The management of a child with ADHD can be complex and may require a multi-modal approach tailored to the specific need of each child.
What to do – Multi Modal Interventions
Acceptance of the disorder – This can be very difficult for some family members. It is important for everyone including extended family, to understand about the condition and to know what is expected of them and what their role is etc.
The child’s teacher also may have difficulty in coming to terms with the ADHD diagnosis. Discuss the situation, be friendly, courteous and provide them with information or books to read. Whatever the situation, don’t give up, be the child’s advocate. No one else is better suited to the job!
Medical Check – ADHD is a medical disorder and so needs to be assessed and diagnosed by a medical person. One who specialises in ADHD and who can recognise, diagnose, treat, and support you and your family.
Make sure the medical check includes eyesight, hearing, blood, thyroid function, infestation (eg. lice, worms), blood sugar levels and thrush. It would also be wise to test for allergic reactions to dust mites, grasses and pollens etc. and if there has been a fall or an accident and the behaviour is extreme, ask for an EEG.
Nutritional Status – carefully look at the mineral, vitamin and protein etc. intake to ensure appropriate amounts for growth and proper function of the child’s developing brain. It is suggested that a professional health practitioner, eg. naturopath, nutritionist, dietitian be consulted if you are not confident in dealing with it on your own.
Chemical Sensitivity, Toxicity, Allergies – be aware that exposure to a range of chemicals and toxic metals that can affect the brain and immune system eg. chlorine, lead and mercury.
Dietary Intervention – the easiest way to find out what foods your child may be intolerant to, is to make a ‘food diary’ and start to eliminate certain foods that research has shown to be effective in improving mood, health, learning and behaviour. Read Sue Dengate’s books on the Failsafe diet. There is now overwhelming evidence of the effects of food on children’s behaviour.
Counselling – family counselling can play an important part in family dynamics, providing the counsellor has good knowledge of ADHD. Check this with the counsellor before starting. You could contact us for recommended referrals.
Behaviour Modification – parenting courses play an important role in managing your child with ADHD. We can recommend some courses and books that parents have found helpful.
Occupational Therapy – is an evaluative process of collecting and organising relevant information about the functional ability of a child. This includes gross and fine motor control (from poor hand writing skills to riding a bike), eye-hand co-ordination (catching a ball), visual-spatial relationships, body image, self-concept and much more.
Speech Therapy – ADHD children seem to have a wide range of abilities here, and can have either delayed speech or talk well before and beyond their years. The former need early intervention at a speech therapy clinic.
Educational Assessment – most children with ADHD that we see, have a Learning Disability such as Dyslexia, language disorder or weakness in maths.
They can do very well on a 1:1 basis with a remedial teacher and we advise parents to get help from their school or go privately. Don’t leave it too late. Act before the problem becomes too stressful.
Medication – the stimulants Ritalin, Rubifen (methylphenidate) and Dexamphetamine are the most commonly used. Your specialist may suggest other medications or combinations for specific reasons.
A good time to start the trial of medication is during the holidays or weekend so you can observe any changes. Note any side effects that concern you. Work with your doctor, child’s teacher, extended family. Check the specialist is available ‘on call’ during those first few weeks of medication.
Alternative Therapies – there are many that have improved the life of a person with ADHD. We can assist with recommendations.
For more information on any of the issues raised above please contact the Association.