Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has two distinct implications on a child’s development: inattention and/or hyperactivity. They may have difficulty paying attention, lose their homework, or take forever to focus enough to even start their work. They’re often moving non-stop, have challenges getting to bed, and act impulsively. More severe behaviors can make it difficult for them to keep friends, leading to shame and feeling like something is wrong with them.
NOTE: ADHD used to be divided into Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and ADHD. ADD described inattentive behaviors while ADHD described hyperactive/impulsive behaviors. In the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5; “therapist’s bible”) specifiers of “predominantly inattentive,” “predominantly hyperactive/impulsive,” and “combined presentation” clarify the set of symptoms described.
Inattentive behaviors can include forgetting how to complete tasks, being easily distracted, daydreaming, not seeming to hear you when spoken to, and having difficulty staying organized. Hyperactivity includes impulsive behaviors such as blurting out answers and having difficulty waiting turns. It also includes a child who is always moving around and can’t seem to sit still. A child with hyperactivity may also fidget, and be disruptive to others.
There are varying levels of severity for this disorder. At a mild level, the child’s behavior is most likely impacting some academic success. They may be considered the “class clown,” or may sit pleasantly in class as they seem like they understand everything until test scores prove otherwise. They most likely have difficulty with homework and often need additional support to bring homework home and turn it in at school.
At a moderate level, there is more frustration to completing work and chores. The child may need more support from adults to stay seated and on task. It most likely takes a longer period of time for them to complete homework, and they have a harder time learning the material in a typical classroom setting.
At a severe level, a child with ADHD will have difficulty keeping friends. They may be ostracized by their peers because they have difficulty slowing down their bodies to read social cues and respond appropriately. They have a higher tendency to “play rough” which is a turn off for their peers and leads to teasing. They are having significant problems in 1 or more subjects in school and homework takes hours and hours per night.
In order for a child with ADHD to receive benefits and support in school tailored to their needs, they need to have completed a psychological evaluation. A diagnosis of ADHD can only be given by a clinical psychologist. School’s legally cannot give a diagnosis of ADHD and without a diagnosis they are unable to give support services for children with ADHD.
Assessment for ADHD consists of parent, teacher, and self-report measures, as well as assessing their academic ability compared to their intellect. Children are observed in the classroom to better understand their abilities and how their behaviors affect their attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. To have a diagnosis children must demonstrate similar behaviors in more than one setting, most often school and home.
If your child was given a diagnosis of ADHD you can expect for them to receive services at school to help them manage their behaviors. School support can include changes in your child’s schedule to include “brain breaks,” less schoolwork, homework support or reduced homework assignments, one-on-one classroom aid, and more.
You may decide to seek therapeutic services to help your children learn to cope with their diagnosis and learn skills to manage their behavior. Parents often find that managing the behaviors of ADHD can be very frustrating and lead to less supportive “fun” time and more micromanaging. A holistic treatment plan for ADHD should include parent training as well. Lastly, medication is often an option that parents seek for a diagnosis of more severity.
For more information about how to get your child assessed for ADHD please contact Calm Down Kids.
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