| Diagnosis | Education | Counselling | Medication |
| Alternatives | Management | 25 good things about having A.D.D. |
If you feel that you, or someone you know, suffers from the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder to a degree that interferes with school or job performance, there are certain steps that you can take. You can ask your health unit or your doctor for information. A teacher might be able to put you in touch with another parent. It is important to get all the information you can. Learn to ask questions!
These notes are based on the shared experiences of participants in the pilot study circles and the video:
Phelan, T.W. All About Attention Deficit Disorder, Part II, Diagnosis and Treatment.
First and most important - find a doctor who knows something about A.D.D. If your doctor is not familiar with the disorder, request a referral to one who is. Many physical, emotional and situational problems can masquerade as A.D.D. On the other hand most A.D.D. kids will sit still in the doctor's office because it's interesting, intimidating and one-on-one, and not display the symptoms that sent you looking for help. Expect the doctor to take a team approach and work with the parents and the child for the best results. Information will have to be gathered from a lot of dilterent places:
- Parents presenting complaints
- Developmental history
- Family history
- Connor's or other questionnaire
- School report cards with teacher comments back to kindergarten, achievement tests and teacher observations
- Child interview
- Psychological testing - optional. Some A.D.D. kids wll do fine and some will act up. If you do it be sure you get the behavioural part.
- Physical exam - You want to know if there is a physical problem, particularly with vision or hearing.
- Neurological testing cannot be a definitive test for A.D.D.
Some A.D.D. kids:
- have good social skills
- are shy
- have high IQ and get good grades
- have no hyperactivity
- if an only child with attentive parents and no sibling rivalry, A.D.D. may not be noticed until in school.
Look at the whole picture of the child and look for the eight characteristics common to A.D.D. children
It is up to the parents to do the very best they can for their child. They must become the experts. They must deal with the family, the school and the child. Only they can make the decision about medication. Only they know what is best for their child.
Learn all you can about the disorder.
Read about it. There are many good books about A.D.D. Those listed in this package are all recommended by parents.
Talk about it.
Contact a resource.
The Calgary Learning Centre
3930 20th St. SW
Calgary, AB T2T 4Z9
(403)686-9300 fax: (403)686-0627
Their mandate is to provide services to individuals and organizations that are dealing with learning difficulties and disorders. They offer workshops, doctors, psychologists, parent support and access to their library of books and videos. A call to their switchboard will put you in touch with someone who can help you.
Children's Services Centre
#401 5000 Gaetz Avenue
Red Deer, AB T4N 6C2
(403)340-2606 fax: (403)340-2615
They do an in-centre play-based assessment of children's behaviour. They have an ADHD evening parent support group. For $5 a year you can borrow books and videos from their library including Dr. Souveny's workshops on tape. You can book a Souveny workshop for your community. His book ABC's For Success and the Centre's book Promoting Positive Behaviour each cost $15. A phone call to their receptionist will put you in touch with Dr. Souveny if he is available at that time. They will send out information to you or phone you back.
The Family Centre
1010 4th Ave. S.
Lethbridge, AB T1J OP5
A call to their receptionist will put you in touch with someone who can help you. They will mail out information about their services. You can borrow books from their library. They run a support group and information series for eight weeks, spring and fall. You can make an appointment to talk with one of their workers one-on-one or you can phone and talk to a worker. If everyone is busy they will get back to you within 48 hours.
Get information and deal with your feelings. Counselling can help you handle the fear, guilt and anger.
Support is crucial! Support groups are invaluable. Share the load. There is so much comfort to be had in a group of people sharing problems and solutions. It helps to talk about it and get back in touch with the good things that you do.
Individual counselling for the child, social skills training, self control training are controversial. They may be of some benefit if the child bonds with the therapist.
Whether or not to use medication is a decision for the parents to make. You have to decide what is best for your child. It has to do a lot of good and must not make the child feel bad. Stimulant medication with Ritalin is the most common treatment. 75% of genuine A.D.D. children respond well to Ritalin - 25% very well, 25% well and 25% mildly. It is not usually given to children under the age of six.
Have good honest discussions between the child, the doctor and the parents so all understand what the medication win and will not do. It is not a miracle cure. It helps concentration and controls impulsivity.
Possible positive effects:
- They will have periods where they can settle down and concentrate
- The medication can be coordinated with the school day to take advantage of these windows of opportunity to study and leam.
- Impulsivity can be reduced because the child takes the time to think.
Possible negative effects:
- Appetite suppressed. The child may not eat much breakfast or lunch if he is taking Ritalin morning and noon but will probably eat non stop from after school to bed time.
- Insomnia, if taken too close to bed time.
- Headache or stomach ache usually diminish over time.
- Sadness, anxiety or irritability.
- A very few become more hyperactive
- Tics - very few. Usually other conditions are present.
- Only about 3% have enough bad side effects to quit the medication.
Over the long term:
- 25% of kids can discontinue after two years and 50% after 4 years.
- On the other hand, regular use can continue right through graduate school.
- Medicationis usually stopped for summer vacation unless the child has a major social or behavioural problem.
- As the child matures he/she usually learns strategies to cope with the disorder.
There are other medications used to treat A.D.D. If Ritalin is not for you, consider other options with the help of your doctor.
DONT EVER STOP READING, ASKING QUESTIONS AND TALKING TO OTHERS
There may be help for you in the health food store. A number of books, pamphlets and articles are available dealing with hyperactivity and reactions to foods and food additives. They offer suggestions for changing and supplementing diet and modifying lifestyle to help the hyperactive child.
Recommended by participants in the A.D.D. study circle are:
Crook, Dr. William Help for the Hyperactive Child. Professional Books, Jackson, Tenn.
Feingold, Dr. Benjamin. (1975). Why Your Child is Hyperactive. Random House.
- Desk placement up front closely mimics one-on-one and eliminates a lot of distractions.
- Use attention getting strategies such as eye contact, speaking short messages and attention checks -"What did I just say?"
- Keeping on task with non-verbal reminder signals such as a touch on the child's shoulder.
- Structure the classroom so things happen at the same time and the same way all the time.
- Special education class will benefit some kids.
- Avoid tutoring your own child. The stress often does more harm than good. Get someone else to help him with his homework.
You make extra work for the school but you have to get the best possible care for your child. Don't let anyone talk you out of that.
Set your child up for success. Learn positive strategies for parenting which, incidentally, work well for all children.
Recommended by participants in the study circle are:
1-2-3 Magic by Dr. Phelan
ABC's For Success by Dr. Souveny
| A.D.D. Kids in School | Concerns | Coping Strategies |
25 good things about having A.D.D.
- Lots of energy
- Willing to try things - take risks
- Ready to talk, can talk a lot
- Get along well with adults
- Can do several things at one time
- Need less sleep
- Good sense of humour
- Very good at taking care of younger kids
- See details that other people miss
- Understand what its like to be teased or to be in trouble so are understanding of other kids
- Can think of different and new ways to do things
- Volunteer to help others
- Happy and enthusiastic
- Imaginative, creative
- Articulate - can say things well
- Sensitive - compassionate
- Eager to make new friends
- Great memory
- More fun to be with than most kids
- Warm and loving
- Care a lot about families
List compiled at Learning Centre Summer Camp,
Calgary, Alberta for Children with ADD,
July 1992, by Staff and Parents