Category Archives: ADHD @ Home

How to Talk to Your Child About ADHD Medication

Kids-On-MedicationAbout ADHD

Have you ever been so bored that you didn’t know what to do with yourself? Maybe your parents wanted you to sit and watch an old movie where everyone is always breaking into song. Sitting there, you might have felt fidgety and squirmy and wanted to bounce off the walls.

Imagine having that feeling a lot. That’s what it can feel like to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Feeling this way a lot of the time can make it difficult for someone to get work done at school or follow instructions given by a parent. Kids who have ADHD might yell out the answers to questions before other kids in class have a chance to raise their hands. They also can be disorganized, distracted, and forgetful. They might lose things and have trouble finishing assignments. They may move around a lot, talk nonstop, or interrupt other people’s conversations.

Most kids do some of these things some of the time, but when a kid is acting this way a lot of the time, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist. One of these people can figure out if the kid has ADHD.

With help, kids with ADHD can learn to act differently. Sometimes medicine can help a kid take control of his or her behavior, but only a doctor can decide if ADHD medicine is needed.

Medicine and the Mind

There are a lot of different types of ADHD medicines. They don’t cure ADHD, but do help kids have better control of their behaviors. They help a kid with ADHD focus better, pay attention, not be as distracted, and be less hyperactive. If a kid stops taking ADHD medicine, the symptoms can come back.

ADHD medicines affect chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters (say: nur-OH-tranz-mit-urz). Neurotransmitters help send messages between nerve cells in the brain. Some of the medicines for ADHD are called stimulants, but instead of stimulating the person and making him or her more jittery, they help control ADHD symptoms. Stimulant medicines work right away, and kids taking them may notice an improvement very quickly.

Other ADHD drugs are called non-stimulants. Non-stimulants can take up to a few weeks to start working. The kid’s doctor and parents will decide which is the best medicine for the kid based on the kid’s symptoms.

The medicine comes in pills or capsules, liquid, and even a patch. The doctor will explain how often the kid needs to take the medicine. Parents and kids will have to work out a schedule for taking it so it becomes part of the normal routine, like teeth brushing.

It might take a while to find the right medicine and the right amount (the dose) that works best for a kid. While this is getting worked out, it can be frustrating for the kid and parents who want things to get better. Once the right medication is found, things often start to improve for someone with ADHD.

And just like with any medicine, the kid’s parents and doctors will want to watch for side effects, which are other problems or symptoms that may be caused by the medicine. Not all kids have side effects. But those who do might have a decreased appetite, stomachache, headache, trouble sleeping, or irritability (feeling grouchy).

How Therapy Can Help

Along with medicine, behavior therapy can help kids with ADHD. This means learning a different way of doing things and learning ways to stay calm and keep focused.

To do this, a kid and his or her parents might see a mental health professional (psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, social worker, or counselor). As part of behavior therapy, teachers and parents might create charts or other systems for rewarding the kid for meeting goals that have been set.

At school, kids with ADHD might need to work on staying seated or finishing class work. At home, the goals might be remembering to put dirty clothes in the hamper and keeping track of important things, like shoes and backpacks.

Once a kid can meet these goals, he or she will probably feel happier, which is the best medicine of all!

Taken from http://kidshealth.org/kid/feel_better/things/ritalin.html

Reviewed by: Shirin Hasan, MD

Date reviewed: July 2014

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

ADHD – Kid-Friendly Explanation

Attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorderWhen someone says a kid is hyperactive, it can be a sign that the kid might have ADHD. ADHDstands for a condition called attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Kids with ADHD have problems paying attention and sitting still in their seats, and they can be impulsive,which means doing things without thinking about the results. This can cause problems like getting hurt. Some kids who have ADHD can have difficulty in school. Some might have trouble making friends.

ADHD is something a kid is born with. It is not something like the flu that you can catch from someone. A kid has a greater chance of being born with ADHD if he or she has a relative who has ADHD.

What Are the Signs of ADHD?

ADHD can cause kids to act in different ways, depending on the kid who has it. Most kids with ADHD have problems concentrating and paying attention. Some also might have trouble sitting still in class and waiting for their turn. They might yell out the answers before other kids have a chance to raise their hands.

Sometimes they can be disorganized, distracted, or forgetful. They tend to daydream in class. They might lose things and have trouble finishing assignments. They may wiggle around in their seats, move around a lot, talk too much, or interrupt other people’s conversations.

It’s important to remember that everybody does these things once in a while. If you do them sometimes, it doesn’t mean you have ADHD. Kids with ADHD have these problems most or all of the time. This can cause them to have problems both at home and at school.

Kids with ADHD can become worried, frustrated, angry, and sad. Kids need to know that ADHD is a medical problem that can be treated.

If the Doctor Says It’s ADHD

When parents and teachers suspect that a kid has ADHD, the first step is to visit the doctor. The doctor might then refer the kid to a specialist like a psychologist, psychiatrist, or behavioral pediatrician. They are experts who know about kids who have ADHD and other kinds of behavior problems. Part of the doctor’s job is to check for other illnesses that look like ADHD but need different kinds of treatment.

If the doctor determines that a kid has ADHD, then the doctor and parents can begin to work together to find the best way to help. For many kids, this means taking medicine to help them have better control of their behaviors and going to therapy (counseling).

ADHD Medicines

There are a lot of different ADHD medicines. The medicine will not cure the ADHD, but it will will help control the symptoms of ADHD, and that helps a kid do better. Medicine can help kids pay attention, focus better, and be less hyper.

Most kids only take the medicine before school, but some may need to go to the nurse in the middle of the school day to take medicine. The medicine comes as a liquid, pill, capsule, and even a patch. Your doctor and your parents will decide which medicine is best for you.

What Therapists Do

Kids who have ADHD need more than just medicine. They need help learning how to change the way they act. Some also may need help with dealing with their feelings of anger, sadness, and worry.

A therapist (or counselor) can help. Therapists work with kids and their parents to come up with a plan. They will give them ideas about how to make changes at home that will be helpful for the kid with ADHD. If needed, they can help kids learn to build better friendships.

A therapist or counselor may recommend relaxation and behavior therapy. In relaxation therapy, counselors teach kids how to relax and stay calm by doing deep-breathing exercises and relaxing different muscle groups. Behavioral therapy teaches kids and parents to set goals and uses rewards to help kids reach those goals.

Teachers also can reward kids who have ADHD when they show good control, such as being able to sit still during class. Parents can offer rewards at home for paying attention, completing chores, or keeping track of things.

If a kid has ADHD, his or her parents may want to let the principal and teachers know. Why? Because then the kid can get extra help with schoolwork, if needed. The school may set up a plan so things go more smoothly at school, such as giving the kid a quieter place to take a test or extra time to complete work.

Kids who have ADHD can have normal, happy lives. The key to success is having a plan and a team. Who’s on the team? The kid, parents, teachers, therapist, and doctor, who are all working together for the same goal.

Taken from http://kidshealth.org/kid/health_problems/learning_problem/adhdkid.html

Reviewed by: Shirin Hasan, MD
Date reviewed: September 2014

Tagged , , , , , ,

Being Afraid – Kid Friendly Explanations

K_being_afraid1Being Afraid

Have you ever been afraid? Everyone gets scared sometimes. Maybe thunderstorms make your heart beat faster. Or maybe your mouth goes dry when your teacher announces a pop quiz, or your palms sweat when it’s your turn to give your report in front of the class. Perhaps you get butterflies in your stomach when you see the bully who picks on you.

Everyday Worries

We all have fears from time to time. That’s true no matter how big we are or brave we can be. Fear can even be good for you sometimes and even help you stay healthy. Fear of getting too close to a campfire may save you from a bad burn. And fear of getting a bad grade on a test might make you study more.

Being a bit on edge also can sharpen your senses and help you perform better in a recital or during a track meet. Some people even enjoy being a little scared. That’s why they like to watch scary movies or go on roller-coaster rides.

What Happens When You’re Scared?

Have you ever wondered why being scared makes your heart beat faster and makes you breathe quicker? The body’s reaction to fear is called the “fight or flight” response. And people have had it since the beginning of time.

Here’s how it works. Imagine you’re a caveman or cavewoman living 100,000 years ago — and you come face to face with a hungry saber-toothed tiger. You have two choices: 1) Run for it (that’s flight), or 2) pick up your club and battle the tiger (that’s fight). A final choice (be eaten) doesn’t seem like such a good one!

Today, you can apply fight or flight to that bully who confronts you and won’t listen to reason. You have two choices: 1) Turn and walk away (flight), or 2) fight, even though you know fighting won’t solve the problem.

To prepare for fight or flight, you body does a number of things automatically so it’s ready for quick action or a quick escape. Your heart rate increases to pump more blood to your muscles and brain. Your lungs take in air faster to supply your body with oxygen. The pupils in your eyes get larger to see better. And your digestive and urinary systems slow down for the moment so you can concentrate on more important things.

What Is Anxiety?

Usually, our bodies go into fight or flight only when there is something to fear. However, sometimes this occurs when there doesn’t seem to be anything to be frightened about. When you feel scared but there doesn’t seem to be a clear reason, that’s called anxiety (say: angZYEuh-tee).

Other feelings might come along with anxiety — like a feeling of tightness in your chest, a bellyache, dizziness, or a sense that something horrible is going to happen. These feelings can be very frightening. Sometimes anxiety can interfere with things you need to do, like learning and sleeping.

For some kids, feelings of anxiety or worry can happen anytime. For others, they might occur only at certain times, like when they’re leaving their home or family to go somewhere. In some people, this feeling of anxiety occurs almost all the time and gets in the way of doing what they want to do.

Some kids may have a phobia (say: FOE-bee-uh), which is an intense fear of something specific, such as being up high, getting dirty, the number 13, or spiders.

Why Do People Have Anxiety?

Anxiety can run in families. Or a person might develop anxiety after something terrible happens, like a car crash. Sometimes certain medical illnesses can cause feelings of anxiety. So can abusing alcohol or other drugs, like cocaine.

Another part of the explanation has to do with the different chemicals in the nerve cells of the brain. How the chemicals in our brain’s nerve cells are balanced can affect how we feel and act. One of these chemicals is serotonin (say: sir-uh-TOE-nun). Serotonin is one of the brain chemicals that helps send information from one brain nerve cell to another. But for some people with anxiety, this brain chemical system doesn’t always seem to work the way it should.

Also, some scientists think that a special area in the brain controls the fight or flight response. With anxiety, it’s like having the fight or flight response stuck in the ON position — even when there is no real danger. That makes it hard to focus on everyday things.

Dealing With Anxiety

Anxiety can be treated successfully. Tell your mom or dad if find yourself more scared than you feel you should be or if your anxiety becomes strong and is getting in the way of what you want or need to do.

Your parents might take you to a doctor, who can help find out if a medical problem is making you feel anxious, or to a therapist, who can help find a way to lessen the anxiety through talking, activities, relaxation exercises, or medication (or a combination of these things).

Of course, if you do come face to face with a hungry saber-toothed tiger, there’s just one thing you should do . . . RUN!

Taken from http://kidshealth.org/kid/feeling/emotion/afraid.html?tracking=K_RelatedArticle#

Reviewed by: D’Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: March 2014

Tagged , , , , ,

ADHD and the Decision to Medicate

Decision_to_MEDICATE_feature

PETER PALEY’S MOTHER HAS BEEN DREADING THE PARENT-TEACHER CONFERENCE. She has been getting phone calls about Peter’s disruptive and distracting classroom antics. After the usual pleasantries and a review of Peter’s behavior, Peter’s teacher says, “I’m not a doctor, but Peter’s ADHD really should be evaluated.” Ms. Paley knows the code. The teacher thinks Peter should be treated with medicine. In the car heading home, she struggles with the possibility of placing Peter on medicine. She is unsure what she will do and does not know how to approach the problem.

– See more at: http://www.chadd.org/Membership/Attention-Magazine/View-Articles/ADHD-and-the-Decision-to-Medicate.aspx#sthash.fJhYyx4f.dpuf

Tagged , , , , ,

Sleep Tips for Young Children

child-sleeping-2

Taken from A.D.D. Warehouse News

Every child is different and requires a different amount of sleep to be healthy and function well.  On average a 5 to 12 year old should get 10 to 11 hours of sleep.

If your child has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep try the following tips:

  • Offer a snack before bedtime.
  • Make bedtime the same time every night and make sure the child is engaging in a quiet activity before bedtime to prevent overarousal.
  • Develop a bedtime routine: bath, putting on pajamas, brushing teeth, read a story, etc so the child can form good sleep habits.
  • Stick to the bedtime you have set. Make it a rule that has to be followed so that the child does not test the limits every night.
  • Encourage the child to fall asleep on their own.  Parents should avoid staying in bed with their child until the child falls asleep. The child who falls asleep on his or her own will be better able to return to sleep during normal nighttime awakenings and sleep throughout the night.

Keep last “goodnights” short. Say “goodnight” when it’s time for you to leave the room and try not to come back if your child calls for you.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Homework Helpers

Homework_help
• Set up a certain time and area in which to do homework. Allow your child to have a say in where he or she does their homework. It is important for your child to feel comfortable. If your child gets distracted easily, make sure they end up in an area you are able to monitor when needed.

• Children who take medication for AD/HD may find that the medicine has worn off by the time they start their homework. Talk with your doctor to see if there are any other options (i.e. splitting the dose throughout the day, adding a short-acting dose in the afternoon).

• Form a launch pad close to the exit of your home. This can be a table or a cubby where your child prepares their completed homework for school the next day. Provide labels and checklists to ensure he or she does not forget anything. Children are more likely to forget something if they are scurrying around in the morning before leaving for school.

• The demands placed on your child may be higher than they are equipped to handle. Research online or ask a friend from another school what their child is doing for homework. Sometimes they may be given much more than they are capable of taking on. If you think so, carefully approach the subject with your child’s guidance counselor.

• Exercise! Exercise is proven to improve focus. If your child is struggling to stay focused during homework, do some jumping jacks together or have them take a break to play outside for a bit. This will increase blood flow to the brain and help them focus more when they return to their homework station. You can even educate your child by saying things like, “Did you know that exercises like jumping jacks can help your brain grow strong and help you stay awake during your homework? Let’s try it out!”

• Provide external reminders. It is natural for parents to want their children to be independent; however children with AD/HD or other cognitive challenges are unable to be as independent as we would like. Keep in mind that the part of their brain that reminds them of tasks or that organizes their thoughts is not like yours. Sometimes children need external cues to help them remember things and if so, you should be the support system that provides those cues. This does not mean you need to do everything for them all the time, but it does mean you may need to prompt them more times than you feel is necessary. Ultimately, the goal is to help them succeed in school which most times require a little help from mom and dad.

• Communicate with your teacher on ways to help your child remember their homework. Does she write it on the board? Does she email assignments to parents? Get the scoop on how your child’s teacher operates. It may be something as simple as your child writing assignments in a notebook and the teacher initialing beside it.

AD/HD Fact Sheet

ADHD

• AD/HD is not just bad behavior. There is a chemical imbalance in the brain and/or other processing issues that impede those who have it from performing as well as peers who do not have AD/HD.
• Children with AD/HD aren’t always hyperactive.
• Children with AD/HD lack the ability to organize thoughts, which may look like rambling or trouble answering questions without pauses.
• Children with AD/HD sometimes hyper-focus on things around them, which may look like defiance by not listening to instruction or not paying attention.
• Children with AD/HD have most likely had difficulties with teachers or other persons of authority who may not have understood their challenges; thus, they can be sensitive and insecure.
• Children with AD/HD sometimes need direct instruction and lots of one-on-one attention. This may necessitate their being seated front and center.
• It can be helpful to allow children with AD/HD to move around a lot because it increases blood flow to the brain, which helps them focus.
• Children with AD/HD, overall, have poor executive functioning (i.e., brain functions that activate, organize, integrate, and manage other functions). Executive functions enable individuals to account for short and long term consequences of their actions and to plan for those results, allow individuals to make real time evaluations of their actions, and to make necessary adjustments if those actions are not achieving the desired result. Children with AD/HD often struggle in all of these areas.
• Children with AD/HD live in the here and now. It is very difficult for them to weigh options according to what will happen to them tomorrow or twenty years down the road.
• Children with AD/HD have different strengths and weaknesses.
• Children with AD/HD are often picked on because other children do not understand their challenges. It is important to try and not single out children with AD/HD as being different.

%d bloggers like this: