If you believe your child shows signs of Attention Deficit Disorder --short attention span, impulsive behavior, and hyperactivity -- there are several steps you can take. Since most children occasionally show some of these signs, ask yourself if the behavior you are concerned about is persistent and if your child consistently exhibits such behavior in most settings.
If so, you should first consult with others who know the child well, such as relatives and family friends. Talk to them about the ADD behaviors and have them indicate the ones they see your child regularly exhibit. You also may want to keep notes on your child's behavior.
Next, speak to your child's teachers, as many behaviors characteristic of ADD are most visible in the classroom. Your child's teachers may want to complete a checklist on ADD signs, or use their own experience with other children with ADD to help you reach some conclusions of your own. In many cases, teachers may be the first to suspect a child has ADD and notify the parent(s). Keep in mind that some children show behaviors similar to children with ADD when they have learning problems stemming from other causes.
In addition, you should consult with a physician or other health care provider. A doctor will know the medical signs of ADD and can recommend local sources of information or a psychologist for your child to see. The physician should give your child a general medical exam and perhaps recommend a neurological evaluation, if he believes it necessary.
Medication: Pros and Cons
Medication of children with ADD remains controversial. Medication is not a cure and should not be used as the only treatment strategy for ADD. While doctors, psychiatrists, and other health care professionals should be consulted for advice, ultimately you must make the final decision about whether or not to medicate your child.
The short-term benefits of medication include a decrease in impulsive behavior, in hyperactivity, in aggressive behavior, and in inappropriate social interaction; and an increase in concentration, in academic productivity, and in effort directed toward a goal.However, studies show that the long-term benefits of medication on social adjustment, thinking skills, and academic achievement are very limited. If you do choose to use medication, you should observe your child for possible side effects. Some children lose weight, lose their appetite, or have problems falling asleep. Less common side effects include slowed growth, atic disorder, and problems with thinking or with social interaction. These effects usually can be eliminated by reducing the dosage or changing to a different medication.
Preparation for Adulthood
Children with ADD may require additional help in managing the transition to independent adulthood. They may need help learning how to structure their time and how to prioritize what they have to do. As children grow older,you can give them more responsibility so they can learn from their own decisions.The hard work of children with ADD, their parents, and their teachers helps them develop their abilities and prepares them for success in their adult lives. With assistance, children with ADD can develop strategies that allow them to work around their ADD and the problems it causes.Click here If you would like to contact Jewish Family Service with a question or to make an appointment.