Tips to support your child with ADHDSunday, October 24, 2021
GEORGIA TULLOCH ROPER
ONE of the most prevalent neurodevelopmental challenges that our children face is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The most notable symptoms include inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. It is purported that one in every 10 children shows mild to severe symptoms of this biological and neurological impairment.
In the Jamaican context, children with ADHD, especially those in our inner city communities, tend to fly under the radar and go undiagnosed and untreated. The impact for many is life altering. In the meantime, the onus rests on parents/guardians to do what they can to be the best ally for their children with ADHD. As a parent/guardian, what can you do?
There is a plethora of reliable and free resources online that are helpful to parents and guardians. Among them are additudemag.com, chadd.org, and playattention.com. The Attention Deficit Disorder Association provides group support for persons with ADHD and their families.
Build your Children's Self-Esteem
Children who feel good about themselves are more likely to display the self-confidence needed to thrive. This is extremely important for children who face additional challenges.
Emphasise and affirm the strengths and accomplishments rather than focus on their weaknesses. Celebrate their progress and their small victories.
Offer examples of persons with ADHD who are game changers in their field. Examples include Microsoft founder Bill Gates, basketball player Michael Jordan, actors Will Smith, Whoopi Goldberg, and others.
Help your children to become self-aware and to develop strategies to strengthen those areas that they find challenging. Create routines and structures, especially in the home environment, which aim to strengthen their memory, organisational skills, and helps them to complete tasks. Work with them to identify triggers to their disruptive behaviours and rehearse alternative responses.
Be Present and Proactive at School
Within the school setting, advocate for children with ADHD and all those with special needs. Advocate for programmes which reflect appropriate learning strategies and activities for neurodivergent students. Ensure that children benefit from existing educational programmes of accommodation for learning and examination purposes. Maintain a positive relationship with teachers and work as a team to facilitate adaptation to improve performance as well as behaviour in the classroom.
Surround Yourself with Positive People
The parenting skills of those with children with learning challenges are often harshly criticised. Try to combat the negativity and surround yourself with supportive and understanding individuals. Find an ADHD support group locally or online or start one. You will discover that you are not alone. Also, practise self-compassion.
Seek Health and Additional Support
Getting a proper diagnosis and treatment regimen from a competent health professional is key. Dealing with ADHD requires a community of participants. Include other health professionals, teachers, special tutors, coaches and nutritionists.
Utilise Governmental Services
Matters relating to ADHD are addressed through existing governmental programmes. One can benefit from the relevant services offered in the education and health ministries.
The Special Education Centre in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information focuses primarily on children with learning disabilities as well as the gifted. There are programmes which also focus on behavioural therapy that serves students with such challenges. The unit periodically provides opportunities for ADHD awareness and support to educational groups and the public. It also assists school administrators working with students with special needs. Diagnostic centres are also listed on the ministry's website and, despite potential delays, ADHD diagnosis and possible interventions can be addressed here.
ADHDers can also access mental health diagnostic services and intervention programmes through the State-run Child Guidance Clinics which provide professional services for children with emotional and behavioural issues. These health professionals also make referrals and liaise with the ministry's special education units.
Considering the number of children in our school system with ADHD there needs to be greater focus on this special need. Clearly there is a shortage of resources to effectively meet the needs of our nation's children with ADHD. In the absence of a special education policy, parents must continue to advocate for educational access and equity for their special children bearing in mind the motto: Every child can learn, every child must learn.
Georgia Tulloch Roper is the a parent of an adult child who was diagnosed with ADHD late in his young adult years. She is a retired educator as well as a trained life coach with a specialised interest in ADHD coaching. October is recognised as ADHD Awareness Month.