Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common mental health condition that affects children. A child with this disorder shows various symptoms such as inability to pay attention, irritability, excessive talking and impulsive behaviours that make them act without thinking. These symptoms start very early – usually before the child is 7 years old and can be a challenge to the child at home, school and even with friends.
There is no cure for ADHD, however, lifestyle changes and the use of prescribed medicines can help control the symptoms in most people. Caregivers and close relations of people living with this condition have a significant role to play in its management.
The most crucial step in living with ADHD is recognizing it. Early diagnosis helps you know when to seek help. A diagnosis of ADHD doesn't mean you are not intelligent or talented. The following are some symptoms you may notice in a person with ADHD:
- Children with ADHD may struggle with sitting still and waiting their turn. As a result, they tend to interrupt conversations and disturb calm places.
- They may also have difficulties planning and focusing on one task, they are easily distracted. This distraction often leads to unfinished homework or projects.
- In children, ADHD can make them appear lazy, troublesome, or playful. At the same time, adults with ADHD may be tagged irresponsible, flighty and easily distracted.
- Adults with ADHD are often scattered. They are unable to decide what problems are urgent and which ones are not.
- As people with ADHD get older, their struggles become more pronounced. They start to have difficulties in school, like forgetting tasks and homework. It can also cause difficulties in maintaining jobs and relationships.
A diagnosis of ADHD may cause fear and confusion to a caregiver of a child. The following are ways in which you can help your child live better with ADHD.
- Take care of yourself: your health should not be neglected. Caring for your child can be a very tiring job and you may need time off. Ask for help and accept as much help as you can from your loved ones.
- Ensure they eat a healthy diet: diets should be free of stimulants like coffee. Diets rich in omega 3 such as sardines and soybeans have been shown to help people with ADHD.
- Create a detailed routine for your child: break down their activities into small steps. This helps your child know what to expect at each point. Also, avoid changes to this plan so as not to confuse them.
- Give clear information on what tasks are to be done and how: these instructions help them focus and recognize when they are done. When they accomplish these tasks, praise them and highlight what they did well and why you are glad.
- Intervene early: it is crucial to notice when your child starts to lose control or gets frustrated. Distracting your child can help them calm down.
- Ensure your child goes to bed at the same time every day: poor sleep can worsen the fidgeting and other symptoms associated with this condition.
- Speak to your child's school about the condition: knowing about ADHD will help the school to accommodate your child better.
- Join a support group: this ensures that you have access to the right information and can speak to people in a similar situation as you.
- Work closely with your child's therapist and ask as many questions as you need.
As a person with ADHD, it is understandable that you feel alone but there is no need to. The tips below will help you live better with ADHD.
- Ensure that you sleep well and at regular times daily. Sleeping regularly will make you feel less restless the next day. Avoid caffeine and stimulants close to bedtime as they can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
- Eat healthy foods. Food like fish, fruits and vegetables may help with your condition.
- Try to exercise regularly, this will help reduce stress and focus your energy.
- Creating a routine helps you anticipate each task at the appropriate time. This allows you to stay focused and accomplish as many goals as possible. You can also make use of tools like to-do lists and reminders.
- Practice relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, listening to music, or taking a walk to help you cool off when irritated.
- Seek help. It's never too late to see a therapist if you have ADHD.
- Work closely with your healthcare provider and use your medications as prescribed.
- Join a support group. There are several groups dedicated to offering support and exchanging personal experiences for people living with ADHD.
ADHD can be mentally and physically draining for both the person affected and their caregivers. The management of this condition is lifelong and it is very helpful to have people around you that understand ADHD and are willing to support you. Therapy, regular use of your medications and following the tips listed above can help lessen the burden and make life easier. Caregivers and teachers must encourage and support children that struggle with this condition.