Written by Vicki Gedert, LPCC
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is believed to occur in most cultures around the world. Estimates vary, but it is seen in about 5-11 % of children and often lasts into adulthood. Over-activity and impulsiveness are often the first things that come to mind when thinking of ADHD. However, there are many unseen impacts of this neurodevelopmental disorder. When we look at the symptoms of ADHD what we see is only the tip of the iceberg.
Here are some of the unseen aspects of the disorder:
- Children with ADHD develop 2-3 years more slowly than their peers. This impacts maturity, social skills, executive functioning, emotional regulation, and self-regulation.
- Children with ADHD by nature can be stubborn. Such inflexibility is not due to willfulness but because they don’t have the skills to see things more than one way or to manage emotions. They may have more frequent meltdowns than others their age.
- Children with ADHD can be very intense and hypersensitive. They have very big emotions. They also have trouble regulating their emotions.
- There are estimates that 50-60 percent of those with ADHD also have one or more co-existing condition including a mood disorder, anxiety, autism, learning disorders, executive functioning deficits and more.
- They often have a distorted sense of time. They may not have an innate sense of difference between 5 minutes and one hour.
- Sleep disorders are common in children with ADHD.
- They don’t easily learn from rewards and punishments.
Children with ADHD can be creative, fun-loving, and enthusiastic. The key is to provide them with the help they need. Instill as much structure, routine, and consistency as possible in their lives. Think of yourself as training wheels for your child’s mental and emotional development. You need to be available throughout their lives to guide your child toward independence.
- Give instructions in a serious but not mean tone.
- Give simple, one-step directions; if it is a multi-step task break it down!!! You may give each direction in sequence or you may help the child make note cards stating each step; a benefit of cards is having it in writing takes away debate over what was expected.
- Tell your child or teen what to do instead of what not to do
- Avoid asking “will you” “would you like to” “can you do me a favor” etc.
- Use statements, not questions
- Use visible reminders of time such as assignment books, wall calendars, analog clocks to help instill a sense of when things will happen and deadlines
- Strive to catch your child being good and praise those behaviors. It is human nature to repeat what gives us attention and if one gets more attention for “bad” behaviors they will be more likely to happen again.
Don’t lose hope. The following people have all been reported to have ADHD:
For more information on ADHD you can check out these books and websites:
- Ten Key Facts about ADD and ADHD http://www.chrisdendy.com. Click on Parenting in the left column of the main page.
- Russell Barkley, PhD talks about ADHD and executive functioning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GR1IZJXc6d8
- "12 Principles for Raising a Child With ADHD" Russell A. Barkley, PhD
Vicki Gedert, LPCC, has been a Counselor at Northeast Cincinnati Pediatrics since 2012 and currently sees patients in our Mason office on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.