THERE are many conflicting opinions among medical and health professionals about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) – Is it over-diagnosed? Should it be fixed with diet instead of medication? Does it even exist?
There is well-documented scientific evidence proving the existence of AD/HD as a neurological disorder. It is possible that AD/HD is over-diagnosed because children in general can be fidgety, active and distractible. However, when this is not an age-appropriate level of distraction, and it negatively impacts on their social and academic activities, it becomes a real issue.
There are two main types of AD/HD (and some individuals have a mix of both types). Hyperactive type is probably the most ‘stereotyped’.
These individuals can’t sit still, are fidgety, overactive, disorganised, and inattentive, and can have emotional outbursts. They can understand instructions, but miss details, are forgetful in daily activities, and procrastinate.
Inattentive type AD/HD has the same symptoms, however without the overactivity. Their mind is still distractible, but their body doesn’t show it. These individuals can also be quite anxious.
It’s important to note that these behaviours are not within their control, and are not a choice made by the individual. They’re not being intentionally defiant or stubborn. Children with AD/HD are not naughty.
Children with AD/HD can perform well socially and in school, with the right supports. The best outcomes for these children is not medication alone, but in addition to other therapies.
- Give frequent, immediate, positive and specific feedback (e.g. tell them why they have done a good job)
- Make instructions short, and make sure they’re focused on you before you summarise important information
- Give tangible rewards (such as snacks, games or physical affection), as these work better for children with AD/HD
- Punishment doesn’t work long-term, but instead increases problem behaviour
- Set positive behaviour expectations, so that punishment is constructive, and not a ‘put down’
- Be consistent in routines, and discuss and plan changes to routine with your child
- Be patient with your child, with yourself, and with others. They may not understand your child like you do!