Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, often begins in early childhood. It is characterized in three ways- most commonly by inattention and overactivity. The majority of people find themselves growing out of ADHD symptoms by the time they are adults. But for others, ADHD does not subside (for information on adult ADHD, click here).
Many people believe that any active child can be diagnosed with ADHD. It is important to keep in mind that all children are, at some point, hyperactive, prone to listening problems, and guilty of short attention spans. For this reason, specialized clinicians are trained to analyze a child’s behavior and decide if they are experiencing ADHD or simply being a kid.
ADHD symptoms are classified into three categories: Predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive, and a combination of both. Each category has its own symptoms; however, exact symptoms always depend on the individual, their age, and gender.
• Does not pay attention to details and may make careless mistakes
• Trouble focusing on tasks or activities
• Trouble with the organization of tasks and activities
• Easily distracted
• Often forgetful with everyday tasks
• Often avoids or dislikes tasks that require focus and mental energy (ex. Schoolwork, homework)
• Often loses things for tasks and activities (Ex. Pencils, school books, cellphone, glasses)
• Appears to not listen when being spoken to directly
• Excessive fidgeting (Ex. Squirming in a seat, taps hands or feet, moving legs)
• Often interrupts or intrudes on others conversations
• Has trouble waiting for his/her turn
• Talks excessively
• Unable to take part in playtime or leisure activities quietly
• Runs around or is excessively active at inappropriate times (may appear as restlessness in teens)
As the name suggests, this category features a mix of symptoms present in both the inattentive and hyperactive categories. It is the most common form of ADHD in children and teens.
Medication isn’t the only type of treatment for children and teens with ADHD. There are many ways, both at home and with a professional, to manage your child’s ADHD. These treatment options teach the whole family valuable ways to manage their child’s/teen’s ADHD symptoms.
Parent therapy is one of the most common ways to treat behavioral issues in children with ADHD. This intervention is designed for young children who are not yet mature enough to alter their behavior without help from their parents. Rather than focusing directly on the child, parent therapy inadvertently produces behavioral changes by training parents in skills that will help their child succeed. There are many kinds of parent therapy, but they all teach parents ways to incorporate praise and consistency into interactions with their child. When parents are equipped with the right tools, they are able to decrease their child’s ADHD symptoms.
There are several kinds of parent training that have been shown to be effective, including Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), Parent Management Training (PMT), Positive Parenting Program (Triple P). They all teach parents how to use praise, or positive reinforcement, more effectively, as well as consistent consequences when kids don’t comply with instructions. They result in better behavior on the part of children, decreased arguing and tantrums, better parent-child interactions, and reduced parental stress.
If your child/teen is struggling with what seems like ADHD, it is important that you seek the help of a professional trained in identifying ADHD. ADHD is manageable, the earlier you intervene the better your child’s outcome will be.