Children with ADD/ADHD
What do John Lennon, Albert Einstein, Michael Jordan, Whoopi Goldberg, Walt Disney, Cher and John F. Kennedy have in common? They all were either diagnosed with or have exhibited many of the symptoms of ADD/ADHD. Knowing that we are among such esteemed company is just one of the insights that help those of us (including myself) to feel proud of the traits which symbolize ADD/ADHD. Building from fear and avoidance to acceptance and confidence is the first phase of treatment of children with ADD/ADHD. Establishing a rapport during this part of treatment, children and parents come to trust that ADD/ADHD is something to embrace and that shame is something to fight off...something we don't deserve.
During the second phase of treatment, an action plan is implemented. A "coach" (usually a parent) is identified to support their child in following through with various organizational and time-management tasks. Children learn to self-regulate by using cognitive strategies as well as physical relaxation. Contact is made with schools so that teacher/school social worker and therapist work together in supporting the student with interventions which are discreet, empathic and empowering. Teachers and parents are encouraged to practice using simple, non-threatening prompts. Prompting can take a number of forms: hand signals, signs posted on mirrors or walls, note cards or laminated cue cards the student can carry from place to place and, of course, short and simple directives which, when used properly, are received by children as "reminding" rather than "nagging."
As children learn to adjust independently to the challenges posed by ADD/ADHD, they learn to channel their creative energy into activity that is productive and meaningful to their sense of self. Their ability to both self-monitor and self-evaluate is a process devoid of shame. During this last phase of treatment, children use and manage their own day timer to organize their lives without specific coaching. Treatment options are left open-ended for the future as ADD/ADHD often poses new challenges during adolescence.