While each child is unique, those who share a diagnosis of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) demonstrate various degrees of inability to pay attention and restrain impulsive behavior. It is estimated that approximately 3% of all school-age children are affected by this problem.

The daily performance of the child with ADHD does not meet standard educational goals or age-related expectations. Typical parenting techniques and classroom management strategies do not produce the desired behavior modifications. These children are often identified as underachievers, which can be an extremely painful prospect for parents and caregivers.

What is Causing the problem?

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is currently thought to have both biochemical and behavioral components. A diagnosis is made by a qualified professional, who use standardized testing (depending on age) as well as recorded observations of the child's behavior on the part of parents, educators, and health professionals.

How is this disorder treated?

The three approaches most often used are psychostimulant medication, occupational therapy using a sensory integration approach, and cognitive and behavioral management. What is best for each particular child should be determined using a problem-solving approach involving the physician, psychologist, occupational therapist, social worker, teacher, and most importantly the child's family. Various approaches are often used simultaneously.

 

How can therapy help?

The child with ADHD often needs assistance in learning to deal with verbal or written feedback particularly where behavior is concerned. Minimal, low-key feedback for both success and failure can reduce anxiety, frustration, and perfectionism. Parents and teachers learn how their own tones of voices and mannerisms affect those of the child with ADHD.

A sensory integration approach will guide the possible modifications of the environment to decrease noise and distractions caused by visual, auditory, and tactile stimulation.

How can parents and other relatives help the child with ADHD?

  • Learn all you can about this disorder and how it affects your child's ability to manage daily life. Seek professional help in providing the resources your child needs to learn to manage his or her own behavior.
  • Share your concerns and experiences with other parents through support groups and organizations such as Ch.A.D.D. (499 Northwest 70th Avenue, Suite 308, Plantation, FL 33317, 305-587-3700)
  • Provide your child with activities outside the school environment. Consider non-competitive physical activity such as martial arts, swimming, and horseback riding.
  • Focus on your child's strengths and abilities.
  • Be consistent. Establish rules for your child and maintain them throughout his or her school career and at home.
  • Try to maintain a predictable household routine with minimal changes and surprises. Prepare your child when change is required.
  • Active participation in music can also provide a way to focus and use energy, addressing physical, emotional, and cognitive needs.
  • Provide challenges as well as opportunities for your child to succeed!