Archive for the ‘ADHD’ Category

ADULT ADHD/ADD

      A few months ago, I wrote a blog, Does My Child Have ADHD?,  helping to answer parent’s questions and listing the guidelines to better help parents make the most informed decisions regarding their child. Since the posting of that blog in April of 2010, I have become aware of the fact that if diagnosed with childhood ADHD/ADD, chances are, you’ve carried at least some of the symptoms into adulthood. But for those that were never diagnosed with ADHD/ADD as a child, that doesn’t mean you can’t be affected by it as an adult. For some people, adult ADHD causes significant problems that improve with treatment. For some adults, you may have been able to compensate for the symptoms of ADHD/ADD when you were young, only to run into problems as your responsibilities increase. The more things you are putting on your plate-getting a college education, working, raising a family, running a household-the greater the demand on your abilities to organize, focus and remain calm. It can be stressful for anyone but if you have ADHD/ADD, it can feel downright impossible and everyday tasks can be a real challenge. 

     In adults, attention deficit discorder often looks quite different than it does in children- and its symptoms are unique for each person. Adult ADHD/ADD symptoms can include:

  • Trouble focusing or concentrating
  • Chronic procrastination or trouble getting started
  • Restlessness
  • Impulsivity
  • Difficulty completing tasks
  • Poor organizational skills (home, office, desk, or car is extremely messy and cluttered)
  • Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in work or other activities
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Short, often explosive, temper
  • Trouble coping with stress
  • Frequently forgetting appointments, commitments, and deadlines
  • Constantly losing or misplacing things (keys, wallet, phone, documents, bills)
  • Underestimating the time it will take you to complete tasks
  • Unstable relationships 
  • Craving for excitement
  • Racing thoughts
  • Doing a million things at once

     If you can identify with most of the symptoms listed above, chances are you’ve suffered over the years for the undiagnosed problem. People may have labeled you “lazy”,”stupid”,”messy”or “trouble maker” among many others. You may have begun to think of yourself in these negative terms as well. The wide-reaching effects of ADHD/ADD can lead to many negative feelings such as frustration,embarrassment,disappointment, and loss of confidence. You may feel like you’ll never be able to get you life under control. That’s why a diagnosis can be an enormous source of relief and hope. As stated in my article blog in April 2010, ADHD/ADD is not an intelligent defect but is a performance deficit. You want to get your life organized and your work done but have great difficulty in maintaining the standard. 

     If you recognize yourself in this article there are several things that you can do to help manage your symptoms. First off you may want to take one of the several self administered test for ADHD/ADD. One site that I feel has some excellent tests is psychcentral.com. You should also seek out the advise of a Professional Health Care provider such as your Primary Care Physician or a Professional Counselor. A qualified person can administer some standardized test to help confirm the results. Treatment for ADHD/ADD typically involve medication, counseling or both. A combination of therapy and medication is often the most effective treatment. A trained professional can help you: control impulsive behaviors, manage your time and money, get and stay organized, boost productivity at home and school/work, manage stress and anger, and help you to learn to communicate more clearly.  If you want to try to manage your symptoms on your own without medication, there is a lot you can do to help yourself and get your symptoms under control. These include the following:

  • Exercise and eat right- Exercise vigorously and regularly, it helps work off excess energy and aggression in a positive way and soothes and calms the body. Eat a wide variety of healthy foods and limit sugary foods in order to even out mood swings. 
  • Make a list of tasks- This list should include things to be accomplished each day. Make sure you’re not trying to do too much.
  • Use sticky notes-to write notes and reminders to yourself. Put them on the fridge, on the bathroom mirror, in the car or in other places where you will benefit from having a reminder or information. 
  • Break down tasks- into smaller, more manageable steps.
  • Meditate- Helping to calm your mind and lower your stress level. Regular meditation help you to calm your mind and regain your focus. 
  • Practice better time management- Set deadlines for everything, even for small tasks. Use timers and alarms to stay on track. Take breaks at regular intervals. Prioritize time-sensitive tasks and write down every assignment, message, or important thought. 
  • Work on your relationships- Schedule activities with friends and keep your engagements. Listen when others are speaking and try not to speak too quickly yourself. 
  • Vitamin or herbal supplements-  Certain vitamins and minerals are necessary for good health and some people have claimed that taking certain herbal supplements such as hypericum, ginseng, or ginkgo have helped with their symptoms. 

     Knowledge is power. Once you are able to manage your ADHD/ADD you should feel much more in control of your life.

      Until Next Time,

      Lory

Lory Naugle, MS, NCC, DCC, is in private practice in Shippensburg, PA. She provides counseling to children through adults for many mental health disorders including ADHD/ADD. She offers counseling in her office and by distance means such as secure email and chat, phone counseling, and by computer assisted Skype.

Parenting your ADHD Child – Part II

Parenting is the toughest job you will ever do in your life. Parenting a child with ADHD can be even more challenging. Last week in my post, I gave the following tips:

1. The Importance of a Positive Attitude

2. Provide Structure and Be Consistent

3. Set Clear Expectations and Rules

Those 3 tips alone can help to make positive changes in both your life as a parent and the life of your child. More tips to help make life easier include:

4. Promoting Physical Activity and Better Sleep: Children with ADHD usually have energy to burn. Organized sports and other physical activities can help them get their energy out in healthy ways and focus their attention on specific movements and skills. The benefits of physical activity are huge: it improves concentration, decreases depression and anxiety, and promotes brain growth. Physical activity also leads to better sleep, which can reduce the symptoms of ADHD. Finding a team or individual sport with constant motion such as soccer, basketball, football, hockey, or volleyball are better options than sports that have “down time”, such as softball and baseball. I remember when my son started playing baseball. He was an outfielder and there was an active train track behind the baseball field. While in the outfield, he would pick grass and if a train came through forget it…..all his attention was on the train. He didn’t care what was happening with the game. Many children with ADHD also benefit from martial arts training, tae kwon do, or even yoga which enhances mental control along with physical endurance. Insufficient sleep affects all children but can have exaggerated consequences for those children with ADHD. Overstimulation and medication side effects can have an adverse reaction in sleep patterns. Some strategies to use to help your child get the sleep they need include: Have a consistent, early bedtime, decrease television time (increase activities levels and exercise during the day), eliminate all caffeine from your child’s diet, lower the activity level for an hour or so before bedtime, spend 10 to 15 minutes cuddling with your child, use relaxation tapes as a background noise in their bedroom. You can also run an electric fan or purchase a sound machine which has different settings of “white noise”.

5. Establish Healthy Eating Habits: Studies have found that food can and does affect a child’s mental state, which in turn affects behavior. Monitoring and modifying what,, when, and how much your child eats can help decrease the symptoms of ADHD. All children benefit from fresh foods, regular meal times, and staying away from junk food. Schedule healthy meals or snacks for your child no more than 3 hours apart. Meal times are necessary breaks and add a scheduled rhythm to the day for your child. For the benefit of your child and you get rid of the junk foods in your home, offer healthy alternatives, and supplement your child’s diet with a multivitamin each day.

6. Teaching your Child Positive Social Skills: Children with ADHD often have difficulty with simple social interactions. They may struggle with talking too much, interrupting frequently, or come off as aggressive or intense. Due to their emotional immaturity they may become targets for unfriendly teasing. Many children with ADHD are exceptionally intelligent and creative but it is hard for them to learn social skills and social rules. Incorporating some of the following may help: Speak gently but honestly with your child abut his behavior and how to make changes, role play social scenes or scenarios with your child- trade roles often and try to make it fun, select playmates carefully for your child, select those with similar language and physical skills, invite only one friend at a time in the beginning, watch closely while they play, and set a zero tolerance policy for hitting, pushing and yelling in your house or yard- remember to follow through with consequences.

I understand it is very difficult at times to remember and follow through with all these suggestions. Some days will be better than others- we all deal with that. Through time,effort and growth on the part of your child things will improve and become more stable. 

I hope you find these tips useful, I encourage you to give me comments and feedback. It is especially helpful for most parents and children to receive counseling to help deal with ADHD. Counseling can help the child recognize his feelings, improve his social skills, and communication in the household. 

Until next time,

Lory Naugle, MS, NCC, DCC

Lory Naugle, MS, NCC, DCC provides counseling online and in her private practice in Shippensburg, PA. She specializes in anxiety, depression and ADHD disorders in Children and Adults. Please see her contact information on her web site: www.nauglecounseling.com

Parenting your ADHD Child- Part 1

Becoming a parent is an exciting adventure. As the child continues to grow every parent realizes that this is a hard job. Parenting a child with ADHD can be frustrating and overwhelming. A child with ADHD usually has greater demand, needs more involvement, and requires greater patience and understanding by the parent. As the parent of an ADHD child there is actually a lot you can do. You have the power to help your child meet his or her daily challenges and channel his or her energy in positive ways. Children with ADHD can and do succeed. The earlier and more consistently address your child’s problems the more likely their success. As I stated in one of my previous post, ADHD is a performance deficit – not doing what you know. Kids with ADHD want to do everything that is asked of them, they just don’t know how to make these things happen. Having ADHD is just as frustrating as dealing with someone who has it. Continuing to keep that in mind when parenting your child with ADHD will help to keep things in perspective. Below are some tips and guidelines in parenting your ADHD child.

  1.  The Importance of a Positive Attitude: Having and keeping a positive attitude helps you to remain calm and focused. When you are calm and focused you are able to connect with your child in positive ways, giving more positive attention to your child and helping him or her be be calm and focused as well.  Giving your child special one-on-one time each day helps to reinforce your child’s unique abilities and strengths. Keeping things in perspective and remembering that your child’s behavior most of the time is not intentional but related to their disorder. Keep your sense of humor. What may be embarrassing today will be a funny family story in time. Always remind yourself to choose your battles and don’t sweat the small stuff. Your child may have had a great day at school and completes two chores at home along with their homework, if the child fails to pick up their room on top of everything else they did complete that day, don’t allow the one unfinished task to undo all the positives for the day. Keep your expectations in perspective or you will be in constant battle and conflict. Remember to say to yourself will this particular thing matter 5 years from now. The answer usually is NO.
  2. Provide Structure and Be Consistent: A child with ADHD are more likely to succeed in completing tasks when they know the expectations and the tasks occur in predictable patterns and places. Your job IS to create and sustain structure and expectations in your home. Every child (including those not dealing with ADHD) needs to know what to expect and what they are expected to do. Some suggestions for creating structure in a household include: following a regular routine-establish simple and predictable rituals for meals, homework, play, and bedtime. Make use of clocks and timers. Egg timers work great for homework or getting ready in the morning. Don’t over schedule your child in after school activities. Just as adults become overwhelmed with too many scheduled activities, so do children. Allow “down time” for your child  to just be a kid and engage their creativity. Do your best to be neat and organized- role model neatness and organization as much as possible so that your child knows that everything has its place. Since studies have determined that ADHD is inherited, all the suggestions listed can greatly help all in the household.
  3. Set Clear Expectations and Rules: All children and especially those with ADHD need consistent rules that they can understand and follow. Make the rules of behavior for the family simple and clear. Write them down and place them where all children in the household can easily read them (Refrigerator). Children with ADHD usually respond well to an organized system of rewards and consequences. Make a chart with stickers or stars awarded for good behavior and completing chores. The charts help your child have a visual reminder of his or her successes. Set certain milestones for specific rewards. When first starting choose a set number of stars or stickers to receive a small reward, as time goes on set the number higher to receive larger rewards.  Consequences should be spelled out in advance and occur immediately after your child has misbehaved. Try time-outs and the removal of privileges as the consequences for misbehavior. Remove your child from situations and environments that trigger inappropriate behavior. When your child misbehaves, ask what he or she could have done instead. Then have the child demonstrate it. ALWAYS follow through with a consequence. 

As you can see from the title of this blog, this is part 1 of parenting your ADHD child. There are several other tips that I will include in Part II. Until next time, keep smiling and love your very special and unique child with all your heart and don’t forget to laugh. 

Lory Naugle, MS, NCC, DCC

Does My Child have ADHD?

     Last week I received a consultative phone call from an upset mother. The daycare that her 5 year old son attends gave her an ultimatum, either obtain counseling for your son, put him on medication or he will no longer be welcome at the center. WOW, quite a statement for a daycare center to make! So you can see why she was so upset. When obtaining more detail from her. She stated that her son had begun to have more frequent “meltdowns” during the day. She described her son as being a “high energy” child that often acts impulsively and seems to always find trouble. She went on to explain that the center had some staffing changes along with program changes. She also stated that her son became a big brother 7 months prior. She continued to state that his little brother was born 10 weeks early and was in the NICU for almost 8 weeks. She was in the hospital for almost 2 full weeks before delivery due to preeclampsia. This had been a traumatic time for their family. The mother was so worried and felt helpless. Was it the major life change with having a new baby in the house? Could it be the program and staff changes that are creating this behavior? Most importantly what can be done to help her son? I went onto explain that counseling can help her son and also to talk with her pediatrician to determine whether or not to medicate her son.

In obtaining more information, I was suspecting that her son could be diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). What information was I using to suspect this disorder? Let me break down some of the basic information for you.

ADHD is the current term for a specific developmental disorder seen in both children and adults that is comprised of deficits in behavioral inhibition, sustained attention and resistance to distractions, and the regulation of one’s activity level to the demands of a situation (hyperactivity or restlessness). 

There are three subtypes to this disorder. I will list the criteria listed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV), The Bible for those working in the mental health field, for each subtype. They are:

Inattentive Type – six (or more) of the following symptoms of inattention have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level.

  1.  often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
  2.  often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities.
  3. often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  4. often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the work-place (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions).
  5. often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities.
  6. often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework).
  7. often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g.,toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools).
  8. is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli.
  9. is often forgetful in daily activities.

Hyperactive type – six (or more) of the following symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level:

  1. often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat.
  2. often leaves seat in classroom or in other situation in which remaining seated is expected.
  3. often runs about or climbs excessively in situation in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness).
  4. often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly.
  5. is often “on the go” or often acts as if “driven by a motor”.
  6. often talks excessively
  7. often blurts out answers before questions have been completed.
  8. often has difficulty awaiting turn.
  9. often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games).

Combined Type- Criteria from both categories have been met for the past 6 months.

Some of the additional criteria for ADHD include the following:

  1. Some hyperactive-impulsive or inattentive symptoms that caused impairment were present before age 7 years.
  2. Some impairment from the symptoms is present in two or more settings (e.g., at school, work, or at home).
  3. There must be clear evidence of clinically significant impairment in social, academic or occupational functioning.

ADHD is a performance deficit, not doing what you know. The child or the adult has problems maintaining a consistent level of performance. A diagnosis should not and cannot be made without some detailed history. These histories should include: A Detailed Family History, A Detailed School History, Interviews/Observations with the child, Other Psychological Testing as Indicated.

Based on the information that mom was giving me, her child did meet many of the diagnosis criteria. There is help available in dealing with ADHD, either as an adult or a child. One interesting note is that the research today is suggesting that ADHD has a genetic feature which indicates it is highly inherited, it is neurological suggesting that children are “born with it”, it is internal vs. eternal, and it is NOT deliberate on the part of the child.

Treatment for ADHD consist of Medical support (medication), Psychological support through a Professional Counselor (for the Child and the Parents), and Educational support through the school system. 

Lory Naugle, MS, NCC, DCC, is a Professional Counselor in Private Practice. She offers counseling in her office and online. She specializes in Anxiety Disorders and ADHD for both children and adults.

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