If you suspect that your child has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the first thing to remember is not to panic. ADHD is the most common behavioural disorder in children, and research has found that for one in three of those diagnosed during childhood, the condition will simply pass and won’t disrupt their adult lives. However, it’s certainly worth investigating the specialist treatment that will teach your child how to adapt their behaviour and balance their ADHD with working hard at school, making friends and developing life skills.
How do I know if my child has ADHD?
ADHD is not a clear-cut condition and there’s no black-and-white test – so you should always ask a specialist child psychiatrist or paediatrician for their expert diagnosis. They will observe your child closely, focusing on behaviour patterns, liaising with responsible adults at your child’s school and perhaps even using computerised testing. The results will not only reveal whether your child has ADHD, but will also help you to develop a suitable treatment plan, letting your child move forward successfully into adulthood.
Children with ADHD have been known to show certain symptoms, which can include constant talking and interrupting, being easily distracted, speaking and acting without thinking of the consequences, struggling to settle to work, fidgeting and feeling restless. It’s important to remember that if your child display one of these symptoms on a regular basis, that doesn’t necessarily mean they have ADHD – but it’s always worth paying a visit to your GP to know for sure.
What can I do about my child’s ADHD?
The first step is to acknowledge the issue. If your child’s behaviour is giving you concern, speak to their teacher to get their thoughts, and if necessary, make an appointment with your GP. You’ll find they can give you all sorts of useful advice – and also refer your child to a mental health service like TIC+ for a friendly chat to find out more.
It’s important not to make your child feel like the ‘odd one out’ in the family. They will need everybody’s understanding, however, so make sure you brief other family members (especially younger ones) on what’s happening and how they should act.
Just because your child has ADHD, that doesn’t mean you should relax your house rules or let them display bad behaviour like swearing and violence. Keep boundaries in place and you’ll find that your child reacts positively to them. Talk to them calmly and kindly, making eye contact and speaking in simple sentences. Give them praise when they do as you ask.
Keep your child healthy, giving them a balanced diet, plenty of exercise and enough sleep that they’re ready for school each day. Likewise, be sure to look after yourself, whether that means good food, an early night or downtime with friends.
Trouble maintaining concentration is a classic symptom of ADHD, so don’t expect them to sit for hours at mealtimes or during homework. Twenty minutes is a more realistic target for your child – followed by a short break, then another period of concentration. If you find they’re coping, trying building the time up.
It’s not just an urban myth that certain food colourings and additives can amplify the symptoms of ADHD. Ask your GP to suggest a list of foods and drinks to be avoided – if necessary, they should be able to refer you to a dietician.
Don’t struggle alone. Like we say, ADHD is very common, which means there are plenty of parenting groups out there where you’ll find support, companionship and humour in the hardest times. Get out there and get sociable.
TIC+ offers a Parent Support & Advice Line. If your child lives in Gloucestershire and is between the ages of 0 and 25 and you, as a parent or carer, would like support, please get in touch. To make it easier to reach out for help we offer a choice of ways to contact us on Freephone 0800 6525675 or web-chat. Whichever option you choose, there is no need to make an appointment, drop-in anytime during our open hours.
Alternatively, if you would like to arrange counselling for a young person who lives in Gloucestershire and is aged 9-21, they can get support from our TIC+ counsellors. All they, or someone they trust, needs to do is call us on 01594 372777 or text us on 07520 634063 to give us some details so we can arrange an appointment.
If you need to speak to someone urgently, call NHS 111 (on 111) or the Samaritans on 116 123. There’s always someone there to help, and any conversations you have with them are confidential.
For more advice check out our SUPPORT RESOURCES page!