Children / School Problems / ADD

Children
I have found that 4 years old is about the youngest age that counseling can be effective. I have counseled children younger than 4, but with children that young the counseling is limited to behavioral counseling and coaching the parents on how to set boundaries and positive and negative consequences for the child.

When I counsel children I encourage parents to be part of the process. Some parents like to stay for the entire session. Others like to check in and let me know how things have been going since the last appointment, then I meet with child or teen individually (most parents wait in the lobby, some like to run errands). When the parent returns we process what things the child wants to work on and how they will be doing it. This allows parents to recognize when a child is trying to use a new skill and it also allows the parents to help remind the child of a skill they could use in a stressful situation.

 

School Problems
Teachers in the public school system do the best they can and I have great respect for them. But the way our education system is set up, if your student is the “round peg” they’ll be a great fit for the “round hole” the school system has ready for them and your student will get a great education! But if your student is a “star shape,” “rectangle shape” or “diamond shape” –not so much.

Sometimes the school problems are from ADD/ADHD. Sometimes a student has a Learning Disability that may or may not have been caught yet. Some kids are “wish thinkers” – by wishing things will go the way I want them to go, I’ll do everything my way and ignore my teachers! And then complain it’s not my fault when I get referrals.

Roller coaster /drama relationships of the parents can greatly impact a child; if a parent’s partner is moving out and then back in every few weeks, nothing is stable for the student.

Domestic Violence in the home can create problems for the student at school; if the student is worried sick about if his Mom is safe he will have a hard time concentrating on what the teacher is saying. When a kid is called stupid and worthless on a chronic basis by an abusive parent or step-parent, those toxic messages sink in and destroy the kid’s sense that he/she can achieve and master new things.

A huge issue I find with lots of students is lack of organization. Students not knowing if they have homework or when it’s due. Students doing their homework but not turning it in. Backpacks and lockers are chaos.

Often the parents have talked until they are blue in the face with no improvement from the student. An effective counselor can often get the student to use the same skills the parents have strived for but the student will listen to the counselor. Why? The effective counselor is a neutral party so there is no frustration or anger going with the message of organization strategy.

 

Attention Deficit Disorder / Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity *
I often use the term ADD when writing or talking about these conditions unless I am discussing a particular sub-type of ADD.

The key components of ADD are:

Short Term Memory problems
Lack of Impulse Control
Disorganization (aka Chaos)
Emotion Regulation

Kids that have ADD are stressed out and anxious; they are aware they are missing things due to getting distracted way too easily. They do not like getting in trouble at home and at school.

 ADD has nothing to do with a lack of intelligence. Most kids with ADD have at least above average intelligence—but part of their brain is not working as well as it should be.

Counseling can help them learn skills that can help them better cope with their ADD. ADD is frustrating for everyone in the family because it effects everyone!

Often, when parents and siblings gain a solid understanding of how ADD works in the brain (it is a physical condition) it can help determine appropriate expectations for the kid with ADD and it can lessen the stress for everyone. I believe gaining this information is essential since ADD impacts the whole family, not just the individual who has ADD.

 

Medications: Does every kid that has ADD need to be on medication?
No. 18 years ago I was very anti-medication, especially for ADD. Throughout the years I have seen many people(children, teens and adults) benefit from medication and I now of am of the opinion that if medication can improve the quality of a person’s life, they should take the med as prescribed. But I do not believe that everyone needs to be on medication. I still see the use of medication on a case by case basis.

Is ADD over diagnosed?
Likely. But some types, such as ADD Inattentive Type, are actually under diagnosed.

Medication can:

· Help kids focus and remember
· Lessen the frustrations they have at school
· Help them control their impulsive behaviors
· Allows them to develop better social skills so they can make and keep friends

I do not write prescriptions but if you sign a Release of Information (permission slip)I am willing to coordinate services with your Child’s Doctor if your child is prescribed medication.

Counseling and medication are the best way to address ADD.

Do I require kids be medicated before I counsel them?
No.

What causes ADD?
We don’t know. There often tends to be a genetic link; when a kid has it, often one of the parents do too. But there are lots of kids who have it and neither parent does. And usually other kids in the same family don’t have ADD.

Resistance and Denial of ADD: Almost always when one parent is concerned their child has ADD and the other parent is adamant MY CHILD DOES NOT HAVE ADD, it’s the parent in denial that also has ADD. Logically, having lived with ADD themselves, it seems that a parent would be the one most motivated to get their child the help they didn’t get. But denial is a strange creature; some parents seem to believe if they don’t acknowledge the condition it will just go away. Many parents don’t want to think they passed this condition on to their kids so they don’t want to face it. In the meantime, the child or teen with ADD suffers in school and socially.

*Please note that ADD is the “umbrella diagnosis” that all of the the subtypes of the disorder are placed. In other words, ADD covers ADD, ADHD and ADD Inattentive Type. Comparing the types of ADD to cars, you can call a pickup a Silverado or a Chevy and either term is correct; but if you call the pickup a Chevy Ram or Dodge Silverado those are not correct.