What is ADHD?

ADHD, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, is a neurodevelopment disorder of… childhood. It’s usually diagnosed in childhood and lasts into adulthood. Children with ADHD have trouble paying attention, have impulsive behaviors, and are overly active.

What is ADHD

 

Before diagnosis

I have three beautiful kids full of energy that I couldn’t explain. I mean kids are always full of energy, but this was on another level. One of my sons, the eldest, is very forgetful, he has a hard time staying on tasks or focusing for a period of time. He has difficulties making decisions of his own, it’s almost as if without my guidance he’s lost. But before all these symptoms become problematic, he was receiving services for a developmental delay. After a couple of months in therapy, his therapists suggested he gets evaluated for ADHD. We eventually voice our concerns to his primary care who diagnosed him with a combined ADHD and ADD.

Signs and symptom

We all know it’s normal for children to have trouble focusing and behaving one time or another. However, children with ADHD don’t grow out of these behaviors. In fact, the symptoms continue and cause difficulty at school, home, with friends. A child with ADHD might:

  • Forget or lost things a lot
  • Talk too much
  • Has a hard time resisting temptation
  • Fidget
  • Make careless mistakes
  • Easily distracted
  • Has difficulties with organizational skills
  • Does not follow through on instructions
  • Often reluctant to do activities that require mental effort over a long period of time
  • Doesn’t seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Has trouble holding attention on tasks

My reaction to my son diagnosis

I had to learn about ADHD and how to help my child succeed in school and in all his endeavors. It’s my life so it only helps me to learn how to be productive with him. I thought all he needs is a good team of therapists helping him control his movements and focus. However, the longer I wait to medicate him, the harder it is for him to meet up with the classroom requirements. Moreover, his peers started noticing his challenges which made him more frustrated with himself for being different. I had to medicate him to lessen his symptoms and help him succeed. But it took a specialist to knock some senses into me to make the decision, it wasn’t just what he said that changed my view on medications and their possible side effects but how he said it. Simply put, he said, “Your child’s brain has a deficiency of a special neurotransmitter called Norepinephrine resulting in the symptoms that he’s having. It’s like diabetes, your pancreas is not producing enough insulin so you decide to do therapy, how is therapy going to help your body produce more insulin?” This is when it became clear to me that I needed to do more for my child to succeed.

What is ADHD

 

How do I help my child deal with his challenges?

It takes patience, compassion, plenty of support and consistency to care for a child with ADHD. And remember, what might work for an individual might not work for another. Explore some of the techniques below to find what works for your child.

  • Establish a bedtime routine
  • Lower activity level an hour or so before bedtime
  • Create a quiet place for your child to do his homework, this helps reduce distraction and helps your child get more work done
  • Maintain a positive attitude, when you’re calm and focus, you can effectively help your child stay calm and focus
  • Believe in your child, let him or she knows that you believe in them
  • Create a structured routine and stick to it, this reduces anxiety in your child
  • Simplify your child’s schedule to avoid more distraction and wounding him up
  • Be neat and organized as kids learn most behaviors from their parents, but this skill set is exceptionally difficult for kids with ADHD
  • Decrease screen time
  • Eliminate caffeine from their diet
  • Reward your child with privileges, praises, or activities
  • Change reward frequently to keep him motivated, kids with ADHD get bored if the reward is the same
  • Always follow through with a reward, immediate rewards work better
  • Always follow through with consequences
  • Consequences should be spelled out in advance and occur immediately after your child misbehaves
  • Speak softly but honestly with your child’s challenges and how he can change

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Author

Raina is a psychology student who understands the importance of caring for mental health. She blogs about depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, men and mental health and parenting kids with ADHD.

17 Comments

    • Glad you find my post insightful. It can be hard for loved ones and friends to understand what is going on in the brain of someone with ADHD, my son has ADHD so I understand the challenges.

    • Pinned one of your posts about mental health as I know my audience would benefit from it. Thanks for being honest about your struggles with Bipolar disorder, indeed you’re a strong woman.

  1. Felicia Austin Reply

    This is an amazing informative post Raina! We recently found out our son has a mild case of ADHD. He has tourettes as well so those combined has been hard on him. He has a hard time focusing as well. For the longest time I thought he was just not paying attention when I told him to do something, then it started to get worse and his therapist noticed his behaviors. So, she asked us to get him evaluated, at first I was against it. As a parent, we don’t want to believe that something isn’t “right” with our children, but ignoring it made it worse. Finally I was able to accept that something was off so we got him diagnosed and now we have plans in action at school and at home to help him in every way we can. I have been carrying this guilt around for awhile about not getting him tested sooner and it’s killing me. He’s 10 and I think if I would have dealt with it sooner, he wouldn’t have had so many problems in school. 🙁 Anyway, so sorry this comment is so long. Thank you again for this post I really enjoyed reading it.

    • Felicia,

      I can relate to your story as I hesitated to get my son the necessary help he needed. I, too, felt guilty for a long time, but we need to understand that we did that for the best interest of our kids. As parents, we do what we think is the right thing for them with no instruction on how to make decisions regarding them. I knew my son has ADHD since he was three years old but did not medicate him until he was 10 years. I chose to do therapy for years. You are a good mother for doing the best for your son, please don’t be too hard on yourself.

  2. Dealing with ADHD is hard. I am sad to read about your experience with your son. The good news, however, is that there are so many tools and strategies to help us handle and manage it. Hugs Raina. More than anything, awareness is so important to even begin dealing with it. I know that many parents ignore signs as tantrums on the part of the child and in the process, things get harder. Thank you for this heartfelt post!

    • Vidya,
      I appreciate your support. I was a difficult time for my family, I think the hardest part is watching my son struggling with expressing himself or focusing on things he really loved doing. It was even harder to medicate him even though I knew it was for the best. I hope other parents would learn something from this post and understand they are not alone and that others go through the same struggle.

  3. Wow Raina I can only imagine what you must have all been through. I know that I would have also been very resistant to medicating my child! However that said I know exactly how much medication can help when their is some sort of mental health disorder…. is ADHD considered a mental health disorder?

    Anyway I was diagnosed with bipiolar disorder 11 years ago and I was on medication since then until very recently. While I don’t believe in medicating at the drop of a hat, I do believe that medication can help so much in the right circumstances, so if it is needed then you really need to consider it.

    In the last 10 years I have learned a lot about myself and I have learned a lot of coping mechanisms and so far I am doing well without my medication so perhaps your son being medicated does not mean a life-time of medication… which I know is a scary thought.

    Just take it one day at a time and deal with whatever comes when it comes.

    Thank you for sharing these fantastic tips and your experiences here, it will most certainly be helpful to other moms dealing with similar struggles.

    • Lynne,
      Yes, it was a difficult decision to medicate him, but it had to be done as he was falling behind in school and kids started noticing how different he was to them. And the thought of medicating him for possibly the rest of his life was scary, to say the least. I hope other parents would learn from my experiences.

  4. Thanks for this great information! I think it can be difficult for kids with ADHD to understand why they are like that and understand why others get frustrated with them. I know for personal experience when I tutored a 15-year old boy with ADHD… It was incredibly difficult to teach him and help him improve his grades when none of my usual teaching methods worked with him. I had to take a completely different approach with him than I did with my other students.

    • Nicole,

      I can tell you as a parent, it is challenging to help my child through his struggles sometimes. Kids with ADHD think, behave, and understand things differently.

  5. Hey Raina, Great post!
    My son was recently diagnosed with ADHD and I wish I had these tips then. He checked pretty much every symptom but split evenly between home and school so we never saw the whole picture until last school year. Great information here, thank you.

    • Elizabeth,

      I can understand how difficult it can be to get this kind of diagnosis and know how to help your child. It was a long process before I even accept to medicate my son due to the side effect of the common medication used to treat ADHD. I did a lot of therapies with him in the hope to avoid medicines. It takes a lot of patient, compassion and love to care for children with ADHD. I hope you have all the resources available to care for your son.

  6. You had great information to share about your personal experiences and great tips! I’m a clinical psychologist and deal with diagnosing ADHD on an almost-daily basis.

    • Mellisa,

      Thanks for visiting my blog. You probably understand the challenges families face on a regular basis with kids diagnosed with ADHD. I would love to work with you on this subject by helping families cope more efficiently with ADHD.

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