October is known as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Awareness Month. We wanted to go ahead and share some basic information related to signs and symptoms of ADHD with our families. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has put together an overview of ADHD, and we wanted to pass along this information. Rather than re-invent the wheel in creating “more information,” we recognize there are so many resources available in this day and age on the internet that a quick google search can turn up. However, not all the information that is out there is factual or may not pertain to what you are currently experiencing with your child(ren). We chose to share this information from the NIMH as we believe it presents factual information that gives a good overview of signs and symptoms of ADHD. Given we work with a variety of children and teens with ADHD, identifying and treating this disorder is a team approach that includes the child and family, educators, psychologists, neuropsychologists, mental health providers, doctors, behavioral therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language therapists, amongst others. Regardless of a diagnosis or not, we want you to know that our team at All About Speech & Language is here to help!
The National Institute of Mental Health states that people with ADHD show an ongoing pattern of three different types of symptoms:
- Difficulty paying attention (inattention)
- Being overactive (hyperactivity)
- Acting without thinking (impassivity)
These symptoms get in the way of functioning or development. People who have ADHD have combinations of these symptoms:
- Overlook or miss details, make careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or during other activities
- Have problems sustaining attention in tasks or play, including conversations, lectures, or lengthy reading
- Seem to not listen when spoken to directly
- Fail to not follow through on instructions, fail to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace, or start tasks but quickly lose focus and get easily sidetracked
- Have problems organizing tasks and activities, such as doing tasks in sequence, keeping materials and belongings in order, keeping work organized, managing time, and meeting deadlines
- Avoid or dislike tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as schoolwork or homework, or for teens and older adults, preparing reports, completing forms, or reviewing lengthy papers
- Lose things necessary for tasks or activities, such as school supplies, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, and cell phones
- Become easily distracted by unrelated thoughts or stimuli
- Forgetful in daily activities, such as chores, errands, returning calls, and keeping appointments
Signs of hyperactivity and impassivity may include:
- Fidgeting and squirming while seated
- Getting up and moving around in situations when staying seated is expected, such as in the classroom or in the office
- Running or dashing around or climbing in situations where it is inappropriate, or, in teens and adults, often feeling restless
- Being unable to play or engage in hobbies quietly
- Being constantly in motion or “on the go,” or acting as if “driven by a motor”
- Talking nonstop
- Blurting out an answer before a question has been completed, finishing other people’s sentences, or speaking without waiting for a turn in conversation
- Having trouble waiting his or her turn
- Interrupting or intruding on others, for example in conversations, games, or activities
Showing these signs and symptoms does not necessarily mean a person has ADHD. Many other problems, like anxiety, depression, and certain types of learning disabilities, can have similar symptoms. If you are concerned about whether you or your child might have ADHD, the first step is to talk with a health care professional to find out if the symptoms fit the diagnosis. The diagnosis can be made by a mental health professional, like a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist, primary care provider, or pediatrician.
There are a variety of tools that can be and are used to help children and teens with ADHD across the disciplines of Occupational Therapy and Speech-Language Therapy. We also offer a variety of programs that are used in the remediation and management of ADHD such as:
How We Can Help: Speech-Language Pathology
- Executive functioning tasks around planning and organization, using visuals and other such supports to help increase success at home and school, in completing assignments and following directions.
- Providing reading support through a variety of programs such as Lindamood-Bell, Orton Gillingham, Lively Letters, and personalized customization to meet grade and developmental expectations.
- Providing writing support through organization and planning of thoughts and ideas and how to execute them from the mind to paper and personalized customization to meet grade and developmental expectations.
- Providing social skills support for children that are struggling with making and keeping friends: Socialights PEERS©, Elementary, and Tiny Social Skills Programs.
- Attention and Processing activities through therapeutic tasks and programs like Interactive Metronome (IM)
- Evaluations across language, reading, writing and social domains.
How We Can Help: Occupational Therapy
- Evaluation to determine how ADHD is impacting the child’s ability to master everyday skills and engage in expected daily roles.
- Assessing and suggesting environmental modifications to support an optimal setting for success.
- Making appropriate recommendations for strategies, interventions, and adaptations, to manage and overcome the emotional, behavioral, and/or physical symptoms of ADHD as they impact the child’s performance in school, home, and community.
- Working on executive functioning by providing functional and practical applications for use of organizational strategies needed to maintain organized thoughts and environments, as well as designing use of compensatory aids as needed (visual aids, charts, reminders, structured routines).
- Implementing alternative methods through the use of listening programs, including Rhythmic Entrainment Intervention (REI) and Interactive Metronome (IM).
- Providing handwriting support through multi-sensory learning approaches, including Handwriting Without Tears.
- Providing education/instruction on coping tools and sensory strategies to improve children’s insight and ability to identify and manage symptoms through the use of various self-regulatory programs, including the Zones of Regulation and the Alert Program.
- Implementing sensory integration techniques and designing individualized sensory diets to provide specific stimulation that the child’s brain needs to maintain a just right level of arousal and focus.