What is ADHD, Part II

ADHD blackboard

Written by Dr. John Carosso

Where’d we leave off?

We left off with the discussion of ADHD being a disorder within the pre-frontal cortex that manifests in deficiencies in what’s called ‘executive functioning’.  The more a parent can externalize these executive functions, and help the child carry-out the pre-frontal cortex duties in the child’s natural environment, the more success will be experienced. In the last post, each executive function was described, and specific skills to target any shortcomings.

What’s next?

Listed below are even more interventions you’ll find to be helpful when managing your child with ADHD.  A number of these interventions help to ‘externalize’ the executive functions and helps the child to be increasingly independent; others help to improve your relationship given that the ‘constant’ reprimand and redirection can wear thin after a while.

Some helpful strategies:

  • It’s important to enhance and bolster your relationship with your child, which can take a blow with all the reprimand and redirection inherent with having a child with ADHD. Given that reality, it’s important to put aside ‘special time’ with your child during which you’ll involve in free-play and, during such, ask no questions, give no directives, and in no way try to control the play. Instead, narrate the play with enthusiasm to reflect your attention and interest. Any given ‘session’ can be 10-30 minutes. In addition, gross motor pursuits such as chase, catch, and tag can be lots of fun.
  • Make sure you show approval immediately for any behavior of which you want to see more.
  • Be specific in telling your child what you like about their behavior.
  • Never give a back-handed compliment (“I like the way you clean-up your toys, I sure wish you’d do that every day…”
  • Barkley (Taking Charge of ADHD) offers a wonderful contemplation for a parent: “are you the best or worst supervisor that you’ve ever had, with your child?” In that respect, think about past bosses and supervisors you’ve had, and how much do you behave, with your child, the way you were treated?
  • Provide immediate feedback about compliance, and praise your child. Be specific. Give repeated praise while they’re completing the task.
  • Reward big-time if task is done spontaneously and without prompting!!
  • Another great way to externalize a few executive functions at once: make up chore cards for each job. List the chore on the card, the steps to complete the task, and amount of time needed for the chore, then start the timer (“see if you can beat the clock…”). Can give a warning that chore is forthcoming, then give the chore-card a few minutes later.

Okay, that was eight strategies to help in your daily pursuit of helping your child be the best he or she can be. I’ll have a bunch more in the next post. Stay tuned and, in the meantime, please share with me (jcarosso@cpcwecare.com) the strategies you’ve found to be most helpful, so I can share them with others too. God bless.

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Dr. John Carosso

Dr. Carosso has more than 30 years of experience as a licensed Child Clinical Psychologist and Certified School Psychologist working in private, inpatient, outpatient, residential, school, and home settings. He is Clinical Director of Community Psychiatric Centers (cpcwecare.com), a licensed Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinic, and operates both the Autism Center of Pittsburgh (autismcenterofpittsburgh.com) and the Dyslexia Diagnostic and Treatment Center (dyslexiatreaters.com).