WHAT IS ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental (brain developmental) disorders affecting children / young people. It is TOTALLY NORMAL for CYP to have periods where they lack concentration and / or appear to be hyperactive, however, a CYP with ADHD will not grow out of these episodes. The symptoms can be severe and can affect home life, social skills and schooling. Symptoms of ADHD tend to be noticed at an early age and may become more noticeable when a child's circumstances change, such as when they start school. The exact cause of ADHD is unknown, but the condition has been shown to run in families. Research has also identified a number of possible differences in the brains of people with ADHD when compared with those without the condition.
SYMPTOMS OF ADHD
ADHD is can be put into two categories:
Inattentiveness (difficulty focussing and concentrating), sometimes known as ADD and hyperactivity and impulsiveness. It is important to know that most CYP will have symptoms that would come under both categories
The main symptoms of inattentive type ADHD are:
A short attention span
Being easily distracted (can appear as a daydreamer)
Making silly mistakes
Losing possessions and appearing to forget information / instructions
Inability to stick to tasks that are not interesting to the CYP
The main symptoms of hyperactive / impulsive type ADHD are:
Not being able to sit still
Inability to concentrate for extended periods of time
A need to physically move
Inability to wait their turn (shouting out in class etc.)
Acting on impulse (without thinking)
Little or distorted sense of danger or a strong impulse that overrides the sense of danger
HOW IS ADHD DIAGNOSED?
The first thing is for parents / carers to talk to their GP or school. Both should suggest a period of about 10 weeks where we watch and wait, perhaps with some evidence collection such as behaviours / triggers noted. A referral to an evidence based parenting programme may also be made. This does NOT mean that the parent is doing something wrong; it teaches ways of helping a CYP who may have ADHD. Both of these things rule out whether it is normal development for the CYP. If the symptoms stay the same or get worse, a referral can be made to the community paediatricians to explore a diagnosis of ADHD.
Only a medical professional such a paediatrician can diagnose ADHD. Schools CANNOT make a diagnosis. A paediatrician will conduct a thorough assessment before a diagnosis. This may include collecting reports from significant people in the CYP's life such a school, parents/ carers / social workers etc.; a physical examination to rule out any other cause and discussion with parent / carer and CYP.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER DIAGNOSIS?
There are many ways to effectively treat ADHD without the need for medication, however, in some cases, medication is the most effective course of action. The medical professionals will decide on the correct treatment for the CYP. Please see the NHS website for further information about treatments.
HOW CAN I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT ADHD?
Please see here for further information. If you wish to print ADHD awareness cards, please click here (account set up is required).
HOW CAN I HELP IN SCHOOL?
Please see below for ideas on how to help.
Avoid overly bright and colourful or busy displays near to where the CYP is sitting
Sitting near a window or door can also cause distraction, however, be mindful that there may be a need to exit outside to de-escalate
Encourage focus on one thing
Keep classrooms and desks clutter free
Sitting at the back of a classroom may be easier as the CYP won't be turning around to see what is going on
Not listening or following instructions
Use the CYP's name before you ask a question
Use a visual or a pre agreed gesture to remind the CYP that they need to be listening
Break instructions into small steps and praise for completion of each one
Distract before redirecting to the task or instruction
Allow fiddling but agree the rules (no loud / dangerous or other distracting behaviours)
Provide 'action' breaks for the CYP to move
Teach some seated movements such as hands on chair lifting body off, chair bands etc
Monitor when this occurs most frequently and analyse for triggers
Pair with a quieter 'buddy'
Use a visual or pre agreed gesture to indicate that the CYP needs to stop
Headphones playing music (instrumental) can eliminate this - it can also make it worse as the CYP then shouts above the music
Losing and forgetting things
Provide the CYP with a checklist
Use a home-school diary to tell parents what the homework is or email information to parents
With missing homework, encourage the CYP to bring in something even if the homework isn’t complete
Provide a reminder after break times to check that uniform, possessions and equipment are in the correct places
Use timetables and timers for tasks
Unable to wait for their turn
Provide an individual whiteboard on which they can write their answers then hold it up to show the adult
Use non-verbal cues or visual reminders of expected behaviours.
Thank them for their contribution but quietly remind them of the class expectations regarding turn taking
Consider the use of theraplay strategies for turn taking when playing games
Not finishing things
Where possible, have regular times for classroom tasks, for example, work at desks, stories,
Break down large tasks into smaller chunks
Use visual resources to support tasks
Give clear deadlines for pieces of work, lists and regular reminders
Keep to a structure
Use a timer to set limits when taking turns in groups