Recommendations for the ADHD child

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Parents typically manage stresses and challenges best if they have access to an expert support system. I recommend parents find support in the following areas:

(a) A school such as Marburn that specializes in working with ADHD children and helping parents.

(b) An advocacy and training support organization such as CHADD. CHADD is a superb, highly knowledgeable and credible national organization devoted exclusively to ADHD issues, and I recommend that as the first point of contact as they then can lead parents to many other resources.

(c) A psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, or coach who is highly skilled with ADHD issues.

Marburn's program is founded on the belief that ADHD characteristics or behaviors result when children fail to learn and employ the effective self-management strategies that other kids use to manage their attention, their impulsivity, their spatial and temporal organization, or their anger about all the punishments they receive.

Marburn overtly teaches these strategies and then cues, coaches and rewards children for employing them over a long enough period of time that they become automatic.

Aside from identifying and teaching the strategies themselves, the most critical element of this system is to work with the children in a positive, supportive, encouraging manner. One study showed that impulsive ADHD children receive correction, admonitions, criticism and punishments 17 times more each day in the typical classroom than non-impulsive children. This eventually leads most ADHD kids to believe that they can't succeed in that system, so they may wonder, "why try?"

The response to ADHD behavior in most schools is to administer a consequence or punishment for the behavior (e.g.: lower the grade for forgotten homework, stay in from recess for impulsively talking after being told to be quiet). The assumption is that the ADHD behavior is willful or volitional and that the punishment is well deserved and will "teach" the child not to do that again.

But we at Marburn believe that the behavior is neurologically based, not volitional. Piling up consequences on an impulsive kid doesn't address the neurology that makes him impulsive, it only hurts him, damages his faith in himself, and eventually makes him angry or depressed -- none of which provides the retraining needed to establish the new circuitry that allows the kid to 'self-manage' by pausing, reflecting and predicting the outcome before acting.

The minority of ADHD kids who survive school with their self-image intact often turn out to be highly productive and leaders in their field. They have great energy, great powers of concentration when they are engaged, are often very engaging and personable, and often are very creative and innovative thinkers. They have a lot to offer our society, but the way we typically respond to them in school often dents them up so much that their potential is not realized.

More recommendations for the ADHD child and ADHD resources

  • Read reliable resources such as those found on the national CHADD website or at the Columbus Metropolitan Library.
  • It's not uncommon to feel totally overwhelmed. Seek out a support group such as CHADD.
  • Take time for yourself to exercise or just have some time to recuperate.
  • Establish routines for your child.
  • Work with the school to find ways to help your child succeed.
  • Be sure your child gets plenty of sleep.
  • Allow them to have the down time they need.
  • Be sure your child eats a balanced diet and has high-quality snacks.
  • You may want to get them involved in a sport or other activity they enjoy.
  • Help your child map out her schoolwork on a calendar or list so she can visualize what needs done when.
  • Check your child's book bag to be sure he or she is bringing home schoolwork.
  • Communicate with teacher regularly.
  • Work on some behavior modification techniques at home.
  • Forgetfulness is a big issue, so lists can help kids feel more in control.
  • Have patience with and compassion for your ADHD child.
  • When a situation arises, step back and try not to respond with an instant reaction. What you see on the outside when your child is having some kind of 'spell,' may not be the actual issue. There is usually another underlying reason for what is going on. Talk with your child about it later when he has calmed down.
  • Remember, you can't do it alone. Be sure to accept help and support from others.
  • Let your child know she's important and very special.
  • Remember to tell your child that some behaviors aren't his fault. Sometimes he can't control himself.

Learn more about ADHD