Stop me if this sounds familiar:
You’re getting nervous calls from teachers about your child being a “distraction” to the other students. At home, they would rather use their mac n’ cheese dinner to make surprisingly detailed imitation Picassos than… you know, eat it. And their late-night antics would drive the Energizer Bunny to exhaustion.
Something is off. The signs (and spills) are beginning to pile up. You’re hopeful that it’s just a stage, maybe a symptom of youthful exuberance. However, despite these hopes the thought still enters your mind:
“Is my child okay?”
Let me reassure you: even if it is ADHD, the sky is not falling just yet, Chicken Little. Allow me to explain.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a disorder characterized by a difficulty to focus for prolonged periods as well as hyperactive and impulsive behaviour. From Michael Phelps to Justin Timberlake, numerous people have been able to thrive despite their diagnosis.
I know that doesn’t make it any less scary when you suspect that your child has ADHD. It’s yet another obstacle they’ll have to overcome in a world that already feels stacked against them.
Luckily, ADHD intervention services are plentiful in the modern world. Not only are there dedicated psychologists for children with ADHD, but various treatment options are available that you can personalize to your child’s unique needs.
How Therapists Can Diagnose ADHD in Children
Most Canadian psychologists base the ADHD diagnosis procedure on the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or the DSM-IV. While this guideline was developed by the American Psychiatric Association, the Medical Council of Canada still advocates for its use in large part. Thanks for the assist, neighbours!
The DSM-IV outlines a detailed procedure for what to look for to spot ADHD, but this can be boiled down to checklists for inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive behaviour.
It’s worth noting that many conditions must be met for diagnosis. A mac n’ cheese incident or two isn’t cause for concern, as most children will exhibit some degree of this behaviour. The real question is how many they exhibit relative to other children that determine the diagnosis.
Treatment Options and Counselling Styles For ADHD in Children
You’ve talked to the doctor, the diagnosis is in. From this point forward, you are most likely looking at drug interventions and/or behavioural therapy.
Drug interventions have been known to dial back a lot of the symptoms of ADHD. However, many parents are a bit worried about the noted side-effects of popular ADHD medications. Dizziness, nausea, and even anxiety have been known to come up from time to time.
Everyone’s body is different, and no one wants to force medication that isn’t working. If you’re worried that your child will not (or, to this point, has not) respond well to ADHD medication, you’re actually in luck. In general, most therapists will try some form of cognitive-behavioural therapy, with or without drug intervention.
This treatment aims to talk to the child and help them understand their behaviour and work with them to correct it. After helping the child understand their behaviour, an intervention plan is developed.
The process is a bit nuanced, but the ultimate goal is to reinforce positive behaviours. For instance, your child is a lot more likely to pay attention in class if they know doing that will help punch their ticket to Disneyland.
These days, there are numerous ways you can treat your child’s ADHD. So don’t be all doom and gloom when you’re looking at your child’s cheesy rendition of Starry Night… even if the canvas happens to be your living room walls.
Please note: I am not a child psychologist, but this information is here to share with my experiences or from my conversations with other Edmonton parents who have been able to share their experiences. I do suggest consulting professional within the field for specific solutions which may be of benefit to you and your family.