Learning To Understand And Live With ADHD
by: Denise Hoptons
Helpful Hints On How To Manage Your Childs ADHD
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that can afflict children. People suffering from ADHD have symptoms such as:
1) They have a low level of concentration and a very poor attention span.
2) Their memorizing powers are low and they have poor concentration.
3) The are very impulsive and do things without thinking.
4) Their frequent temper tantrums and outbursts are a result of easy frustration
While most children as well as adults face similar difficulties during daily routine, those children who suffer from ADHD have a far larger frequency of these difficulties. The extent is so acute that they are unable to undertake tasks such as:
a) at school (they are not able to pay attention or finish their work in time or they can be disruptive and destructive in class, may be talking excessively in the class)
b) at home (are not able to finish chores, are clumsy, get into fights with siblings and more)
c) socially (unable to take turns or wait in line, bossy and overbearing, easily frustrated leading to temper outbursts and aggression, impulsive, so often in trouble for doing antisocial actions e.g. unwise "practical jokes").
ADHD is not a disease or illness in the sense that it is caused by germs, by injury, or by a clearly defined physical malfunction (such as asthma or diabetes). It is simply the result of parts of the brain not working at full efficiency.
What is clear is that ADHD does run in families and is at least partially genetic - often a parent has the same symptoms. What is also clear is that the symptoms, and therefore the problems, are long term. They are not going to go away or be cured in a short period of time, but are almost certainly going to continue through into the teen years, and probably even into adulthood.
HOW IS ADHD MANAGED?
Children suffering from ADHD can get long term complications which may run into their adulthood as well. These complications could be:
a) Score poorly or fail in school because of lack of concentration.
b) Are constantly in trouble because of their impulsive behavior
c) may turn to social ills like drugs, crime, drink because of their constant failures.
All of these, in turn, can lead to long term complications that affect functioning in adulthood.
Effective management of ADHD starts at home. Parents have to be very patient and give their best to their child. The treatment of ADHD is very long, but it has to be given to the child so that he is a better adjusted adult. The goal is to prevent those long term compliations. Since you as the parent know your child the best, it is you who will have to take an active part in the management of his ADHD. An effective ADHD management program should include the following components:
COMMITTED PARENTS. These are parents who work wholeheartedly towards the betterment of the child. There is more than adequate information available in the form of books and videos to guide parents on how o assist their ADHD afflicted child. They just need to buy or borrow these read them and be better informed abut this so as to be effective. It is good to discuss what you read with a professional or a local support group as there is a lot of mis-information on this subject. This is especially from self professed guru's who profess magic-cures for your child.
GOOD COMMUNICATION is very essential between parents, support groups and the school teachers. If all three groups care to communicate and solve particular problems it will be beneficial for the child.
ADJUSTMENTS IN THE ENVIRONMENT. Children with ADHD do best in a quiet, calm, structured, low-stimulation environment (e.g. one to one) and poorly in chaotic situations (e.g. busy classrooms, noisy, busy homes). As a family you may want to find ways to reorganise life so that it is less stressful for all of you. At school the teachers will be doing the same, and it is best if the two can be co-ordinated.
CLEAR BEHAVIORAL MANAGEMENT STRATEGY. These children respond best to very clear expectations of behavior, and very clear rewards and punishments - with rewards being more frequent than punishments. If you are having difficulty in doing this at home you may want to talk about some strategies with your key worker.
PARENTAL SUPPORT. Since getting along wit these children and bringing them up takes a lot of doing , the parents themselves are likely to get depressed and break up. To avoid marriages to break up and to maintain harmony, it is advisable for parents themselves to seek assistance from parent support groups, parent training groups, respite care, marital counseling, family therapy are such support groups and organizations.
MEDICATION. Medication is not a cure, but can be an invaluable help. Getting it right is important and so you will need to work closely with your key worker and doctor. The goal of medication is to reduce the symptoms so as to give the child the opportunity to learn academic, social, and other life skills. By itself, however, it is unlikely to solve all the problems and so cannot be used as an excuse to opt out of the above ingredients.
There are several types of medication that are used. The most common are the "stimulants" (discussed on the next page), but increasingly common is the new medication atomoxetine, which seems to work very well with few side effects. Ask your doctor for full information.
As health professionals we cannot raise your child for you, nor can we solve all your problems as you travel with your child along life's journey. What we can do, however, is to assist you in getting unstuck when you get stuck along the way. We will try to help you to sort out all of the above points as best you can.
But, in the end, it is you and your family who have to live with it, and so the more you learn about it, and the more you learn the best ways to manage it, the better your chances of a good outcome.