Help! My child has ADD???

Sunday, November 28, 2010 Aimee Larsen 5 Comments

The title of this post reflects my exact thought about a year ago and here is what I have found...

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is prevalent in the lives of many children.  We all know children who don’t seem to listen, who have a hard time following instructions, or who blurt out inappropriate comments at inappropriate times.  These children at an early age are often labeled in school as troublemakers, are referred to as lazy or undisciplined.  Children who receive these labels will carry this stigma with them far too long, even after the problem is addressed as one that they can not help.

As a teacher who had children labeled with ADD and a mom who has a son that is now labeled, it is imperative to me that all adults that work with children understand and educate themselves with the symptoms and remedies of ADD.  It is so very important that children who appear to have ADD are not labeled as troublemakers, lazy or undisciplined; but, that the challenges they face in 
cooperating in our world are real and manageable.  While it is not a teachers place to diagnose a child with ADD, it is the teachers’ responsibility to document the challenges that a child faces during their school day so that those challenges can be addressed.  It must be understood that children cannot help that they have ADD.

Society has heard it all before; don’t let children watch TV before the age of three or let them play video games before the age of five, or we should not let babies walk before they have first crawled.  There is so much advice out in the world today about how to “prevent” ADD in children.  I am here to say that my child, barely watched TV before the age of three, never owned a video game until he was seven and crawled long before he could walk; yet, he still has ADD.  Some research suggests it is hereditary, maybe so.  If so, did my husband or I have ADD, how about our parents and grandparents?  We may never know the answer to part of the question but I can say that I myself have suffered from ADD.  When I say “suffered”, I am referring to the torment I faced growing up.  I was called lazy, unorganized, undisciplined and received numerous spankings growing up because I struggled in school and could not gain control of myself or my own thoughts.  I still struggle.  I feel that I have managed to become a competent adult in many ways but in many ways I see the affects of ADD on my adulthood.  I am still unorganized, though I desperately want to be and go to extreme efforts to be organized.  So much so, those other areas of my life become more unorganized at the same time.  I keep a schedule book but I constantly forget to check it, to write down important dates or even keep it in a place where I will remember it.  Matching socks is a nightmare.

How can a teacher help a child overcome struggles with ADD at an early age so that they do not carry into adulthood so much so that adulthood itself is hard to manage?  First, teachers need to be well aware of the symptoms of ADD and be able to distinguish them from symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).  ADD symptoms are believed to be caused by a lack of activity in the parietal lobe of the brain.  The main indicators of ADD are fear; anxiety; low brain energy leading to a capacity problem; slow cognitive thinking; daydreaming; avoidance and procrastination; mental confusion; poor memory retrieval; however, the frontal processes if the brain are intact so these children rely on logic.   These indicators of ADD result in distractibility, poor communication, poor time management, unorganized and occasionally they can be impulsive and impatient.  All of the results described above are directly related to the indicators mentioned.  For example, a child may be poor at planning or organizing because of distractibility, confusion and slow thinking processes.

Children with ADD are sometimes also labeled as having learning difficulties because information processing is poor because information is missed. Difficulties in slow cognition are common but once they understand the material they can use it. Reading and spelling be difficult because of weak phonemic skills. Mental arithmetic can and geometry can also present problems. (LDPride)

While it is easy to talk about the “problems” with ADD, the positive effects are sometimes overlooked.  Children with ADD tend to be marvelously creative.  Children who are able to have 10 different thoughts at once or are daydreamers, tend to have excellent problem/solving skills and notice what others don’t see.  They are flexible even in the face of fear.  They are able to consider a great many options at once and if they don’t become set one alternative too early, they can easily be swayed toward different ideas.  Their spontaneity is enthusiastic; they are rarely bored because they enjoy a good deal many things.  ADD children typically have determination and drive coupled by energy.  They work and play hard and strive to succeed. (

The remedies for ADD can be exhausting at times but the outcome is worth the effort.  Efforts that need to be made are three fold.  The efforts are the responsibility of the teacher, student and parents.  Teachers as well as parents can do the following:
•    Follow a routine. It is important to set a time and a place for everything to help a child with ADD/ADHD understand and meet expectations. Establish simple and predictable rituals for meals, homework, play, and bed.
•    Use clocks and timers. Consider placing clocks throughout the house, with a big one in your child’s bedroom. Allow plenty of time for what your child needs to do, such as homework or getting ready in the morning.
•    Simplify your child’s schedule. Avoiding idle time is a good idea, but a child with ADD/ADHD may become even more distracted and “wound up” if there are too many after-school activities.
•    Create a quiet place. Make sure your child has a quiet, private space of his or her own. A porch or bedroom can work well too—as long as it’s not the same place as the child goes for a time-out.
•    Set an example for good organization. Set up your home in an organized way. Make sure your child knows that everything has its place. Role model neatness and organization as much as possible.
Other important factors to helping children cope with ADD is to allow for more exercise, more rest at night and encouraging better eat habits.

Medication is a tool, not a cure.  Medication is a possibility for children with ADD but should be used along with the remedies mentioned above as the medicine is often more affective when combined with other treatments.  All children do not respond to medication the same; therefore, it should be closely monitored.  If a parent chooses medication, which does not mean that the child will have to stay on it.  ( treatment)

There is no reason for a child to go through school feeling like a failure because of their struggle with ADD.  There are far too many options when it comes to ways to remedy the affects of ADD on a child.  ADD is a condition that children have no control over; however,  children can learn with the help of others, to control the world around them in a way to insure their ADD no longer has control over their lives.

 Check out these websites for more information:
LDPride (difference between ADD & ADHD)

If you have links you'd like to share, leave them in the comments below and I'll be glad to add them to the list.


  1. Great Post! I have three children with ADHD 17, 14 and 8. I really recommend the Christopher Green book about ADHD, I find it really helpful :)

  2. Great post. I have a son with Asperger's and find lots of similar difficulties. It really does seem to just be about education and compassion, I think.

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