ADHD is a chronic condition that affects millions of children , and it usually continues into adulthood (although the symptoms are usually milder).
The main symptoms of the disorder are three: difficulties in maintaining attention , hyperactivity and impulsivity. According to the latest epidemiological studies, between 10-20% of the child and adolescent population could suffer from ADHD.
In this article we talk about the definition of the disorder and its characteristic symptoms, and we mention five techniques that can help you , as parents, to reduce impulsivity and improve your child’s behavior in general, if he suffers from ADHD.
What is ADHD?
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a neurodevelopmental disorder , characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention and / or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with the functioning of the child, adolescent or adult.
According to DSM-5 ( Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , APA 2013), ADHD is characterized by one of these two symptoms (or both): inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity.
Symptoms of inattention
Symptoms of inattention in ADHD should last a minimum of six months . They involve, for example, failing to pay due attention to detail, or carelessly making mistakes in schoolwork or during other activities.
Difficulties also arise in maintaining attention in tasks or recreational activities (for example, has difficulty maintaining attention in classes, conversations or prolonged reading).
The child may appear to be not listening when spoken to directly, not following directions, or not completing homework.
It may also show difficulties in organizing tasks and activities and, in addition, it dislikes starting tasks that require sustained mental effort, that is, a minimum of concentration.
Other symptoms of inattention that may manifest: losing things, being easily distracted, forgetting daily activities (for example: doing homework, homework …), etc.
Hyperactivity and impulsivity
Other prominent symptoms in ADHD are hyperactivity and impulsivity. How do they manifest themselves?
For example, the child fidgets or hits with the hands or feet or squirms in the seat, gets up in situations where he is expected to remain seated (for example, in class) or runs or climbs in inappropriate situations (in adolescents it may just be restless).
They are usually children unable to play quietly, restless, who act as if they were “driven by an engine .” Sometimes they talk excessively, respond unexpectedly, or before a question has been concluded.
They find it difficult to wait their turn and interrupt or intrude with others (for example: they get into conversations, games or activities, use other people’s things without waiting or receiving permission …).
Nature and characteristics of symptoms
It is important to know that, to talk about ADHD, some of the aforementioned symptoms had to be present before the age of 12 . In addition, several of the symptoms must be present in two or more contexts, that is, at home and at school, for example.
These symptoms interfere with the child’s general functioning or quality of life.
Types of ADHD
Depending on the symptoms, we find three types of ADHD:
- Combined ADHD: with symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity.
- Inattentive ADHD : only with symptoms of inattention.
- Hyperactive / impulsive ADHD: only with symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity.
As for ADHD by age, the truth is that what determines the symptoms of ADHD is not so much the age of the child, but the type of disorder.
Even so, generally younger children manifest more marked hyperactivity , while adolescents are characterized more by inattention.
Five keys to helping your child with ADHD
We leave you five keys, or techniques, useful to help your child with ADHD to reduce impulsivity and improve attention and behavior in general. These are validated techniques for the psychological treatment of ADHD according to reference manuals.
This tool consists of helping your child to, when faced with a problem or difficulty, be able to stop and think before acting or making impulsive decisions.
It involves the following steps:
- Stop, observe, think / reflect, decide , act and evaluate.
You can also show her that the thinking process should include reflections before, during, and after the action. These are:
- Reflect on the task: what is it?
- Reflect on the plan , the method: how will I do it?
- Reflecting on following the plan: am I following the plan?
- Evaluate performance: how have I done it?
Through this technique, it is intended that the child becomes aware of his behavior and learns to reinforce himself when it is appropriate. Self-observation is also designed so that the child can perceive the relationships between their behaviors and their consequences.
On the other hand, it is also important to emphasize the inner language as a regulating element of the child, that is, to teach him to listen to that inner language, to adapt it to what he is doing, etc.
When we speak of inner language, we refer to what the child says to himself (either in the form of thought, or orally), when he performs a certain task.
The turtle technique
The turtle technique is very suitable for working with children with ADHD. It aims to promote the control of impulsive , disruptive or aggressive behaviors, should they appear.
It is usually used with children of preschool stage or those who are in the first two years of primary education. It encompasses relaxation techniques and problem solving, and is applied in several phases:
- Modeling the turtle position (teach this pose).
- Relaxation training (teaching to relax).
- Problem-solving training (teaching problem-solving techniques)
- Generalize the technique to different contexts (for example, home, school …).
Behavior modification techniques
Four techniques that go very well to improve ADHD symptoms, and that we can apply with our children, are positive reinforcement, extinction, the token economy (point system) and overcorrection.
Take care of communication
To help your child with ADHD, it is important that you take care of communication with him. Children or adolescents with the disorder do very well to have specific demands / orders made of them.
It is also important that you do not yell at him, that you call him by his name , that the speech is coherent, that the guidelines are clear and concise, etc.
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