Don't Overlook the Symptoms of ADHD
Often in my practice, I hear from parents, teachers, neighbors, and even police officers who are frustrated with a child who just won't do what he or she is told. "It doesn't' matter what I say or do, he never listens..."
She's constantly in trouble at school for not doing her work, talking, and disrupting the classroom...He's always interrupting with unimportant things...I'll tell her to do something then she turns around and does whatever she feels like doing...He's always breaking things and tearing stuff apart...But, she can sit and play a video game for hours at a time...Those parents just need to make that child behave...
While often these statements would typically mean a child is misbehaving, an ongoing pattern of these types of behaviors can be warning flags for a diagnosis of ADHD.
ADHD id short for Attention Deficit hyperactivity Disorder-a diagnosis whose main symptoms are inattention and/or hyperactivity, and impulsive behaviors that are more common and frequent than you would typically see in a child of the same age. Two year-olds are expected to forget things, run around the house and not think through the consequences of their behaviors. Ten year-olds are not.
ADHD is a medical disorder in which a child (or adult) has areas of low activity in their brains. In order to help "jump-start" brains into more activity, children with ADHD often are more physically active to the point they seem like they are driven by a motor. Bedtime often can be ongoing rounds of rolling and bouncing around; getting our of bed; asking ridiculous questions; sneaking toys; requests for drinks; food, items or to do forgotten tasks from the day, and on and on until the parent is worn out and the child finally falls over from exhaustion.
Often with their head on the footboard, one hand on the floor, and feet sprawled in different directions, these children will bounce around in and out of their seats in the classroom and have a difficult time sitting still (unless watching tv or playing video games which provide brain stimulation). Homework can be a nightmare.
Sometimes children with ADHD don't have the symptom of hyperactivity. With these children, the symptoms of ADHD may be more subtle and difficult to diagnose. They will seek to increase their brain's activity levels in other ways such as creating conflict or dwelling on dark depressing thoughts. Both are stimulating for the brain. Yelling at a child with ADHD can actually become addictive and result in the child seeking it more frequently. Unfortunately, these children tend to not notice the effects it has on their relationships with others.
ADHD behaviors are biologically driven and often done unconsciously. Most children want to behave. Without proper treatment, children with ADHD simply can't.
If you are raising a child, or know a child who may have some of the signs of ADHD, seek help. Educate yourself on this disorder and seek a professional who works with children with ADHD. Sometimes it is difficult to separate ADHD from other childhood diagnoses. A skilled professional will be able to do this as well as answer your questions and offer treatment strategies to help your child and you heal and have a healthy and harmonious life.
Article Written by Chantelle Grant, LCSW