Setting the Scene
I have been having trouble coping with the fact that my son Ryan was recently diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). We all started worrying about him when he was four years of age, and he could not speak fluently. Although he was able to use words effectively, he was not able to formulate complete sentences. Last year we started to worry that at his age, he was not slowing down, and his energy levels were at an all-time high.
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One of the biggest challenges that I faced on a daily basis was to get him to observe his allotted bedtime. It often takes me about two hours to get Ryan to sleep. His desire to play is also manifested in an abnormal way because he does not play with only his friends but any group of children he comes across. For instance, Ryan does not have a close circle of friends, as you would expect from a six-year-old. During his time in preschool over the last two years, his teachers kept summoning me concerning various issues.
First, the teachers found him ‘uncontainable’ although he rarely engaged in deliberate indiscipline. Ryan’s slow learning progress also became an issue, and teachers blamed it on his lack of interest in learning. Nevertheless, Ryan has shown a bigger interest in art projects and activities that involve color coordination and alphabet rhymes.
At first, his kindergarten teacher assumed he was autistic, and that is when it was first hinted that Ryan should see a developmental specialist. After months of tests, we were told that our son suffers from ADHD. This diagnosis was corroborated by two psychologists. According to these professionals, the only major problem with Ryan is his delayed learning abilities because he has never suffered any injury as a result of his hyperactivity.
The doctors also agree that the condition is manageable, although they prescribed a magnesium supplement known as ADDITIVE. The dosage is for one-month usage, and then Ryan will have to go back for a review. In the meantime, his grandmother has advised us to try homeopathic modes of treatment, although I am not aware of any that work.
ADHD is a disorder that applies to brain development, and it is characterized by inattentiveness and hyperactivity. The disorder mainly hampers growth and normal mental-development faculties because it is difficult for him or her to pay attention. On the other hand, “hyperactivity means a person seems to move about constantly, including situations when it is not appropriate, excessively fidgets, taps, or talks” (Campbell, 2010, p. 41). Individuals who suffer from ADHD also tend to be impulsive in their decision making thereby making them highly susceptible to errors.
The symptoms of ADHD are manifested differently in both children and adults. Nevertheless, the condition is mainly highlighted by one of these three major symptoms, namely: inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. When formulating a diagnosis, doctors use a six-month history of activity to determine whether an individual’s behaviors are ADHD related. Moreover, most ADHD diagnoses are made when individuals are between six and twelve years.
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The main symptoms of ADHD are hyperactivity and inattention. On some occasions, ADHD is only manifested through one behavioral manifestation. Hyperactivity is one of the main manifestations of ADHD among children, especially during their preschool stages. A certain degree of inattention is considered normal, but among individuals with ADHS, the lack of concentration is more pronounced, and it interferes with normal functionality.
The distinctive symptoms of inattention include the fact that individuals with this condition tend to make avoidable mistakes, and they have difficulties remaining attentive during work, play, or leisure activities. This shortcoming is often evident when individuals are engaged in lengthy activities. Inattentiveness might also be manifested through the inability to listen when individuals are spoken to directly. On most occasions, children who suffer from inattentiveness will fail to finish their assigned activities because they keep being sidetracked by simple distractions. Inattentiveness also prompts individuals to avoid activities that require a high level of mental commitment, such as math homework.
Hyperactivity and impulsiveness are other major symptoms of ADHD, and they are manifested in a number of ways. First, hyperactive individuals are in a constant state of fidgeting and squirming. In addition, individuals have a problem remaining seated even informal settings such as classrooms and meetings. Children will also have the habit of dashing around and climbing in situations where this behavior is inappropriate. Some developmental specialists have described ADHD’s hyperactivity as a state where “Children are constantly in motion or ‘on the go,’ and they act as if they are ‘driven by a motor’” (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2001). The tendency to talk nonstop or answer questions prematurely is also connected with hyperactivity.
The full diagnosis of ADHD can only be completed by a certified physician in the form of a psychologist, psychiatrist, or pediatrician. Furthermore, the condition can only be confirmed if its symptoms are observed over a long period of time because it is normal for children to go through phases of inattention or hyperactivity. In addition, these symptoms must have the capacity to impair normal functions within an individual. The most opportune time for an ADHD diagnosis is during the age of 6-12 years. All diagnoses that are made after the age of 12 have to rely on symptoms that occurred during childhood.
Parents, teachers, and other guardians should be careful not to confuse ADHD with cases of indiscipline and emotional instability. It is often harder to diagnose well-behaved and quiet children because their plight can remain unknown for a long time. In addition, missed diagnoses are often accompanied by poor academic performances, failure to hold on to jobs, and failed relationships later on in life. After the initial diagnosis, the initial symptoms might evolve with age, thereby changing from hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and eventual restlessness during adolescence and adulthood.
The causes of ADHD are not conclusively known, but researchers have pointed out some of the risk factors that are associated with this condition. Some of these risk factors include genes, cigarette smoking, alcohol, and drug abuse, exposure to environmental hazards, brain injuries, and low birth weight (Goldman, Bezman, & Slanetz, 2008). Boys are more likely to suffer from ADHD as opposed to girls. Eventually, ADHD might be responsible for other subsequent conditions in the course of life, including learning disabilities, conduct disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and depression.
ADHD is not a curable condition, but they are various treatment regimens that can be used to reduce its symptoms and promote normal functionality. Consequently, treating ADHD involves various methods, including administration of medicine, psychotherapy, training, and use of a holistic approach. ADHD medication is mainly meant to ‘cure’ hyperactivity and help individuals concentrate. Stimulants are the most common modes of treatment for ADHD. This method of treatment “works because it increases the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine, which play essential roles in thinking and attention” (Schweitzer, Cummins, & Kant, 2011, p. 758). Stimulants should only be administered through the supervision of a doctor because they are subject to abuse, and they come with serious side effects.
Non-stimulants are also used in the treatment of ADHD. However, non-stimulants are longer-term medications because their mode of action is slower. When used correctly, non-stimulants can help individuals to be more focused, attentive, and less impulsive. On most occasions, non-stimulants are used as an alternative to stimulants among people who experience harmful side effects from the latter. Some antidepressants can be used in the treatment of ADHD, although this form of treatment is not recommended by doctors.
Psychotherapy is another method that has proved effective in the treatment of ADHD. Psychotherapy can be in the form of behavioral therapy or family therapy. Behavioral therapy is often used to help ADHD patients change or modify their behaviors. This approach might involve some practical activities such as task organizing, task completion, or practicing persistence. Overall, behavioral therapy teaches an individual to “monitor his or her own behavior give oneself praise or rewards for acting in a desired way, such as controlling anger or thinking before acting” (Feldman & Reiff, 2014).
Children who suffer from ADHD are taught relevant skills such as sharing, asking for help, responding to criticism, and waiting for their turn. Under cognitive behavioral therapy, a person is often taught techniques that harness mental functions. Psychologists can also utilize family and marital therapy sessions to assist family members in handling individuals with ADHD better.
Children and adults who suffer from ADHD require a higher level of guidance as compared to other individuals. The success of these individuals depends on their ability to harness basic skills. It is common for children to experience high levels of frustration when they encounter difficulties during various stages of development. Parents and teachers play a major role in affecting education and training that helps children overcome the hurdles of ADHD. On the other hand, most of this education and training should coincide with aspects of developmental psychology. Eventually, education and training in respect to ADHD “helps the child and his or her parents develop new skills, attitudes, and ways of relating to each other” (Goldman, Bezman, & Slanetz, 2008).
Ryan’s diagnosis has prompted me to come up with new routines and approaches to help him deal with his ADHD. In addition, the procedures will also help our entire family to understand some of the behaviors that exert tension between members of the household. My first course of action is to help Ryan to be more organized and focused through some of the tools that I have discovered through research.
For instance, it is important for Ryan to maintain formal and strictly formulated routines on a day-to-day basis. These routines will run from morning to bedtime, and they will include allotted times for house chores, homework, outdoor activities, and television viewing. I will place the schedule on the refrigerator as well as by the side of his bed. If he starts having difficulties following the schedule, the whole family will adopt this method to support him. From now on, I will make sure that everything around his room and play area is organized at all times. This organization involves backpacks, clothing, and toys, and it has to be spearheaded by Ryan himself. Moreover, I have understood the need for being firm and consistent with my rules for Ryan, followed by instances of reward or punishment.
Currently, Ryan is under medication, but I am looking for a cheaper and more effective method of treatment that can yield longer-lasting results. I have already contacted the Adventist Behavioral Health- Children’s Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). This program is primarily located in Rockville, Maryland, and it provides children with various skill-building activities. The services of PHP are fairly priced, although children of veterans receive a discount.
The center is only an hour’s drive away, and taking Ryan here would help him improve his speech skills and thereby make him a better learner. A full week’s training at the institution goes for the discounted price of $500-$900 dollars, and it is equipped with highly qualified and experienced staff. The staff member that I spoke to on the phone revealed that Ryan would receive personalized care from a psychiatrist and other behavioral therapists.
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The other organization that I contacted was the local chapter of the National Resource Centre on ADHD- Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD). This organization politely informed me to drop the details of Ryan’s initial diagnosis. These details will be used to connect Ryan to a specialist within our locality. This organization is funded nationally, and it does not charge for its consultancy services. The services of this organization are better used as a starting point because they do not suffice in later stages of ADHD treatment.
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2001). Clinical practice guideline: treatment of the school-aged child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Pediatrics, 108(4), 1033.
Campbell, S. B. (2010). Handbook of developmental psychopathology. New York, NY: Springer US.
Feldman, H. M., & Reiff, M. I. (2014). Attention deficit–hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents. New England Journal of Medicine, 370(9), 838-846.
Goldman, L. S., Genel, M., Bezman, R. J., & Slanetz, P. J. (2008). Diagnosis and treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents. Jama, 279(14), 1100-1107.
Schweitzer, J. B., Cummins, T. K., & Kant, C. A. (2011). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Medical Clinics of North America, 85(3), 757-777.