17 03 2008

ADHD kid

While I personally find autism the most challenging and confusing disorder to deal with (perhaps because it is not “one” disorder?), Attention Deficit Disorder-ADD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder-ADHD is certainly the most common of all childhood developmental disorders and also has generated the greatest amount of controversy as far as standards of diagnosis, treatment and parenting are concerned.

Undoubtedly, something that affects up to 5-10% of all children will call for a great deal of attention. ADD or ADHD (I generally prefer the second term but there are some kids who are attention deficit but not markedly hyperactive), should be detected as early as possible. What is often considered naughtiness is most often ADHD. In severe instances, the child will be thought of as “uncontrollable”, “terribly disobedient”, and perhaps also “unmanageable”. Hearing any of these terms (or their many cognates) should indicate the need for a professional evaluation.

In older children, once in school teachers will notice the short attention span and perhaps also the fidgetiness that goes with it and may call for an evaluation. Children with ADHD are often as intelligent as their peers or more so but will lag behind in the developmental testing due to the cumulative effecs of the short attention span. It is not uncommon to find dyslexia and or dyspraxia also showing up in a detailed evaluation but more commonly ADHD occurs alone. ADHD is now thought to be a catch-all designation that includes at least 5 or 6 different types of disorders, but you can find out more about that in your own research.ADHD chart

Common signs that we look for include:

  • Consistently not completeing tasks.
  • Not listening or paying attention.
  • Keeps losing things.
  • Swithches from one activity (or play) to another, more frequently than his/her peers.
  • Easlly distractable.
  • Refuses to do things considered “boring” (including homework).
  • Acts without thinking, very impulsive.
  • Needs constant supervision.
  • Seems to have “too much” energy.
  • Climbs, jumps, runs, more often than peers.
  • May be short tempered.
  • Seems to fidget a lot, has difficulty sitting still.
  • Child can be inflexible, argumentative, and stubborn.

The professionals of course will have a much more detailed list and lots of questions to ask about stuff like developmental milestones, but if any of the above seem to apply to your child, do have a child psychologist do a complete evaluation.

So, if you do have a child with ADHD what’s next? depending on the age and the actual developmental level as well as the child’s own personality and what types of symptoms are present, the professionals will give you detailed instrucions. It is also very important that you do get into a support group with those who are also having to learn how to effectively deal with ADHD.

Controversies are many, so here I’m just going to tell you what I think and leave you to research the various issues and decide for yourself.

In my experience medications are almost always avoidable, but here the proviso is what sort of a parent or caregiver you are. If you are the type who finds all this difficult to accept and would rather not be bothered, then perhaps you should ask the psychaitrists to help both you and your child with some pills. Mostly a type of stimulant is used that strangely seems to calm ADHD kids down. But, I do believe that with a little care and the right support, your child probably can avoid needing to be medicated.

You need to start a journal. Note down behaviors, good and bad as they occur as well as stuff like sleep timings, diet – quantity as well as type, and how the child is coping with studies, feedback from teachers, achievements and especially the developmental milestones.

ADHD is treatable. 

Stay in close tough with the counselors, teachers and other professionals who are going to be dealing with your child’s ADHD, share ideas, ask questions and make suggestions. Find a team/school that both you and your child are comfortable with and work together to sort things out. We have found that in addition to counseling, occupational therapy, sensory integration and yoga have all proved helpful. Treatment is usually successful when done with a will to succeed. Your child may always have the tendencies, but will slowly learn how to keep them under control, how to concentrate better, and how to be better organised about life and the various tasks that go into making one more successful.

We pay a lot of attention to diet, but there are many who feel that it’s not that big of a deal. Generally, in our experience, cutting carbs and increasing mixed fats and proteins usually helps almost immediately to modulate hyperactivity and more slowly also has an effect on increasing attention spans. But, this may be anecdotal… We have also found that some children are “set-off” by particular foods or spices. If you do your journal properly, you will find your child’s pattern – if there is one!

We have found that identifying each child’s interests is an important first step. It’s much easier to work on the attention span using the child’s own interests as a springboard. Boredom is one of the biggest enemies, so trying a ‘standard formula’ rarely works across the board.

Keep plugging away. Both you and your child should realise that having ADHD does not make one less valuable as a person. The real point is that each and every child should have the best possible shot at realising their own unique potential – and that’s the Challenge!

cheetah running

P.S. There’s lots of half-baked stuff out there. Use your common sense, resarch thoroughly, discuss issues threadbare before jumping on to the latest bandwagon. A little thoughtful hesitation never hurts!




14 responses

25 03 2008

Thanks for writing this useful article on ADHD. Do you recommend a book that I might read especially about the attention span bit?
I recently joined a group that wants children to be put more central in schools (as opposed to putting teachers or the school organisation central). A pitty we write in Dutch though. greetings.

25 03 2008
Sam L. Carr

Hi Odile!

There are now so many books available and the number of websites is mind-boggling. Still, for three different but useful perspectives I like these three. As usual theres a lot I disagree with but to get started on thinking things through – parent or teacher/counselor it’s a good place to start.

The most difficult thing in most classroom setups is to allow each child’s individuality to shine while still successfully helping the child to enculturate. The focus should be on encouraging the best possible individual development with good socialisation-interaction for each child. The ADHD child is felt to be a distraction by demanding a ‘disproportionate amount of the teacher’s attention, but it is in fact the expression of the reality that NONE of the children are actually getting enough individual attention.

Taking Charge of ADHD: The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents (Revised Edition) (Paperback)
by Russell A. Barkley

How To Reach & Teach All Students in the Inclusive Classroom: Ready-to-Use Strategies Lessons & Activities Teaching Students with Diverse Learning Needs (Paperback) by Sandra F., M.A. Rief, Julie A. Heimburge

ADHD Grown Up: A Guide to Adolescent and Adult ADHD
by Joel L. Young, M.D.; New York, W. W. Norton, 2007, 240 pages,

26 03 2008
Kevin Heisler

This was a really helpful post – with great graphics, too. Plus some excellent comments from your readers.

It’s great to know that ADD / ADHD is treatable. Lots of professionals with ADD have succeeded but not enough talk about it.

Here’s one who did:

It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on how it affects different professions.

26 03 2008

Thanks Kevin, you may be right about SEOs and ADHD, though it seems to me that there may be some overlap with dyspraxics and Aspergers too – of the more intelligent “nerdy” type.

When I see some decent research on real live outcomes, I’ll surely remember to put it up. I think I need to get to searching in a bit of a more organised manner.

As with all developmental disorders, ADHD is a bit of a catch all and includes a broad spectrum of behaviors. Perhaps by looking at longer term results we may find clues to help differentiate the childhood disorders a little more scientifically.

5 09 2008


5 09 2008
Sam L. Carr

I surely do hope so Bosko, thanks for dropping by!

9 02 2010


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10 08 2010

This is the first time I have read about ADHD being treatable. I have an 8 year old son gifted and ADD. I am homeschooling him this year in an attemp to really understand him and how his behavior and mood affect his learning. He is very smart and a quick learner, but has no motivation to learn. It’s almost as if the ADD cancels out the giftedness in him. This was a very useful article.–Thanks

7 03 2011
Fictitious Problem? « Beyond Logic

[…]  you tell me….does ADHD exist or is it just bull? Sites used and referanced in this post: LikeBe the first to like this […]

2 06 2011

You should check out biomedical treatment for ADHD. I had ADD as an adult and found out the cause of my problem was candida (yeast). Many ADHD symptoms are actually those of dyslexia but you’ve done a good job of excluding those. Much of the hyper-ness is due to a chemical imbalance and food allergies. All that is covered in biomed.

1 02 2013

I am really loving the theme/design of your web site.
Do you ever run into any browser compatibility problems?
A few of my blog readers have complained about my site not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Safari.

Do you have any advice to help fix this problem?

2 02 2013

Dianne, thanks for liking my site. I do also have a blog on blogger, that I have also customixed quite a bit. Here WordPress does all the hard work of site design, though we can customize quite a bit. I wouldn’t worry too much about IE as it is notorious for rendering websites very oddly at times. However, do check that your site’s code is compliant, and if it is then forget about IE and its problems.

26 05 2013
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