• Attention Deficit Disorder

    Q: My child’s teacher said that she thinks he may have Attention Deficit Disorder. What does this mean? How can I help?

    A: Kids with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder frequently come to our attention because of their behaviour. They may have difficulty staying focused and are easily distracted. They may be impulsive and have difficulty waiting their turn, and frequently do things without thinking. These children often have difficulty delaying gratification and want things to happen right now. They do not plan or save for later. In cases where there is hyperactivity present, the child may be very active, fidgety or talkative. ADD/ADHD children tend to experience emotional over arousal which means that they are very intense and dramatic in their emotions. Every emotion is a ‘ big’ one. These youngsters are often non-compliant and frequently do not follow through on instructions. As one would expect with all the mentioned problems, these kids often have social problems and find it difficult to make and keep friends. They are often disorganized, lose things, forget promises and are late.

    Since all children experience these behaviours some of the time, we only consider a diagnosis of ADD when the behaviours are considerably more frequent than in others of the same age, and when they began before the child reached the age of seven. Every child will not have every symptom and furthermore, the problem behaviour will not be present at all times. When these children are really interested, they can pay attention for long time periods. This makes diagnosis more difficult and discourages quick assessments.

    Some of the ways of helping this child and the rest of the family, include 1. counselling 2. school intervention 3. parent training 4. medication It is widely agreed that a multi-modal approach, involving as many of these methods as possible, is best.

    Q: My child’s teacher said that she thinks he may have Attention Deficit Disorder. What does this mean? How can I help?

    A: Last month we answered– What is ADD ? Now for the second part– How can I help ? It is generally accepted that for the best results, the treatment of ADD should target all four areas covered below. That is what is meant by a MULTI-MODAL APPROACH.

    1. Education and counselling Parents need help to cope with the confusion, sense of loss, guilt and anger that often accompanies ADD. Family counselling to deal with resentment is important because these children tend to be very demanding. Support groups can also be invaluable. Counselling for the child with ADD helps deal with the frustration, while developing social skills, anger management and positive self esteem techniques.

    2. School intervention helps both the teacher and the child by making sure that the school and the home are both working together with consistent rules and expectations. Often a third party is instrumental in helping with this process.

    3. Behaviour management at home helps in the day-to-day dealing with what can be a very difficult child. Outlining clear, concise instructions, and logical, immediate consequences (positive and/or negative), will support success. This is not bribery, it is motivation. We all do things for the results, such as a pay cheque, or a clean, healthy environment.

    4. Medication often offers the child the ability to concentrate and control their behaviour, which, in turn has a positive effect on every aspect of their life. Medication should always be closely monitored and adjusted as necessary. The physician’s instructions must be followed closely.


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