Oh, What To Do, What To Do for Kids with ADHD
See Your Doctor Right Away
Does your child fidget for what seems like from now until kingdom come? Is your child more easily distracted than a squirrel in a tree full of nuts? Or how about chattering more incessantly than a cricket in the middle of the night?
If so, he or she may have ADHD, formerly known as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. According to the American Psychiatric Association, a medical doctor may diagnose a child as having ADHD if he or she presents a combined set of six symptoms from either the “inattentive” or the “impulsive” domains.1
“See your primary care provider.”
Symptoms of inattentiveness include: lacking attention to detail, disorganized work behavior, difficulty listening or concentrating, difficulty finishing tasks, frequently forgetting, difficulty remaining on task, easily distracted or often loses or misplaces things.
Symptoms of impulsiveness include constant fidgeting, difficulty sitting still, avoids leisurely play, talks excessively, has difficulty waiting in line, often interrupts others.
You’re Going to Need Some Special Help
“Finding the right ADHD treatment…is crucial to managing ADHD.”
With a diagnosis of ADHD behind you, your doctor might tell you your child is going to need some help, which might well include any number of medications and or therapies.
Medications will range from stimulants and cognitive-enhancers to anti-hypertensives. And therapy activities will be anything from support groups, cognitive behavior talk, anger management, psychoeducation, intervention, and family therapy to applied behavior analysis.
Doctors might also recommend that specialists get involved, including various clinical psychologists, psychiatrists or counselors.2
Medication Aside Here’s What to Expect in the Way of Therapy Activities
“…behavioral therapy can teach children skills that will continue to benefit them as they grow up.”
Caroline Miller, Child Mind Institute
In its most basic form, Behavioral Therapy (B.T.) is talking, thinking and listening about feelings and thoughts with a therapist. One of the most effective forms of B.T. is Sensory Therapy, which seeks to help to improve issues like impulsivity and hyperactivity. It is especially promising in treating weaknesses in coordination and organization.3
“Children naturally communicate through art and play, and art therapy gives them a useful, nonverbal approach to face these challenges.”
Stacey Nelson, ADDitude
Art therapy is especially effective in that it provides a means of communication for kids who find verbal or written communication difficult or even impossible. So much can be learned from drawing, coloring or painting. It is a means of expressing emotion that otherwise would not have seen the light of day. Art therapy is also good for improving motor control, memory, resolving conflict, mental flexibility, and sharing space.4
“Play is a child’s natural way of recovering from daily emotional upheavals.”
Ellen Kingley, ADDitude
Play is a good way to let off pent-up “steam.” Play is a good way to make order out of chaos. Play is a safe way to resolve inner conflict. Games are a way for kids to challenge themselves. Fantasy or simulation provides a way for kids to practice real life. Game playing with others can be a good way to build relationships. Following rules to a successful conclusion helps develop and establish productive executive functioning. Playing with toys and dolls and puppets too can be a safe and fun way to act out what before could not be said.4
“Research suggests that being outside…reduces the severity of ADHD symptoms in kids.”
Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
There’s just something about being out-of-doors. Body movement outside can naturally release tension more easily than any other activity. Jumping, running, biking, swimming, swinging, climbing…you name it, and it’s just plain good for you. There’s something healing by being out in the breeze, hearing nature’s sounds, seeing natural colors, and just plain being out in the open. Simple yard work even, gardening and just walking around, can make everything alright.5
“OT helps kids with ADHD improve certain skills, like…organization, physical coordination, ability to do everyday tasks…and control energy levels…”
Occupational Therapy (OT) aims at restoring and strengthening impaired capacities, like inner core (abdominal muscles) and sensory processing (related to response to stimuli regulation). It is also useful in helping to develop adaptive strategies re-establishing routines and habits, and coping strategies. There’s nothing like learning to balance better or to orient when in motion. Or even keeping a diary or a schedule.6,7
1. “What is ADHD?” American Psychiatric Association, 2016.
2. “Treatments for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder,” Health Zone, 2018.
3. “Therapy for ADHD” Kids Health, 2018.
4. “Parents’ Guide to Art Therapy Techniques” and “Play Therapy Techniques and Games,” Jeff Nelson, LCPC, Ellen Kingley with ADDitude, 2018.
5. “Outdoor Activities for Kids with ADHD,” Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S, Psych Central.
6. “How Occupational Therapy Helps Children with ADHD,” Kids First, 2018.
7. “Occupational Therapy for Children with ADHD,” WebMD, 2018.