What is ADHD?
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that can make it hard for a person to sit still, control behaviour, and pay attention. These difficulties usually begin before the person is 7 years old. However, these behaviours may not be noticed until the child is older.
Doctors do not know just what causes ADHD. However, researchers who study the brain are coming closer to understanding what may cause ADHD. They believe that some people with AD/HD do not have enough of certain chemicals (called neurotransmitters
) in their brain. These chemicals help the brain control behaviour.
Parents and teachers do not
cause ADHD. Still, there are many things that both parents and teachers can do to help a child with ADHD.
How common is ADHD?
As many as 5 out of every 100 children in school may have ADHD. Boys are three times more likely than girls to have ADHD.
What Are the Signs of ADHD?
There are three main signs, or symptoms, of ADHD. These are:
- problems with paying attention,
- being very active (called hyperactivity), and
- Acting before thinking (called impulsivity).
Tips for Parents
- Learn about ADHD. The more you know, the more you can help yourself and your child.
- Praise your child when he or she does well. Build your child’s abilities. Talk about and encourage his or her strengths and talents.
- Be clear, be consistent, and be positive. Set clear rules for your child. Tell your child what he or she should do, not just what he shouldn’t do. Be clear about what will happen if your child does not follow the rules. Have a reward program for good behaviour. Praise your child when he or she shows the behaviours you like.
- Learn about strategies for managing your child’s behaviour. These include valuable techniques such as: charting, having a reward program, ignoring behaviours, natural consequences, logical consequences, and time-out. Using these strategies will lead to more positive behaviours and cut down on problem behaviours. You can read about these techniques in many books. Talk with your doctor about whether medication will help your child.
- Pay attention to your child’s mental health (and your own!). Be open to counselling. It can help you deal with the challenges of raising a child with ADHD. It can help your child deal with frustration, feel better about him or herself, and learn more about social skills.
- Talk to other parents whose children have ADHD. Parents can share practical advice and emotional support. Meet with the school and develop an educational plan to address your child’s needs. Both you and your child’s teachers should get a written copy of this plan.
- Keep in touch with your child’s teacher/s. Tell the teacher how your child is doing at home. Ask how your child is doing in school. Offer support.
Tips for Teachers
- Learn more about ADHD this will help you identify behaviour support strategies and effective ways to support the student educationally.
- Figure out what specific things are hard for the student. For example, one student with ADHD may have trouble starting a task, while another may have trouble ending one task and starting the next. Each student needs different help.
- Post rules, schedules, and assignments. Clear rules and routines will help a student with ADHD. Have set times for specific tasks. Call attention to changes in the schedule.
- Show the student how to use an assignment book and a daily schedule. Also teach study skills and learning strategies, and reinforce these regularly.
- Help the student channel his or her physical activity (e.g., let the student do some work standing up or at the board). Provide regularly scheduled breaks.
- Make sure directions are given step by step, and that the student is following the directions. Give directions both verbally and in writing. Many students with ADHD also benefit from doing the steps as separate tasks.
- Let the student do work on a computer.
- Work together with the student’s parents to create and implement an educational plan tailored to meet the student’s needs. Regularly share information about how the student is doing at home and at school.
- Have high expectations for the student, but be willing to try new ways of doing things. Be patient. Maximize the student’s chances for success.