By: Alexis Snyder, OTR/L
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and is one of the most
common diagnoses among children. There are several symptoms that can result from ADHD including inattentiveness, impulsivity, hyperactivity, poor ability to follow directions and poor ability to sit still. Symptoms of ADHD are extremely variable from person to person, however there are many strategies to manage ADHD that can be used for almost any child. Several studies have concluded that individuals with ADHD present with under developed portions of their brain compared to individuals without ADHD. The areas of the brain that have been identified as underdeveloped are responsible for several very important functions including memory, emotions and learning. With this being said, it becomes clear that a child with ADHD will have more difficulty than the average child forming memories of positive and negative experiences and then being able to learn from them and shape their behavior based on the experiences.
So how do we communicate effectively so that positive learning experiences are created to shape the child’s behavior? We use clear and consistent feedback. Clear and consistent feedback is extremely imperative for children with ADHD to succeed because it provides boundaries and provides a more structured learning environment that allows their underdeveloped brain to learn easier. An example of constant and clear behavior is when a child exhibits a positive behavior such as good attention to a task, you can praise them and recognize the success. This not only provides boundaries, but it also helps the child to build confidence and allows the child to learn what behaviors are preferred and not preferred by the caregiver. This type of reinforcement essentially takes the guessing game out of the equation for the child and allows them to create a memory of that learning experience. Below is a list of tips on how to maintain constant and clear feedback with your child.
· Use praise immediately after the child shows the positive behavior or follows directions.
· Phrase the praises in different ways each time in order to keep the positive reinforcement new for the child and minimalize the chance of the praises losing meaning to the child.
· Be sure to be within a reasonable distance of your child when giving instructions and praise in order to ensure the child understands the directions.
· Maintain consistency with expectations. When children know what to expect and which behaviors will be rewarded, they will be better prepared to exhibit those behaviors when they need to.
In conclusion, in order to effectively communicate with your child with ADHD, there are several aspects that go into this, however the most important continue to be clear and consistent feedback. Children with ADHD need boundaries and need more support to develop learning experiences about their behavior than other children, which is why using the strategies above are extremely imperative for these children.