ADHD in Children (Part II)

ADD/ADHD's Relationship to other "clinical disorders."
Most children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD also have a secondary diagnoses. The most common secondary diagnoses is learning disability. One reason may be that it is very difficult to learn when you are not paying attention. Many people falsely assume that the ADD/ADHD child is "stupid" or "slow." Actually, ADD/ADHD children tend to be very bright. How else would you explain the fact that an ADD/ADHD child can get through their school years having only paid attention to a part of what the teachers said. Another common diagnoses given to ADD/ADHD children is conduct disorder.

Actually, this is more commonly given to ADHD children, who tend to be more aggressive, than ADD children, who tend to more withdrawn. In conjunction with this, ADD/ADHD children also experience mood disorders. Feelings of low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and mania frequently accompany children with an ADD/ADHD diagnoses. In fact, the longer the ADD/ADHD children goes undiagnosed or untreated, the more likely they will experience mood disorders. This is due to the sense of failure that comes from lack of achievement in the classroom, rejection on the playground, and frustration at home. Finally, ADD/ADHD children experience adjustment disorders. They have difficulty adjusting to new environments. They fail to pick up on the social rules that govern behavior in school, on the playground, or at home. Their inability to control their behavior and focus on what others are communicating make them unpopular and isolated from others. ADD/ADHD on the Playground.

Perhaps the biggest problem for ADD/ADHD children, in their own estimate, is their lack of consistent friendships. They may make new friend but find it difficult to keep them. This can be devastating to children. Social skills involve a huge range of human behavior. Problem-solving, sharing, listening, engaging in a conversation or ending a conversation, seeking out help, interpreting others body language, expressing thoughts and feelings, understanding how one's behavior affects others, and taking turns, are some of the social skills that ADD/ADHD children have difficulty managing.

Interventions and Treatment of ADD/ADHD
The most common and debated treatment for ADD/ADHD is medication. The most widely used and popular medication are stimulants. Ritalin, Cylert, and Dexedrine are stimulants that allow the brain and nervous system to catch up to the rest of the body. Research demonstrates that these stimulants improve attention span, concentration, motor control, and on-task behavior.

Unfortunately, they also have side-effects and must be closely monitored by a physician. Many parents choose not to use medication because of these side effects. Nonmedical treatments of ADD/ADHD include behavioral control methods, social skills training, parenting education, and individual therapy. While ADD/ADHD has is roots in a medical problem, its branches reach out into many areas of life for the ADD/ADHD child. Learning to control behavior in these areas drastically improves the success of the child. The most effective strategies use both medical and nonmedical interventions.

What tools can parents use to help their child with ADD/ADHD?
Parents can use three different parenting tools to help their child with ADD/ADHD: Positive Expectations, Huddling, and Job Descriptions. While there are many different tools that parents can use, these three assist the parent in communicating, planning, and instructing their child.

Positive Expectations are statements that parents make to their child about what is appropriate behavior. The goal of this tool to is to teach children what parents want, not what they don't want. For example, telling children that dirty clothes belong in the laundry basket is more effective than telling children to stop leaving their clothes on the floor. Telling a child that feet belong on the floor is easier for an ADD/ADHD child to understand than telling them to take their feel of the table. State what you want, not what you don't want. This tool increases cooperation and ensures that parents are communicating in a way that ADD/ADHD children can understand.

Huddling is a quick form of meeting between the parent and the child to set up a plan of action. It can occur at any time or place. Football players huddle before each play they make on the playing field. This makes sure that everyone knows what the plan is and what is each persons part. Parents can stop before going into the store with a quick huddle to discuss the rules about being in a store. They can huddle inside the store to review the plan and set up a new one if the current one isn't working. Encouraging teamwork is an important social skill and will increase a parents feeling of competence and control.

Job Descriptions ensure that a child understands what is expected of them when performing a chore or job at home. Just as in the office, parents write out a job description that details what is expected of them, this parenting tool reduces power struggles and conflicts during and after the chore is done. More detail and steps may be necessary for younger children than older children. A thorough job description states who is to do the job, when it is to be done, how it is to be done, and where it should be done.