ADHD – What do all these letters mean, what does it mean for your child and what help is available?
Speech pathologists often get praised for their patience, but even we struggle to keep up with littlies who have ADHD. They are fast paced (and we aren’t that fit)!
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can be very challenging for those in the child’s lives, particularly if it’s not properly understood. What we all need to remember is that it’s super challenging for the child, too.
Being a mum is like having 47 tabs open on your computer, and trying to keep on top of them all. Having ADHD can be pretty close to this!
Kids with ADHD are acutely aware of noise; the sounds in the room, the sounds coming from the street outside- oh, and that funny sound coming from your belly. They can be acutely aware of sight; they notice every fly, and the patchy paint job on the wall- oh, and how your hair looks funny today! (It’s called frizz, and it’s the humidity!)
What you may also see is that they are acutely aware of their physical environment; their body, their movements, their energy- and hey, how fun is it when you move your body like this and do it really fast again and again and again!
There has been an abundance of research into ADHD and most recently, research showing the link between ADHD and executive functioning. But what’s executive functioning? An ADHD guru in North Carolina, Dr. Russell Barkley (Clinical Professor of Psychiatry), describes executive functioning as “those neuropsychological processes needed to sustain problem-solving toward a goal”.
Below is an ‘executive functions hierarchy’ which illustrates what our executive functions are. We can all relate to struggling with a few (I know I can!).
Types of ADHD
Research suggests that there are 3 types of ADHD. Think of ADHD as a spectrum.
Predominantly Inattentive Type
This is on the lower end, here, we see the children who could be misinterpreted as having fleeting attention, not persisting, or being consistently disorganised.
These are the kids who might be described as having “selective hearing”, or as having their “head in the clouds”. They struggle a bit more with retrieving and remembering information.
They do not have the high level of activity that you might traditionally associate with ADHD.
The Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type.
This is on the other end of the spectrum. This type has less concerns with attention and concentration, and more concerns with super high energy levels and not thinking through their words or actions!
Impulsivity does come hand in hand with a certain level of danger, because it means that the actions are completed without forethought.
Impulsivity could be as harmless as interrupting someone excessively, or it could be as nerve-wrecking as running out onto the road.
The Combined Type
This is considered to be in the middle of the spectrum. This is where we see little ones who have some qualities from each side of the spectrum. Most children with ADHD fall into this category.
Education on ADHD
There needs to be more education surrounding ADHD. It is with education that we can reduce the stigma that ADHD is synonymous with ‘naughty’.
The education needs to be targeted not only at the family and teachers, but the children themselves. Barkley has some great fact sheets for adults (http://www.russellbarkley.org/factsheets.html), but the following are also some really insightful books for kids and teens to better understand themselves, or their brother or sister;
- “Eulcee the jumpy jumpy elephant” by C. Corman and E. Trevino.
- “A bird’s eye view of life with ADD and ADHD: Advice from a young survivorr by C. A. Z. Dency and A. Zeigler.
- “Shelley, the hyperactive turtle” by D. Moss and C. Schwartz
Meeting your child’s needs
So, the big question is, what do we do with all of this information? At SpeechEase, we meet your child’s needs using some of the following activities:
- Weight bearing activities as motivation breaks.
- We are ready and rearing to get beaten in commando crawl races!
- We can do motivational boards. We have boards where you have to earn 12 ‘thumbs up’ stickers before you can have a brain break!
- We have a smaller clinic room so that there are less distractions, or
- We have a clinic room where we can keep the light low to prevent overstimulation.
If you have had a read any of this and have any concerns, have a chat to your therapist in your next session or call us on 0423 334 144 for a free 15 minute consult with one of our experienced team.