Helping Children with ADD & ADHD
Today, we have many effective ways of helping children with ADD and ADHD, thanks to a growing body of scientific research and the many compassionate industry professionals forging this path.
The research indicates that ADD (attention deficit disorder) and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) affect at least 9 percent of children in the U.S., with many more potentially going undiagnosed. We also have reason to believe that the problem is growing steadily across the country.
The majority of children diagnosed with ADD and ADHD will carry this condition into adulthood and potentially throughout their lives.
Treatment options were previously limited, with medication being the go-to approach for helping children cope with ADHD-related challenges. However, as many parents and caregivers prefer not to medicate their children indefinitely, we have developed other effective strategies that can be used in addition to, or in place of, prescription drugs. These include educational, behavioral and psychosocial therapies.
At FUNctionabilities Pediatric Therapy in Draper, we successfully use occupational therapy techniques to help children with ADD and ADHD.
The Challenges of Childhood ADD & ADHD
Attention disorders are a form of neurodevelopmental disorder that manifest with a variety of symptoms. The most common symptoms that children experience are:
- Trouble with concentrating and focusing
- Difficulty with staying organized
- Trouble with impulse control
- Appearing forgetful about tasks
- Trouble with sitting still
- Difficulty forming friendships and social bonds
In more severe cases, the child may act out, become verbally abusive or physically destructive. This behavior profile is more common boys, leading to a higher diagnosis rate.
Although girls experience ADD and ADHD at a much lower rate than boys, they are less likely to be diagnosed. This phenomenon occurs because girls often have milder symptoms and they do a better job of masking their symptoms, based on cultural factors. In fact, girls are more likely to suffer ADD (as opposed to ADHD), meaning their symptoms present without the hyperactivity factor, which is arguably one of the most easily detected symptoms.
The Challenges of Undiagnosed Childhood ADD & ADHD
Parents and caregivers often notice that their child displays one or more of the following characteristics:
- Short attention span
- Easily distracted
- Constant movement or fidgeting
But, as these are some of the most common behaviors of childhood, children may go undiagnosed while their well-meaning parents believe that these behaviors will self-correct as the child matures.
Unfortunately, by the time parents realize this may not be a passing phase, their child has slipped behind in school and missed out on important social and emotional development phases.
The average age of attention deficit diagnosis is 7 years, with more severe cases being diagnosed, on average, around age 5. Children who are diagnosed late tend to develop dysfunctional coping mechanisms while failing to develop many life-critical behavioral skills.
In addition to academic and social struggles, undiagnosed attention deficit disorders place a significant strain on the parent/child dynamic. As communication deteriorates, parents may blame themselves and feel as though they’re losing control. However, the stigma associated with conditions like ADHD – and the mistaken perception that poor parenting skills caused this disorder – may lead families to label attention-deficit children as “troubled kids” rather than to seek help.
Seeing a trained professional for a full evaluation is the best way to ensure your child gets the help they need to cope with attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Treatment Options for Children with ADD & ADHD
We have so many attention deficit treatment options today that parents and caregivers can feel overwhelmed. You may struggle to determine which approach – or combination of approaches – are best for your child.
The most common treatment options available today are as follows:
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a variety of stimulant and non-stimulant medications for treating ADHD and ADD in children ages 6 and above.
Stimulant drugs work by increasing the level of dopamine in the brain, which assists with attention and motivation while calming the need to move constantly. These drugs are all forms of either methylphenidate or amphetamine. Approved stimulants include:
- Ritalin (methylphenidate)
- Focalin (dexmethylphenidate)
- Adzenys (amphetamine)
- Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine)
- Adderall (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine)
For children who do not tolerate stimulant drugs well, the FDA has also approved some non-stimulant drugs. Approved non-stimulants include:
- Strattera (atomoxetine)
- Intuniv (guanfacine)
- Kapvay (clonidine)
Although these medications work for a large percentage of children with ADD and ADHD, they can have a number of serious side effects.
Behavioral Therapy & Psychosocial Treatments
Psychosocial treatment, specifically behavioral therapy, is also supported in the research as being effective for helping attention-deficit children.
It is important to note that behavioral therapy does not address or treat the underlying mechanisms of ADD and ADHD. Rather, it seeks to address the symptoms by modifying unwanted behaviors.
Qualified psychotherapists use a variety of techniques based on established psychological theories. However, this is a complex field and parents may struggle to find a therapist who has the appropriate background and qualifications. In addition, psychosocial treatments can be costly and they may not be covered by health insurance.
Education is used primarily for parents and caregivers. This enables them to better understand their child’s condition and learn strategies to help. Parents also learn coping and response strategies that can ease tension and create a less stressful environment in the home.
The research strongly supports parent education and training as an effective way to help children with ADD and ADHD when used in combination with other modalities.
Unfortunately, parents may find themselves bombarded with advice from well-meaning friends and questionable online sources, specifically with regard to alternative ADD and ADHD therapies. These unproven modalities include everything from elimination diets and supplements to chiropracty, neurofeedback and hypnosis. Some of these treatments may have validity; however, without scientific research to support them, they could potentially harm the child. At best, putting off other treatments while trying alternative modalities will subject the child to the same challenges they would encounter with a late diagnosis.
A significant body of research demonstrates that occupational therapy is one of the most effective ways of helping children with ADHD and ADD. Occupational therapy (OT) is a health and medical science that helps children with the development of critical skills, such as fine motor skills, cognitive abilities and social skills. These skills deficits contribute directly to problems in academic, social and emotional situations.
Essentially, OT helps attention-deficit children develop and perfect the skills they need to succeed in all their daily tasks and responsibilities. This modality is a natural treatment that offers no risk of side effects and produces quick and lasting results.
Research indicates that a combination of treatment protocols produces good results for many children. However, most doctors recommend trying non-medication-based therapies before resorting to psychoactive drugs, especially for younger patients.
Today, parents and caregivers overwhelmingly want a solution that will allow their child to discontinue medication at some point. The FUNctionabilities occupational therapy protocols support this objective.
FUNctionabilities Occupational Therapy for Children with ADD & ADHD
At FUNctionabilities, we have developed a set of exclusive protocols based on occupational science and proven therapeutic modalities.
The term “occupational therapy” can be confusing because it has nothing – and everything – to do with the job you go to each day. Your occupation is what you spend your days doing. Children spend their days learning, playing, socializing, eating, performing self-care tasks, etc.
An occupational therapist helps to ensure that children with ADD and ADHD have the skills necessary to succeed in all their daily occupations.
The occupational therapists at FUNctionabilities make sure that children have fun while they master critical life skills.
Our occupational therapists analyze each child and tailor therapeutic programs to provide exactly the right type and degree of challenge necessary to provide the desired results. Children gain new skills and increase their capacity to focus, communicate and forge meaningful social bonds. Most families see results within the first few sessions.
In our sensory-rich environment, children simply have fun. And most families see results within the first few sessions.
Your Insurance May Cover the FUNctionabilities ADD & ADHD Programs
Unlike many other types of attention deficit therapies, most insurance plans cover our occupational therapy sessions. We also have cash pay plans and, for those who need financial assistance, we offer programs that may help make our fun, effective therapies more affordable for you.
And, as most families see results after only a few sessions, your child will never have to wait to start on the path to becoming their best self.
Why the FUNctionabilities Programs Work for Attention-Deficit Children
Our Draper, Utah pediatric therapy clinic was founded with goal of putting FUN in function, to help children live life easier.
We created an environment based on cutting-edge, evidence-based therapies designed to address children’s underlying problems rather than just the symptoms. Our therapist-owned and operated facility was specially designed to motivate children and encourage exploration and joy.
At FUNctionabilities, children are so busy having fun that they don’t realize the progress they’re making in overcoming their challenges.
We recognize that parents and caregivers are the experts on their child and, for that reason, we ask you to be closely involved in the therapeutic process. Education allows you to continue to challenge your child at home. Together, we can help your child make quick and steady progress.
At FUNctionabilities, we are proud to say we make sure children with ADD and ADHD are “Learning to Play” and “Playing to Learn!”
If you’re ready to help your child rise to the level of success you know they’re capable of, talk to us today. We look forward to showing you how FUNctionabilities Pediatric Therapy Specialists help children with ADD and ADHD.