1. Help! I Think My Son Has ADHD

    June 9, 2013

    ADHD child  

    by  Kassandra Brown

     

    Recently a client of mine (let’s call her Sue) shared that she had taken an on-line test to check whether she had ADD or ADHD. “A couple of my friends kept making jokes about me being ADD,” Sue said to me. “After a while I thought I’d see if they were right.” Her scores placed her in the ‘very strong probability’ category for ADHD.

    Sue shared this information with me in our parent coaching session because she noticed that her son exhibits the same ADHD traits from the on-line test. She was wondering if she should talk with her son’s teachers. She also wondered about the consequences of having her son labeled as ADHD.

     

    Labels: Harm or Benefit?

     

    In medical treatment, it’s easy to get caught up in labels. Labels have power. They can be useful when they indicate a well known and helpful treatment path. Unfortunately, labels can also take on an unhealthy life of their own.

    Are you curious about what’s right for your child? Asking a few key questions may help clarify your path.

    • Are you planning on getting a formal screening or evaluation for your child?
    • If you screen or evaluate, what do you plan to do with the information from that screening or evaluation?
    • What is the existing relationship between your child and their teacher?
    • Do you and your child experience trust and caring with the child’s teacher?
    • Is the relationship between your child and their teacher adversarial?

     

    Sue thought she should ask her son’s teacher to treat him as though he had ADHD. Sue thought doing this would help the teacher use a current model for ADHD to positively motivate the child. She also thought this might help the teacher to view the child’s disruption as a symptom rather than as misbehavior.

    How might Sue answer these key questions? Sue wants her son to be treated well in school. She wants him to have a learning environment that works with his natural tendencies. She is not planning on a formal screening. She also has no plans for medication. Currently her son has a respectful and kind relationship with his teacher.

     

    Creative Solutions (Without Labels)

     

    The teacher relocated Sue’s son’s desk to accommodate his active learning style. She gave him a desk in the back row of the classroom where he is free to stand and move as long as he’s also doing his work. Being in the back of the classroom allows Sue’s son freedom of movement without disrupting his classmates. The solution is elegant in its simplicity and effectiveness.

    Since the teacher is already showing a willingness to work with Sue’s child, I advised Sue not to share her ADHD suspicions. The danger of labeling Sue’s son is that that label will follow him from grade to grade. It may cause his next teacher to assess his needs, abilities, and mental health before getting to know him as a person. Instead, I suggested to Sue that she continue to form good relationships with her child’s teachers, advocate for his needs, and help implement positive solutions.

    You can do this too. Talk to your child’s teachers at the beginning of the year. Be willing to share past challenges and solutions. Share your goals for your child’s learning. Be willing to help support the teacher.

    Teachers are often busy trying to balance many needs and learning styles within the same classroom. Sharing your assessment of your child’s needs and also offering to help can help your child’s teacher hear better manage your child’s needs. Perhaps you can volunteer to come in once a week, teach something you know well, or support a subset of the class during small group work.

    Many parents hesitate to offer help in the classroom because of a belief that classrooms are only for ‘real’ teachers. “What do I have to offer?” you, as a parent, may wonder.  The answer is “A lot!” Just stepping in to sit with the kids and help them when they get stuck takes pressure off the teacher. The less pressure the teacher is under, the more likely he or she will be to be creative and flexible. This benefits everyone including your child.

    Another reason parents often hesitate to volunteer in the classroom is that they do not feel they have the time. In order to know if that’s true ask, “How much time does it take to help?” If you can’t volunteer weekly, perhaps one hour a month might be enough to make a huge difference. Often there is some way for you to help at your child’s school, perhaps even before or after school. If your offer is sincere, you can find a way.

    Getting to know the teacher, offering the teacher support, and communicating your child’s needs can create a successful learning environment that diagnosis alone cannot. This was true for Sue and it may be true for your family too. Before ADHD screening, evaluations, and medication, I recommend thinking about your goals and formulating a plan for positive change. If you need assistance in doing this, I am happy to help.

    Have labels helped you and your children? When have labels stood in the way? Share your experiences with us.

     

    Author Bio: Kassandra Brown is a parent coach living and working at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. She helps parents with a wide range of behavioral and relationship challenges through phone and Skype. Visit parentcoaching.org to learn more about how she can help you create a strategy for parenting success, tailored to your child’s needs.

    Image Credit: Nwardez


  2. 5 Tips To Improve Focus With ADHD

    April 20, 2013

    ADHD and focus

    by Kelli Cooper

     

    Inability to focus is a hallmark of ADHD; if you are one of the 50 percent of people diagnosed with this condition as a child, who continues to battle the symptoms into adulthood, you may find that this problem comes with much more serious consequences at this stage of life. It can lead to angry bosses and angry spouses; maintaining relationships can be a challenge since people may perceive your behavior as lack of interest. You certainly face a challenge in reigning in this behavior, but there are many coping strategies recommended by psychologists — when applied with consistency and diligence these strategies can help.

    Meditation

     

    Meditation is all about strengthening the mind and research on specifically looking at its effects on adults and adolescents with ADHD have produced encouraging results; many have reported a reduction in symptoms, such as inattentiveness, as well as less depression and anxiety—both of which may worsen symptoms of the condition. These benefits were achieved through sitting for just as little as 15 minutes a day, so lack of time is no excuse! Find a quiet spot and start reaping the benefits of this simple practice. This practice will help set the stage for a clearer mind that you can bring to all tasks requiring greater focus, whether it is a report for work or a one-on-one conversation.

    Background Noise

     

    If your inability to focus is rearing its ugly head while you are trying to read, study or complete some other task, some background noise can help reduce distractions. It can be as simple as a fan or some music at a very low volume. A white noise machine may also be a good investment. It is almost like a cocoon that helps bring you into the zone.

    Write it Down

     

    When everything we need to get done is swimming around in our heads, we may find it hard to focus on the task at hand; we worry we will forget the ten other things we need to get done. By trying to keep all this information in our current space of thought, it is impossible to give our full attention to the present. Never underestimate the simple task of writing things down. Make a list of all the things you want to get done; it is written down, you know now you will not forget and you can relax a bit.

    Have an Accountability Partner

     

    Most of us could use some outside support in juggling our lives, and this is especially important for people with attention issues; an accountability partner can help you stay on track with everything you need to do. Make a deal with a friend, family member or someone else you trust that you will send them a list of things you need to do each day, and as you finish each task, you will notify them through email or text message. When we make others aware of our intentions, it can motivate us to make good on them.

    Get Moving

     

    ADHD can cause a lot of fidgeting and urges to get up and move; if you are like many people with this condition, you may feel a need to fight this and stay put. But, research on school children has found that getting up and moving around may actually be beneficial to information processing in an ADHD-brain. So, while you may need to exercise some restraint in not getting up every two minutes, allow yourself to take some breaks and move around a bit. It will help expel some of that nervous energy and refresh your mind.

     

    Author Bio: Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who has blogged about various ADHD topics.

    Image Credit: Chapendra