If Your Child Has ADD

If Your Child Has ADD

If your child has Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), you know it affects many aspects of a child?s life. While often linked to concentration and behavioral difficulties in the classroom, ADHD doesn?t end with the school day. The condition also affects a child?s ability to participate in extracurricular activities, complete homework assignments, sit through family meals or participate in other family activities without disruption -- all leading to increased stress not just on the child with ADHD, but on the whole family.

That?s why taking a team approach to treatment produces the best results. This may include working with your child?s doctor and teacher to discover what works best for your child, both at school and at home.

Combining input from the school, prescribing physician, and therapist, along with the parent and the child with ADHD, can help the child to function better in all areas affected by the disorder.? says Christopher J. Kratochvil, M.D., associate professor, Department of Psychiatry and assistant director, Psychopharmacology Research Center, University of Nebraska Medical Center.

As you develop your plan, consider the following elements.

ADHD and the School Day

You can help improve your child?s school experience by working with his/her teacher(s) to address your child?s needs to avoid distraction and follow instructions.

* After an official diagnosis of ADHD, meet with the evaluation team at school to determine your child?s eligibility for special education services, and how those services will be tailored for your child.

* There are several federal laws that may provide help to individuals with ADHD. A good starting place to understand the rights of your child is to learn more about the following three laws:

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 -- Prohibits programs that receive federal funds from discriminating against children with disabilities.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) -- Requires that eligible students receive access to special education services.

American with Disabilities Act (ADA) -- Similar to Section 504 above, but applies to a broader range of organizations.

Provide written materials to support information that is delivered verbally.
Include visual, auditory, and hands-on learning opportunities to maintain the child?s attention.
Redirect your child without embarrassment if he or she becomes distracted.
Beyond-the-School-Day Plan

Children with ADHD may have a tendency to interrupt conversations to share an idea before forgetting it, mix up words or fail to understand instructions, which can lead to frustration all around. As a parent, you can use everyday activities to help your child overcome these issues.

Help your child recognize visual or verbal signs of other people that indicate his or her conversation may not be appropriate.
Identify and support creative activities that your child enjoys, such as music, art, computer design, to increase your child?s focus and self-esteem.
Consider alerting your child?s coach, music instructor, scout leader or other adult in charge of your child?s extracurricular activities about his or her ADHD, and what works and doesn?t work for your child.
Ask your child to name what he or she sees during car rides to the grocery store, music or sports practice to develop his or her ability to think and respond quickly.
Encourage your child to tell you about his or her day during dinner to strengthen his or her thought process and communication skills.
Balance constructive feedback with positive encouragement.
Physician Partnership Plan Parents also need to partner with their physician to design a treatment plan for their child with ADHD that works during and beyond the school day, through to the evening. Treatment may consist of appropriate medication, developing behavioral skills and coaching. With nonstimulant and stimulant medications for the treatment of ADHD, parents and physicians have different options for managing the disorder. A medication that controls symptoms after school and into the evening can help to improve interaction with family and friends and reduce stress not only for the child with ADHD, but for parents and other family members too.

ADHD affects 3 to 7 percent of school-aged children and is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder of childhood. This medical condition manifests itself in levels of attention, concentration, activity, distractibility and impulsivity that may be inappropriate to the child?s age. In the last decade, experts have recognized that 60 percent of children will carry symptoms into adulthood.

For more information on ADHD and a treatment option that works differently, call (800) 545-5979.

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