Stigma and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - ADHD

Dr. Piyush Mahajan, MBBS, MD, Psychiatry (Gold Medalist), MIPS, MAPA, MIMA, MNAPCAIM

BRAND CONNECT
Published: Oct 13, 2021 05:39:04 PM IST
Updated: Oct 13, 2021 05:39:26 PM IST


“Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) does not come with a visible injury or something that people can see visually. Like a bandage or anything. So sometimes it's easier for people to judge when they literally have no idea what they are talking about. ADHD is not caused by bad or lazy parenting. It is a neurobiological disorder. I wish more people would take the time to really get into what ADHD is before criticizing. Be nice.”

Myths and Facts about ADHD

Myths

  1. ADHD doesn't exist & There is no such medical condition as ADHD.
  2. ADHD is an 'over-diagnosed' condition.
  3. ADHD is only a problem in children.
  4. Everyone with ADHD has the same symptoms.
  5. Only boys have ADHD.
  6. Girls don't get ADHD.
  7. Often labelled as 'naughty' or 'troublesome'.
  8. Everyone has a little ADHD.
  9. ADHD is caused by bad parenting. All the child needs is good discipline.
  10. Unmedicated ADHD is better than medicated.
  11. Medicine for ADHD will make a person seem drugged.
  12. Children who take ADHD medication are more likely to abuse drugs when they become teenagers.
  13. ADHD is just an excuse for laziness & Children with ADHD are learning to use the condition as an excuse for their behaviour.
  14. People with ADHD just need to try harder.
  15. All kids with ADHD are hyper active.
  16. ADHD is a learning disability.
  17. People with ADHD are smart but unfocused.
  18. All children eventually grow out of ADHD.
  19. Adults with ADHD just need to “grow up” or stop acting like children.
  20. Junk food and sugar cause ADHD.

Facts

  1. ADHD is a medical disorder, not a condition of the child's will. A child with ADHD does not choose to misbehave.
  2. ADHD is not caused by bad parenting. But parenting techniques can often improve some symptoms and make others worse.
  3. There isn't one single cause of ADHD. There are genetic components, environmental influences, and brain chemistry changes that all play a role in its development.
  4. ADHD symptoms can get in the way of learning, but they don't cause difficulty in specific skills like reading, writing, and math. Some learning disabilities often co-occur with ADHD , however.
  5. ADHD has nothing to do with a person's intellectual ability. Some highly intelligent people have ADHD.
  6. About 70 out of 100 children with ADHD continue to have symptoms during their teen years and about 50 out of 100 have symptoms into adulthood.
  7. There are three types of ADHD symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
However, people with the condition can present differently than others because everyone's brain is wired differently. Some might have more severe hyperactivity, while someone else has more intense inattentiveness.

The Potential Impact of ADHD on Mental Health

Research has shown that ADHD is often associated with reduced health and well-being of the person and their family.

This reduction in well-being can be linked to factors such as:

•    Low self-esteem
•    Anxiety or depression
•    Substance misuse
•    Difficulty forming relationships
•    Sleep problems
•    Being the victim of bullying

These factors can impact the development of any young person, but for someone with ADHD who is already experiencing their own personal difficulties like completing daily tasks, this can be very damaging for their mental health and effects can persist into adulthood.

Fortunately, there are things that parents, teachers and members of the general public can do to help make sure that any young person with ADHD gets supported through their challenges and to help boost their self-esteem and confidence.

How Can We Help?

Reinforcement

Praising children with ADHD may occur less frequently if their behaviour often presents as challenging, however it is essential that they get rewards, be it verbal or otherwise.
This can raise their self-esteem and help them develop a more positive image of themselves and their potential.

Create structure

Make a routine for your child and stick to it every day. Establish rituals around meals, homework, playtime, and bedtime. Simple daily tasks, such as having your child lay out his or her clothes for the next day, can provide essential structure.

Break tasks into manageable pieces

Try using a large wall calendar to help remind a child of their duties. Colour coding chores and homework can keep your child from becoming overwhelmed with everyday tasks and school assignments. Even morning routines should be broken down into discrete tasks.

Simplify and organize your child's life

Create a special, quiet space for your child to read, do homework, and take a break from the chaos of everyday life. Keep your home neat and organized so that your child knows where everything goes. This helps reduce unnecessary distractions.

Limit distractions

Children with ADHD welcome easily accessible distractions. Television, video games, and the computer encourage impulsive behaviour and should be regulated. By decreasing time with electronics and increasing time doing engaging activities outside the home, your child will have an outlet for built-up energy.

Promote wait time

Another way to control the impulse to speak before thinking is to teach your child how to pause a moment before talking or replying. Encourage more thoughtful responses by helping your child with homework assignments and asking interactive questions about a favourite television show or book.

Maintaining a positive attitude

Maintaining optimism is key for a child's belief that they can succeed and overcome the challenges that they face.

If a child sees that you believe in them, they are more likely to think that they are capable of achieving.

Highlighting the child's strengths and reminding them of their talents is a great method of encouragement.

Encourage exercise

Physical activity burns excess energy in healthy ways. It also helps a child focus their attention on specific movements. This may decrease impulsivity. Exercise may also help to improve concentration, decrease the risk for depression and anxiety, and stimulate the brain in healthy ways. Many professional athletes have ADHD. Experts believe that athletics can help a child with ADHD find a constructive way to focus their passion, attention, and energy.

Regulate sleep patterns

Bedtime may be an especially difficult for children suffering from ADHD. Lack of sleep exacerbates inattention, hyperactivity, and recklessness. Helping your child get better sleep is important. To help them get better rest, eliminate stimulants like sugar and caffeine, and decrease television time. Establish a healthy, calming bedtime ritual.

Encourage out-loud thinking

Children with ADHD can lack self-control. This causes them to speak and act before thinking. Ask your child to verbalize their thoughts and reasoning when the urge to act out arises. It's important to understand your child's thought process in order to help him or her curb impulsive behaviours.

Believe in your child

Your child likely doesn't realize the stress that their condition can cause. It's important to remain positive and encouraging. Praise your child's good behaviour so they know when something was done right. Your child may struggle with ADHD now, but it won't last forever. Have confidence in your child and be positive about their future.

Raising Awareness of ADHD

It is very important that more people are aware of what ADHD is.

Therefore, the better we understand ADHD, the more young people and their families can be supported and the more the stigma around this condition can be significantly reduced.

When to Seek Help for ADHD

If you suspect that someone you love has ADHD, talk to them about it.

Don't make assumptions based on what everyone else is doing and saying because people with ADHD are very unique individuals who need support and understanding just like anyone else in this world.

If your symptoms get worse over time or they're affecting your everyday life, then you should seek professional help.

There's no such thing as too many doctors' visits when it comes to ADHD. The worst mistake is waiting for something terrible to happen before getting help—start with a quick and easy consultation with a Psychiatrist.

Parents Support System

You can't do it all. Your child needs your encouragement, but they also need professional help. Find a therapist who will work in consultation with a Psychiatrist to work with your child and provide another outlet for them. Don't be afraid to seek assistance if you need it. Many parents are so focused on their children that they neglect their own mental needs. A therapist can help manage your stress and anxiety as well as your child's.
You can't be supportive 100 percent of the time. It's normal to become overwhelmed or frustrated with yourself or your child. Just as your child will need to take breaks while studying, you'll need your own breaks as well. Scheduling alone time is important for any parent.

Good break options include:

•    Going for a walk
•    Going to the gym
•    Taking a relaxing bath
•    Calm yourself

You can't help an impulsive child if you yourself are aggravated. Children mimic the behaviours they see around them, so if you remain composed and controlled during an outburst, it will help your child to do the same. Take time to breathe, relax, and collect your thoughts before attempting to pacify your child. The calmer you are, the calmer your child will become.

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