Saturday, February 23, 2013

What to do when someone you love has ADHD

I have worked with many students and families who have heard the diagnosis of ADHD.  As a classroom teacher, I do not feel comfortable telling parents which route they should take with their child as each situation is different.  But if I could give advice to someone I love, I would say:

Take a deep breath.  This is a journey, there are no quick fixes.  Take another deep breath, this will not ruin your child's life or impede your child from becoming a self sufficient, functioning, responsible adult.  As a matter of fact there are many successful adults with ADHD, we just call it ambition, creative thinking, and energy.

As a parent, your job is to raise a child who can be a functioning member of society.  Although your heart is breaking for your child's situation, you have a job to do.  Be honest with the professionals in your child's life. Don't be afraid of your child being "labeled"  The label of ADHD is better than the label of naughty, unruly, and discipline problem.

If your child had diabetes, or needed glasses you would certainly get your child the help she needs.  It is the same with ADHD,  Your child has an interference with normal focus.  It is like watching TV in the 1950's.  There are some channels that are fuzzy and full of static.  That is what your child's brain is like.  The ability to tune in clearly is not there.  Another example would be the Charlie Brown TV specials.  The adults talk "Whaa, waa, waa," that is what your child hears.  She cannot adjust the controls in her brain to make the message clear.

Take a deep breath.  Your child is unique.  Love your child.  Then get your child what she needs to be able to focus, to control impulsivity, and to be successful.

As a teacher I have not seen cases where natural remedies, diet changes, and behavior modification work consistently.  I have seen parents go through these steps on the journey with their child, this only seems to delay the inevitable.

I do recommend medication.  It may take awhile to find the right dose and the right brand, but work with your teacher and pediatrician to keep on top of it.  Find teachers who have experience and can be supportive.  Find a school where the child does not have to sit at a desk for long periods of time, where they teach self reliance and responsibility, and where children are allowed to socialize and move about within limits.

Find a school and stick with it.  Taking a child from school to school is a disadvantage.  Each time you move the child they need to reestablish relationships and adapt to new rules.  Not easy for an ADHD child.

A child with ADHD needs freedom within limits.  The boundaries must be clearly defined and consistently enforced.  The child who is allowed freedom within these boundaries with the help of the right medication, the right school and the love of a strong parent will thrive.

Take a deep breath, love your child, then help her cope with this challenge.  Be grateful for the joy this child brings to your life.

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