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Family Guidance Blog

Childhood ADHD Continues to Climb

Early Intervention is Important When Your Child is Diagnosed With ADHD

ADHDThe number of U.S. children being diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) continues its upward climb. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that eight percent of four to 17 year olds were diagnosed with the condition in 2003. The number of American kids with a diagnosis rose to 11 percent by 2011 and continues to rise.

Children with undiagnosed and untreated ADHD experience problems across almost every spectrum of their young lives. These kids have greater difficulty keeping up with schoolwork and learning, they frequently struggle socially and are more prone to self-harming behaviors than children who are treated for their ADHD. These are compelling reasons to recognize and address ADHD sooner rather than later. Symptoms of ADHD typically show up in toddlerhood and just before entering school (3-6 years of age).

If you suspect that your child might be exhibiting signs of ADHD, the first thing to do is speak with your child’s pediatrician. They can help you with a diagnosis and also work with you to develop a plan for treatment that is best for your child. They can also refer you to the resources in the community that are available to you and your child.

If you would like to talk with a mental health professional about managing your child’s ADHD, we invite you to call or stop by Family Guidance Center. We work with children and whole families to find the most successful treatment that will help your child get the most out of their school years. Early intervention is important for your child so give us a call today so we can partner with you in taking the steps to help your child learn and grow.

The Importance of Back-to-School Prep for Your Child With ADHD

An Early Start Will Ease Stress for Your Child With ADHD

It’s hard to believe that the start of the new school year is here for many students. If you are the parent of a child (ofchild with ADHD any school age) with ADHD, don’t wait until the very last minute to start getting prepared and organized. Routine and structure are important for the child with ADHD, so it will help them to start getting ready for school today.

Schedule

For the elementary school age child this is the time to start transitioning to a school year sleep and wake routine. Start putting your child to bed a little earlier every few days until you reach school year bedtime. Do the same in the mornings. Start getting your child up a tad earlier over the next few weeks so that they don’t have a major schedule adjustment when classes begin.

Work Space

It’s also a good idea to start preparing your child’s work area. The child with ADHD needs a place free of distraction. Distractions can be as obvious as the television or as subtle as clutter on the desk or table. Take some time to clear this out and get ready for study sessions. You might want to purchase a new bright desk lamp to make this space more work-friendly.

School Supplies

You do want to shop early for school supplies and buy what the list prescribes, but it’s also a good idea to buy doubles of things which could prove easily lost or misplaced. Defuse tension before it happens.

At Family Guidance Center we have walked beside many families transitioning from summer schedule to school schedule. If your child’s ADHD is causing concern at this time of year, please contact us and let us share some other helpful ideas.

ADHD Prescriptions Being Used by Adults as Lifestyle Drugs

More Adults Abusing ADHD Medications

ADHDOver the past few decades, the number of children being treated for ADHD has risen sharply. Medications such as Concerta, Adderall and Ritalin are stimulants which help the neurotransmitters in diagnosed patients to function more normally. Experts say that non-affected adults using them for lifestyle purposes appears to be on the rise.

At present around 4.4 percent of adults in this country are diagnosed with ADHD. For children this number is closer to five to 10 percent. There has been a rise of stimulant abuse on college campuses. Non-ADHD college students taking ADHD medications to sharpen their study time have been the focus of concern. Now, it a growing concern that healthy adults, too, may be misusing the drugs to deal with everyday life.

Stimulants offer short-term help with things like memory, concentration, attention, energy and anxiety. Adults may be using them to improve their at-work performance or to give them a boost when they feel overwhelmed at home. The drugs can also work as appetite suppressants and therefore function as diet aids. But, scientists aren’t quite certain what the long-term effects may be of taking a drug that corrects a problem you don’t actually have.

Some known side effects are headache, sleeplessness, stomach pain, irritability and even tics. In extreme cases, high blood pressure or seizures have been experienced.

If you are feeling like you can’t keep up and are abusing stimulants to help, call us today. At Family Guidance Center, we’re here to help you find safe and healthy coping mechanisms that will serve you well over the long-term.

Self-Harm Risk for Girls With ADHD

Most of the challenges parents may encounter when a child as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are often talked about: academicADHD 7 struggles, behavioral problems and social difficulties. But most parents are caught completely off-guard when a child comes to them and confesses to self-injury. Few parents are on the lookout for this, even if their child is living with the symptoms of ADHD.

Self-injury or self-harm refers to more than the practice of cutting. Self-injury can be making cuts in easy to hide places on the body, but it may also manifest as scratching, burning or pulling hair. Why would someone do this? When the human body is injured, it triggers a release of a comforting chemical called dopamine. Kids who are deeply sad may intentionally harm themselves in order to feel the comforting rush of dopamine.

The risk of this behavior is particularly high for girls with ADHD, especially the form that includes both attention deficit and hyperactivity-impulsivity. Over 50 percent of girls with this form of ADHD self-harm. Those with attention deficit only face a higher risk than non-ADHD females, but not as high as those with both subtypes of the disorder.

There are reasons why ADHD is a risk factor for this kind of behavior, just as there are reasons why it appears more prevalent among girls with the condition than with boys. For starters, self-image challenges are common to the condition. These girls struggle profoundly with feeling like they are failures. Add in the impulsivity inherent to ADHD and that can lead to poor decision-making. This may all be a greater risk for girls because they tend to internalize failures and struggles more than boys.

The parent who learns that their son or daughter has been engaging in self-harm can do three important things:

1. Remain calm – the child needs a steady place to go
2. Listen without condemning – they have been beating themselves up already
3. Get help from a trained professional

At Family Guidance we can help children with ADHD deal with the challenges of their diagnosis, including urges to self-harm. We encourage parents to contact us as soon as the problem becomes apparent. There is hope.

Helping Your Child Enjoy a Successful Holiday Season With ADHD

As the winter holidays approach, parents with a child who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorderADHD 15 (ADHD) may feel a bit apprehensive. Family travel, family gatherings and a general sense of havoc are sometimes the order of the day during this time of year. Your child needs routine and predictability in order to feel and behave his best. Yet you can strategize ways to help you child navigate the chaotic holiday months. Here are some ideas to consider.

1. Stay in Your Own Space
Although sleeping over at Grandma’s or a cousin’s home may be how everyone else spends the holidays, it could be a good idea to book a hotel room for your family. If you are at someone else’s house have a separate part of the house where your child can have alone time. This will give your child a place to escape the constant stimulation and somewhere to breathe and decompress.

2. Plan Child-Centered Activities
While adults enjoy the long conversations around the holiday table, these can be tortuous for a child with ADHD. Having to sit still and be quiet for extended time spans is a real test. Talk with your child ahead of time and plan some ways for him to get through these stretches. Breathing techniques can help. It also helps to make sure that these times are balanced against times of freedom and playfulness.

3. Take a Stroll
If, despite your best efforts, you see that your child is starting to come unglued, lovingly take him by the hand and go outside for a walk. It will give you both time to recalibrate. Exercise and fresh air will help you both.

4. Praise as Often as Possible
Give your child plenty of positive feedback when the schedule has flown out the window. Every time you see your child make a good choice or exercise restraint, heap him with words of affirmation. Thanks, praise and recognition are powerful motivators.

Some recommend extra medication during this time. Talk with your doctor about this option. It can also help to talk with a counselor before family gatherings. At Family Guidance we provide counseling to children with ADHD and their parents. Holidays can be joyful despite your child’s challenges. Take action to make them so, call us today.