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  • Writer's pictureErica Klein Grasp Reading

Navigating ADHD: A Journey of Tough Decisions


It is not uncommon for students with reading challenges like dyslexia to have what is called "comorbidities" or, in plain English - more than just "one thing" going on. While they are not directly linked, it is estimated that about 3 in 10 people with Dyslexia also have ADHD. There is still a lot of stigma and misunderstanding around both ADHD and Dyslexia which can cause a lot of confusion and stress for parents who simply want to do the right thing. Although I have plenty of experience working with children who have these diagnoses, it it is not something I have experienced as a parent, so I asked a friend and client if they would be willing to share their story. I am excited to share this guest post from a parent who has (and is) navigating the world of ADHD with their child. This parent has asked to remain anonymous to protect their child's privacy. (I have changed all pronouns to them/their to provide more anonymity.)


Here is their story...

 

Deciding whether to give our child medication for ADHD was one of the most challenging experiences we've faced as parents. It felt like we were treading a complex path filled with questions and concerns about what was best for our child. We want to share our journey in the hopes that it might help others facing similar decisions. Our journey began when our child was in grade one. We started noticing signs that something wasn't quite right. He had a short attention span, was easily distracted, and exhibited behaviors like making careless mistakes in schoolwork, appearing forgetful, and struggling to stick to tasks that required focus. Hyperactivity and impulsiveness were also apparent. These signs included being unable to sit still, fidgeting constantly, talking excessively, and acting without thinking. It was clear that something was amiss. We took the first step by consulting a healthcare provider to evaluate our child for ADHD. This assessment served as the foundation of our decision-making process, helping us confirm that our child indeed had ADHD, a condition that was affecting various aspects of their life, both at school and at home. Our child displayed the classic symptoms of ADHD – hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and inattention. These symptoms took a toll on their school performance and strained our family life. We realized that we needed to explore different interventions to support them. We discovered that there are two primary approaches to help children with ADHD. One focuses on teaching them essential skills to manage their behavior, while the other aims to improve their organizational and focusing abilities. Medication can alleviate some of the symptoms, but it doesn't provide these crucial life skills. So, we made the decision to combine medication with behavior therapy to provide a more comprehensive approach to treatment. Medication can help children manage their ADHD symptoms in their everyday life and can help them control the behaviors that cause difficulties with family, friends, and at school. Several different types of medications are approved to treat ADHD in children as young as 6 years of age: - **Stimulants**: These are the best-known and most widely used ADHD medications. Between 70-80% of children with ADHD have fewer symptoms when taking these fast-acting medications. - **Nonstimulants**: Approved for the treatment of ADHD in 2003, nonstimulants do not work as quickly as stimulants, but their effect can last up to 24 hours. Medications can affect children differently and may have side effects, such as decreased appetite or sleep problems. One child may respond well to one medication but not to another. Healthcare providers who prescribe medication may need to try different medications and doses. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that healthcare providers observe and adjust the medication dose to find the right balance between benefits and side effects. It is crucial for parents to work closely with their child's healthcare providers to find the medication that works best for their child. A significant aspect of our ADHD journey involved parent training. We learned how to interact with our child in ways that encouraged positive behavior. This not only improved our relationship with them but also had a positive impact on their behavior, both at home and at school. We explored various parent training methods. These programs taught us effective strategies to catch when our child was using the strategies well and maintaining consistent boundaries. As a result, we saw improvements in their behavior, fewer arguments, better parent-child interactions, and reduced stress. At school, a system called the "Daily Report Card" was put in place to help our child. It set specific goals for their behavior, provided feedback, and rewarded them for meeting these goals. Collaborating closely with teachers is crucial to making this system work effectively. Our child also received support to enhance their attention and organizational skills. He is learning to use checklists, set deadlines, and manage their assignments with the help of a planner. As our child grows older, we will continue to seek help, especially as he enters middle and high school. We, along with specialists, will help them develop strategies for studying, note-taking, and managing their time and assignments effectively. We found this book helpful: Richard Gallagher and 2 more The Organized Child: An Effective Program to Maximize Your Kid's Potential--in School and in Life Throughout this journey, we made sure to help our child understand why these skills were important. Kids with ADHD often need to see the benefits of their efforts. Showing them the rewards helped motivate them to persevere. But it's important to acknowledge that these therapies demand hard work from everyone involved – parents, teachers, and the child. Parent training, in particular, requires a significant investment of time and effort. However, the results are worth it, as parents gain confidence in their ability to support their child effectively. Discipline is a crucial aspect of managing ADHD, and it begins with parents' personal discipline. It might be tempting to yell when your child is in the middle of a tantrum or refuses to listen, but losing your temper rarely works with children with ADHD. Modeling calm behavior is essential, as children inevitably respond to their parents' behaviors. Taking a moment for relaxation and deep breathing exercises can be highly beneficial. Consistency and routine play a vital role in preventing outbursts before they start. For children with ADHD, routine and structure are crucial. This includes maintaining regular schedules for school, homework, extracurricular activities, time with friends, and bedtimes. A balanced diet and consistent exercise also help manage ADHD symptoms. Adequate sleep is equally important, as poor sleep quality and daytime sleepiness can impact executive functioning in teens with ADHD. When it comes to discipline, it's essential to understand the difference between discipline, consequences, and punishment. Discipline is proactive and allows children to be in control of their behaviors within a clear framework of expectations. Positive behaviors are rewarded, and negative behaviors result in consequences related to the specific problem. ADHD behavior management plans are a well-respected strategy for discipline. In contrast, punishment is reactive and takes control from the child, placing it in the hands of adults who choose the outcomes of their decisions. Timeout, for example, is an example of discipline rather than punishment when used carefully. Choosing a parenting framework that works for your family is essential. Collaborative and Proactive Solutions (CPS) offer valuable strategies for discipline. CPS involves active participation of children in problem-solving and reframing expectations. We use approaches like "time in," which involves reflection and discussion about problems. In our journey, we've learned that navigating ADHD requires patience, commitment, and understanding. It's a complex path filled with challenges, but with the right support and strategies, children with ADHD can thrive and build essential life skills for their future.

Deciding whether to give our child medication for ADHD was one of the most challenging experiences we've faced as parents. It felt like we were treading a complex path filled with questions and concerns about what was best for our child. We want to share our journey in the hopes that it might help others facing similar decisions. Our journey began when our child was in grade one. We started noticing signs that something wasn't quite right. He had a short attention span, was easily distracted, and exhibited behaviors like making careless mistakes in schoolwork, appearing forgetful, and struggling to stick to tasks that required focus. Hyperactivity and impulsiveness were also apparent. These signs included being unable to sit still, fidgeting constantly, talking excessively, and acting without thinking. It was clear that something was amiss. We took the first step by consulting a healthcare provider to evaluate our child for ADHD. This assessment served as the foundation of our decision-making process, helping us confirm that our child indeed had ADHD, a condition that was affecting various aspects of their life, both at school and at home. Our child displayed the classic symptoms of ADHD – hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and inattention. These symptoms took a toll on their school performance and strained our family life. We realized that we needed to explore different interventions to support them. We discovered that there are two primary approaches to help children with ADHD. One focuses on teaching them essential skills to manage their behavior, while the other aims to improve their organizational and focusing abilities. Medication can alleviate some of the symptoms, but it doesn't provide these crucial life skills. So, we made the decision to combine medication with behavior therapy to provide a more comprehensive approach to treatment. Medication can help children manage their ADHD symptoms in their everyday life and can help them control the behaviors that cause difficulties with family, friends, and at school. Several different types of medications are approved to treat ADHD in children as young as 6 years of age: - **Stimulants**: These are the best-known and most widely used ADHD medications. Between 70-80% of children with ADHD have fewer symptoms when taking these fast-acting medications. - **Nonstimulants**: Approved for the treatment of ADHD in 2003, nonstimulants do not work as quickly as stimulants, but their effect can last up to 24 hours. Medications can affect children differently and may have side effects, such as decreased appetite or sleep problems. One child may respond well to one medication but not to another. Healthcare providers who prescribe medication may need to try different medications and doses. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that healthcare providers observe and adjust the medication dose to find the right balance between benefits and side effects. It is crucial for parents to work closely with their child's healthcare providers to find the medication that works best for their child. A significant aspect of our ADHD journey involved parent training. We learned how to interact with our child in ways that encouraged positive behavior. This not only improved our relationship with them but also had a positive impact on their behavior, both at home and at school. We explored various parent training methods. These programs taught us effective strategies to catch when our child was using the strategies well and maintaining consistent boundaries. As a result, we saw improvements in their behavior, fewer arguments, better parent-child interactions, and reduced stress. At school, a system called the "Daily Report Card" was put in place to help our child. It set specific goals for their behavior, provided feedback, and rewarded them for meeting these goals. Collaborating closely with teachers is crucial to making this system work effectively. Our child also received support to enhance their attention and organizational skills. He is learning to use checklists, set deadlines, and manage their assignments with the help of a planner. As our child grows older, we will continue to seek help, especially as he enters middle and high school. We, along with specialists, will help them develop strategies for studying, note-taking, and managing their time and assignments effectively. We found this book helpful: Richard Gallagher and 2 more The Organized Child: An Effective Program to Maximize Your Kid's Potential--in School and in Life Throughout this journey, we made sure to help our child understand why these skills were important. Kids with ADHD often need to see the benefits of their efforts. Showing them the rewards helped motivate them to persevere. But it's important to acknowledge that these therapies demand hard work from everyone involved – parents, teachers, and the child. Parent training, in particular, requires a significant investment of time and effort. However, the results are worth it, as parents gain confidence in their ability to support their child effectively. Discipline is a crucial aspect of managing ADHD, and it begins with parents' personal discipline. It might be tempting to yell when your child is in the middle of a tantrum or refuses to listen, but losing your temper rarely works with children with ADHD. Modeling calm behavior is essential, as children inevitably respond to their parents' behaviors. Taking a moment for relaxation and deep breathing exercises can be highly beneficial. Consistency and routine play a vital role in preventing outbursts before they start. For children with ADHD, routine and structure are crucial. This includes maintaining regular schedules for school, homework, extracurricular activities, time with friends, and bedtimes. A balanced diet and consistent exercise also help manage ADHD symptoms. Adequate sleep is equally important, as poor sleep quality and daytime sleepiness can impact executive functioning in teens with ADHD. When it comes to discipline, it's essential to understand the difference between discipline, consequences, and punishment. Discipline is proactive and allows children to be in control of their behaviors within a clear framework of expectations. Positive behaviors are rewarded, and negative behaviors result in consequences related to the specific problem. ADHD behavior management plans are a well-respected strategy for discipline. In contrast, punishment is reactive and takes control from the child, placing it in the hands of adults who choose the outcomes of their decisions. Timeout, for example, is an example of discipline rather than punishment when used carefully. Choosing a parenting framework that works for your family is essential. Collaborative and Proactive Solutions (CPS) offer valuable strategies for discipline. CPS involves active participation of children in problem-solving and reframing expectations. We use approaches like "time in," which involves reflection and discussion about problems. In our journey, we've learned that navigating ADHD requires patience, commitment, and understanding. It's a complex path filled with challenges, but with the right support and strategies, children with ADHD can thrive and build essential life skills for their future.


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