HELP FOR PARENTS WITH STRONG-WILLED, OUT-OF-CONTROL CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD

Kids Who Can't Pay Attention

Mothers and fathers are troubled once they get a note from school stating that their youngster won't pay attention to the teacher or causes problems in class. One possible reason behind this sort of behavior is ADHD. 

Even though the youngster with ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER (ADHD) often wants to be a good student, the impulsive behavior and difficulty paying attention in class frequently interferes and causes problems. Educators, parents, and friends know that the youngster is misbehaving or different but they may not be able to tell exactly what is wrong.

Any youngster may show poor attention, distractibility, impulsivity, or hyperactivity sometimes, however the youngster with ATTENTION DEFICIT/HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER shows these symptoms and behaviors more frequently and severely than other kids of the same age or developmental level. ADHD occurs in 3-5% of school age kids. ADHD must begin before the age of seven and it can continue into adulthood. ADHD runs in families with about 25% of biological mothers/fathers also having this medical condition.

A youngster with ATTENTION DEFICIT/HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER often shows some of the following:

• blurts out answers
• easily distracted
• fidgets or squirms
• impatience
• inattention to details and makes careless mistakes
• interrupts or intrudes on others
• leaves seat and runs about or climbs excessively
• loses school supplies, forgets to turn in homework
• seems "on the go"
• talks too much and has difficulty playing quietly
• trouble finishing class work and homework
• trouble following multiple adult commands
• trouble listening
• trouble paying attention

You will find 3 forms of ATTENTION DEFICIT/HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER. Some individuals only have trouble with attention and organization. This is sometimes called Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD. This is ADHD inattentive subtype. Other people have only the hyperactive and impulsive symptoms. This is ADHD-hyperactive subtype. The Third, and most commonly identified group consists of those people who have difficulties with attention and hyperactivity, or the combined type.

A youngster presenting with ATTENTION DEFICIT/HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER signs and symptoms needs to have a comprehensive assessment. Moms and dads should ask their pediatrician or family physician to refer them to a youngster and adolescent psychiatrist, who can diagnose and treat this medical condition. A youngster with ADHD may also have other psychiatric disorders such as conduct disorder, anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, or bipolar disorder. These kids may also have learning disabilities.

Without appropriate treatment, the youngster may fall behind in schoolwork, and friendships may suffer. The youngster encounters more failure than achievement and is belittled by educators and family who do not understand a health problem.

Research plainly shows that treatment can help increase attention, focus, goal directed behavior, and organizational skills. Medications most likely to be helpful include the stimulants (various methylphenidate and amphetamine preparations) and the non-stimulant, atomoxetine. Other medications such as guanfacine, clonidine, and some antidepressants may also be helpful.

Other treatment methods may consist of cognitive-behavioral therapy, social skills training, parent education, and modifications to the youngster’s education program. Behavioral therapy can assist a youngster to control aggression, modulate social conduct, and be more successful. Cognitive therapy can help kids build self-esteem, reduce negative thoughts, and improve problem-solving skills. Moms and dads can learn management skills such as issuing instructions one-step at a time rather than issuing multiple requests at once. Education modifications can address ADHD symptoms along with any coexisting learning disabilities.

Moms and dads are often anxious when their youngster has learning difficulties in the school. There are many reasons for school failure, but a typical one is a particular learning disability. Kids with learning disabilities generally have a normal range of intelligence. They try very hard to follow instructions, concentrate, and "be good" at home and in school. Yet, despite this effort, he or she is not mastering school tasks and falls behind. Learning disabilities affect at least 1 in 10 school kids.

It is believed that learning disabilities are triggered by a difficulty with the nervous system that impacts receiving, processing, or communicating information. They may also run in families. Some kids with learning disabilities are also hyperactive; unable to sit still, easily distracted, and have a short attention span.

Psychiatrists point out that learning disabilities are treatable. If not discovered and treated early, however, they can have a destructive "snowballing" effect. For example, a youngster who does not learn addition in elementary school cannot understand algebra in high school. The youngster, trying very hard to learn, becomes more and more frustrated, and develops emotional problems such as low self-esteem in the face of repeated failure. Some learning disabled kids misbehave in school because they would rather be seen as "bad" than "stupid."

Moms and dads should be aware of the most frequent signals of learning disabilities, when a youngster:
  • cannot understand the concept of time; is confused by "yesterday, today, tomorrow"
  • easily loses or misplaces homework, schoolbooks, or other items
  • fails to master reading, spelling, writing, and/or math skills, and thus fails
  • has difficulty distinguishing right from left; difficulty identifying words or a tendency to reverse letters, words, or numbers; (for example, confusing 25 with 52, "b" with "d," or "on" with "no")
  • has difficulty understanding and following instructions
  • has trouble remembering what someone just told him or her
  • lacks coordination in walking, sports, or small activities such as holding a pencil or tying a shoelace

Such difficulties should have a comprehensive assessment by a specialist who can evaluate all of the various issues impacting the youngster. A psychiatrist can help coordinate the assessment, and work with school professionals and other people to have the assessment and educational testing done to clarify if a learning disability exists. This involves speaking with the youngster and loved ones, analyzing their circumstances, critiquing the educational testing, and consulting with the school.

The psychiatrist will then make suggestions on suitable school placement, the need for specific help such as special educational services or speech-language therapy and help mothers/fathers assist their youngster in maximizing his or her learning potential. Sometimes individual or family psychotherapy will be recommended. Medication may be prescribed for hyperactivity or distractibility. It is important to strengthen the youngster's self-confidence, so vital for healthy development, and also help parents and other family members better understand and cope with the realities of living with a youngster with learning disabilities.

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