Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a widely disputed diagnosis frequently applied to children who are struggling with school and other structured activities. If you have an ADD child, you are likely facing many difficult decisions regarding how to help him. Helping an ADD child requires a collaborative effort from family, educators, health care providers and caregivers.
Many parents are first aware that they may have an ADD child when their child starts school. A teacher may be the first person to mention ADD to a parent. It is important to keep in mind that, while many teachers are capable of perceiving problems with a child’s attention span and developmental progress as it applies to academics, they are not trained to make a medical diagnosis. However, as of yet, there is no concrete medical diagnosis for ADD.
If you have reason to suspect your child may have ADD, talk to your child’s pediatrician. She may suggest you obtain a Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC) form or other written evaluation of your child’s behavior at school and home. After review, a physician may make a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder. If this is the case, he will discuss pharmaceutical treatment with you.
Medications to treat ADD have proven effective with some children, but you will need to do thorough research. Some ADD medications are federally controlled substances and are psychiatric medications. Discuss the risks and side effects with your child’s doctor before you try any drug therapy to help your ADD child.
Some professionals believe that an ADD child can be helped through behavior modification. If your child has a teacher who is open to behavior modification, discuss possible options. Some children simply cannot sit and perform a single task without being distracted, but sometimes being permitted to perform several tasks at once is easier.
You can try allowing your child to stand while completing school work, or try letting her listen to the radio while doing homework. Some experts have found that children can stay focused longer if they chew gum or suck on hard candy. Behavior modification doesn’t work for every ADD child, and it may take time to find classroom and home routines that the child responds to.
Do not try to make decisions for your child without involving him. Ask your ADD child what he thinks might help him concentrate longer or what would make it easier for him to get his schoolwork done. Listen carefully to what he tells you and see if there is a pattern to the distractions he might name. In some cases, only medication seems to help, though you should be cautious of any school or teacher who will not work with a child unless she is medicated.
If you choose not to medicate your ADD child, you may want to consult with a behavior therapist. Ask your child’s doctor for referrals to medical professionals who can offer advice for dealing with and helping an ADD child. Provide your child’s teacher with the information you gather and insist that she work with you to help your child. Some children are faced with ADD their entire academic career, and others may grow out of the inhibiting signs and symptoms as they grow older. The important thing is to empower your ADD child to make positive progress with both academic and social skills.