Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is diagnosed in 10% of children between the ages of 4 and 17. ADHD can manifest as a combination of multiple persistent problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, distractibility and impulsivity. Many individuals have these challenges throughout their lives and many learn strategies to help manage their symptoms.
Children and adolescents with ADHD may have social difficulties due to their impulsivity. They may suffer from low self esteem because of the impact poor attention has on school success and friendships. Anxiety is very common with those who have ADHD because they fear that their poor attention, impulsivity and distractibility will have a negative effect on many aspects of their lives. Parents are often frustrated and do not know how to help their child.
You may notice that your child:
- Has a difficult time remembering daily activities or has trouble getting started on tasks or routines.
- Struggles with remembering and following directions. You may feel that you are constantly repeating yourself to your child.
- Forgets to turn in homework.
- Is frequently disorganized and has challenges with planning or organizing. Your child may be messy, or struggle to start a given task, or decide what to do. They may have difficulty keeping materials or belongings in order.
- Doesn’t pay attention to details or frequently makes careless errors.
- May have trouble sustaining attention or staying focused.
- Is “fidgety and restless” or “on the go” and moving constantly. For example, your child’s teacher may complain that your child is frequently in trouble for being out of his or her seat, or your child may run around inappropriately in public places (such as at the grocery store).
- Avoids or strongly dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort. You may notice that your child seems able to focus on some tasks, but resists tasks that are difficult. You and your child may experience a lot of conflict around homework completion.
- Is easily distracted.
- Does or says things without thinking them through. You or your child may be embarrassed by these impulsive behaviors.
- Has a hard time waiting his/her turn. You may notice that other children are often upset with your child or tattling on him/her for impulsive behaviors.
- Frequently blurts out or interrupts others.
- Talks excessively or has a difficult time playing quietly.
Early diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference in outcome. In Cognitive Behavior Therapy, your child can learn skills to help them self-manage their behavior, improve their attention, and reduce impulsivity and distractibility through self-monitoring and self-reinforcement strategies. If your child experiences anxiety or depressed mood due to challenges associated with ADHD, they can also learn coping skills to calm their body and mind. They can learn to think in healthier ways. Additionally, your child may learn social skills if they are experiencing challenges due to deficits that may result from ADHD. Your child’s therapist will likely work together with your child’s teachers and school to promote consistency in reinforcement of new skills that can translate into more adaptive behaviors for your child at school and at home.
Your child’s therapy will likely include a parental consultation component (depending on your child’s developmental level) to help you learn how to support your child. We’ll teach you how to interact most effectively with your child to help him or her make progress quickly and minimize conflict. Your child’s therapist may also develop a behavior support plan that can help you effectively support your child’s positive behavior as your child learns to utilize his or her new skills.