"Anyone can have one kid. But going from one kid to two is like going from owning a dog to running a zoo." - P. J. O'Rourke

Thursday, November 15, 2012

ADD Seminar

I went to a seminar on ADD yesterday, and a couple people asked me to summarize what they talked about.  I will give a quick rundown of what Russell Barkley presented.  First though, I have to say, that while he had a lot of information on the causes and effects of ADD, I did not agree with everything he said.

Anyway, the seminar was titled "The 12 Best Principles for Managing the Child or Teen with ADHD."

He started by defining ADHD.  It's a developmental disorder, not a psychopathological disorder.  It's not a mental illness.  ADHD children are slower to develop their executive functions in their brain.  It's not temporary and a majority of people do not "grow out of it."  Dr. Barkley said that ADHD is the most impairing disorder psychiatrists see on an out-patient basis.  It is primarily a genetic disorder, although can be caused by things such as smoking, alcohol use, or infections during pregnancy,; traumatic birth; or prematurity.

Okay, on to the 12 principles

  1. Parents are shepherds, not engineers.  Which I take to mean, you cannot change how they were made, you can teach them skills to function within their limitations.
  2. Time escapes them.   Minimize delays (rewards or punishments must be immediate).  Externalize time (using clocks, timers, etc.)
  3. They have poor working memory - remembering what they are supposed to be doing.  Use sticky notes, cards, or other cues to physically represent information that will help them guide their behavior.
  4. Make rewards part of the task.  They lack the brain function that controls self-motivation, so external motivation must be provided.
  5. Make problem solving physical.  Break problems into smaller tasks and make them physical - manipulatives, etc.
  6. Talk less, touch more.  As Dr. Barkley said, "It's not Information Deficit Disorder!"
  7. Be pro-active, not reactive.  Have a plan before the behavior deteriorates, to prevent the problem.
  8. Have a plan, think aloud, think ahead.  I think this was similar to #8.
  9. Increase accountability.  After you break things up into smaller tasks, make sure they actually do the little task.  Give positive feedback.
  10. Get your priorities straight.  Don't make a big deal out of things that aren't important.
  11. Remember, it's a disability.  ALthough you can't see it by looking at them, an ADHD child is disabled.
  12. Forgive.  Yourself.  Your child.
That was pretty much it.  Good things to remember.  Dr. Barkley did not give much credit to various treatments for ADHD (diet, sensory integration training, etc.).  I'm not sure he's right on those things.  I think the connection between the brain and our digestive system is just now starting to be fully explored and they are finding out some amazing things.  In another year or two I suspect a link between the health of our digestive system and the function of our brain will be confirmed, as the tip of that iceberg is just beginning to be explored.

Anyway, hope this is helpful to those of you who were asking.

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