Many children have times when they when the fail to pay attention or when they are hyperactive or impulsive. However, if the symptoms are more severe or frequent than seen in other children he or she may have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
If you are a parent of a child with ADHD you are not alone. ADHD affects the lives of approximately 5.4 million children and adolescents. Fortunately, ADHD can be treated and managed. The more you understand ADHD the better you will learn to develop a plan to manage the behaviors and build a caring and supportive relationship with your child.
Signs and Symptoms of ADHD in Children
The core symptoms of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsive. If your child has any symptoms of ADHD please call our office to arrange for an evaluation.
A child with ADHD may have some of the following symptoms:
*Is easily distracted, misses details, forgets things, and switches frequently from one thing to another
*Has difficulty maintaining focus on a single task
*Is easily bored unless doing something interesting
*Has difficulty organizing or completing tasks
*Has trouble completing homework assignments
*Does not listen when spoken to
*Fidgeting and squirming in his seat
*Dashing around, touching or playing with everything in site
*Is constantly in motion
*Has trouble sitting still at school, at home during dinner
*Is very impatient
*Blurts out answers, interrupts
*Acts out without regard to consequences
*Shows emotion without restraint
*Has trouble waiting for things she wants
Some children with ADHD may have a combination of inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive symptoms. People with ADHD may also have difficulties with social skills and forming relationships. About half of children and adolescents with ADHD experience rejection by their peers compared to 10-15% of non ADHD children. They may also have attention deficits that cause difficulty processing verbal and non-verbal language, often missing social cues. Difficulties managing anger are more common with those with ADHD, as are poor handwriting.
Examples of Age and Developmentally Appropriate Activities
After assessment for EF functioning, and determination of functional deficits, skills development activities can be selected and taught at the appropriate level of the child’s ability. It should be noted that impairments or deficits in one area of functioning will often overlap with other areas or clusters.
These EF skills can be taught systematically and at the appropriate level of the child’s functional ability. Three to five-year olds need support in learning rules and structure, and a goal might be to gradually shift from adult reliance. A five to seven year old might benefit from more challenging tasks and games with more exacting rules. Teenagers need to operate in multiple contexts, managing their own extracurricular activities.
Examples of EF Treatment
The following examples are drawn from a research article available at developingchild.harvard.edu The article contains numerous developmentally appropriate activities and strategies for improving EF skills, and will provide an importance bank of resources to participants in the QBH/ADHD and Executive Functioning Program.
Six-year old exhibiting difficulty with-self-regulation and lacking concentration
At this age children start to enjoy games that have rules but do so with varying levels of interest and skills. Games like Go Fish, Old Maid, Uno, can be played, initiated by the parent but with gradual withdrawal allowing more freedom, responsibility, and decision-making practice by the child. The activities can then be graduated to more fast-paced games, challenging attention and inhibition. Eventually Parcheesi, Checkers, Minecraft, Dungeons and Dragons….
Seven to Twelve Year Olds
For children of this age it becomes important to steadily increase the complexity of games and activities. Card games exercise working memory and promote mental flexibility. Any games requiring strategic thinking and planning such as gin rummy, mahjong, or fantasy games like Minecraft or Dungeons and Dragons. Physical activities, music, singing, puzzles, and brain teasers draw on a wide range of skills.
Teenagers need to successfully complete more abstract and complicated projects. Self-regulation is required in any goal-related activity. Identifying goals, planning, monitoring progress, and adjusting behavior in social contexts become increasingly important. Teens need to be helped to develop plans, take on larger social issues, use self-talk, understand the motives of others.
Age and developmentally appropriate activities will be chosen for the following:
5-7 year olds
7-12 year olds
Should you as a parent, teacher, or caregiver feel that your child is experiencing difficulties managing behaviors related to Executive Functioning please feel free to assess their behavior on-line at www.kandmcenter.com or contact Quality Behavioral Health to schedule an appointment for individual assessment.
Medical management services are available by a team of Board Certified Psychiatrists, Developmental Pediatricians, and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners.