The Role of a Pediatrician in Supporting Children with ADHD
Children with ADHD can be a handful sometimes and even those not diagnosed with the condition get many-a-parent worried. Most children while running around and being noisy also often get easily distracted. There are also those kids that manifest these behaviors more frequently than others, and that may end up being attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Statistics show that about 9.4% of children in the United States between the ages of two years and seventeen years have ADHD. The same statistics reveal that boys tend to be affected more than girls.
Children with ADHD may have their lives negatively affected by their extreme behaviors. They also experience learning and language problems and some exhibit symptoms of mental disorders. In any case, you can always rely on your doctor for help and support.
Identifying and Diagnosing ADHD
You might be worried if you’re unsure whether your child has ADHD. The American Academy of Pediatrics provided guidelines for pediatricians to help parents figure out.
Even so, it isn’t easy to diagnose ADHD, particularly for kids less than four years or even teenagers since they’re still growing. There is no definitive test yet to determine ADHD.
The diagnostic process entails various steps, which involve many people for the pediatrician to get an overview of what may be causing your child’s behavior issues.
You can also observe if your child displays extreme inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity. When you notice these signs, work with your child’s doctor for better management.
Your child may not be able to pay attention to a single thing, making his mind all over the place, much like a squirrel trying to keep track of a million nuts at once. He gets sidetracked while playing or doesn’t care about details. Also, he tends to be forgetful.
There are instances when the symptoms are getting in the way of their daily activities. Try to explore whether your child may have symptoms of ADHD. They also struggle with organization, losing essential items, or avoiding tasks that require mental effort.
Does your kid seem like they're always on the go, wiggling and fidgeting in every direction? Are they prone to running, jumping, and climbing even when they're not supposed to? And how about the chatterbox factor, it feels like they never stop talking!
Yes, the energy of your child is remarkable but it can be hard for them to sit still and focus, or simply be quiet because it is needed. With all these symptoms showing, consider having your child checked for ADHD.
If your kid has a tendency to act or speak without thinking things through, or they seem running on pure instinct, even if it means running into the street without checking for traffic first, then they may be too impulsive.
This fearless spirit can be tough for your kid to navigate social situations, take turns, and follow rules. If your little one is struggling with impulsive behavior like blurting out answers or interrupting others, it might be worth exploring whether ADHD is playing.
Other Tests for ADHD
Up to now, there are no definitive tests that can help diagnose whether a child has ADHD or not. Health experts presented theories but there was a lack of research to support their claims.
There are diagnostics like checking lead levels in the blood or looking into thyroid problems. Brain imaging is also considered but not mainly to diagnose ADHD but rather as a recommended test to rule out other possibilities.
Pediatrician’s Treatment Plan
When you consult your pediatrician regarding the behavior of your child, the first thing they may ask you is how your little one is doing overall. Aside from you, the doctor wanted to know other people who spend time with your child, such as a caregiver.
The pediatrician is trying to get a sense of how your child is compared to other kids their age. The doctor isn’t trying to judge your little one because, after all, there is no perfect way for how kids should behave.
The pediatrician gathers all the information they can use in the diagnosis. Your child may be different, showing a unique personality, and that’s what makes your little one interesting.
The pediatrician checks the vital measurements of your little one such as height and weight. A neurological exam may be done to check your child’s brain development.
There might be other factors that may be affecting your child’s behavior. There may be instances the doctor will address your child directly. The process seems a lot to deal with but it is necessary for the best possible outcome.
How Parents Can Help
As a parent, your doctor will mostly rely on the information you give about your child’s behavior. This is crucial for the doctor to better understand your child’s condition. He will ask about the symptoms observed and how long you have been seeing such.
The pediatrician follows a checklist or a rating scale as a guide during the interview. The family’s medical history is also considered for genetic predispositions.
Even if your child is diagnosed with ADHD, work with your child’s doctor to come up with a treatment plan tailored to the specific behavior issues of your child.
Treatment and Outcomes
In managing the symptoms, there are several treatment options to collaborate with your pediatrician. It involves follow-up activities and continuous monitoring of your child.
Continuous management is needed to keep things under control. It will include medication, parent training in behavior management, and individual or family counseling. Apart from you, your child’s school and caregivers are also involved.
With a team working to help your child be the best they can be, there is a greater chance for you to see the possible outcomes.
- Better relationships with their loved ones and friends. They argue less with their siblings or get invited to hang out with their pals.
- Doing better in school, completing assignments independently, and getting ready for school in the morning without supervision.
- Stronger sense of self-worth, like feeling confident they can get their work done. Also, less disruptive behaviors, like fewer times not following rules.
- Most importantly, you also want them to be safer in the community, like crossing the street with caution.
Ensure these target outcomes are realistic and doable. The treatment plan will be designed to help your child achieve these goals.
Strategies for Managing ADHD Symptoms
Catch them being good!
When your child has ADHD, you often see them in trouble. But, try to notice the times they’ve done good, and when you do, praise them. Make a rule that for every criticism, you have to praise your child five times more.
Keep it simple.
Ensure that you get the full attention of your child when you give instructions. If they are still small or toddlers, get down to their level to make eye contact. Give them a gentle tap on the arm.
Keep your directions brief and on point. No need to overload them with a bunch of instructions or questions.
Healthy habits beget happy kids.
To effectively manage the symptoms, foster healthy habits in your child. Encourage a healthy diet and drink water, or do physical exercises with them. If your little one needs is taking medicines, ensure they’re taking it properly.
Routines are your friends.
Kids with ADHD thrive on structure and routine. Work with your child to create a checklist for chores, getting ready for bed or school, and homework. Use a timer to help them stay on track and take brain breaks if needed.
Find a quiet, comfortable spot for homework and encourage them to use a planner to stay organized.
Friends and family are everything.
A strong social connection with the small network your kid has is important. Help your child make at least one close friend and set up playdates or activities to get them involved with other kids.
Also, spend time with your child without any distractions. And most importantly, be a good role model.
Supporting Your Child's Academic and Social Success
For your child’s academic success, here are a few pieces of advice:
- Let him sit at the front and center in class to avoid distractions.
- Ditch their phone when it's homework time.
- Let the teacher know about their ADHD. Your child may need extra time on tests or a quiet place to work. Teachers are there to help your little one!
- Use tools that can keep your child organized. A planner or phone app can help your kid keep track of assignments, activities, and anything else you need to remember.
- Get moving! Exercise every day helps to focus and feel better in school.
- Let your child take breaks as necessary. This helps them to better focus when they return to studying.
- Mindfulness meditation helps improve your child’s attention and reduce stress.
- Focus on your child’s strengths! They’re more than their ADHD, and there are many amazing things about them. Let them spend time doing the things they love, and hanging out with people who appreciate them for who they are.
The Role of a Pediatric Subspecialist or Mental Health Clinician
After the pediatrician conducts the initial tests for a relevant diagnosis, the next step is whether they recommend you to a specialist. Typically, the doctor is on the lookout for the following::
- Speech or motor problems, which make the child have a tough time learning.
- Chronic illness that's being treated with medications that could potentially affect the child’s learning.
- Vision or hearing problems, or a history of abuse.
- Symptoms of anxiety or depression, or showing intense aggression.
- Other possibilities such as seizures or sleep disorders.
A Bettter and Brighter Life for your Child with ADHD
For parents with a child with ADHD, the challenges may seem endless. You can do various ways to help your child deal with their symptoms. From there, your child will eventually progress.
For physically impulsive children, some changes around the house spell a lot. Some benefit from having an orderly physical environment, while others find keeping things organized to be a last recourse.
Daily routines are a must. Set limits with consequences that your child is already aware of. If your child needs to keep track of what they need to do, give them a checklist which is a good habit that they can get used until they are grown.
Think of your growing child as a construction project in progress when figuring out how to structure their daily experiences. The limits, lists, routines, and other measures you're drawing up today are like scaffolds that provide necessary support as they develop.
As your child transforms these routines into daily habits, they develop self-direction, and the supports are gradually removed while their underlying function remains in place.
By organizing and structuring your child's world, you're not babying them, but allowing them to add to their competencies. Praise their small victories, hence, increasing their self-esteem.
While it is true that there is no cure for ADHD, it’s definitely possible for your child to have a better life. Just set achievable goals and celebrate every win you make.
Rest assured that your pediatrician at Omega Pediatrics is your pillar as you navigate your challenging parenting journey for your child with ADHD. It’s our joy to see happy and fulfilled parents in their never-ending quest for a better life with their ADHD baby.