Understanding ADHD and ADD
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Attention-deficit disorder (ADD) are conditions of the brain that make it hard for children to control their behavior. It is one of the most chronic conditions of childhood. All children have behavior problems at times. Children with ADHD have frequent, severe problems that interfere with their ability to live normal lives.
A child with ADHD may have one or more of the following behavior symptoms:
How can I tell if my child has ADHD?
- Inattention- has a hard time paying attention, daydreams, is easily distracted, is disorganized, loses a lot of things.
- Hyperactivity- seems to be in constant motions, has difficulty staying seated, squirms, talks too much.
- Impulsivity- acts and speaks without thinking, unable to wait, interrupts others.
Your pediatrician will assess whether your child has ADHD using standard guidelines developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Keep in mind the following:
If your child has ADHD, the symptoms will:
- These guidelines are for children 6 to 12 years of age. It is difficult to diagnose ADHD in children who are younger than this age group.
- The diagnosis is a process that involves several steps. It requires information about your child’s behavior from you, your child’s teacher, and/or other caregivers.
- Your pediatrician will also look for other conditions that have the same types of symptoms as ADHD. Some children have ADHD and other (coexisting) conditions, i.e. conduct disorder, depression, anxiety, or a learning disability.
- There is no proven test for ADHD at this time.
What does treatment for ADHD involve?
- Occur in more than one setting, such as home, school, and social settings.
- Be more severe than in other children the same age.
- Start before your child reaches 7 years of age.
- Continue for more than six months.
- Make it difficult to function at school, at home, and/or in social settings.
As with chronic conditions, families must manage the treatment of ADHD on an ongoing basis. In most cases, treatment for ADHD includes the following:
- A long-term management plan. This will have< >Target outcomes (behavior goals, ie, better school work)Follow-up activities (i.e. medication, making changes that affect behavior at school and at home.)
- Monitoring (checking the child’s progress with the target outcomes)
- Medication- for most children, stimulant medications are a safe and effective way to relieve ADHD symptoms.
- Behavior therapy- this focuses on changing the child’s environment to help improve behavior.
- Parent training- training can give parents specific skills to deal with ADHD behaviors in a positive way.
- Education- all involved need to understand what ADHD is.
- Teamwork- treatment works best when doctors, parents, teachers, caregivers, other health care professionals, and the child work together. It may take some time to tailor your child’s treatment plan to meet his needs.
Treatment may not fully eliminate the ADHD-type behaviors. However, most school-aged children with ADHD respond well when their treatment plan includes both stimulant medications and behavior therapy.
Is there a cure for ADHD?
There is no proven cure for ADHD at this time. The cause of ADHD is unclear, although it is clearly somewhat genetic in origin. Research is ongoing to learn more about the role of the brain in ADHD and the best ways to treat the disorder.
Easy Interventions for Executive Function Deficits
(these will help you start organizing your chid's work at school and home):
Problems initiating work
: Break long assignments into chunks, review the "big picture"
Problems with attention regulation: Eliminate distractions- use bright light in work area and clear surrounding area of potential distractions such as electonics, TV, siblings
Problems with attention shifting
: Plan transitions, institute 5 minute warnings, use a timer
Problems with organization
: Minimize clutter, color-code materials, establish a daily routing, create templates for writing assignments, use graphic organizers and visual charts placed strategically.
Problems with time management
: Schedules, calendars, planners, to-do lists, intermediate deadlines, watch with alarms and timers.
Problems with working memory
: Written directions from teachers/tutors, teach highlighting, note-taking, outlining, circling important key words.
For further information
, visit this link to “Understanding ADHD: Information for Parents about Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder,” a booklet from the American Academy of Pediatrics
Here is the booklet
Other valuable books
How do to proceed if you suspect your child has ADHD/ADD:
New ADHD evaluations will not be scheduled until the parent and teacher(s) have completed online ADHD questionnaires. These will be assigned to your online CHADIS account by our office on request. Once completed, we will schedule a visit with the parent(s), and then with the parent and child. Please supply the office with any school evaluations or testing done prior to your appointment for review by the physicians. We may additionally refer you to a psychiatrist or for further neuro-developmental testing as needed.
Here is a terrific series of blog pieces that take you from diagnosis to treatment:
Labels- Why Should My Child be Diagnosed?
Who's Who in Learning & Behavior Evaluation & Management
Evaluation Process to Diagnose Learning and Behavioral Issues
Special Diets for ADHD
Supplements for ADHD
Alternative Treatments for ADHD
ADHD Medications: Types and Side Effects
ADHD Medications: Starting Out and Titrating
Cherish the Gifts of ADHD
(articles referenced below available for free download via the NICHQ 2002 toolkit
Does my child have ADHD?
Medication Guide for ADHD
Tips for parents of children with ADHD
Tips for ADHD related sleep issues
Homework tips for children with ADHD
Education rights for children with ADHD
How to create a home-school daily report card
Alternative Treatments for ADHD
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