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 (most prefer the
second term but there are some kids who are attention deficit but not
markedly hyperactive), can seriously disrupt a child's well being and should be detected and treated as early as possible.
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
If the ADHD is not detected earlier, 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 (or more than) their peers but will lag behind in the developmental
testing due to the cumulative effects of the short attention span and easy distractibility. 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.
Common signs that we look for include:
Consistently not completing tasks.
Not listening or paying attention.
Keeps losing things.
Switches from one activity (or play) to another, more frequently than his/her peers.
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 instructions. 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
In my experience medications are almost always avoidable, but here
the proviso is what the severity of ADHD is and what sort of a parents or caregivers 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 your psychiatrist to help both you
and your child with some pills. Mostly, for ADHD a type of stimulant is used that
strangely seems to calm the kids down and help them to focus better. 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 organized
about life and the various tasks that go into making one more
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 have been anecdotal… we don't have a big enough sample size etc, to gauge statistical significance. We've 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 realize 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
realizing their own unique potential - and that’s the Challenge!
P.S. There’s lots of half-baked stuff out there. Use your common
sense, research thoroughly, discuss issues threadbare before jumping on
to the latest bandwagon. A little thoughtful hesitation never hurts!
There are many, many things that can disturb a child’s ability to
Today, I want to highlight reading difficulties or dyslexia as a common and troubling disorder.
Signs of dyslexia can be detected from about 3 years of age onwards as children
fall behind their peers in reading. Commonly, one will encounter any or
all of the following:
May have poor reading ability or poor comprehension
May have more than the normal difficulty with spellings
May often misread information
May have problems with syntax or grammar
May confuse similar letters or numbers, reverse them, or confuse their order
May have difficulty reading addresses, small print and/or columns
Actually we all start out dyslexic; not one of us learned to read without some difficulty. It is therefore a question of degree! The amount of disability and its causes will have to be determined by
experts for each child. Each affected child is an individual, and each child's dyslexia will be unique.
Your Child is NOT!
There is some evidence that dyslexia might also be found with other developmental disorders including ADHD, dysgraphia, and dyspraxia, but not always, so do allow the experts to test your child throughly before making a diagnosis.
Various standardized tests are available to
help with the diagnosis. Depending on the cause, and the severity, many a child's
disability can be lessened or even sometimes apparently eliminated. Early detection
and treatment are keys to success but our experience is that it is better late than never! Do ensure that you also check your child's hearing and vision, as sometimes these can lead to symptoms similar to dyslexia.
Do not get disheartened! Dyslexia is surprisingly common, and every child certainly can improve with therapy. Try to find out as much as you can about your child's dyslexia and how to help your child compensate for it. Dyslexia has no connection with intelligence or ability! Your goal as parents is to help your child to achieve her or his true potential.
Almost every town now has professional help available for affected
children. Once dyslexia is diagnosed, we strongly advise parents to find and get actively involved with support groups with other parents and children. The emotional support and the tips and tricks you share there can make a huge difference to both parents and kids. To ignore a child’s difficulties, or to take them lightly, making fun of the disability, will simply consign your child to a
life far below his or her true potential.
Keep watch, I plan on doing short highlights on each of the following – Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia, ADHD, Autism and Aspergers... time permitting!