by Kristin Kuiper, LMSW, MSW
I receive a lot of questions from parents of middle school and high school age children about ADD/ADHD. Some parents are exploring diagnosis, and some are working on helping their child manage this disorder. Sometimes children are off of their meds for the summer—which should only be pursued with your doctor involved. They are taking a “holiday” from medications—and the result is that families are really seeing the impact that this ADD has--not only on their children but on their family.
As the school year approaches, parents and doctors work together again to determine what will set their child up for success in the classroom—I often meet with parents during this time of strategizing. I am privileged to be a part of these conversations and want to pass along some tips for recognizing ADD/ADHD and also some recommendations for parents of children who have been diagnosed.
Signs and symptoms of ADD/ADHD in children include:
- Difficulty sustaining attention in play activities
- Interrupting often or intruding on others
- Becoming easily distracted by their environment
- Shifting from one uncompleted activity to another
- Marked impulsivity and risk taking, not considering consequences
If you notice that your child consistently shows signs of these behaviors, and has for 6 months or more, you may want to talk with your doctor about testing for this disorder. Diagnosis can be helpful in accessing resources and services that will set your child up for success.
How you can support your child if they have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD:
- Educate yourself and other people that your child is in close contact with about ADD/ADHD—including caretakers, teachers, and family members. This resource is one that can get you started.
- Children with ADD blossom with praise—give positive incentives, feedback, and encouragement. Motivation actually improves ADD in children. If you find yourself resorting to frustration and yelling, recognize that parenting a child with ADD can feel like a battle field-- you might need some space to reenergize yourself.
- Consider the benefit of a school tutor or coach. It can be stressful as a parent to function in this role—it’s very easy to feel like a nag or supervisor if you don’t have this kind of support.