We asked Alex Mabe, PhD, director, ADHD Program, Child, Adolescent and Family Psychiatry Division, to answer some common questions about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
Q. If parents are concerned that their child might have ADHD, what signs should they look for?
A. Three main features can indicate ADHD:
HYPERACTIVITY—child is excessively talkative, fidgety and has difficulty sitting still.
INATTENTION—child is easily distracted in classroom situations or when receiving instructions.
IMPULSIVITY—child tends to blurt out things in class, engages in risky behavior, or says inappropriate things in social or school situations.
These behaviors are more likely to be seen in the classroom, where there are more demands and more
children against whom to compare a child’s behavior. Teachers are frequently the first to notice these behaviors. Teachers and administrators have forms they can complete to catalog the behaviors to see if the child is outside of the normative range.
Of course, the child’s doctor should be consulted as well, to determine if the behavior is due to a medical condition, developmental problem, sensory problem or medication side effect(s). Only then can the child receive a correct diagnosis.
Q. What are the treatment options for ADHD?
A. There has been a lot of research on this topic. Medication management helps with core symptoms, but behavioral training can help with other aspects of the condition.
For example, some children have difficulty transitioning from one activity to another; so, in addition to medication for those with medium to severe symptoms, these kids can benefit from skill training so they can learn new ways to make the transition. Children with mild ADHD can also benefit from this training and might not need medication at all.
Q. Are there any general tips that can help families get through homework or chores, for example?
A. Parents must learn ways to help kids better regulate their behavior. There needs to be a consistent response to impulsive actions. As early as possible, kids should learn self-talk to help them manage their behavior. Parents can do this in a positive way. For example, if the child is going to a birthday party, talk through how he should behave ahead of time. (e.g., “What will you do when the cake comes out?”)
Q. How does the ADHD Program help patients and their families?
A. Our program is an eight-session series of behavioral training. We meet with children and parents in separate groups to teach them the coping mechanisms. We’re teaching the kids such things as friendship skills or how to react to teasing.
Meanwhile, we are teaching parents about anger management, how to structure supervision, how to deal with homework stresses and using contacts at the child’s school to get support that will help the child succeed.
We can help you focus
For more information about the ADHD Program, visit augustahealth.org/adhd or call 706-721-6597 to make an appointment.