27 December 2008

ADHD - THE BASIC FACTS

When children are toddlers, ADHD is the law of the land. Little ones are supposed to be all over the place physically and mentally. There's a huge world out there to explore and conquer. Little kids are like bees or hummingbirds, needing to visit as many flowers as possible each day. Think of the song, "What's This?" when Jack enters Christmasland in the movie "Nightmare Before Christmas."

Eventually toddlers settle down and become young children, hopefully before entering kindergarten where staying at their desks or in a circle on the carpet and paying attention is required. In defense of the teacher, he or she does need to get the little students through a curriculum set by the school district, as well as keep a certain degree of control over the children, lest all hell break loose!

Children go through their transition at different rates, many still working through it during their early elementary school years. In kindergarten, these children are assumed to be "young" and there's nothing to worry about. Some parents delay entering their children into school a year for this very reason - their child needs another year to play before becoming a student.

For the children who don't outgrow their life as a bee and the demands of school become increasingly difficult, they might have ADD or ADHD (both are now called ADHD). The parents and teacher need to complete a questionaire that is scored by a licensed child psychiatrist. Boys are scored differently than girls. If the doctor feels your child has ADHD, there are many things you can do at home and your child's teacher can do at school to help your child succeed. Try these things first and see how it goes. If it's still not good enough, then the doctor will consider medication.

About 5 to 10% of children have been diagnosed with ADHD. One-third are girls and two-thirds are boys. As children mature into adults, their ADHD tends to become less severe and sometimes they even outgrow it. ADHD can continue into adulthood, but many people have developed coping skills over the years to deal with it.

The symptoms of ADHD have been classified into 3 groups- impulsiveness, hyperactivity and inattentiveness. Everyone on this planet has some of these traits. We had alot of them when we were younger and hopefully only a few of them as adults. The ADHD sufferers have more than their fair share to the point that it interferes negatively with life at home, school, friends and work.

Examples of impulsiveness include acting before thinking about the consequences or dangers, a tendency to interrupt other conversations, shouting out answers or verbally interrupting the teacher rather than raising one's hand. Gotta do or say something, gotta do it now! Can't wait for social conventions or seeing if it's safe or appropriate.

Hyperactivity describes a certain restlessness that just won't stop. A child has difficulty sitting still or staying put in their chair, fidgets with their fingers, climbs furniture or other things that shouln't be, and just can't find any moments of peace for their body. This isn't a hard and fast rule, but boys tend to be "all body" and girls tend to fidget with their hands.

The inattention part of ADHD refers to being easily distracted, zoning out or "space cadetting," not finishing tasks, difficulty listening, and following through if instructions are given. You are lucky if you get your child to do one thing on the list of wash your face, brush your teeth and put on your pajamas. They might even argue that you didn't request the other two items.

About two-thirds of children with ADHD tend to have other psychological challenges, too. Some have Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Tourettes Syndrome, Learning Disabilities, Depression, or some sort of Anxiety Disorder, especially one of the Obsessive Compulsive Disorders. Your child's psychiatrist will take the whole picture into consideration when choosing medication and regular visits with a psychologist or therapist.

So where does my child fit it? ADHD for a girl - fidgetty fingers, zoning out, not finishing tasks, difficulty following a list of instructions, difficulty paying attention (can't do phone calls), and some anxiety (OCD). She's on Adderall and sees a child psychologist twice a month for the anxiety issues. Things at home and school are tweaked to help her succeed. Things are much improved now.

1 comment:

Dutch girl said...

I find it interesting to read this blog. I just got diagnosed with ADD 2 weeks ago (at age 23). Here (in the Netherlands, sorry if my English has a few mistakes here and there) it's still ADD and ADHD, simply because there are differences. I, for example, am not hyperactive at all, which is a great part of ADHD. Of course each country has it's own way of identifying this, which is probably why it's different here.

I just wanted to let you know, I enjoy reading this blog, because not a lot of people know what ADD or ADHD really is. And truthfully, it's not that easy explaining to someone who doesn't have it, what it is exactly.

Anyways, I hope your daughter is able to find her way with this and will be able to find the tricks to make things easier.
For me, it's a shame that I got diagnosed this late, I could have learned the tips and tricks from my family. My mother, her brother and my grandmother all have ADHD, however, since I was the quiet little girl, they never knew I had something similar :)

Thanks again for the blog! (even though this was posted 5 years ago)

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