What if you had ADHD?
October is ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) awareness month. A rising numbers of both children and adults are diagnosed with ADHD.
It is important for educators to understand:
- What it is.
- How we can support those diagnosed with the condition.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a health issue affecting people across the world. It is a mental health condition defined through analysis of behaviours, but other diagnoses of disorders can often happen with ADHD too. According to the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), ‘the symptoms of ADHD exist within a continuum of typical human behaviour.”
Breaking down the myths
There are many myths that are perpetuated about ADHD and a general lack of understanding of the condition in society. It’s important to educate others about the facts.
Just because some people can become easily distracted or forgetful, it doesn’t mean they have ADHD.
Actually, around 90 – 95 per cent of people do not have ADHD, but this varies for different countries across the globe. Some countries may not widely perform tests for their populations or take completely different approaches to diagnose ADHD.
Fortunately, there is a large body of scientific research on ADHD and thousands of articles written by experts in the field. In fact, people with ADHD are able to concentrate when they are intrigued or very interested in something they are doing.
Both boys and girls can be diagnosed with ADHD, but generally, boys are diagnosed more often than girls.
The disorder comes about from both genetic and environmental risk factors. Parents do not cause ADHD and actually, brain structure is different in people living with the condition. This is shown through brain-imaging studies, leading to problems being experienced with attention, motivation and controlling impulses.
Chemical dynamics in the brain cause typical human behaviours to be exhibited, with greater intensity and severity, compared to people without ADHD.
How is ADHD managed?
Stimulant medication is often prescribed by doctors for therapeutic use.
I know there are five types of medicine licensed for the treatment of ADHD by the NHS (National Health Service) in the United Kingdom. They include classes of stimulants used to treat ADHD: methylphenidate (MPH) and amphetamine (AMP). Different types of therapy can also be useful in treating ADHD, such as psychoeducation and behaviour therapy.
Parents and teachers should understand how the brain is wired differently for children with ADHD, accept and also respect all the associated complexities involved.
Encourage a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, healthy eating and adequate sleep. These practices can help to reduce stress levels associated with ADHD and lower the severity of symptoms.
People diagnosed with ADHD should be supported to rise above their challenges and assist them to see their differences in a more positive context. Some people describe having ADHD as their superpower, as their brain helps them to think in different ways, in comparison to people without ADHD.
In the classroom
Managing ADHD related situations in the classroom can sometimes be challenging. Here are some strategies to help:
- Encourage positive behaviours through reward systems and discourage negative behaviours.
- Teach children organisational strategies to increase learning time and reduce distractions.
- Adopt a specific plan for individual students to help support them.
- Consult with your school SENCO and ensure that universal high quality teaching strategies are employed.
These children need to realise they have many possibilities and strengths. Like all children, they need suitable challenge and support to fulfil their own full potential.
Why not try experimenting with strategies to support children with ADHD this month?