If your child has difficulty paying attention in a way that adversely impacts his or her ability to learn, they may have ADHD. ADHD is often first suspected by attentive parents and teachers who notice these symptoms:
- Easily Distracted by Noises
- Difficulty Sitting Still
- Displays excessive excitement/protestation at changes in the routine
- Has difficulty transitioning from one task to another
- Leaves assignments incomplete
- Has difficulty coping with physical distress such as hunger, thirst, and mild bodily pains
These symptoms listed above are common symptoms that kids with ADHD may demonstrate in a school or home environment. A child with ADHD will experience these types of symptoms across environments, meaning their symptoms will not be confined to just occurring at home, or just occurring at school.
The following are suggestions for helping children with these types of symptoms to function more effectively and adaptively:
- Clear the child’s desk between assignments to minimize distractions and promote organization.
- When working on math problems, give the child one problem at a time, gradually increasing the amount to two or three at a time, rather than a full page of problems. Presenting many problems at once may overwhelm a child with attention problems.
- Limit choices in problem solving techniques to ones that the child has already demonstrated successfully, thereby teaching the child to rely on his or her strengths.
- Schedule breaks to allow the child to release pent up energy.
- Always make and maintain eye contact when giving simple, direct instructions. This promotes attentiveness.
- Provide incentives for completing assignments and also reward the ABSENCE of undesired behavior patterns. This creates an effective pattern of reinforcement.
- Let the child know what is expected of him/her when giving assignments, thus helping the child to focus on what is crucial to successfully completing the assignment.
- Make sure your child always understands the directions before beginning his or her work.
These suggestions can help a child with attention problems to function more effectively on in-class assignments as well as homework assignments. They can help manage the child’s difficulties, but do not represent successful treatment of their attention problems. In order to treat your child’s attention difficulties effectively, contact a mental health professional such as a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist to begin the assessment process to definitively determine an ADHD diagnosis. Correct assessment is crucial as many times a learning disability can appear to be ADHD, but their treatment options are actually vastly different.
Dr. Jared Maloff is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist working with adult, adolescent and child clients in Beverly Hills, CA. Dr. Maloff also conducts psychological testing for clinical, educational and forensic issues with both adults as well as children. This includes obtaining testing accommodations for standardized tests such as the SAT, LSAT, GMAT, Dental Boards, California State Bar Exam, and most others. Below is a listing of the diagnoses and symptoms that Dr. Maloff often treats in his clinical work:
ADHD, Adult ADHD, Asperger’s Disorder, Autism, Anxiety, Bereavement and Loss, Body Dysmorphia, Depression, Hypochondriasis, Learning Disabilities, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Problems with Motivation, Self Esteem Issues, Social Phobia, Somatization Disorders, Substance Abuse and Addiction, Trouble with Relationships. Learn more at www.beverlyhillspsychologist.com