance working again for you and your loved one please consider following these recommendations that are adapted from the Center for Disease Control’s site on ADHD:
1. Establish a routine. The same schedule every day is important from when they wake-up to their bedtime.
2. Organization is critical. Things, clothing, toys, schoolbags all the necessary things of life should be in the same place every day. This is going to help them be less likely to lose them.
3. Control and avoid distractions. When homework needs to be done, turn off the TV, radio, and computer.
4. Choices need to be limited. Two things should be offered such as two blouses or shirts, or two toys. “Chose this one or that” so that the child is less overwhelmed and overstimulated.
5. Manage how you interact with your child. Remember to be brief when giving directions and use clear explanations. Being long-winded and cajoling a child is not productive.
6. Establish goals and reasonable rewards. List the goals. Then track those wonderful positive behaviors, “catch them doing something good”. Be realistic, recognizing that incremental steps are good. Then reward those efforts!
7. Discipline needs to teach, not be punitive. Timeouts, no privileges as a consequence, and putting things into timeout are the best consequences for inappropriate behavior. Far better that yelling and spanking.
8. Assist them in discovering their talent. Every child should experience the satisfaction of feeling good about themselves. Help them find out what they do well – sports, art, music. Discovering their talents will do wonders for their social skills and self-esteem. Priceless, right?
Any of this sound familiar to you?
Here is an excellent “Fact Sheet” on ADHD and the identifying characteristics.
Now, remember, we are working through the pages of this blog to create a solid foundation for our success. Whatever problem we may face does have a solution. I like the mindset that we are striving to become a part of the solutions where our children are concerned, not part of the problem!
Of course there is a quite allot of information to tap into. This information has only scratched the surface. I plan to offer further information on the pharmaceutical aspects of treatment in an upcoming post. If you have questions please feel free to contact me here!