ADHD isn’t always easy to recognize in children. Sometimes younger children are active and on the move, and sometimes there’s a disconnect between focus and the task (especially in a classroom setting). When it comes to diagnosing what you observe, it’s best to get an ADHD evaluation for your child. This will tell you specifically what your child struggles with and what you can do to help.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and it’s classified as a mental health issue that affects more than 9.4% of the total population. If you suspect that your child has this, you must first understand that he or she is not alone. You’ll also want to determine whether your child’s attention problems can be attributed to ADHD or something else.
Other factors that may inhibit your child’s attention are life circumstances/events, sickness or allergies, or educational placement.
Does your child have an IEP or 504 plan? Is he or she in a classroom where he is far ahead, or far behind peers? Ask yourself these questions to ensure that nothing else is getting in the way of your child’s learning first. Then, you can move forward with an evaluation.
How To Help Your Child:
If you suspect your child has ADHD or if he or she has been evaluated and diagnosed with ADHD, you’ll want to learn what triggers your child’s attention problems and what options you have to help support his or her learning, as well as day-to-day activities.
First, understand that your child’s brain is different.
This doesn’t mean that he or she is ‘less smart’ or ‘less capable’ of learning, but it does mean that you’ll have to try a different approach. ADHD may make your child more prone to disruptive or impulsive behavior. As you’re parenting, you’ll want to keep that in mind and work on creating a safe, distraction-free environment as much as possible.
Focus on behavior management strategies.
This may mean medication as a first step, but it doesn’t have to be. There are positives and negatives to either approach: natural or medical. As a parent, you must decide what’s best for your child and his or her unique needs. It’s important, regardless of medication, to create structure around your child’s behavior management. He or she must know what’s expected and what the consequences or rewards will be.
Break tasks into pieces that feel manageable.
Part of ADHD means limited attention at times. In order for your child to feel successful, you may want to break down tasks into manageable pieces so that he or she feels confident and able to complete the task at hand.
With this comes organization. Whenever possible, try to organize (and simplify) your child’s life. Create and establish routines and clear expectations. Try to stick to a schedule when you can—and allow flexibility within reason—while allowing your child to have options for their own choices.
Remember That Every Child Is Different
There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way for a child to learn, especially if his or her learning style is different. Regardless of whether or not your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, it’s helpful to learn strategies for managing and supporting attention.
You can read more about strategies for helping your child focus on our blog, or if you’d like to schedule an assessment for your child, give us a call at (858) 367-5428!