Coping with ADD or ADHD
There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the treatment and diagnosis of children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The debate is generally focused on whether children are over diagnosed with this condition and whether medication is the appropriate form of treatment. Regardless of your position, the symptoms are disruptive to a child’s learning, and if not addressed can cause developmental delays and/or falling behind in school. While there’s no single form of treatment that works for everyone, there are things, described below, that you can do to improve your child’s day-to-day functioning and hopefully turn his/her weakness into strengths.
ADD or ADHD is the most widely diagnosed and treated condition among school-aged children. It is defined as a condition where a child (or sometimes adult) has difficulties focusing on specific tasks plus having a list of other symptoms described below. The Hyperactivity part of it (as in ADHD) is the physical state in which a person has difficulties with impulse control, is easily excitable or exuberant, to the point where they are antsy or appear to be, “bouncing off of the walls.”
Regardless of your position, the symptoms are disruptive to a child’s learning, and if not addressed can cause developmental delays and/or falling behind in school.
ADHD has three subtypes: Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, predominantly inattentive, and the Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive. Most children are diagnosed with the latter of the three, ADHD, combined type. Please see below for respective symptoms.
Predominantly inattentive type symptoms may include:
- Easily distracted, misses details, forgets things, and jumps from one activity to another.
- Difficulty maintaining focus.
- Easily bored with a task after a short while, unless doing something they enjoy.
- Difficulty organizing and completing a task, learning something new, or completing homework assignments.
- Often loses or misplaces things.
- Doesn’t seem to listen or appears to daydream
- Difficulty processing information quickly and accurately as compared to others
- Has difficulties following instructions.
Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type symptoms may include:
- Fidgets or squirms in their seats.
- Interrupts or talk nonstop
- Likes to touch and play with everything in sight
- Wants to constantly be in motion
- Has difficulties working on quiet tasks.
- Appears impatient
- Blurts out inappropriate comments
- Difficulties waiting in line or waiting their turn for things they want
- Exercise and outdoor play. Work off excess energy and restlessness. Exercise is a positive way to relieve stress, boost your mood, and help you stay calm.
- Get plenty of rest. Not getting enough sleep greatly reduces your ability to cope with stress and maintain focus. Get to bed early even if you don’t feel tired. Sometimes you may feel that way because you’re over tired. Get in bed, remove distractions and other stimuli (like music, light, etc.), and you’ll fall asleep.
- Practice healthy eating habits. Having a balanced diet drawing from the five basic food groups reduces distractibility, hyperactivity, and stress. Check supplements or other specialty foods to make sure they don’t contain stimulants, which cause hyperactivity.
- Develop organizational skills. Compensate for poor organizational skills by taking the time to plan ahead and organize your work and study areas. Cleaning up a bit will save you time shuffling through papers to find what you’re looking for. Be sure to schedule set times daily to get organized.
- Practice time-management. Demand punctuality and compliance with a schedule. Introducing structure will help with completing tasks, arriving on time, and prioritizing. Get a watch, alarm clock, or any device that will alert you to getting to places on time.
- Sit Closer. If you know you have a tendency to play around in the back of a room, and if you’re serious about getting better, force yourself to sit close to the teacher or lecturer where you’ll be less inclined to interrupt.
- Eliminate distractions. If you know you tend to play games on the computer while you’re trying to get work done then either remove the game capability or set aside an allotted time to play. You don’t have to deprive yourself, but learn that everything has a place and time. Don’t fool yourself. You know what your distractions are so set them aside until the appropriate time, so you can focus on the task at hand.
- Put it in writing. Carry a notepad or digital calendar with you to help you remember specific tasks and to schedule new ones. It sounds simple enough but will save you so a lot of time and frustration. Check off completed tasks as you go.
- Reward and praise. Take breaks as a reward for long periods of good concentration and staying on task.
- Get back on the horse. You know when you’re messing around and getting off task. Catch yourself and fix the problem. It might be hard at first and not seem like much fun. However, try to hold out for the long-term reward of not feeling lost and/or detached. Don’t give up because the more you correct yourself the faster you can get back on track and the less frequent it will occur.
- Ask them to repeat it. It’s okay if you didn’t catch something the first time. Your listening skills will get better with practice. In the meantime, demonstrate that you’re sincere about learning and ask people to repeat something that you missed. They’ll know you’re serious and want to help you by your tone of voice.
- Know when to get professional help. Know your limitations and seek medical or mental health treatment if the problem persists to where you feel overwhelmed. Remember: If you’re falling way behind and unable to stay on task to the point where you’re becoming increasingly frustrated and discouraged, it may lead to more severe medical, social, or mental health problems.