Thursday, June 4, 2009

AHD And Parenting

An ADHD Primer

ADHD, also known as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, affects adults as well as children. It tends to run in families, and it's not caused by eating too much sugar.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), also commonly known as attention deficit disorder (ADD), is one of the most common mental illnesses found in children. ADHD is a brain disorder that causes behavioral problems such as a distractibility, excessive energy, disorganization, and forgetfulness. Until recently, doctors thought that ADHD/ADD affected only children, but now know that more than half of youngsters with ADHD remain affected into adulthood.

ADHD/ADD: A New Name

Commonly called ADHD or ADD, this condition was officially renamed attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with the publication of the most recent diagnostic guidelines used by the American Psychiatric Association.

“These guidelines divide ADHD into three subtypes,” says Andrew Hertz, MD, assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Case Western Reserve Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, and medical director of Suburban Pediatrics in Shaker Heights. “The distinctions are very helpful because all the different the symptoms of ADHD are no longer lumped under a single heading. The pediatrician can choose among the most successful treatments for that particular subtype.”

The subtypes are:
  • Predominantly inattentive subtype. A child or adult with this type of ADHD finds it hard to remain focused, stay organized, and finish tasks. This problem was sometimes called ADD, which is now considered an obsolete term.
  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type. Those with this form of ADHD are hyperactive (highly energetic, often too much so), restless, and impulsive.
  • Combined type. Someone who has both inattentive and hyperactive symptoms falls into this category.

ADHD: Statistics
Estimates vary, but according to the National Institute of Mental Health between 3 and 5 percent of American children, about two million, have ADHD. This means there is probably at least one child with ADHD in any given classroom.

While there hasn’t been a great deal of research into adult ADHD, studies show that about 4 percent of adults in the United States have ADHD — and many are unaware they have it.

ADHD: Causes

“There is no one cause of ADHD,” says Dr. Hertz. “We know that ADHD runs in families. In fact, as many as 25 percent of relatives of a child with ADHD may also have ADHD.”

According to other research, additional potential causes of ADHD include:

* Environmental agents, such as the use of cigarettes and alcohol during pregnancy
* Premature birth
* Having had a serious head injury at a young age.

“High levels of lead are also thought to be a cause of ADHD, although this problem has decreased with the modern-day use of lead-free paint,” Hertz says. “But if a child lives in an old building where there is still lead in the plumbing or lead paint on the walls, their risk is increased.”

ADHD: What About Sugar?

“Although many parents seem to think that sugar is related to the development of ADHD, there are no studies to date that prove this,” says Hertz.

Whether you have ADHD yourself or are a parent, teacher, or friend of someone with the disorder, keep in mind that more is understood about the condition than ever before and effective therapy exists.

As the parent of a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, your parenting skills are challenged every day. You may often find yourself feeling tense, never knowing when your child is going to behave disruptively. Your child’s ADHD symptoms, such as being inattentive, impulsive, stubborn, and unable to sit still, can leave you frustrated and, though it’s hard to admit, angry and even resentful.

ADHD Parenting: Easing Your Emotions

Not only might you feel isolated from other parents whose children do not have ADHD, but you may even feel envious of them. The good news is that there are strategies to help you feel less alone and overwhelmed.

10 New Approaches for ADHD Parenting

Parenting a child with ADHD doesn’t have to be so emotionally exhausting, says Edward M. Hallowell, MD, director of the Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health in Sudbury, Mass. “One of my biggest recommendations for a parent is to try and catch on to the spirit and essence of your child. It is tragic how many children with ADHD lose their spirit,” adds Dr. Hallowell, who has ADHD himself and is the co-author, with Dr. Peter S. Jensen, of Superparenting for ADD.

ADHD Parenting: 10 Ways to Recharge

Here are 10 important tips Hallowell recommends for parents who feel frustrated, alone, and angry.
  1. Change your perspective. Instead of seeing ADHD as a “disability,” try to change your perspective and see how special your child with ADHD is. Children with ADHD are often very imaginative and creative — don't hesitate to nurture your child's gifts.
  2. Look for the good. Reframing your child’s symptoms can be a great way to start changing your point of view on ADHD. For every negative trait associated with ADHD, there is a way to frame it as a more positive trait. You can view disorganization as being spontaneous, for example, or stubbornness as tenacity. This outlook not only boosts your child's self-esteem, but also helps offset your frustration.
  3. Make a plan. If you have a plan to deal with problems that arise, you automatically feel more in control and less worried. And it doesn’t matter if one plan fails; simply come up with a new plan until you find one that works.
  4. Get the facts. Worrying usually comes from a lack of information, so talk to your pediatrician and ask for resources to learn more about ADHD.
  5. Don’t worry alone. Talk to a friend, your spouse, your child's pediatrician, or your own doctor. Sharing your feelings helps you release steam and feel less resentful.
  6. Lose yourself in laughter. Surround yourself with people who can laugh. It is important to be able to regain a perspective that allows you to see the humor in parenting.
  7. Look for support. Start a support group of your own or join the local chapter of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD).
  8. Reach out to your child’s teacher. No one wins when parents and teachers of children with ADHD don't communicate. View your child's teacher as an ally, someone you can work with to develop strategies that encourage your child's best performance at school.
  9. Support your child's interests. Rather than always fussing over disappointing grades and other shortcomings, put your energy into supporting your ADHD child’s strength, whether it's drawing, playing soccer, or coming up with creative inventions.
  10. Love your child. Love is the single most powerful tool you can use to draw out your child’s strengths. With your love, trust and patience, the strengths of your child with ADHD will continue to grow and evolve.

These strategies will give you a fresh perspective to help cope with the challenges of parenting a child with ADHD and help you focus on the positives to keep the negatives from getting you down.

Source: ChildrensHealth
By Jean Rothman
Medically reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH

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1 comment:

wsh1266 said...

Hi Sammy-

I produce a podcast all about learning and learning disabilities called the LD Podcast ( You might enjoy the interview I did with Dr. Russell Barkley, one of the foremost experts on ADHD a few months ago.

You can check it out either on my site or through itunes.

Whitney Hoffman

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