Last week, A Current Affair aired a segment on ADHD. The title on the website was ADHD epidemic? (Interestingly, the question mark was not included in the title on TV). As with most media articles on the topic, we had to first hear the experts arguing over whether it is an actual diagnosis or simply bad behaviour. The segment then questioned the choice to medicate children with ADHD. Is it responsible parenting or akin to “if we took leather straps and wrapped them up in them and tied them to the chair” as one psychologist so eloquently and helpfully put it.
As reluctant as I am to give further voice to a sensationalist piece of writing from A Current Affair, this is an issue that affects some of the children I teach and their families. This is 2011. Can’t we all acknowledge that medication is one aspect of a multi-disciplinary approach to helping these children?? Perhaps we can then move forward.
The right medication (administered in the correct dosage and monitored by a paediatrician) enables a child with ADHD to access the curriculum. Used in conjunction with dietary changes and behaviour management strategies, these children can participate more effectively in family and school life.
In that vein, here are some tips for helping your child with ADHD:
– Keep verbal instructions short and clear
– Get down on their level and make eye contact before giving an instruction
– Ensure you have their attention before giving an instruction
– Have them repeat the instruction back to you
– Physical checklists can be helpful for children who find it difficult to organise their belongings e.g. “I need to pack my bag with these things for school”. The child marks each one off as it is packed.
In the classroom
– Seat them near the front of the room and away from distractions
– Extended periods of sitting at a desk should be interspersed with brief breaks where they can stand up and walk around
– Try to give warning of when changes will occur e.g. “We need to leave the park in 5 minutes”, followed by another reminder with one minute to go
– Pages and pages of written work will be too difficult. Unclutter the page and highlight important information with bold text or a highlighter
Contact Chilled Kids for more information on helping children with special needs: http://www.chilledkids.com/
Watch the segment at: http://aca.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8269833