Learning how to help your child with ADHD

“When I was in the first grade I had trouble concentrating and doing my work and what added to this problem is that I have a disorder called ADHD, (Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder) and I didn't know it.  I was always hyper, out of control, and always getting in trouble. I also had a temper problem. Because of this I set a goal to improve. The school put me in a program called 504, (to receive extra help), and I also started to take a medication. I finally got to the point where I reached my goal. Now I'm in Pre-AP (honor classes).”

This is a letter written to me from a middle school boy named Abraham.  He was writing in response to a Teen Speak writing prompt I had published in a local newspaper:  What goal have you met and how?

Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity cannot be diagnosed with x-rays or blood test. It is a disorder that is diagnosed through symptoms. The most recognizable symptom is the child's lack of attention span. It affects between three and six percent of children between ages 4 and 14.  Those affected are unsettled, cannot concentrate or sit still and are often disruptive. That may sound like the average child, but it is not the average behavior the doctor looks for when he or she is talking to the child and their parents about ADHD.

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"When I was in the first grade I had trouble concentrating and doing my work and what added to this problem is that I have a disorder called ADHD, (Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder) and I didn’t know it.  I was always hyper, out of control, and always getting in trouble. I also had a temper problem. Because of this I...

Abraham's mother said the teacher noticed something different about her son.  He was more mature speaking than the other children and very smart. He asked very intelligent questions and seemed to notice things that other kids didn't, but his mother said, “He was the only one rolling around on the floor.” When he finished his work, the teacher said he disturbed the other children because he couldn't sit still. His mother took him to a pediatrician who ran tests to rule out any neurological problems. The parent and teachers were asked to fill out a questionnaire describing the child's behavioral patterns at school and at home.  If the symptoms are the same in both environments, the doctor prescribes a medication to help the child concentrate on their work.

The medication does not cure the disorder, says Dr. Syed Rizvi from the Valley Children's Clinic, but it will help them to concentrate so they can learn while they are in school.  “If they are diagnosed with ADHD medication is the definite medical treatment.” This was Abraham's diagnosis and he was given medication. “My family didn't want me to give him the medicine, because they thought it would hurt him or he would get addicted, but I wanted to do what was best for my son,  Abraham’s mom said. After he started taking the medication and getting extra help in school his grades went from failing to A's.”

“Sometimes when I had a hard time controlling my temper, Abraham said, I felt worried and I didn't know what to do next.” His mom talked to him about the diagnosis and the medication, and explained to him that it was to help him concentrate.

The reason I wanted to share Abraham's story is because sometimes people do not believe ADHD is real.  They believe the child is just undisciplined and acting out. That may be true in lots of cases. However, there is a difference between children who have Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity and misbehaving children.

That is why the doctor compares the symptoms reported by both the teacher and the parents and what he observes. Abraham's mother said that when the doctor gave her the literature about ADHD, she could see the symptoms were identical to her son's behavior.

When our son was in the second grade he was diagnosed with ADHD, but not many doctors were treating it then.  I gave him medication but it seemed to change him. He sometimes appeared to be in a daze. The medication needed to be adjusted, but I didn't understand that.  I made the decision not to treat him with medication. Instead, I became as involved as I could with his school so I could be there for him, but it was always hard for him to concentrate, and he was often very impulsive.  He struggled to complete his work and make passing grades. Sometimes I wonder if his life in school would have been easier if I had made a different decision.

Today, as an adult, my son still has ADHD and he is aware that he has to work hard to keep his concentration on one thing at a time, but he can deal with it now. Some parents choose to treat their children with herbal remedies and diet changes, while others choose to deal with it on a daily basis the way I did, but the most important thing a parent can do is to educate themselves. We can do that by asking for information from the doctors or medical clinics, or even ask for a second opinion if we have any doubts.  When we do that and pay attention to what is going in the child's life, the next step is to do what is best the child.

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Deana Landers
Author for Morningcoffeebeans.com

Deana Landers has had many roles in life — Pastor’s Wife , Nurse/Health Educator, Writer and Motivational Speaker ... more