What is an Attention Hyperactivity Deficit Disorder (ADHD)?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a childhood behavioural disorder, although some symptoms may continue into adult life. Symptoms of ADHD include inattention (struggling to focus might walk off), hyperactivity (fidgety, ‘always on the go’) and impulsiveness (suddenly doing/saying something without considering consequences). Symptoms must be present in 2 or more settings and not better explained by another disorder e.g. Autistic Spectrum disorder. Some children may present with inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity but be below the threshold for diagnosis. Symptoms tend to be noticed at an early age but become more noticeable when the young person starts nursery or school. ADHD affects on average 1:5 children globally. ADHD is often diagnosed in childhood but sometimes in adolescence or later.
A related condition ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) has similar difficulties however it doesn’t involve constant movement and fidgeting and the main problem is a difficulty concentrating.
ADHD Top Tips
- Remain consistent and firm in your approach – agree rules and stick to them. Providing feedback and give rewards where warranted!
- Allow your child a quiet space to calm down and re-direct them when they become upset.
- Maintain sleep hygiene – encourage time spent outside and support exercise. No fizzy drinks in the evening, no electronics an hour before bed and try relaxation before sleep. Stick to same bed time and wake up times every day and avoid changes on weekends.
- Encourage your child to focus on one thing at a time, for example, no TV during homework or dinner.
- Break tasks or chores up into small chunks, with frequent breaks.
- Keep daily living simple and create a predictable routine, for example, put calendar on the fridge.
- Encourage exercise and activity to use energy!
- Provide the child with a quieter environment, with fewer distractions. Minimise distractions by having them sit at the front and not near windows or doors.
- Have rules displayed in a clear and concise manner.
- Maintain a predictable routine, which could be illustrated in a wall timetable.
- Allow time outs, which could include movement, relaxation or sensory play and in a quiet space if possible.
- Allow stress and fidget toys, wobble seats etc.
- Allow doodling and encourage notes and mind mapping.
- Consider additional support for tests and exams.
- Count down to transitions, e.g. ten minute warning, five minute warning, 2 minute warning.