Tonight I had the privilege of talking with Nixa parents at Mathews Elementary's Parent-Palooza about ADHD. Here are some of the things we discussed:
Recognizing ADHD in your child: ADHD can manifest primarily as hyperactivity, inattentiveness, or both. If your child is restless, can't sit still, talks excessively, interrupts frequently, cannot play quietly, and is always on the go OR has trouble completely tasks or school work, has trouble listening, seems disorganized, avoids activities that require focus, can't follow through or is easily distracted, ADHD should be considered. Now, some of this may seem like normal childhood behavior to many. And it can be to some degree. But if it impairs your child's ability to function in more than one setting (socially/at play, at school, at home) and persists for greater than six months, there may be more to it. Input from your child's teacher is important. There are a handful of good, validated rating scales that your doctor can administer to help clarify the diagnosis and distinguish ADHD from other behavioral or mental health concerns.
Treating ADHD: There are a number of behavioral interventions parents can initiate that will help their child with ADHD. The main idea is to provide structure and consistency. Have a regular schedule, use checklists to help stay on task, provide plenty of positive reinforcement, find activities your child enjoys and can excel at, use calm discipline. Discuss educational resources available with your child's teacher or school. When needed, medication, can be a great tool that can enable your child to focus and function at school and at home. There are many facets to medication choice, effectiveness, potential side effects, and dosing schedules, that require careful consideration and discussion between you, your child and your doctor.
If you think your child may be struggling with ADHD, talk with teachers, schedule an appointment with your doctor, and have the conversation.