Living With A Child With ADHD
Living with an ADHD child can be difficult, but it is not impossible. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder affects 7% of American children; it can be disruptive to everyday life, but there are several coping strategies for both children and the parents of these children whom suffer from this condition.
ADHD affects the limbic system by repressing the release of neurological chemicals, resulting in symptoms such as difficulty paying attention, staying focused on tasks, restlessness, quick frustration and anger levels, and difficulty sleeping. Children can begin showing signs of ADHD as early as five years old, and if left untreated, the condition will be carried on into adulthood.
Because ADHD develops during early, school-aged children need intense support from parents and other adults to learn to manage the condition. Parents of these children often find themselves at their wits’ end, feeling helpless at their inability to help their child, and feeling like there is no one for them to turn to. There are tools out there available for ADHD children and their parents; these individuals are not lonely islands weathering the ADHD storm alone.
Plan activities carefully for and with a school-aged ADHD child. Activities that include scouting, team play, and hands-on aspects are extremely therapeutic for the child and can help them control their inattentiveness.
In scouting activities, such as “Hide and Go Seek” help strengthen focus; events such as scavenger hunts provide physical activity and competition, as well as peer interaction. Both of these styles of “finding” games should be done with an adult to provide guidance and model acceptable behaviors; try involving the whole family for these activities to make them more fun for everyone.
Team sports are a fantastic therapeutic tool for an ADHD child; not only do they provide a high level of energy and physical activity; they encourage proper social behavior patterns in a group of peers and other vital social skills. Be sure to enroll your child in a sport that they are interested in, because this helps them focus and keep attention. If they are more interested in solitary games such as bowling, suggest bowling with a team so that these skills are still introduced.
Hands-on activities such as Lego building and jigsaw puzzles help hone fine motor skills and concentration, both of which can be a challenge for an ADHD child. These activities encourage finite space and turning ideas into physical reality. Start out with fairly easy projects and let your child work his or her way up to more difficult puzzles.
All of these activities can be molded to fit into homework application. If your child has a math assignment, pull out tools to help him or her visualize the problem. Use eggs in a carton for addition, jellybeans for subtraction, elbow macaroni for multiplication, or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for division. If writing or reading is the assignment at hand, try to act out the scenarios as a family play, or relate the concepts to some event that has occurred in the child’s life. For instance, “Remember the time Uncle Tom used my car, and he didn’t bring it back when he said he would? That is like what Suzie is feeling in your story when Tommy won’t bring her toy back.” This kind of modeling again reinforces real world applications.
In the classroom, make sure your child’s teacher is aware of your child’s diagnosis. They are an integral part in your child’s world, and they are a large part of your child’s education. Share with them what works and what does not work for your child. Perhaps they need to work with their hands to solve math problems, or they need to read a story out loud while standing to fully digest a reading passage. Discuss with your child and the teacher coping strategies for high frustration situations. Perhaps your child responds best when they take a five minute breather, or maybe after having taken a five minute walk outside in the fresh air. It is important that your child knows that the coping strategies he or she uses at home can be applied in the real world (at school, in this case); this strengthens his or her confidence in their ability to manage their symptoms.
Coping with ADHD is a process of trying new things to see what works and what doesn’t. Each child is different, so if one suggestion doesn’t work, throw it out and try something else. The most important thing you can do as a parent is be supportive to your child. Never give up; there is something out there that will work for your child. Learn all you can along the way.