Caring for a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be draining.
The impulsive, fearless and chaotic behaviours typical of ADHD can make normal everyday activities exhausting and stressful.
Although itcan be difficult at times, it's important to remember that a child with ADHD can't help their behaviour. People with ADHD find it difficult to suppress impulses, which means they don't stop to consider a situation or the consequences before they act.
If you're looking after a child with ADHD, you may find the below advice helpful.
Plan the day so your child knows what to expect. Set routines can make a difference to how a child with ADHD copes with everyday life.
For example, if your child has to get ready for school, break it down into structured steps, so they know exactly what they need to do.
Make sure everyone knows what behaviour is expected, and reinforce positive behaviour with immediate praise or rewards. Be clear, using enforceable consequences if boundaries are overstepped (such as taking away a privilege) and follow these through consistently.
Give specific praise. Instead of saying a general, "Thanks for doing that," you could say, "You washed the dishes really well. Thank you." This will make it clear to your child that you're pleased, and why.
If you're asking your child to do something, give brief instructions and be specific. Instead of asking, "Can you tidy your bedroom?" say, "Please put your toys into the box, and put the books back onto the shelf." This makes it clearer what your child needs to do and creates opportunities for praise when they get it right.
Set up your own incentive scheme using a points chart or star chart, so good behaviour can earn a privilege. For example, behaving well on a shopping trip will earn your child time on the computer or some sort of game. Involve your child in it and allow them to help decide what the privileges will be.
These charts need regular changes or they become boring. Targets should be:
Try to focus on just one or two behaviours at a time.
Watch for warning signs. If your child looks like they're becoming frustrated, overstimulated and about to lose self-control, intervene. Distract your child if possible, by taking them away from the situation, which may calm them down.
Keep social situations short and sweet. Invite friends to play, but keep playtimes short, so your child doesn't lose self-control. Don't aim to do this when your child is feeling tired or hungry, such as after a day at school.
Make sure your child gets lots of physical activity during the day. Walking, skipping and playing sport can help your child wear themselves out and improve their quality of sleep. Make sure they're not doing anything too strenuous or exciting near to bedtime.
Read our page onhealth and fitness, which includes information on getting active, and how much activity you and your child should be doing.
Keep an eye on what your child eats. If your child is hyperactive after eating certain foods, which may contain additives or caffeine, keep a diary of these and discuss them with your GP.
Stick to a routine. Make sure your child goes to bed at the same time each night and gets up at the same time in the morning. Avoid overstimulating activities in the hours before bedtime, such as computer games or watching TV.
Sleep problems and ADHD can be a vicious circle. ADHD can lead to sleep problems, which in turn can make symptoms worse. Many children with ADHD will repeatedly get up after being put to bed and have interrupted sleep patterns. Trying a sleep-friendly routine can help your child and make bedtime less of a battleground.
For more advice, you can read about living with ADHD on the AADD-UK website. AADD-UK is a charity specifically for adults with ADHD.
AADD-UK also has a list of adult support groupsacross the UK.
<p><strong>ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a condition that comprises a variety of symptoms including: reduced attention span, hyperreactivity, or depending on the situation, apathy (patient is disinterested or apathetic in situations where their behavior should be otherwise). This condition may affect children or adults. Usually, this condition is diagnosed when children begin going to school, around the age of 6 or 12 years old. This condition is sometimes accompanied with a disruption of the normal sleep cycle, and increased anxiety. Parents must consult with specialized teachers and medical professionals for the diagnostication of ADHD.</strong></p>
<p><strong>ADHD symptoms include:</strong></p><p><strong>1. Lack of attention</strong><br /><strong>This includes a short attention spam, and easily distracted by whatever is going on around them, they make frequent mistakes while doing homework, they forget or lose their belongings, they complete work slowly, and submit it behind deadlines, they do not heed the advice of parents or teachers, have a tendency to become asiocial or problematic in relation to their peers. </strong></p><p><strong>2. Hyper-reaction and hypo-reaction</strong></p><p><strong>This includes an inability to remain calm, especially when they are in a quiet environment, excessive talking and movement, fidgeting, they cannot stand in a queue, they make thoughtless decisions, prone to interrupting others loudly, have a skewed ability to gauge risk.</strong></p><p><strong>Many patients may exhibit a combination of the above, others may not. In adults, other symptoms may be visible, such as a lack of attention for detail, trying to perform many tasks at once, disorganized, answering loudly and interrupting others, etc. During the patient's transition from child to adult, many of the symptoms of ADHD become reduced or less visible, at least in 65% of patients up to 25 years old. </strong></p>
<p><strong>The causes of ADHD are not completely known, albeit researchers have been able to discover a combination of factors that may be reponsible for this condition. These factors include:</strong></p><p><strong>1. Genetic factor: You can be more predisposed to developing ADHD, if your parents also have ADHD. Children of parents with ADHD are 4 times more likely to develop ADHD. </strong></p><p><strong>2. Researchers have been able to observe differences in brain function between what is called a neutorypical brain and an ADHD brain.</strong></p><p><strong>3. Other potential causes or risk factors include premature birth, being born underweight, brain damage in the uterus, trauma during birth or in the early days or years following birth, the consumption of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs during pregnancy, the exposure to toxic substances at an early age etc. </strong></p><p> </p>
<p><strong>The following steps can be taken in order to diagnose a patient with ADHD. If you are a parent, and notice that something is not right with your child, you should speak to their teacher, and take additional care to carefully follow your child's progress. Furthermore, you may decide to meet with a medical professional, who will most likely ask you for the following details: the symptoms you have noticed, when they have begun , whether the symptoms occur while your child is at school or at home, whether the symptoms occur daily, whether the child has difficulty socializing, whether a significant event has occured in your family recently (such as divorce or the death of a loved one), and if you have a family history of ADHD or other conditions. A doctor may decide in employing in a period of probation for around 10 weeks in order to observe the symptoms, how frequent and aggravated they are, and depending on the result, they may refer you to a joint consulatiton with a psychiatrist, pediatrician, a disability specialist and a therapist. They conduct a physical examination and a conversation with you and your child. In order for an ADHD diagnosis to be made, your child has to exhibit at least 6 or more hyperactivity symptoms, or 6 or more hypoactivity symptoms. In the case of adults, a thorough patient history must be taken, in order to be able to discover vital information about the patient's childhood, which is usually when ADHD symptoms become visible. </strong></p>
<p><strong>Treatment consists in alleviating symptoms. Especially for younger ages affected by this condition, it is highly important to employ treatment with therapy sessions with an ADHD specialist. In order to alleviate the symptoms, medication is often used. They usually aid the patient to concentrate better, be less impulsive, feel calmer and find it easier to study and learn.</strong></p><p><strong>Examples of medication used to treat ADHD includes methylphnidate, dexamfetamine, lisdexamfetamine. Other medications include atomocetine, guanfacine, etc. Side effects for these types of medication range from mild to severe. It is important to carefully monitor the symptoms of your child in order to be able to stop medication when the symptoms have subsided. For all ages affected by ADHD, it is recommended to follow a treatment plan that includes psychoeducation, group therapy, training of parents and teachers, social training, cognitive therapy (a type of therapy that teaches the patients how they think and act and helps them change their behavioral patterns). It is also important to supervise the diet of affected individuals in order to avoid the consumption of foods high in sugar, artificial pigments or cafeine. These compounds may aggravate the symptoms. </strong></p><p> </p>
<p><strong>Useful advice for parents of children or young adults suffering from ADHD includes:</strong></p><p><strong>Keeping a journal where you can plan out their daily activities, handing out clearly defined tasks for them to complete, setting clear boundaries and deadlines for the completion of the task, establish a positive reward system, make sure to shelter the individual from situations known to frustrate them or cause them to lose control, enforcing an exercise regimen and a healthy diet which does not include foods that may cause aggravation of symptoms, enforce a healthy sleeping regimen, and avoid activities before sleep such as watching TV or using a computer.</strong></p><p> </p><p> </p>