Parents of children with ADD, ADHD, or similar neurological disorders sometimes have to do a balancing act of their own to discover the many treatment options available and determine which approach — or combination of approaches — is best for their child.
Jane Milrod, Princeton-based ADHD coach and founding director of CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) of Princeton-Mercer County, recommends as a starting point the resources offered by CHADD and its National Resource Center on ADHD (www.help4adhd.org).
“It’s best to work with as many systems as you possibly can,” says Milrod, citing such approaches as medication, behavior modification, social skills training, and bio-feedback. Milrod, who appeared on a panel last fall with Brain Balance’s Vincent Kiechlin (see story above), also recommends parents’s groups (see listing below). Highlights from the resource center:
Parenting a Child with AD/HD. Often, when a child is diagnosed with AD/HD, the first response from his or her concerned parent is, “What can I do about it?” Although life with your child may at times seem challenging, it is important to remember that children with AD/HD can and do succeed. As a parent, you can help create home and school environments that improve your child’s chances for success. The earlier you address your child’s problems, the more likely you will be able to prevent school and social failure and associated problems such as underachievement and poor self-esteem that may lead to delinquency or drug and alcohol abuse.
Early intervention holds the key to positive outcomes for your child. Don’t waste limited emotional energy on self-blame. AD/HD is the result of dysfunction in certain areas of the brain and in the majority of cases is inherited. It is not caused by poor parenting or a chaotic home environment, although the home environment can make symptoms of AD/HD worse.
Learn all you can about AD/HD. There is a great deal of information available on the diagnosis and treatment of AD/HD. It is up to you to act as a good consumer and learn to distinguish the accurate information from the inaccurate. But how can you sort out what will be useful and what will not? In general, it is good to be wary about ads claiming to cure AD/HD. Currently, there is no cure for AD/HD, but you can take positive steps to decrease its impact.
To complete the diagnostic process, make sure your child has a comprehensive assessment that includes medical, educational, and psychological evaluations and that other disorders that either mimic or commonly occur with AD/HD have been considered and ruled out.
Become your child’s best advocate. You may have to represent or protect your child’s best interest in school situations, both academic and behavioral. Become an active part of the team that determines what services and placements your child receives in an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Section 504 plan.
How to Make Life at Home Easier. Join a support group. Parents will find additional information, as well as support, by attending local CHADD meetings where available. You can find the nearest chapter to your home on www.chadd.org.
Seek professional help. Ask for help from professionals, particularly if you are feeling depressed, frustrated, and exhausted. Helping yourself feel less stressed will benefit your child as well.
Work together to support your child. It is important that all of the adults that care for your child (parents, grandparents, relatives, and babysitters) agree on how to approach or handle your child’s treatment.
Complementary and Alternative Treatments for AD/HD. In the past decade, there has been a tremendous upsurge of scientific and public interest in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD). This interest is reflected not only in the number of scientific articles, but also in the explosion of books and articles for parents and teachers. Great strides have been made in the understanding and management of this disorder. Children with AD/HD who would have gone unrecognized and untreated only a few short years ago are now being helped, sometimes with dramatic results.
There are still many questions to be answered concerning the developmental course, outcome, and treatment of AD/HD. Although there are several effective treatments, they are not equally effective for all children with AD/HD. Among the most effective methods to date is the judicious use of medication and behavior management, referred to in the scientific literature as multimodal treatment. Multimodal treatment for children and adolescents with AD/HD consists of parent and child education about diagnosis and treatment, behavior management techniques, medication, and school programming and supports. Treatment should be tailored to the unique needs of each child and family.
In an effort to seek effective help for AD/HD, however, many people turn to treatments that claim to be useful but have not been shown to be truly effective, in agreement with standards held by the scientific community.
Before actually using any of these interventions, families and individuals are encouraged to consult with their medical doctors. Some of these interventions are targeted to children with very discrete medical problems. A good medical history and a thorough physical examination should check for signs and symptoms of such conditions as thyroid dysfunction, allergic history, food intolerance, dietary imbalance and deficiency, and general medical problems that may mimic symptoms of AD/HD.
Parents’ Class Forming. Parent to Parent: A Family Training Program on ADHD will meet Mondays, October 24, through December 5, at the Montgomery Upper Middle School from 7 to 8:50 p.m.
Parent to Parent provides information and support for individuals and families dealing with ADHD and learning to navigate the challenges of ADHD across the lifespan. The curriculum was developed by parents who have lived the experience, but who also have had access to the best researchers and practitioners in the country.
To register contact Camille Quinton — firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost for CHADD members is $150 for up to three people from a family. To become a CHADD member visit www.chadd.org.