“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
– Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
I recently joined an organization that helps to support children and adults with ADD/ADHD. CHADD.org is a fantastic resource that helps children, adults, parents, and educators support those living ADD/ADHD. Some recent statistics from their organization state that ADHD affects around 11% of school children. Of that 11%, 75% of those children will face ADD/ADHD symptoms throughout adulthood. It is important to know how the ADD/ADHD symptoms may look throughout the lifespan to better help children become more successful adults. Through each phase of life, the symptoms present themselves differently. Today, I will give a description of the symptoms at the childhood stage as well as some strategies for educators and parents of children during this phase of their lives.
ADD/ADHD in Children
ADD/ADHD can look different in each child. For most children over the age of five, symptoms typically look like these according to CHADD.org and the
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5):
- Recurring or frequent hyperactivity– Difficulty staying seated, fidgety, feeling restless
- Inattention -Poor focus, difficulty staying on task, problems with organization, etc.)
- Impulsivity-Saying or doing things that other children may not be doing.
- Does not appear to listen
- Avoids or dislikes tasks that sustain mental effort
- Difficulty waiting their turn
- Talks excessively-Blurts out in class or over others at home
If you think your child meets the description above, it might be a good idea to seek out a comprehensive assessment that includes an educational impact of learning, medical, and psychological evaluations to make sure that other disorders are ruled out. Even if you do not have a formal evaluation done yet, try some of these proven strategies that help students with ADD/ADHD at home and in the classroom:
Strategies for Home and School
- Post and remind children of expected behaviors – These can be a great visual reminder for students with ADD/ADHD
- Prepare for impulsive reactions– Give the child a job or task when the unstructured time approaches. This helps the student with self-control.
- Positive reward system- This is great for at home and school. Have the child help create the system and rewards so there is buy-in. Rewards may need to be more frequent at first but then spaced farther out as behavior begins to improve.
- Structure their day– Allow time for movement and play as well as specific times and places where students work on homework, etc. each day.
- Prepare for transitions– Whether you have a different elective class or a family get together coming up this weekend, it is important to spend some time preparing your child about the change and what that will look like.
- Join a support group- You are not the first educator or parent to have a child with ADD/ADHD. CHADD.org has a great link to help parents and educators reach out to one another to help children and adults with ADD/ADHD.
- Have fun- These students are often full of life and can be the life of the party! Figure out what their interests are and fuel that fire. Help them to see that they are valued and have a lot to contribute to their classroom and family!
There are a lot of resources out there to help children who are living with ADD/ADHD. Today we looked at how these symptoms affect school-age children up to around fifth to sixth grade. Next week, we will look at how ADD/ADHD manifests itself in the teenage years when academics become much more rigorous. We will also look at how ADD/ADHD can have an impact on teenagers socially. From there, we will see how this transcends into adulthood and how we can best support our loved ones who will need some skills to help with managing a household of their own. While there is not a cure for ADD/ADHD, helping students develop skills at a young age will set them up for success as teenagers and adults later on. Looking for some additional resources? Check out these 9 great books on parenting children with ADD/ADHD.