Monday, June 10, 2013

How to deal with your ADHD child

I've thought about it for quite some time, but never really got around to it: I want to write a book to provide parents who have children with ADHD with some hands on tips and tricks on how to deal with having an ADHD child.

But I want to make sure my book is worth the read. I want it to contain information you need as a parent to an ADHD child and I want it to be practical, easy to apply in your every day life.

That's why I decided to make my first drafts of the book open to you in the hope that you will comment and help me develop the book to be "just the thing."

So, with no further ado, here comes the first chapter of:

"How to deal with your ADHD child" - a hands on guide to improve the life of the whole family by Per Holbo, father of two children with special needs.

According to “The 2000 US Census” about 19 percent of the US population have disabilities. In the old days, a disability or handicap was defined mostly as something physical, i.e. the loss of movement or control of your limbs. But in the recent years, this has changed. More and more professionals have come to realize, that there are disabilities not visible to the eyes. One of these is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD.)

Since I am neither a medical doctor nor a psychologist, I will refrain from explaining this condition from a medical point of view. This would be the ‘input’ of ADHD. The aim of this book is instead to explain the ‘outcome’ of ADHD, that is: what are some of the consequences in having ADHD as a part of your life and how can you deal with them?

The fundamental base of my expertise in this matter is two-fold: I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 35 – and two of my four children have similar disabilities (a boy aged 14 diagnosed with Other Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and a girl aged 12 diagnosed with ADHD)

The basic challenge of ADHD
Imagine waking up every morning and the first thing you have to do is putting together a jig saw puzzle. The pieces of this puzzle are scattered on floors and tables, not only in your own bedroom, but in every single room of your house, so before you can start putting the pieces together, you need to find them. Then, as you think you’ve managed to find them all and begin putting them together, someone comes into your room adding or removing pieces and you have to start over.

This is one of the ways ADHD can be experienced. A person with ADHD has difficulty figuring out which impressions are important and which are not. To deal with this, they have to put the pieces together. It is important to understand that this is no way to be compared with OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.) Having OCD certain actions are performed as a ritual. For a person with ADHD it is merely a need to sort out what is important and what is not – and then sort out what needs to be done first. This is something we all do, but for a person with ADHD it is much more complicated due to the challenge of concentrating on the task at hand and the challenge of being easily disturbed by additional impressions.

This presents the ADHD child with two basic issues:

Behavioral problems such as:
Acting on impulse
Acting inappropriate
Losing focus
Failing to fulfill even the most basic requirements and demands from other people

Development problems such as:
Failing to decode norms
Not learning as fast as other children their age

An example:
John has ADHD. He is 10 years old and has just come home from school. The first thing, he needs to do is his homework. If John didn’t have ADHD, he would simply get his books, pencils and paper and begin. But having ADHD this is a much more likely scenario:

John opens his school bag to get his math book. As he grabs the book, a cat walks by outside the window. He lets go of the book and goes to the window to observe the cat. His patient mother reminds him of his homework and he goes back to getting his math book. He places the book on the kitchen table, but as he goes for his pencils his focus is once again disturbed by a yo-yo lying right beside his pencil case. Instead of grabbing the pencil case, he takes out the yo-yo and starts playing with it. Again his patient mother reminds him of his homework… and so on…

Even the slightest thing can disturb John’s focus to something else than he should be focusing on and it is not a question of bad behavior. He just can’t keep focus on what he is supposed to be doing. The impressions of hearing a bird singing outside the window or observing someone walking close to him catches his attention and he simply forgets everything else around him. He has to focus his attention on these new impressions in order to address them – then, he can get back to what he is supposed to be doing.

The behavioral issue in this case emerges as failing to do the fairly simple task of getting out everything needed for doing his home work and failing to organize that very task.

The developmental issue in this case is obviously that not doing his home work will leave him behind in knowledge compared to his class mates.

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