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How ADHD can impact your child’s social life

While Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is most commonly associated with difficulties related to a child’s ability to concentrate and pay attention, ADHD can affect more than just your child’s academic performance at school. It can also impact their ability to socialise and interact with other children as well as adults. For the children themselves, this can often be the most difficult part of having ADHD.

In 2015, research indicated that ADHD was the most common mental disorder among children and adolescents and was found to have serious impacts not only on the child themselves, but their relationships with family, friends and their school.

Children with ADHD tend to lack the vital social skills that not only help them to make friends, but also form reciprocal friendships with other children. Nonstop activity, impulsiveness, and confronting or demanding actions tend to create feelings of annoyance or irritation amongst peers and often cause arguments and disagreements to occur. Children with ADHD can also appear withdrawn or not interested, and struggle to understand other people’s feelings. This all impacts a child with ADHD’s ability to initiate and develop long term friendships.  When children with ADHD do have friends, the friendships tend to be of lower quality and less stable than typical friendships between children.

If your child is struggling socially, there are a few ways in which you can try to make it easier for your child to engage and interact with others:

  • If you’ve noticed your child struggling to make friends because they often interrupt or have trouble filtering what they say, you could use role play with your child to demonstrate appropriate dialogue and turn taking.
  • If your child is losing friends, you could involve your child in a sporting group or other group activity that allows them to engage with other children that have similar interests.
  • If your child often overreacts in social situations, when it happens, ask them to explain what has upset them and then talk about how their reaction may be affecting others. This will help them to recognise their triggers and the impact their actions have on others. Discuss with them more appropriate ways to respond when they are frustrated.
  • If your child has problems with following through, particularly with group work, you could introduce tools like checklists and charts that can help them to get organised. This can help to ensure that their group doesn’t feel let down when working with them.

To learn more about how you can practically support your ADHD or ADD child, please contact us for a free initial consult.

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3 tips for helping your ADHD/ADD child prepare for exams

Imagine if parent–teacher meetings or school reports were focused on how your child was tracking with regard to problem solving, creative thinking or collaboration? These are all skills that will help your child live and work effectively in a 21st Century workplace.

Instead, school reports focus on how well your child can memorise and recall content. For any parent of a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) the end of year exam period can be a source of major stress.

Studying and exam-taking with ADHD is challenging for both child and parent. As you beg, bribe and bargain to get them to study and then soothe nerves and shore up self-esteem after the exam and report, you have to wonder is there a better way?

There are a number of ways you can help your child to prepare for the upcoming end-of year exams, including:

  1. Good study technique

Most students re-read the textbook as part of their exam preparation; however for ADHD kids reading is passive and can be a very ineffective way for them to retain information. A more effective technique can be for them to work through practice tests and even create their own practice exam based on previous class tests and areas teachers have stressed as important.

  1. Sleep on it

Instead of cramming the night before, spend shorter amounts of time studying each day in the lead up to the exam. Reviewing just before bed also helps to increase familiarity with the material and allows your brain to process the information during sleep when it’s more active.

  1. Get help to manage test anxiety

Test anxiety exacerbates the symptoms of ADHD and the student can find it difficult to understand and follow test directions. They might freeze when it comes to retrieving the facts they have learned and struggle to organize their thoughts and answers. Unfortunately, many students with ADHD also suffer from test anxiety, making it hard for them to do well even when they have studied.

The good news is test anxiety can be reduced! It is a learned response to a stressful situation and can therefore be unlearned. The typical approach to treating test anxiety is through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Exposure Therapy. There have also been a number of studies that have looked at the effectiveness of using Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT) as part of the treatment for test anxiety.  The advantage of using VRT is that it provides a therapist with the ability to gradually expose the student to the stressful situation, monitoring their anxiety at each step and preparing them to deal with it. The therapist is there with the patient in the situation, which is not always possible in real life. Using VRT as part of the therapy process allows the anxious person to confront the feared situation repeatedly until it no longer causes anxiety. For students with ADHD, test taking can be challenging at the best of times, but having to deal with test anxiety on top of that can cause them to stumble even when they are well prepared.

To discuss how you can support your ADHD or ADD child coming up to the end of year exam period, please contact us for a free initial consult.