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ADHD: What Parents Need to Know

Approximately one in ten children are diagnosed Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a neurodevelopmental condition which is a physical difference in the brain. Symptoms of this medical condition can interfere with your child’s activities in various situations including school, at home or with friends. But what do the symptoms look like?

ADHD symptoms include impulsive behavior that might look like one or more of these things:

  • Having difficulty paying attention
  • Being overly active, having difficulty sitting still and squirming, fidgeting, or bouncing
  • Acting out without thinking about the results of their actions
  • Having difficulty learning
  • Forgetting or losing things
  • Having trouble taking turns with other children
  • Making careless mistakes, taking unnecessary risks

Most of the time symptoms occur before children are 12 years old. There’s no single test to diagnose ADHD so it’s best to speak with your CPCMG pediatrician if you are seeing any of the behaviors listed above. Your child’s teacher will often help fill out a questionnaire provided by your pediatrician to assess if your child may have ADHD.

Sometimes, instead of medications to help with ADHD, making several of the changes listed below may be enough to help your child:

  • Chew gum while doing homework and reading
  • Stand at dinner/homework if fidgety in chair
  • Front of class placement in classroom
  • Squeeze a squishy ball with one hand while doing homework and reading
  • Sit on balance ball to do homework
  • No artificial colors in diet (these can be found in many processed foods including fruit snacks, chips, and candy)
  • Follow a low sugar diet – no juices or sodas
  • Include a protein source with each meal (beans, nuts, peanut butter, tofu, eggs)
  • Have outside active play time for 1 hour per day preferably right after school and make sure it’s unstructured play (running, riding bikes, swimming at beach or pool, playing actively on playground, etc.)
  • Limit video games to learning themes and non-violent games to 30 minutes day as a reward for completed homework
  • Limit TV to 30 minutes per day
  • Help your child fall asleep with no screen time (TV/videogames) after dinner; instead try a walk outside, bike ride, free play, artwork

Please talk with your CPCMG pediatrician if you have concerns with your child’s attention and behavior. They are a terrific resource for helping your family.