After months of questions, appointments with specialists and assessments, your child has finally received the diagnosis: it’s ADHD.
How to choose the right treatment for your ADHD child?
Attention Deficit Disorder – the label alone can send shivers down your spine. But don’t let your fears or worst-case-scenarios get you down! Instead, arm yourself with information, patience and determination, and find strength in the knowledge that you are doing your best for your child, and that there is a great deal of help out there.
Choosing the right treatment approach to help your ADHD child amounts to finding the right balance between your child’s specific needs and personality on one hand, and your family’s values and resources on the other. Once you understand what you’re looking for, you’ll have a much easier time finding the right ADHD specialist.
Get to know your child: What are your treatment goals?
Perhaps the most important consideration is what it is that you want to treat? What are your child’s most pressing therapeutic needs? To answer this question it is important to distinguish between the primary and secondary symptoms of ADHD.
Primary ADHD symptoms are those that relate directly to the disorder. They include distractibility, impulsivity, hyperactivity and deficits in executive functions.
Three main treatment courses focus on these core aspects of ADHD. They are supported by research and can be properly assessed over time to see that they are working.
Read about the ABC of ADHD treatments >> ADHD Treatment
Secondary ADHD symptoms are difficulties in behavior, emotional control and social skills that develop over time as a result of ADHD.
For example, many children with ADHD have above average intelligence, and are aware that they are different from other kids. This can lead to low self-esteem, which in turn can make it difficult for the child to make and keep friends.
ADHD kids often experience enormous frustration as they repeatedly fail to complete assignments or do well on tests despite being very bright and sometimes exceptionally creative. This kind of frustration can trigger power struggles at home, fighting, and angry outbursts.
Depending on how acute these issues become, you may wish to consider forms of treatment such as of art or animal therapy – or to make use of psychological therapy for more comprehensive emotional help.
Additional therapies for secondary symptoms include:
- Corrective instruction and activities, to help children adopt good learning strategies and techniques
- Physical exercise, to help children release energy and relax, and improve social relations through team play
- Social activity groups, which help children with social difficulties learn and apply social techniques for making and keeping friends
What is more important to treat: Primary or Secondary Symptoms?
Treating primary symptoms is the most effective way to help your child change and gain control in all areas of life.
At times, however, the secondary issues require your attention first. Rages and tantrums, lack of motivation and negative social experiences may require focused attention before attempting to make more fundamental changes in your child’s behavior.
In the long term, however, it is the primary symptoms of ADHD that need the greatest attention and care. It is these symptoms – impulsivity, difficulty in following through or following instructions, inattention to detail and forgetfulness – which set of the small snowballs that can turn into avalanches throughout life.
Medication can help control these primary symptoms in the short term. But eventually, you need to bring in additional treatments, such as behavior therapy and brain training for core cognitive skills to help your child make up these deficits in ways that are constructive and can hold over a long period of time.
In short, seek out an ADHD specialist who can help you target the core ADHD symptoms and develop a proper treatment plan. Find an expert who can take the time to get to know your child, and who is open to combining different types of treatment to suit your child’s unique situation, personality and needs.
This will give you a great head start in enabling your child to live his life fully and realize his true potential!