Perhaps you were dreading the diagnosis you just received from the doctor, but now that you have it, you may be saying to yourself: My child has ADHD. Now what? The first thing to do is relax and take a deep breath. In a sense, the worst part is over. Isn’t this news better that wondering, or not knowing what was going on? Isn’t this better than feeling alone and isolated, with the knowledge that something was wrong with your child and you were powerless to help? ADHD can seem like a scary diagnosis, but keep in mind you are not alone. ADHD affects millions of children in this country every year, and with the right kind of help the symptoms of this condition can usually be effectively managed. In fact, because ADHD tends to occur in children who are gifted, this may even be good news, for by getting help for your child’s problem issues, you’ll be allowing him or her to finally harness their positive talents and abilities that make them so special and unique.
My Child Has ADHD. Now What?
Although knowing your child has ADHD is better than not knowing, as a parent you still have a challenge on your hands, one that will require you your child and the remainder of your family to work a little harder to reach your goals. However, with the abundance of information available and with help from other parents who have lived your dilemma, the challenge will be worth every minute you spend.
Unfortunately, many parents of children with ADHD choose a single treatment approach, usually medication of some kind. And although stimulant and non-stimulant medication can be a very effective weapon against ADHD, it rarely solves the problem by itself. Most specialists recommend you implement a multi-level approach to coping with ADHD—one that will not only help your child overcome his or her issues, but one that will maintain family harmony.
After your child receives a diagnosis of ADHD, all of the following measures are recommended:
- Education. ADHD can be scary for both you and your child, but this does not mean you should bury your head in the sand and hope it goes away—because it won’t. Doctors recommend you become fully educated on the condition as a whole, including the potential causes, symptoms and treatment options. Learn about how the disorder is diagnosed and how a proper diet can help to manage symptoms. The more you read about ADHD and study its effects, the better prepared you will be to give your child—and family—the support they need.
- Lifestyle Changes. Children with ADHD need plenty of exercise, especially if the predominant symptom is hyperactivity. This will help them expend their excess energy. Diet is also important. Many nutritionists say children with ADHD should avoid sugar, including soda and juices, junk and processed foods, and limit their dairy intake. Replace these with plenty of fresh protein sources, fruits and vegetables and plenty of water, and make sure your child has ample time to sleep and rest.
- Structure. While they may not admit it, children like the safety and security of a structured environment. Try to set ground rules in your home with realistic consequences—and follow through on those consequences. Also try to keep meal times and bedtimes scheduled at a regular hour.
- Counseling. Counseling can do wonders to help an ADHD child. Through cognitive behavior therapy children can learn to control their impulsivity by practicing appropriate responses to real world situations. Family therapy can also help every member of the family to be stronger and more close-knit through this challenging time.
- Medication. Experts estimate that medication for ADHD is effective in close to 80 percent of cases. If counseling, structure and lifestyle changes are not sufficient in controlling ADHD symptoms, medication can be just what your child needs to become calmer, more focused and attentive.
So the next time a parent asks you: My child has ADHD. Now What? You’ll be able to show them the wonders you’ve accomplished with your comprehensive plan. ADHD is a battle, but it is a battle you can win.