Helping Children with Attention Issues

ADHD is used by some as a catchall diagnosis for children who are having either behavioral or learning difficulties. This has happened historically with other diagnoses, and it is problematic for parents and professionals. Why? Because it becomes difficult to select the appropriate treatment when so many behavioral concerns become labeled ADHD or ADD.

Do not get me wrong; ADHD is a real disorder that can result in serious learning and behavioral difficulties. But for many children the diagnosis is not helpful to professionals trying to figure out how to treat it. It is important to identify the internal tools the student needs to get beyond their behavioral responses to the realities of their world.

The primary treatment we see for children labeled with ADHD is medication. The medication focuses on the inattentiveness that is at the heart of this disorder. It does a relatively poor job treating the issues that cause other behavior problems. In fact, it can make them worse. But even with true ADHD a combined approach (medication and behavioral treatments) is what most experts recommend. Medication may create better opportunities for learning, but it doesn’t teach the child how to learn, or how to behave.

Ultimately, even when effective, the mediation does not point your behavior in a particular direction.  And that is what behavioral approaches to ADHD and behavioral problems can do. That part of the formula cannot be neglected. Therapy addresses the issues of how to make good decisions, evaluate your own behavior, and behave within the expectations of the context.

Children struggling with attentional problems and challenging behavior will benefit greatly from a behavioral/educational approach to treatment. I have no problem with a medical approach as well, but I’ve found that children thrive when learning self-regulation strategies. Self-regulation is well-researched and incredibly effective. It gives them some control over the problem, and helps them learn how to manage it independently, and improve over time.

There are different approaches to teaching self-regulation. I would be happy to share them with you, and come up with an individualized program for your child.