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Positive Relationships Sets the Stage for Success

Our chance of success in parenting is greatly increased as we positively meet the normal, healthy needs of our children for love, acceptance, meaning, and mastery. As these needs are met our children will be less tempted to seek a place for themselves through deviant, undesirable behavior.

Our children need to know that we love them in spite of what they do. Our love and concern as parents is not conditioned on their behavior. By honestly accepting our children and liking them while not necessarily accepting or liking their behavior,  we keep the door open to change and growth. Love is, and has always been, the most powerful force in the world.

When it comes to relating to children, patience is a virtue but is not always easy to express.
“Stop acting like a child,” I overhead one frustrated mother say to her six-year-old. Although I could understand why this mother erupted in such frustration in the middle of the supermarket, her remark mirrors our frequent inappropriate expectations of our children. Much of the behavior of children that is so frustrating to us as adults is simply our children being, well, children.

To be effective as parents, we need to  Our love and concern as parents is not conditioned on the child’s behavior.have some idea of what is appropriate behavior for our children’s age and stage of development and not attack them for things they cannot help. A young father got very angry with his three-year-old son for using a paper cup as a football during a formal reception. Actually this was pretty normal behavior for a toddler who was ignored in the midst of all the adult activity.

Another mother was frustrated because her thirteen-year-old daughter ran to her room  slamming the door when her mother disapproved of the dress she was wearing. Actually, such pouting and anger are quite typical of the adolescent. We need to remember that children are uniquely children—growing organisms who have not yet reached perfection. Punishment of the child for things he or she cannot help or does not understand will only create frustration, confusion and, likely, rebellion.

We often use up so much energy nagging and correcting our children that we have little energy left to relate to them in positive ways. This is particularly true with ADHD children. In the happy families I have known, however, the interactions have a positive tone and direction. In angry, unhappy families, most interactions have a negative tone. This is one area where all of us as parents can work toward a better record. We can tip the balance in our families in a more positive direction by applying some of the following principles to our relationships:

Listen to the child. Listen without interrupting or correcting. Listen to just hear what he or she has to say.

Do something the child likes. For some this may be reading and talking, others playing touch football, others working on a craft project, or repairing the car.

Give the child some space. Let the child do his or her own thing as long as the activity does not infringe on the rights of others. We are saying, in essence, “I trust you to make some choices for yourself about what you will do with your time.”

Avoid conflict when possible. Conflict, at times and to some degree, is inevitable. While most parents seek to avoid conflict, some seem to delight in having a head on collision with their children. However, both parents and children gain when potential conflict is avoided. A power struggle only creates hostility and negative feelings which hurts everyone. When you do need to draw the line and establish a limit, do so firmly and quickly with as little verbal combat as possible.

Look for the child’s good points. Everyone has some gift. Everyone does something well. Everyone has some redeeming features. The sparkle is there if we only look for it. Ours will be a much happier family if we look for the other persons talents rather than their faults.

As parents we teach through relationships .

We show our children what love is by loving. We teach forgiveness by forgiving. We teach honesty by being honest. We cannot substitute things for affection. Often adults have been heard to say, “I received everything I needed form my parents except the love and understanding I needed most.”

The child with ADHD draws criticism and negative feedback like a magnet. Relationships in the family often mushroom into a back hole of negativism. Parents find themselves constantly correcting, redirecting, and limiting. The child too often responds in sullenness and more self-defeating behavior. It takes effort to reorient the family atmosphere to a more positive spin. But it can be done. And it is well worth the effort.

ADHD and Handwriting

Even in this day of thumb-driven Twitter shorthand, handwriting continues to be a critical and needed skill. Legible, coherent handwriting is a signal measure of academic success and still plays an important role in formal and informal communication.

 

Educators and other professionals working with children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have observed that many of these children have significant problems with handwriting.

 

A recent study coming out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documents the relevance of these observations. This research, led by Slavica Katusic of the Mayo Clinic was published in Pediatrics (September, 2011). The study included 6,000 children—all those born in Rochester Minnesota between 1976 and 1982 and who was still living there after age 5.

 

Katusic and her co-workers evaluated school and medical records to see which children showed signs of ADHD, as well as how well they performed on writing, reading and general intelligence tests over their school career. A total of 379 children fit the criteria for ADHD. About 800 children scored poorly on tests of writing abilities, and most with writing problems had reading difficulties as well.

 

Writing problems were much more common in both boys and girls with ADHD, with close to two-thirds of boys with ADHD having problems with writing. That compared to one in six of their peers without ADHD. In girls, 57 percent with ADHD had a writing problem, compared to less than 10 percent without ADHD.

 

There are several reasons why children with ADHD may have problems in writing. Handwriting is a very complex task that involves cognitive activity and motor activity at the same time. A high level of mental coordination and sequencing is required—tasks that individuals with ADHD have difficulty with. Also, memory and planning problems may affect the writing process. The impairment in sustained attention experienced by children with ADHD causes them to loose track of what they are doing and they will tend to make careless errors and get confused about what is to come next in the phrase or sentence.t is my observation that when kids with ADHD are appropriately treated with medication, improvement in handwriting can be dramatic. In fact, improvement in handwriting can be one of the more objective, observable markers of effective treatment.

 

Kids who have problems with handwriting sufficient to interfere with their ability to express what they are learning can be allowed, even encouraged, to use other means of communicating what they are learning. For instance, a student may be allowed to give a report orally rather than in writing. Certainly in middle and high school the student can be encouraged to develop word processing skills and permitted to prepare homework and even classwork using the word processer. At the same time the student will need ongoing instruction and practice in handwriting. For some ADHD students, their handwriting will never be optimal but should be functional by high school.

At the same time, intentional instruction in handwriting skills is needed. The ADHD child may not develop perfect handwriting but writing skills can be enhanced with intervention. It is appropriate to help them be the best they an be in this area while compensating in other subjects. For instance their grade in science or math should not be knocked down due to messy or slow handwriting.

 

Long term observation does suggest that the writing problems do get a little better with increasing m

Conditions That Complicate Management

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a specific developmental condition with a defined set of characteristics. Although a varied spectrum of severity exists, children with ADHD demonstrate a consistent and typical pattern of behavior and neurological function.

 
However, this “pure”@ picture is often complicated by the presence of other developmental or emotional dysfunctions. Several co-morbid conditions are described by professionals working with A DHD children.

 
Common Co-Morbid Conditions
Let’s look at some of the more common co-morbid conditions which may exist with ADHD:

 
Language-based learning disabilities. Central language processing disorders can mimic, and certainly complicate, the expression of attention disorders. For decades clinicians and educators have observed a significant overlap between children with ADHD and various language-based learning disabilities. As recently as two decades ago, professionals in the field tended to lump children with these related developmental disabilities together into the diagnostic category of minimal brain dysfunction. Attention, hyperactivity, and language-processing disorders were thought to be different ends of the continuum within this diagnosis. Recently the trend is to define the various diagnostic categories more precisely.

 
While many children with ADHD have no evidence of language-based learning disability, there are many children in which ADHD and a learning disability co-exist. I have seen children who have gone for years without treatment for their ADHD because all their academic problems were blamed on their language dysfunction. The attention problems and poor organization were thought to be secondary. On the other hand, I know of children who have not received serious evaluation of their reading and spelling under-achievement because their poor grades were blamed on their attention deficit disorder. When a child has been diagnosed with either ADHD or language processing dysfunction, the child should be carefully observe for evidence of the other condition.

 
Oppositional Defiant Disorder. While children with ADHD may disobey and at times seems to resist discipline, they are not typically defiant. Their lack of compliance is most likely due to impulsiveness and failure to think before they act. They also have difficulty associating their behaviors with consequences. But they want to please and tend to be unhappy with their failure to live up to expectations.

 
Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is characterized by a pattern of negative, hostile, and defiant behavior. Children with this disorder easily lose their temper, purposely annoy others, openly defy authority, refuse to comply with rules, and argue often. They may be resentful, angry, spiteful, and vindictive. ODD is defined by a pattern of such behavior over a long period which is not due to temporary stresses or provocations. Oppositional defiant disorder is more common in males. Over time ODD is likely to be associated with low self-esteem, low frustration tolerance, temper outbursts, poor peer relationships, and school underachievement.

 
Conduct Disorder. Children with conduct disorder exhibit a basic disregard for the rights of others and ignore age-appropriate norms of behavior. They may be cruel to other people and animals, fail to respect others rights (i.e., steal, misuse property), and ignore common rules of conduct. This pattern of behavior exists over a long period of time. It significantly disrupts the child’s relationships and adjustments to common life situations such as home and school.

 
Poor school performance, a greater frequency of school suspensions, and incidence of substance abuse are seen in children and adolescents with conduct disorders. These dysfunctional behaviors may begin in middle childhood but become more prominent in adolescence.

 
! Tourette’s Syndrome. Tourette’s syndrome (or Tourette’s disorder as it is sometimes called today) is characterized by the onset during childhood of multiple tics of various kinds (both motor tics and vocal tics) which may fluctuate in severity. The currently accepted essential diagnostic criteria include onset before the age of 21 years, multiple involuntary motor tics, one or more vocal tics, the waxing and waning of the tics, the gradual replacement of old tics with new ones, the absence of other medical explanations for the tics, and the presence of tics for more than one year.

 
Along with the tics, there may be obsessive compulsive tendencies, excessive anxiety, sleep disorders, learning difficulties, and impulsive behaviors. A variety of behavior/emotional problems have been identified in children with Tourette’s syndrome. Whether these behavioral problems are related to tic severity, a direct consequence of having a stigmatizing condition or an underlying part of the developmental condition is not clearly delineated.
ADHD has been reported to occur in 35% to 65% of children with Tourette’s syndrome. The treatment of children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder with co-morbid Tourette’s syndrome is controversial. The major confounding factor is that stimulant medications may provoke or intensify the tics. The stimulants do not cause the tics but if a child is predisposed to tics, the use of the stimulants may hasten the expression of tics, or aggravate them when they are present. While the stimulants may help the child with ADHD and Tourette’s, they should be used with caution.

 
If behavior and educational approaches are not successful for the child with Tourette’s and ADHD, then a trial with other types of medication should be considered.

 
Depression. It is well know that psychological depression is the most common emotional disorder affecting adults. The fact that depression is also very common in children and adolescents is less well known. Pre-teens and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to some degree of depression even under the best of circumstances. The child living with the stresses of ADHD are even more vulnerable. The frustration due to having to work harder to keep up academically, the constant negative feedback that is all too common and the difficulty getting along with peers sets the child up for depression. The usual low self-esteem experienced by many children with ADHD underlies their vulnerability.

 
Signs that suggest depression are a sudden drop in grades and performance in other activities such as sports or music. The depressed child or adolescent will tend to be moody and easily frustrated. They seem sad and have more trouble enjoying things they have enjoyed in the past. They often will withdraw and be less able to cope socially.

 
Depression in children and adolescents is likely to be a reaction to circumstances and come on over a short period of time. Chronic, long-term depression is less common.

 
This reactive depression is probably the most common co-morbid condition seen in children with ADHD. Fortunately, depression is also the most effectively treated of all the co-morbid conditions. Recognition, counseling, and sometimes short-term antidepressant medication will usually overcome the depression fairly quickly.

 
These are some of the more common co-morbid disorders. If is important to look for such conditions as a child is evaluated for ADHD. When they exist, success depends on managing the ADHD and co-morbid condition together.

Study Shows Slower Brain Growth in Children with ADHD

All the key symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder) reflect an underlying lack of mental organization and self-monitoring. It is as if a traffic light at a very busy intersection has gone awry, directing the traffic in a random and disorganized manner—sending the vehicles off in all directions at the same time. And, in fact, something like that occurs in the brain of a person with ADHD. The part of the brain responsible for organizing, sequencing and controlling mental activity is simply not working on a level appropriate for the child’s age. It is as if there is “a developmental lag,” resulting in an immaturity brain chemistry and resultant function. Over the years clinicians who care for children with ADHD observed this lag, but could not identify any anatomical changes to account for this developmental lag

Now recent research backs up the view that there are biological underpinnings in brain anatomy and chemistry which results in the symptoms of ADHD. Dr Phillip Shaw of the National Institute of Mental Health recently reported data which suggest the presence of physical changes in the brain of individuals with ADHD. Dr Shaw and his collogues used scans to measure the cortex thickness at 40,000 points in the brains of 233 children with ADHD and 233 control children who were developing normally. The results showed that brain thickness was normal in ADHD children in most parts of the brain including the sensory and motor cortex. However, there was a delayed growth of thickness in the frontal cortex where most of the control functions reside.

These results are exciting for clinician as well as parents and teachers. To begin with this study provides strong evidence that ADHD is a biological/neurological condition. The symptoms are real; they are not figment of the imagination. The finding that there is a delay in brain growth that catches up in time is compatible with the long term observation that ADHD symptoms get better with age. They may not go away completely, but ameliorate with chronological maternity. This offers us all-parents, teachers, clinicians—a basis for hope for continuing healing and over time. Given time, physical maturation of the brain catches up resulting in the lessening of symptoms.

Try a Family Night

 

Strong families do not just happen. We must work at it. There are many ways to enhance family communication and appreciation of each other. What works for one family may not work effectively for another. But one technique that has been helpful to many families who are trying to survive in the hurried pace of today, is family night. A scheduled family night can help us put the family in its rightful place along with all other commitments which makes demands on our time and energy.

Your family night plan will reflect your family’s personality, needs, and structure. Following are some general guidelines to consider.

1, Make the activities age-appropriate. Provide activities that everyone can and will participate in. The process is more important than the product. The activities must be meaningful for your children. Avoid judging the meaningfulness of the activity by adult standards. The goal is to simply have fun.

2. When possible plan it for the same time each week and protect it. This means no phone, TV, or visitors unless it is planned for in your activity. Relatives and friends will learn to respect your family time if you do. If you are interrupted by a phone call, kindly explain your family night philosophy and suggest an alternative time when you can return their call.

3. Involve older children in helping younger ones with some of the activities. This practice will foster the older children’s sense of independence, responsibility, and achievement. It will enhance the younger child’s sense of respect for the older sibling.

4. The activity truly becomes a family-oriented one rather than one guide only by adults.
5. Provide variety and balance in your weekly activities and make your plan before the night arrives. Use seasonal emphases or build on the teaching opportunities which develop during the week. Include games, songs stories, creative arts, trips, adventure.

6. Limit your outside commitments on the family day in order to store up energy for your family.

Here are a few ideas for family night:

Read children’s books on different subjects. Draw pictures about what you read.
Have a game night. Different family members get to pick which games to play.
Make homemade get well card to send to a sick friend or relative
Make gifts for birthdays or Christmas
Cook a meal together
Have a picnic
Talk a walk about the neighborhood
Video members of the family performing
Make a giant family sundae or homemade ice cream

Now use your creativity and come up with your own ideas.

ADHD and Creativity

Children with ADHD are impulsive, easily distracted, and disorganized. It has been suggested that creativity is related to a more adventurous, nonconforming, and impulsive cognitive style. Therefore, some clinicians have suspected that children with ADHD may demonstrate superior creativity as a part of their condition. Some have even proposed that increased creativity is an actual benefit of ADHD.

Methylphenidate (Ritalin) and other stimulants are commonly prescribed as a part of the treatment of ADHD. One desired outcome is to decrease impulsiveness. Some workers have suggested, therefore, that treatment with methylphenidate could inhibit the creativity of children with ADHD to the degree that it does decrease impulsiveness.

Jean Funk, PhD. and associates at the Medical College of Ohio evaluated this hypothesis. Using an accepted test of creativity (Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking), they compared 19 boys with ADHD with 21 control boys. The boys with ADHD were tested with and without medication and compared to the controls.

No significant differences were noted in levels of creativity between the controls and the subjects with ADHD. Also, no differences were noted in the ADHD boys with and without medication.

Two significant conclusions can be drawn from this study. First of all, elementary age boys with ADHD are neither more or less creative than boys without ADHD. Also medical treatment with methylphenidate did not affect the creativity of school aged boys.

Editors Note: I would not expect the treatment with stimulants to decrease creativity. Creativity is characterized by “divergence thinking”, or the ability to produce more than one of several possible “correct” answers. Impulsive children are prone to produce many repetitious, usually incorrect, responses. In fact, it is conceivable that correct medical treatment could allow a child to be more creative to the degree that such treatment allowed the child to “stop, look, and listen” to his real creative instincts.
Additional study on this subject with larger groups of children of more diverse ages is needed to settle these questions about creativity more completely.

ADHD Associated With Early Death

Individuals diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADHD) are at a higher risk of dying young, usually as the result of automobile crashes and other accidents. This is the conclusion from the largest study to date on the relationship of ADHD and mortality. This study, an analysis of nearly 2 million Danish medical records, The presence of related disorders such as drug abuse, or oppositional disorder the odds of early death. The study also noted that the risk of early death is even higher in those diagnosed after age 18.

 

While increased morbidity and mortality due to trauma has been known for many years, this new study gives a more precise picture of the risks due to its large size.

 
Most experts feel that this increase vulnerability is due to the impulsiveness and perceptual deficiencies along with general delayed maturity seen in individuals with ADHD

 
The findings of this study should not cause panic in parents and caretakers of children with ADHD, it does point out the importance of early diagnosis and effective treatment of children and teens with ADHD .

 
Other studies furnish evidence that treatment with behavioral intervention, academic support and medication has the highest rate of success. (Seem previous editions of this blog for management and treatment recommendations.)

The Importance Of Reinforcement In The Learning Process

(For parent or teacher, this is a timely reminder.)

 
We hear, see and feel things that are kept in our awareness for a short period of time and then forgotten. These things are not really learned. In order for a stimulus to be committed to the long term memory and, therefore, learned, reinforcement must occur. Reinforcement is the process by which our conscious and unconscious mind is given a reason, or motivation, for committing a stimulus, thought, or concept to long term memory.

 
Reinforcement is a complex and highly varied process. One of the most significant reinforcers for children is the internal, built in drive to learn so characteristic of all children. Children innately want to learn about their world. A high percentage of all stimuli impinging on their senses is assimilated and committed to long term memory, i.e. learned. This innate drive to learn persists in children until it is turned off by some negative reinforcement.

 
Negative reinforcement occurs when learning is made unrewarding, unpleasant, boring, or anxiety provoking. Under such circumstances a child may begin to lose his internal motivation. For instance, the young child eagerly wants to talk with his parents and others about all the exciting things he is learning that the tree is tall, the sky is blue, that bugs crawl. If his enthusiasm is met with continual indifference, he eventually will grow less interested himself in learning. The first grader is usually ready to learn to read. But if he finds the effort confusing and frustrating and finds he is not making progress, learning to read becomes unrewarding and he eventually will quit trying.

 
The human mind has fantastic potential for learning, for absorbing facts, and making leaps into new concepts. Each child has this innate drive to learn from the time his eyes begin to explore the environment, to his reaching for a rattle, taking his first step, saying that first word, to exploring the world of physics. This internal reinforcer, to remain strong, needs to be supplemented with external reinforcement for maximum learning to occur. This external reinforcement may take many forms. Certainly among the most powerful reinforcers are the social ones such as recognition, encouragement, and praise.

 
The knowledge that actions on his part will get him something he wants, such as more free time, treats, money, or participation in a special activity, is a strong reinforcer.

 
Rewards must be immediate and tangible to the child to be effective. We should reward each little step toward the right goal, not wait to give one big reward for total perfection. As learning is reinforced, the material becomes more and more indelibly imprinted on the conscious and subconscious mind of the child.

 
Thus it is important to plan the learning disabled child’s curriculum so that he or she has the opportunity to experience academic, personal, and social success.

 
Here are some healthy ways we can use positive reinforcement in molding the child’s behavior:

a. Recognition
Recognition from family, friends, teachers, and other important people serves as a strong motivator. This may be done in many ways:
“Billy, I am so pleased that you were able to put your pants on by yourself.”
“Wally, you tied your shoes by yourself.”
“Sean, you answered every question. I am pleased.”

b. Encouragement
We all, children and adults, need to be encouraged.
“You are trying very hard with your art. Good job.”
“I like the way you picked your colors for this picture so carefully.”

c. Praise
Genuine praise for a job well done or a good effort extended is one of the greatest motivators.
“I appreciate the good job you did in putting the toys away.”
“I was very pleased by the way you behaved while we were waiting in line…”

d. Sense of accomplishment
The knowledge that one has done a job well, or learned something significant is itself, a powerful motivating force.

e. Material gain
The chance of personal gain is a definite human motivating factor although it is not always the most important. There are times and places for tangible rewards. But they are not always appropriate and in general are not as powerful as the social reinforcers discussed above. However, the knowledge that desirable actions on her part will get her something she wants such as treats, money, or time can be a significant reinforcer for a particular child.

 

As discussed previously, rewards, to be effective, must be immediate and tangible to the child. It does little good to tell a third grader that if she makes straight “A”s she will get a bicycle at the end of the year or that she will get a dollar for every “A” she has on her report card. Such a goal is too distant and intangible for most children.

 
More appropriately we could say, “Susan, complete the first five problems of your homework now then you can take a break and have a cookie and juice.” You give a small, immediate reward for one small step in the right direction and then repeat this process until the task is completed.
We should reward each little step toward the right goal, not wait to give one big reward for total perfection. As learning is reinforced, the material becomes more and more indelibly imprinted on the conscious and subconscious mind of the child.

 
What is most rewarding, or reinforcing, to a given child, will depend a great deal on what that child has learned to like. We should remember that the strongest reinforcer of all is success. Success breeds success. As the child is able to accomplish tasks and sense personal fulfillment, he wants to repeat this pleasant experience. Success reinforced by genuine appreciation and honest attention is powerful in molding behavior and learning.

Beware of the Help!

As a parent of a child with ADHD you are bombarded with advice and suggested help from every direction. As the prevalence of ADHD has become more known, a hoard of individuals and organizations has flooded the market with their own brand of “help.” Many of these ideas come from reputable and experienced sources. However, much of this advice and help come from groups pushing their own agenda.

So it is important for parents to carefully evaluate the advice and interventions they see on the internet, hear from friends or read in the mass media.

I would suggest that parents be wary of the following:

1. Any one offering a complete or, quick, cure. So far I have not found any “quick fix” for the developmental problems of kids with ADHD. Help is certainly available but it involves time, effort, and cooperation of many people. When fad treatments are latched onto, time as well as the family’s money, is often wasted.

2. Anyone pushing a method of treatment not known to the school personnel, your physician and other professionals in the community. You can be sure that your child’s teacher, principal and counselor as well as your pediatrician are interested in what the community has to offer. If there is someone or some program around which can help, one of these people you trust is likely to be aware of its existence. They are not likely to recommend a program that is worthless and expensive.

3. Anyone who pushes just one form of therapy. The strengths and weaknesses of each underachieving child are unique. No one treatment is a panacea for each of them. Most children will benefit from a variety of interventions—through special education, behavioral management, and maybe medical treatment. Most competent professionals will be open to any possibly effective technique.

As with all parenting advice, consider the source as well as the open and hidden expense of any suggested help you receive.

Consider These Sports for the Child with ADHD

Certain sports are better suited for the ADHD child than others. Baseball, for example, is usually not an ideal choice. The slow pace and the need for well-developed motor and eye-hand coordination skills make it difficult for many children with ADHD .Stuck in left field, the ADHD child is likely to be off chasing a butterfly when the fly ball comes whizzing his direction.

Some of the more suitable sports for the child with ADHD are:

Soccer. Soccer serves as a good building block for other sports because it enhances speed, endurance, and leg strength. It is relatively safe. Too, the hyperactive child does not look much different form other children on the field. Most communities have summer and fall soccer programs and communities in warmer climates have soccer programs year-round. Most children genuinely enjoy soccer; it is now the second largest sport for children in the United States.

Swimming. Swimming, with or without competition, is a good choice for many children with ADHD. The explosiveness of swimming is well matched to the impulsiveness of ADHD. Being a solitary sport, it does not require close cooperation with a large number of teammates as is necessary in the more traditional team sports.

Also swimming is an excellent activity for children with coordination problems. Motor skills needed for swimming seem to be different from those needed for activities on land; a clumsy child can actually be a good swimmer. Swimming, too, seems to enhance over all motor coordination. I have know many ADHD children who were able to experience success in competitive swimming when they failed at all other sports.

Martial Arts. Tae Kwon Do and Karate have proven effective outlets for many ADHD children. Such martial arts are probably the most enjoyable sport after soccer.

Parents sometimes question this use of the martial arts fearing that they may over-stimulate the child or aggravate aggressiveness creating serious social problems. But this does not seem to happen often.  The martial arts are  among the  most therapeutic programs for children with  focus and organizational problems. Another benefit is that children can start as young as 6 or 7 years of age. These sports are beneficial because they involve structure, rules, rituals, a stop-and-think attitude. No techniques are taught until the child has learned to stop, listen and think. Classes are usually small. The techniques are monitored carefully, and it is emphasized over and over that these activities are sports and are not be used for any aggressive play. Students who disobey the rules are likely to be expelled from the class. The martial arts teach and develop control of mind and body. Such control, of course, is the basic need of children with ADHD.

A key component for healthy management of the child with ADHD is involvement in sports. It is important, however, that the sport be matched to the skills and interests of the child.

ADHD and Prevalence of Depression

Attention Deficit in early childhood predisposes to adolescent depression according to research published  October 2010  in the Archives of General Psychiatry. This risk of depression in young children with ADHD is greater in girls, in those with associated conduct disorder, and in those whose mothers were depressed according to the study.

The Researchers evaluated 125 children age 4 to 6 who met the criteria for ADHD and 123 matched controls without any sign of ADHD. These subjects were followed for up to 14 years. All of the children in the study lived with their biological mothers.

ADHD at 4 to 6 years resulted in increased risk of major depression during the teen years by more than 15 times. Girls with ADHD had twice the risk of later depression than boys. Maternal depression increased the chance of depression in the children with ADHD by more than 7 times.

Comment: This study documents what many clinicians working with children and families have observed informally. The reasons for this increased risk of depression and mood disorders in teens who are diagnosed with ADHD are not yet clear. There may be biological factors common to both disorders. It is also likely that the stress of trying to live with the symptoms of ADHD would predispose one to depression. The very fact that the person with ADHD experiences the frustration of not being able to perform at the level they know they are capable of is, in itself, a significant stress.

Proper management of the ADHD as outlined in the book, ADHD Strategies for Success, will help minimize the stresses of living and learning for children with ADHD.

Certainly, parents and professionals working with children with ADHD, especially adolescents, should be diligent is watching for signs of depression and follow up on such signs when noted.

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