Help for attention and impulsivity problems

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD or ADHD), is also commonly referred to as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Children may:

  • only have symptoms of inattention (attention-deficit)
  • or, they may only have symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity
  • or, they may have a mix of inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms.

How can I tell if my child has Attention Deficits or Hyperactivity?

No single test can diagnose a child as having ADHD. Although your child may appear to have symptoms consistent with ADHD, it is important to complete a full assessment, which may involve (with parental consent) your psychologist liasing with your school, your paediatrician and/or your G.P.

Assessment includes ruling out a number of other factors which can lead to ADHD type symptoms, including vision and hearing problems, anxiety, sleep problems, parenting styles and learning difficulties.

If your child has ADHD symptoms which are causing problems at home or school, early intervention can help. Effective treatment can help your child learn lifelong skills to flourish. It can be frustrating to have ADHD symptoms, and to have an impulse control or attention system that is difficult to regulate.

Research indicates that children with ADHD receive a lot of criticism, even when they may be trying hard to do the right thing, which poses risks for self-esteem. Early intervention can help parents understand the challenges their child faces and this may benefit the parent-child relationship.

Get help for ADHD

ADHD or ADD is a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.

While it is normal and common for children to occasionally forget their homework, daydream during class, act without thinking, or get fidgety at the dinner table, ADHD is more than the occasional lapses.

Persistent problems with inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity are also signs of attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD) which can affect your child’s ability to learn, and your child’s ability to get along with others.

The age of onset is unclear, as it can be difficult to tease out ADHD from the large variation in toddler and preschool behaviours.Your child’s brain matures and develops rapidly – so rapidly that most experts agree that a definitive diagnosis of ADHD is often not possible prior to age 7.

ADHD symptoms are most commonly identified in the early school years, and many parents report that symptoms are present from birth.

It is important to monitor symptoms, and to re-evaluate and assess due to developmental changes. Your child’s brain does not reach full maturity until they are in their twenties. And even then, neuro-plastic change occurs across our lifetimes.

Worldwide, it is estimated that attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders affect around 5% of children and 2.5% of adults.

The most recent diagnostic guidelines (published in the DSM-5 (2013) requires that several symptoms be present before age 12 years.

Treatment can be very helpful. It may relieve many symptoms of ADHD, but there is currently no cure for this disorder. Although ADHD is often associated with stigma, there are some aspects of ADHD that may be strengths, such as hyperfocus.

With treatment, most people with ADHD can be successful in school and lead productive lives.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the gold standard first intervention worldwide, and includes a strong component of parent training. Medication can also play an important role, and our team at Mindworx Psychology often work in conjunction with Developmental Paediatricians and Child Psychiatrists to achieve optimum outcomes.

Ultimately, the choice of whether or not to medicate remains with the parents. Psychologists do not give advice on, or provide medication, our specialist area is psychological interventions.

The research tells us that there is less evidence for neuro-feedback, dietary approaches, supplements and complimentary therapies. As Clinical Psychologists, our focus is delivering treatments most likely to work to bring you the outcome you seek.

Your Psychologist will be happy to advise and support you with a range of strategies should you wish to try them.

For adults diagnosed in later life, understanding what ADHD is may lead to a deeper understanding of the self, and awareness of helpful strategies to reduce stress.

Children often have other problems that occur with their ADHD, such as learning difficulties.

Girls with attention difficulties may have their symptoms overlooked, as they may be seen to be day dreaming, or just be overlooked as they may not have symptoms of hyperactivity.

In addition, boys may more commonly have difficulties managing their temper, whereas girls more commonly have anxiety problems.

The simple answer to this is yes! We recommend that a thorough health assessment by a GP or Paediatrician, as well as vision and hearing checks. Many children with ADHD have other mental health problems such as anxiety, or learning difficulties, or conduct problems.

Your Psychologist will also talk with your school and other concerned individuals if necessary to get a full picture of the problem, and how it affects your specific child.

Although we are moving closer to understanding the risk factors for ADHD, and the developmental course of this neuro-atypical disorder, research continues.

Flexible, Comprehensive, Individually Tailored ADHD Assessments and Reports

We know one size does not fit everyone. Our testing is comprehensive - but as a practice we know that families have different reasons for seeking tests and diagnosis. We work to industry gold standards, but equally - we won't write or charge for extensive reports, or conduct a battery of tests if you don't need them. Our ADHD testing ranges from a gold standard assessment to check if your child meets the diagnostic criteria, to an indepth, comprehensive series of tests to check for any other learning difficulties or disorders. We'll discuss with you exactly what testing is necessary and useful for your situation.

Tips for Parenting Children with ADHD

Routines :

Try to keep the same routine every day, from wake-up time to bedtime. Use visual reminders.

Include time for homework, outdoor play, and indoor activities – and allow extra time to reduce stress.

Keep copies of your schedule on the fridge, or on a bulletin board in the kitchen.

Organise everyday items :

Have a place for everything, and keep everything in its place. This includes clothing, backpacks, and toys.

Use age appropriate labels and pictures.

Encourage children to complete tasks e.g. part of taking off shoes is putting them away in the right place

Be clear and consistent :

Children with ADHD need consistent rules they can understand and follow.

Having a neuro-atypical brain means that routines can be more challenging to learn. Make it easier by being as consistent as possible.

Give praise or rewards when rules are followed :

Children with ADHD often receive a lot of criticism, even when they may be trying their best.

Look for good behaviour, and praise it. Don’t wait for perfect, praise the attempt, praise the effort.

Be kind to yourself!

Parenting children with ADHD can be filled with joy, and it can also be complex, challenging, frustrating and demanding!

Make it a priority to build in time for yourself to recharge and refresh, even if it is just a five minute walk each day.

Get professional support.

It is important that children learn how to successfully master tasks. This can’t happen if they are placed in situations they are not able to cope with.

Professional advice can help you understand exactly what your child struggles with, and provide you and their teachers with strategies and solutions to help.