Living

People under 30 with ADHD are usually 30-40% behind their chronological age in terms of executive functioning. So a 10-year-old with ADHD has about the same executive functioning that a typical 7-year-old would. Parents should keep this in mind when setting expectations for ADHD children

The brains of people with ADHD have an imbalance in the interplay between the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinophrine, creating a situation in which an experience or activity must be more stimulating in order to draw and hold their attention or enable optimal focus.

This neurotransmitter imbalance also leads to ‘novelty seeking’. In fact, one variation of the DRD4 gene for dopamine receptors, called the ‘7-repeat allele’, has been associated with some forms of ADHD characterized by wanderlust. Those with the so-called ‘explorer gene’ appear compelled to move between houses, cities, and countries. People with ADHD continually scan their environments and minds to search out the stimulating thoughts and experiences that they need in order to fire up their brains and fully engage with the world. This brings a higher likelihood of ending up in prison or addicted to drugs. But it also brings a compulsive fixation on what is surprising, dramatic, or controversial.

Exercise elevates the brain’s levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and endorphins, making people with ADHD less impulsive, and better able to pay attention to what they are working on.

ADHD individuals can find it hard to take responsibility for their impulsive actions and may project blame onto others

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Read this excellent Understanding and managing ADHD _Modified Booklet from ADHD Foundation

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Register for children and young people with disabilities

ADHD is recognised as a disability and it is sensible to obtain a disability card for your ADHD child. It brings extensive access to a wide-range of help, support and services.

Here’s the Disability_Register_Application_2015__1_ form for Richmond and Kingston

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This parent, Michelle Rocha Allard, writes: To label ADHD children ‘naughty’ or to blame bad parenting or diet does a disservice to those living with the condition which very often co-exists with one or more other conditions like aspergers, autism, learning disabilities, developmental delay, dyslexia, dyspraxia, hypermobility, dysgraphia, Tourette’s, tics, anxiety, depression & bipolar. If you have a child predominantly diagnosed with ADHD you will know it is NOT over-diagnosed. It takes years and involves time, observation and reports from many different specialists in different fields and support from a child’s school. It is a soul destroying battle every step of the way to get the diagnosis (which you don’t care about but NEED) in order to get your child the support and help he/she deserves to achieve their full potential and be able to find their place in the world. Once you get a diagnosis of ADHD prepare yourself for tutting and eye rolling from people/public/family who don’t believe there is such a thing and think it’s just a label for hyperactive, ill disciplined children with no boundaries and a diet of sweets & fizzy drinks. Very often these children are isolated from friendship groups and sadly so are their parents! Expect a large dose of scorn and judgemental or pitying looks and sometimes even wise words of advice from ‘well meaning’? members of the public.

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Click this photo for a video called “Living with ADHD”

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Caring for a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be draining. The impulsive, fearless and chaotic behaviours typical of ADHD can make normal everyday activities exhausting and stressful. Listen to this audio

These Childcare Brokerage Officers can assist parents who are finding it hard to find a suitable childcare place for have a child with additional needs

For Kingston

Maxine Darling

Childcare Brokerage Officer

Telephone 0208 547 6581

maxine.darling@achievingforchildren.org.uk

 

For Richmond

Aileen Steward

Childcare Brokerage Officer

Tel: 020 8831 6429

aileen.steward@achievingforchildren.org.uk

 

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ADHD – ways to help children with ADHD

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can affect children’s learning and social skills, and the way a family functions. Medication, behaviour modification, home and classroom strategies and sometimes counselling can all help children with ADHD at home and at school.

Ways to cope
Although it can be difficult at times, it’s important to remember a child with ADHD cannot help their behaviour. People with ADHD find it difficult to suppress impulses, which means they do not stop to consider a situation or the consequences before they act.

If you are looking after a child with ADHD, you may find the below advice helpful.

Plan the day
Plan the day so your child knows what to expect. Set routines can make a difference to how a child with ADHD copes with everyday life. For example, if your child has to get ready for school, break it down into structured steps, so they know exactly what they need to do.

Set clear boundaries
Make sure everyone knows what behaviour is expected, and reinforce positive behaviour with immediate praise or rewards. Be clear, using enforceable consequences if boundaries are overstepped (such as taking away a privilege) and follow these through consistently.

Be positive
Give specific praise. Instead of saying a general, “Thanks for doing that,” you could say, “You washed the dishes really well. Thank you.” This will make it clear to your child that you are pleased, and why.

Giving instructions
If you are asking your child to do something, give brief instructions and be specific. Instead of asking, “Can you tidy your bedroom?” say, “Please put your toys into the box, and put the books back onto the shelf.” This makes it clearer what your child needs to do and creates opportunities for praise when they get it right.

Incentive scheme
Set up your own incentive scheme using a points chart or star chart, so good behaviour can earn a privilege. For example, behaving well on a shopping trip will earn your child time on the computer or some sort of game. Involve your child in it and allow them to help decide what the privileges will be.

Intervene early
Watch for warning signs. If your child looks like they are becoming frustrated, overstimulated and about to lose self-control, intervene. Distract your child if possible, by taking them away from the situation, which may calm them down.

Social situations
Keep social situations short and sweet. Invite friends to play, but keep playtimes short so your child does not lose self-control. Do not aim to do this when your child is feeling tired or hungry, such as after a day at school.

Exercise
Make sure your child gets lots of physical activity during the day. Walking, skipping and playing sport can help your child wear themselves out and improve their quality of sleep. Make sure they are not doing anything too strenuous or exciting near to bedtime.

Eating
Keep an eye on what your child eats. If your child is hyperactive after eating certain foods, which may contain additives or caffeine, keep a diary of these and discuss them with your GP.

Bedtime

One of the problem that many parents of ADHD kids face is getting their kids settled and off to sleep at night. Often the hyperactivity and impulsiveness that comes with ADHD creates sleep problems too. Staying asleep all through the night is rare, and the idea of an unbroken night’s sleep for parents is a thing of dreams!

Download this free app from the Evelina Clinic

This lack of sleep can also lead to other issues and your child’s activities may be affected – especially their academic performance in school. Having ADHD means being attentive during school activities is already a problem and the lack of sleep will add insult to injury and can worsen the situation. Read Dr Frances Knight’s slides from our ADHD Richmond_Apr 26 Talk on Sleep & ADHD & watch her video

One way to overcome the issues caused by sleep problems is to set a regular sleep schedule for your child. Remember that when it comes to managing ADHD, routine is the key!

Make sure your child goes to bed at exactly the same time every night and wakes up at a specific time as well. Establishing this routine will make your child’s daily schedule much easier to manage, especially during weekdays when they need to wake up early for school.

Keep the room a place of quiet can calm. Yes, kids love to be allowed to go to sleep with the TV on – and it can often seem like the easy option for Mum too – but it acts as a stimulant and will your child’s mind active.  Avoid giving your child food – especially sweets – less than an hour before bedtime because that will also keep him awake.

Another tip is to provide a relaxing environment for your child to sleep in. Use blackout curtains and consider having soft music or a gentle story playing in the background. Many people find using essential oils in a room humidifier can help with relaxation. Having a very different atmosphere at bedtime will help your child to understand that once you start the ritual, it’s time to go to sleep. Giving your child cues like dimming the lights or turning on a story CD can be very effective.

Weighted therapy blankets can often help your child to sleep. You can buy blanket weight  dependant on child’s weight

Creating a bedtime routine for your child – and sticking to it every day, at the same time – can make a huge difference to sleep problems. Your routine might look like this:

4pm: Playtime/TV/homework

6pm: Dinner

7pm: Bathtime. Cleaning teeth, getting into pyjamas/nightie.

7.30pm: Read a bedtime story, talk about the day, other relaxing activity in the child’s bedroom.

8pm: Lights out. Dim the lights, turn on night light, start music – whatever you want to do to create a comfortable sleep environment.This is the cue for your child that it’s bedtime and they need to sleep.

By setting a sleeping schedule for your child to follow, you’ll begin to overcome sleep problems and counter the effects of lack of sleep in ADHD kids

Stick to a routine. Make sure your child goes to bed at the same time each night and gets up at the same time in the morning. Avoid overstimulating activities in the hours before bedtime, such as computer games or watching TV.
Sleep problems and ADHD can be a vicious circle. ADHD can lead to sleep problems, which in turn can make symptoms worse. Many children with ADHD will repeatedly get up after being put to bed and have interrupted sleep patterns. Trying a sleep-friendly routine can help your child and make bedtime less of a battleground.

Help at school
Children with ADHD often have problems with their behaviour at school, and the condition can have a negative impact on a child’s academic progress. Speak to your child’s teachers or their school’s special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) about any extra support your child may need.

Summary

Looking after a child with ADHD can be challenging, but it is important to remember that they cannot help their behaviour.

Some issues that may arise in day-to-day life include:

  • getting your child to sleep at night
  • getting ready for school on time
  • listening to and carrying out instructions
  • being organised
  • social occasions
  • shopping

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Worried about a child or young person’s behaviour or mental health? You’re not alone. Call the YoungMinds Parents’ Helpline free on 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm) or email parents@youngminds.org.uk.

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  • More ways to help children with ADHD

    Verbal instructions

    • Keep instructions brief and clear.
    • Say the child’s name or tap them on the shoulder to make and keep eye contact when giving important information.
    • Ask your child to repeat the instruction to make sure they have taken it in and understood.
    • Your child may need prompting, monitoring and encouragement to keep them focused on tasks.

    Written work

    • Highlight important points in written information using *asterisks*, CAPITAL LETTERS or bold text.
    • Limit the amount of information that needs to be copied from a black or white board. Instead, give ‘hand out’ sheets with this information.

    Other learning strategies

    • Provide one-to-one instruction as often as possible.
    • A class ‘buddy’, who gets along well with the child, can be helpful to reinforce instructions and directions.
    • Make sure activities have plenty of ‘hands on’ involvement.
    • Schedule the most important learning to take place during the child’s best concentration time(s). This is usually in the morning.
    • Give a checklist for what the child needs to do.
    • Physical environment:
      • Sit them near the front of the classroom.
      • Plan seating and furniture carefully to decrease distractions. For example, sit the child near classmates who will be good role models.
      • A quiet place without clutter is important for homework.

    Reducing over-activity and fatigue

    • Build rest-breaks into activities. For example, a five minute break for each 30 minutes of activity.
    • Alternate academic tasks with brief physical exercise. For example, the child could do structured tasks or errands such as delivering notes or taking lunch orders.
    • Prepare a number of low-pressure fun activities for when the child needs to spend a few minutes calming down.

    Keeping structure

    Children with ADHD can struggle with changes to routine and need to know what to expect. The following strategies can help:

    • Have a fixed routine.
    • Keep classroom activities well organised and predictable.
    • Display the daily schedule and classroom rules. For example, attach a flowchart to the inside of the child’s desk or book.
    • Tell the child in advance (whenever possible) of a change in the schedule.
    • Give the child advance warning of changes. For example: ‘in five minutes you will have to put your work away’, and remind them more than once.
    • Keep choices to a minimum.

    Self-esteem

    • Encourage the child to take part in activities where they will experience success.
    • Set achievable goals.
    • Acknowledge their achievements by congratulating them verbally and in written ways such as notes or certificates.
    • Focus their attention on the good parts of their written work. For example, use a highlighter pen on the best sections of the child’s work.
    • Help them feel important in the classroom. For example, acknowledging their effort to do a task even if they don’t succeed.
    • Near the end of the day, review with the child their accomplishment/s for that day.
    • Attend to learning difficulties as soon as possible to restore self-confidence.

    Social skills

    • Involve the child in smaller groups of no more than two other children, instead of larger groups, whenever possible.
    • Reward appropriate behaviour such as sharing and cooperating.
    • Teach the child appropriate responses when they feel provoked. For example, teach them to walk away or talk to the teacher.
    • Encourage the child to join activities where ‘supervised socialisation’ is available, such as Scouts/Girl Guides or sporting groups.
    • Talk with the child about the consequences of their actions upon themself and upon others.
    • Use visual prompts to remind the child to think before they act. For example, ‘STOP, THINK, DO’.

    Communication between home and school

    • Use a school-home daily communication book.
    • Communicate both positive aspects of day and inappropriate behaviour.
    • Teachers – be sensitive to parents’ feelings. They have the difficult task of raising a child with ADHD.
    • Teachers – help parents feel proud of their child. Find positive things to share with them about their child on a regular basis. This can be done in front of the child.

    To help to encourage the child to complete homework parents can:

    • Make the work environment attractive but not too distracting.
    • Have regular scheduled time for homework.

    Key points to remember

    • Acknowledge and reward achievements and positive behaviour often.
    • Attend to learning difficulties as soon as possible.
    • A quiet place without clutter is important for homework.
    • Talk with the child about the consequences of their actions.
    • Medication, positive parenting strategies, school support and counselling can help most children with ADHD and their families.

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The US organisation CHADD has some more useful parental guidance here

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Transition from Child to Adult services. Read these UKAAN recommendations

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