I think we sometimes forget that kids who have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) don’t chose the problems they have. Whether it’s talking too much, bouncing off the walls, or having the attention span of a gnat, kids with ADHD often truly cannot control their behavior. They are many times labeled as annoying, socially immature, self-centered, out-of-control, and rude. While these labels certainly do describe typical ADHD behaviors, they certainly don’t help us to understand and intervene with kids who struggle with ADHD.
In my work as a child psychologist, I help several kids and families with ADHD. The ways in which this disorder impacts them is profound; I’ve had kids tell me if they had one wish, they’d wish to not have ADHD. I’ve had children tell me they don’t understand why everyone is always telling them to “stop being noisy” or to “knock it off”. I once had a child tell me he didn’t know why God made him have ADHD. And parenting a child with ADHD is pretty much the exact opposite of easy. The frustration of having a kiddo who can’t follow two-step directions, can’t stay on task, can’t organize, can’t plan, loses things constantly, and can’t sit still is insurmountable. A mother once told me, “I have to remember she
Below is a list of my recommendations to consider if you have a child diagnosed with ADHD or think your child may have ADHD:
- Get an Accurate Diagnosis: Accurate assessment and diagnosis of ADHD is key to successful treatment. This may involve parent and teacher rating forms, cognitive and psychological testing, and behavioral observations of the child in multiple environments.
- Seriously Consider Medication: ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, meaning the development of the central nervous system is disturbed. This leads to dysfunction in certain parts of the brain (i.e. the prefrontal cortex), which cause ADHD symptoms. Medication works to alter neurochemicals in the brain so that an individual with ADHD can learn effective coping and ADHD management techniques. Without the help of medication, this learning is often times impossible.
- Seek Therapeutic Services: Behavioral therapy involving both parents and children/teens can be extremely beneficial in helping to manage ADHD at home and school. Parent training programs and support groups, offered by organizations such as CHADD, are also helpful for families.
- Talk to Your Child’s School: Children with a documented diagnosis of ADHD are eligible to receive accommodations and supports in the form of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B.
- Get Educated: ADHD is much more complex than simply being hyper, impulsive, and having a short attention span. In order to learn what’s really going on with ADHD, I recommend doing some reading. A couple of my favorite books include: Taking Charge of ADHD: The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents, Smart But Scattered, and Attention Girls! A Guide to learning All About Your AD/HD.
Though tackling ADHD is no easy feat, with proper treatment it can be managed successfully. In fact, people who have ADHD are brilliant and their talents can be an asset to society. For a list of accomplished people who have ADHD, click Here. For more information on ADHD, recommended readings, or questions, please feel free to contact Dr. Luisa by clicking Here.