Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Parent to Parent: ADD
If you're like most families in South Florida, your afternoon is spent convincing children to do their homework. But if your kid has ADD, even a simple assignment can be overwhelming. In tonight's Parent to Parent, Dr. Valerie has advice on how to help your student succeed.
WSVN -- He's only nine years old, but Christopher Rodriguez has something in common with both Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin.
He has Attention Deficit Disorder.
His mom Sophia knew Christopher was an active little boy even before he was born.
Sophia Rodriguez: "I went into pre-term labor at six months, and he didn't want to stay in then. He was always kicking in my stomach."
And Christopher has never stopped.
He started acting up so much he had to leave the public school system.
Then, after two years of therapy and specialized testing, Christopher was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD.
Sophia Rodriguez: "Once he was put on medication, he was able to do video games -- it was like a total 360, and it was a different child."
But Christopher is not alone.
More then one-and-a-half million children have ADD or ADHD.
Symptoms include problems sleeping through the night, day dreaming, trouble playing with other children and impulsiveness.
Experts say if caught early enough, you can help your child live with it and be successful in school.
Dr. Valerie: "If your pre-schooler is the one child that's not standing in line when the teacher's saying, 'Stand in line,' or your child is the one not sitting in story time, story circle, then you've got to start looking at -- perhaps -- there are some attention problems."
Dr. Valerie says if your child has attention problems, a consistent routine is essential.
That means telling your child exactly what you expect.
Use pictures or role-play if you must.
Then make sure you simplify directions, giving one instruction at a time.
Dr. Valerie: "Don't give them a long list of instructions because they're not going to listen, and then you're going to get frustrated with them, and then you're going to yell at them.
Also, help your child get organized by using different colored bins or pictures to sort items.
Try to maintain eye contact when speaking to your child.
ADD children also do better with interactive learning, like using songs to teach letters.
Dr. Valerie: "Maintain connection with that child because it's the loss of connection that makes the child think about something else or not do what he's supposed to do."
When it comes to discipline, have a list of written rules.
Make sure to use immediate consequences.
And finally, use medication only if necessary.
Dr. Valerie: "ADD is not a bad thing. ADD people run companies. People who are creative have ADD, and, without ADD, they wouldn't be quite as creative. They would think inside the box."
Christopher is on medication and now goes to Atlantis Academy in Kendall, which specializes in helping children with attention problems.
Today, thanks to smaller classes and more one-on-one attention, he's becoming a star student.
Sophia Rodriguez: "We do expect him to read, and that's our biggest joy, is to see our child read."
One last tip: Dr. Valerie says make sure to provide for an outlet for your child's extra energy, like a daily trip to the playground.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
IF YOU HAVE A CONCERN DR. VALERIE CAN HELP YOU WITH E-MAIL US AT:
Dr. Valerie Goode
7711 SW 62 Avenue
Miami, FL 33143
EARLY INDICATORS OF ATTENTION DEFICITS:
These behaviors and symptoms have been noted to be common in children that have later been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD.
1. Problems sleeping through the night
2. Short, sporadic naps during the day
3. Excessive crying/colic
4. Ear infections/allergies/asthma
5. Not interested in being held
6. Content when put down
7. Difficulty bonding
8. Cries when held
9. Rapid or delayed milestones
10. Irritable in high stimulus settings
11. Irritable when routine changed
1. Does not respond to normal behavioral controls
2. Difficulty in sharing/taking turns
3. Inability to sit still or sustain attention (Normal attention span for this age would be 7-9 minutes)
4. High incident of falling or accidents
6. Can be destructive with toys
7. Trouble with playing with other children, higher incidence of biting, kicking or pushing playmates
8. Does not like to be read to
9. Fidgets when restrained or held for more than a few minutes
10. Can act as if driven by a motor
1. Always in motion
2. Inability to sit still or sustain attention (normal attention span for this age would be 9-15 minutes)
4. Coordination problems or delays
5. Difficulty following directions
6. Seem as if they are not paying attention
7. Impulsive: grabs toys, acts before thinking
8. Difficulty sharing and taking turns
9. Trouble waiting turn or standing in line
10. Inappropriate touching, poking of other children or intruding on other's personal space
12. Interrupts often
13. Can be aggressive: hitting, kicking or biting playmates