So you think your child has ADHD! Teachers tell you he is easily distracted. Friends shy away from activities that include your child. Other children make fun of your child. Relatives say he is immature for his age and will snap out of it. You’ve checked the lists and he fits the criteria. Now what?
Contact the School
_**_Contact the school guidance counselor and begin a relationship with those that are in a position to help. Set up a meeting with the guidance counselor and the teacher(s) to discuss your child’s progress. Make it clear that you want positive steps to ensure your child’s progress. This is not a “bash your child” session. DO NOT allow it to become one. Take notes and ask for specific examples of misbehaviors:
- Walking around during class
- Sharpening his pencil often
- Looking out the window, at the other kids, at the floor
- Losing his supplies
- Not handing in homework you know he has done
Get as many specific examples as you can.
Work on Specific Accomodations
_**_Ask the teacher what special adaptations she is willing to put into place. Some examples are:
- Seating him in front
- Tapping his desk when his mind seems to wander
- Writing homework assignments down
- Giving extra time for homework/tests
Set up a meeting the following month. Use this time to look objectively at behaviors and come up with some possible solutions. Review what is working and what needs changing. If necessary continue monthly meetings. Once you receive an official diagnosis, bring it to the school to be kept on file, should special education be required.Start the process with the school as soon as possible. Many teachers are willing to make reasonable adaptations. It is in the best interest of your child if all the major adults in his life are willing to work together.
For additional information on accomodations, see Classroom Management of ADHD
Read the symptoms of ADHD. Keep a checklist of what symptoms you feel your child shows and write down examples. Read as much literature as you can. ADHD shows up differently in different children. Some may be overly impulsive, with little or no hyperactivity, while others may be extremely distracted and have trouble sitting still. Look over information to determine the symptoms your child is exhibiting. Keep a detailed list of symptoms and examples.
Talk to Your Doctor
_**_Make an appointment with your pediatrician/family doctor. If you do not currently have a doctor, be aware of what qualities you want in a physician to diagnose and treat ADHD. See Finding an ADD/ADHD Practitioner. Be armed with your checklist and notes from the school meeting. Thoroughly explain the reasons you feel your child has ADHD.
Your doctor should do a thorough physical exam, testing specifically for thyroid conditions, allergy problems and rule out all physical causes. Some physical problems can cause hyperactivity and/or inattention, mimicing symptoms of ADHD. A thorough exam and a correct diagnosis is important in receiving the proper treatment.
Ask for a referral to a child psychologist that specializes in ADHD. Talk with the psychologist by phone and ask about their experience with ADHD. The meeting with the psychologist should be to rule out any emotional problems and to set up a course of action.
Learn About Treatment Options
_**_Educate yourself (if you have not already started) on all of the treatment options available. Your doctor and the psychologist might recommend medication. Consider a trial period to see if it will help. There are many different medications available today and children react to each one differently, so it may take awhile to find the appropriate medication and dosage.
Observe your child on and off the medicine and ask him to read a story about an hour after he has taken it. Then ask questions about the story, determine if you notice any difference in reading retention. Ask your child to complete 2-3 tasks and see if he is more able to remember all the tasks.
_**_Medication alone, however, does not make a successful ADHD child. Create an ADHD Friendly House. Take a proactive approach. Think of everything that could possibly go wrong and make up rules to combat them. Expect the worse and determine your response to that action. For example: how are you going to react if your child is caught stealing? This approach is used so that you will be calm during all situations and provide support rather than negativity during a crisis. Write down all rules, rewards for following them and consequences for not. Make sure that this is done when the house is quiet, the kids are asleep and you can think rationally.
Now that you have your complete list of rules, look at them again and take out what is unnecessary. Keep it simple.
Keeping an ADHD Friendly house also requires reorganization. Provide materials to help keep his room organized. A clear hanging shoe holder hung over the closet door works extremely well. It keeps all of the “junk” off the floor but allows your child to see everything.
Continue being proactive in your approach, objectively seeing problems and finding solutions and changing the household to work with and for your child, rather than against him.
For more information, see Behavior Modification
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.