ADHD: What Parents & Child Care Providers Need To Know
Does your child have problems paying attention in school? Are they hyperactive? Do they have problems sitting still?
If you notice behavioral problems with your child, their behavior may be linked to the neurological disorder, known as ADHD. Before you assume, it is important to understand exactly what ADHD is.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the disorder, and once it’s diagnosed, steps parents and caregivers can take to ensure that they are caring for the child properly. We’ll also consider insights from CareGuide’s Child Care Expert, Martha Scully, who will provide nannies with practical methods for dealing with ADHD.
What is ADHD? What is the difference between ADHD and ADD?
In the video above, Dr. Kimberly Williams defines the disorder saying: “Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder or known as ADHD occurs very frequently in children and it’s typically not diagnosed until a child is at least seven years of age and is in school.
It includes behaviors of inattention, distractibility, and oppositional behavior. Often times, children with ADHD have difficulties in school, difficulty maintaining friendships and there is often some type of disruption or difficult behaviors that occur at home. ADHD is not a learning disorder, but it can affect school and grade performance because a child is highly distractible and has trouble maintaining and focusing attention at school…”
Some parents wonder if ADHD is the same as ADD. ADHD is is the term or acronym used to describe the brain disorder since 1994. ADD was used in the 1980s and as early as the 1960s, the disorder was called Hyperactive Child Syndrome. One of the most important facts that parents should keep in mind is that ADHD is a neurological disability.
You can’t diagnose the disorder by using Google or by getting advice from a coworker. Consult a pediatrician, psychiatrist or child psychologist. The diagnosis isn’t immediate either, the diagnosis required gathering information from schools, child care providers, and parents.
Qualified professionals measure suspected child’s behavior with standards found in the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, DSM-5. Children who have ADHD frequently have behavioral problems associated with different types, that include inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior.
Even with qualified professionals, it takes time and a diagnosis isn’t always accurate on conclusive. Dr. Russell Schachar, senior scientist of psychiatry at The Hospital For Sick children said, “I think we’re probably over-diagnosing ADHD under some circumstances, we’re probably under-diagnosing it under other circumstances and certainly misdiagnosing it under many circumstances…” Taking that into consideration, parents should consider getting a second opinion before they accept a diagnosis.
Inattentive Type ADHD
Does your child’s teacher mention any of the following:
- Your child is constantly making careless mistakes and with schoolwork.
- Easily Distracted
- Trouble paying attention, even with play based activities.
- Seems to ignore instruction and does not listen.
- Your child frequently misplaces items and materials for school.
- Forgets to complete daily activities.
Dr. Douglas Cowan spoke on inattentive types saying “Around here, we call this Winnie-The-Pooh type of ADHD. Though Pooh Bear is lovable, loyal and kind, he’s also inattentive, sluggish and slow moving and unmotivated and seems like his head is in the cloud all of the time. Pooh Bear is a classic daydreamer with brain fog… people with this type of ADHD are easily distracted, have short attention spans to a task that is not interesting or is hard. They often daydream when others are talking to them, they’re always looking for things they just put down somewhere and they’re always late and they just seem like they’re easily bored with things…”
Hyperactivity and Impulsivity ADHD
When it comes to hyperactive and impulsive ADHD there are other signs to look for, including but not limited to:
- Constant fidgeting or tapping
- Runs or climbs in inappropriate places
- Constantly on the go
- Excessive talking
- Does not like to wait for their turn and often interrupts others
How do Children Get ADHD?
Believe it or not, ADHD is often hereditary and many parents learn that they have ADHD when their children are brought in for evaluation.
Ravinder Sidhu, clinical psychologist spoke on ADHD and whether it is inherited saying “There are unique challenges in diagnosing it in children and in adults… often times, adults will come in, they end up coming to us because their child is coming in because the teacher thought they might have ADHD, so the child goes through an assessment, and we go and have the feedback, and you’re talking to the parent and it just kind of clicks in ‘I was like that as a kid. I still have problems with all of these issues.’ They may not have even picked it up on their child, they think that’s normal, ‘That’s how I was. He’s just taking after me.’ They start to wonder, ‘Maybe I have ADHD too.’ And they’ve gotten through without ever getting diagnosed… There is a big heritability component with it… often times when you do see children, one of the parents might often have it as well…”
In addition, what a mother does during pregnancy can heavily influence whether or not a child develops the disorder. Smoking and alcohol can impair brain development as well as sickness and infection. A mother’s diet is a factor as well, recent studies indicate that a rich diet in fat and sugar can directly cause ADHD.
Advice for Child Care Providers Working with ADHD Children
In some instances, child care workers will have to exercise extreme patience when working with ADHD children who may have behavior problems beyond their control. CanadianNanny.ca founder and childcare expert, Martha Scully offered the following advice for nannies caring for children with ADHD.
“Try to not yell at the child or be overly frustrated. It can be difficult for nannies to be positive when a child is wearing on her nerves. Some of the behaviors with ADHD are
beyond the child’s control”
How does a nanny keep these children active when their disorder prevents them from paying attention?
“These children need to stay active. Daily outdoor and indoor gross motor activities can be key in keeping a child with ADHD balanced. TV and electronic devices for long periods are the recipe for disaster for these children. Work together with the parent on specific times that it is okay for the children to be on a device. These times should not go beyond 45 minutes”
Management and Moving Forward
If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, this doesn’t mean they can’t lead a productive life! Experts recommend that one of the first steps in managing the disorder is to accept it and look at is as a disability. Parents will have to make adjustments with their approach to parenting.
Some parents may oppose to giving their children medication, but studies show that ADHD medication is effective and helps the majority of children diagnosed with the disorder.
ADHD is a disability and fortunately, a diagnosis doesn’t mean that a child won’t be a productive individual in society. Once you’ve accepted the diagnosis, you can work on creating a lifestyle to help your child combat their disorder.
For more information on how parents and caregivers can help children with ADHD read our interview with Dr. Russell A. Barkley, internationally recognized expert on ADHD and author of the book “Taking Charge of ADHD: The Complete Guide for Parents”
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