Understanding your neurodiverse child with ADHD
Does your child seem to struggle in so many different situations?
Does learning seem difficult for them (unless it's something they are fixated on)?
Is your child able to attend incredibly well on their preferred topic, but can't maintain their attention on other things?
Some of these challenges may be due to your child experiencing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or another developmental delay.
This blog will be focusing on providing you with a better understanding of ADHD and why children with this diagnosis can find it overwhelming and difficult to understand the world around them.
What is ADHD?
Neurodiversity refers to the fact that all of our brains function differently. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects both children and adults. ADHD is complex neurological disorder that influences cognitive and behavioral functioning. It is characterized by a pattern of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that can significantly impact various aspects of a person's life, especially in relation to their ability to function effectively and independently. For some individuals cognitive processes work even more differently than the average person. This means our children see and experience the world through quite a different lens. Perhaps you are neurodiverse yourself and already have a certain level of understand as to how your child experiences the world.
What is going on for your child with ADHD?:
ADHD affects the brain's structure and function with studies showing that the differences in brain structure and wiring, particularly in areas related to attention, impulse control, and executive functions (how we organize information, execute tasks and control our behavior). In turn, this can effect children's ability to control and manage strong emotions compared to those without ADHD and other developmental delays.
But... that doesn't mean your child can't learn the skills needed to control emotions and impulses (even as adults we are often still learning these skills). It's important to know that children are not intentionally impulsive or reactive, rather their brains and bodies are responding differently to the environment and therefore need to learn skills to create new neural pathways. We can work with out children to set up the environment and create opportunities for them to make positive behavior changes.
How does ADHD effect your child?
Every individual experiences ADHD in a different way, however below are some common challenges that can be discussed.
Difficult Behaviors/ Impulse Control
Often children with ADHD are intelligent and have a good idea of what they want. However, they are not always using the most appropriate ways to get their way. They quickly learn that the more explosive a meltdown or the longer a tantrum is, the more likely they are to get their way. Another major reason for highly reactive behavioral outburst is that children with ADHD lack impulse control. They haven't learnt the tools to regulate their emotions and communicate their needs effectively.
Often, children with ADHD can be highly focused on preferred tasks or interests and you would never think there was any issue with attention. However, when it comes to tasks that don't involve their preferences, children have to use a greater amount of effort to stay engaged. Teaching techniques that are more likely to provide better outcomes for children with ADHD include those that incorporate more structure, predictability, repeated practice of a skill (so that it can become automatic and require less cognitive effort), positive reinforcement, choice and control, use of interests where possible, including different modes of learning (such as movement) and any other strategies that the child states helps them to learn.
Socializing often involves a high level of attention towards another person's body language, facial expression, tone of voice, and intonation. This can be a lot for our children to process, especially when these skills don't usually come naturally. Because of difficulties with attending (especially for something that the child is not interested in) children with ADHD may find it hard to pick up on subtle social cues and know how to respond. Impulsivity and inattentiveness can lead to misunderstandings and put a strain on social relationships.
Some children with ADHD have a higher or lower level of sensory perception. Becoming overwhelmed in busy, noisy or smelly environments can be a common occurrence for children with ADHD. Knowing how to cope with and manage the physical reaction to various stimuli is something that children can struggle to grasp. Slowly and respectfully giving children tools to manage sensory overload is key to them continuing to access the community and develop independence.
How can we improve the lives of our children with ADHD?
Our children have so much potential that when harnessed in the right way can lead to a happy, successful and meaningful life. Children with ADHD are often strong willed which is a fantastic trait that can be used to achieve greatness! My next blog will focus on how we can help our children to learn and grow, reduce frustration and meltdowns, and increase positive relationships.
If you are a parent of a child with ADHD and you want to learn practical tools to improve your child's learning and interactions, my upcoming 8-week online program is a fantastic way to do this.
You will get a more in depth understanding of behaviors, learn how to use calm parenting and learn how to teach your child skills including cooperation, waiting, coping with change. PLUS you will have regular live Q&A meetings with ME!
For more information go to: https://www.emued.com/product-page/busting-behaviors-8-week-online-program
For more information about ADHD and ADHD awareness month, check out the links below:
ADHD Awareness Month: https://www.adhdawarenessmonth.org/
Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: https://chadd.org/awareness-month/
A little bonus for you...
Here are a couple of books that I've used as part of helping children with ADHD to learn the skills they need to reach their full potential: