What are the signs of ADHD, and what are the options when it comes to treatment? Is medication the only answer? Clinical Psychologist Leia Redman explains.
Symptoms of ADHD
The symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are characterised into three groups:
- Inattention – For example, careless mistakes on school work, homework or other things your child does; difficulty sustaining their attention on tasks or games; difficulty listening and easily distracted; difficulty following through on instructions or completing set tasks; difficulty organising themselves for outings or activities; loses things they need such as school books, pencils, toys etc.
- Hyperactivity – fidgety; constantly being on the go; difficulty playing quietly; often talks excessively.
- Impulsivity – The child may answer a question before the person has finished asking it; have difficulty waiting their turn; and often butt into conversations
If your child exhibits these symptoms it may be time to seek professional advice regarding an assessment and to consider treatment options.
Treatment Options for ADHD
With regards to helping parents, I teach the 123 Magic Program, which is an effective discipline system for all children in the household (please see my article on “Parent Strategies that Work” for more information). During sessions with parents we also address any questions they may have; work through teething problems associated with implementing the 123 Magic program; address the importance of patience and routine; and also look at parenting with acceptance and emotional validation.
With regards to helping the child with ADHD, we work on areas such as:
- Emotional Regulation;
- Relaxation Techniques;
- Anger Management;
- Learning to request help;
- Conflict Resolution;
- Social Skills;
- Self-Esteem; and
- Tips for Coping in the classroom (e.g. organisation skills, sitting in front of the class etc.).
Time is spent with parents to provide feedback on the sessions, so strategies can be reinforced at home or passed on to teachers at school.
We may also set aside some time for joint sessions to work on the relationship between parent and child.
Is Medication Necessary?
This is a tricky subject, often with mixed opinions. Considering medication for your child at such a young age is a difficult decision as a parent. Firstly, it may be helpful to exhaust all other aspects of treatment for your child, before considering medication management. These include:
- Understanding and implementing a consistent discipline program to gain stability and routine in the household and manage challenging behaviour (please see my page on Parenting Strategies that Work);
- Implementing healthier eating habits for your child with ADHD (eg less preservatives, colourings, additives etc) and speaking with a health professional can help to achieve this;
- Lastly, individual therapy sessions for your child to learn coping strategies may be beneficial (addressed in the treatment section above).
If after implementing the above strategies your child’s behaviour is still impacting their functioning academically, socially and at home, it may be time to consider medication management with a Paediatrician or Child Psychiatrist. Perhaps discussing a trial on the medication to see how their behaviour progresses, could be beneficial.
As the parent, you are in control of your child’s wellbeing, if you are not happy with the progress or the way your child may be responding to the medication then address with your consulting doctor as soon as possible. You are your child’s voice.
For more information or to get started with therapy, I welcome you to make an appointment with me.
Leia focuses on clinical child and adolescent psychology, although she can treat individuals and couples of all ages. She has training and experience in a variety of evidence based treatment approaches.
To make an appointment with Clinical Psychologist Leia Redman try Online Booking – Loganholme or call M1 Psychology (Loganholme) on (07) 3067 9129.
- Mash, E. J., & Barkley, R. J. (2003). Child Psychopathology. 2nd New York: Guilford Press.
- Taylor, J. F. (2006). The Survival Guide for kids with ADD or ADHD. Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing.