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What is ADHD and How do You Manage it?

May 17, 2008
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that can afflict children. People suffering from ADHD have symptoms such as:

1) Poor attention span and concentration - unless totally engrossed in something (like a computer game).

2) Poor memory

3) The are very impulsive and do things without thinking.

4) Easily frustrated - often leading to temper tantrums and outbursts

While most children as well as adults face similar difficulties during daily routine, those children who suffer from ADHD have a far larger frequency of these difficulties. The extent is so acute that they are unable to undertake tasks such as:

a) at school (getting work done, paying attention, daydreaming, losing homework, talking in class, being disruptive, etc.),

b) at home (are not able to finish chores, are clumsy, get into fights with siblings and more)

c) socially (unable to take turns or wait in line, bossy and overbearing, easily frustrated leading to temper outbursts and aggression, impulsive, so often in trouble for doing antisocial actions e.g. unwise "practical jokes").

ADHD is not a disease or illness in the sense that it is caused by germs, by injury, or by a clearly defined physical malfunction (such as asthma or diabetes). It is simply the result of parts of the brain not working at full efficiency.

Studies have proved that ADHD is partially genetic, gets transferred from parents to children and in a way runs in the family. What has also been established that the symptoms and the problems associated with ADHD are almost life long. They cannot be cured over night are with you for a long time. In most cases, these symptoms and problems continue well into the teens and often into adulthood too.

HOW IS ADHD MANAGED?

What bothers children suffering from ADHD is the danger and fear of long term implications and complications. For example:

a) Their fear of failure at school owing to poor concentration, leading to school drop out

b) They fear of being thrown out from school and landing into trouble with the police only because of their impulsive attitude.

c) Their fear of taking recourse to anti-depressants such as drinks, drugs, crime etc to avoid getting anxious and depressed.

These fears are what bother these children as these factors could influence their attitude and performance in adult life too.

What you cannot beat has to be managed, and the goal of good management is to avoid complications. Since the process of management is a long term commitment, the only people who can effectively ensure its putting into place are the parents. The parents who live with the child, understand his needs and requirements and are the foremost people who are concerned with the well being of the child are the ones who need to take a proactive part in managing this difficulty. Unless parents themselves take the lead, all efforts of others shall go to naught. It is only when parents take an active part that the efforts of others shall bear fruit too. Some of the components of effective management of ADHD are:

COMMITTED PARENTS. These are parents who work wholeheartedly towards the betterment of the child. There is more than adequate information available in the form of books and videos to guide parents on how o assist their ADHD afflicted child. They just need to buy or borrow these read them and be better informed abut this so as to be effective. It is good to discuss what you read with a professional or a local support group as there is a lot of mis-information on this subject. This is especially from self professed guru's who profess magic-cures for your child.

GOOD COMMUNICATION between home, school and other professionals. This especially applies to home and school, so do all that you can to meet regularly with the school to work together on solutions for your child.

It is a known fact that children with ADHD do better in ORGANIZED, quiet and structured and low stimulation ENVIRONMENT, but become worse in chaotic, unorganized and busy homes and classrooms. As a loving parent and a well wisher you will want the child to be better adjusted. Hence it will be a good idea to reorganize your home so that it keeps the child with ADHD calm and less stressful. And if the same can also be done in the school for the ADHD children, then it will help these children to be better adjusted in life.

CLEAR STRATEGY FOR BEHAVIORAL MANAGEMENT. Children afflicted with ADHD are great responders to award and punishment scenarios. They come out best when they are informed of the awards they shall receive when they behave in a particular manner. Obviously, the awards have to be far more frequent than the punishment. Are not clear on what is involved need to consult a professional.

SUPPORT FOR THE PARENTS. These children are hard work - even for the best of parents. This often produces a lot of stress. Often this can lead to marital breakdowns and parents getting depressed themselves. To prevent this you may need to consider getting help for yourselves - parent support groups, parent training groups, respite care, marital counseling, family therapy are all possible resources.

MEDICATION for ADHD should be such that reduces the symptoms and lets the child the opportunity to learn academic, social, and other life skills. The aim here should be to get the correct medicine in the right dosage. child the opportunity to learn academic, social, and other life skills.

Most common type of medicines used for children with ADHD are the stimulants. One medicine that is available in the market to reduce the symptoms of ADHD is atomoxetine. This medicine has very less side effects.

As health professionals we cannot raise your child for you, nor can we solve all your problems as you travel with your child along life's journey. What we can do, however, is to assist you in getting unstuck when you get stuck along the way. We will try to help you to sort out all of the above points as best you can.

But, in the end, it is you and your family who have to live with it, and so the more you learn about it, and the more you learn the best ways to manage it, the better your chances of a good outcome.
About the Author
Find more articles about ADHD and for his excellent book, check out Dr. Noel Swanson's child behavior website? He also does a free newsletter which is excellent.
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