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How is parenting an ADD child different than a regular child?

The parent of an ADD child must work much harder than usual to give their child the emotional support they need.

A new mother’s can feel like a failure if she is unable to soothe her child. she may come to believe she is a bad parent or doesn’t know what she’s doing. Studies show that parents who are able to see their child’s talents and help them meet their needs can assist their children tremendously.

The greatest difficulties appear to arise when the ADD child is the first in the family according to research. If the mother has a child with normal growth and development she is more likely to have confidence in her parenting and realize that the new child’s behavior differences are not directly related to her. This will lead her to do all she can to provide nurturing and not give up.

Since so little is known about the early signs of ADD the new mother rarely is given proper support from the medical community. Parents need to be assured that although they need better skills with these children it isn’t about them being failures as parents. They must work hard to learn all they can to provide consistent fair discipline and patience.

Why is it necessary to look at the symptoms of ADD according to the age of the child and their developmental level if the symptoms stay relatively the same?

This is necessary because children look very different at various ages, developmental tasks are different, and the environment which they are behaving and living in changes. Because of this, the underlying disorders of ADD manifest themselves in unique ways at various ages and will effect important aspects of development.

In the older school-age child or adult so many things have affected their character that it is far too simplistic to think ADD is the only factor to consider. It is important to look at the symptoms of ADD as they first appeared, along with how the difficulties related to it interacted with their environment to distort it right away.

Each aspect of ADD and the environment into which it plays has a dramatic impact on one another. To design a proper treatment approach it is important to have an understanding of all the interacting layers which play a role in shaping the child.

What are the most common signs of ADD in infants?

Infants can show many signs of ADD, however it is important to understand that having these signs doesn’t always mean the child will reflect ADD symptoms when they become older. A fussy infant may just be fussy as part of her personality.

An ADD infant is often fussy and distressed. Hyperactive infants tend to cry excessively and for longer periods than other children. These children are almost impossible to soothe no matter how much rocking, walking, gentle talking the mother does.

Studies show evidence that the mother’s desperate efforts to calm the child as well as the crying episodes themselves, can cause problems that bring about higher periods of arousal and less serene mother-child interaction that is an important part of the child’s emotional development.

These crying episodes can also interfere with cognitive development as well since it limits the child’s ability to explore and learn from the environment.

These children have sleep disturbances. Some may appear sleepy and unresponsive early in life. Others have trouble falling asleep and are noticeably overactive, and thrash and jerk during sleep. Once asleep they often will awake with a start and begin crying usually leading to long periods of crying and are difficult to soothe. For some this can lead to sleep walking, night terrors, and frequent waking during the night. Since there is some overlap in the parts of the brain involved in sleep and attention there may be some physiological differences in the way these children sleep.

ADD infants may also have feeding difficulties (i.e. poor sucking, crying during feeding, or later on finickiness). Some may develop unique feeding schedules that are less regular. Feeding problems may be caused by an overexcited physiological state, yet they also may be a result of interference in the trust and comfort bond with the mother due to the difficulties in being able to soothe the child. This is especially true if this is a first child since he mother can easily feel she is a failure if she is unable to soothe her child. She can come to feel she is a bad parent or doesn’t know what she is doing. If the parent has a non ADD child first and this child shows normal growth and development she will be less likely to believe her new child’s behavior problems are her fault. Thus she will also be more likely to do what ever it takes to help her ADD child succeed.

ADD infants and toddlers may also exhibit uncharacteristic inattention. Although young children have shot attention spans a two or three year old will sit still to read a book or play a game. ADD youngsters become bored or antsy after only a few minutes.

You may also notice poor vocalization. Most healthy infants start babbling during their first year of life as a precursor to learning to talk. Many ADD infants do not begin to vocalize until well after their first birthday and are also delayed in speaking their first words. Neurological and behavioral difficulties can be the result of delay in these areas.

These children may show lack of cuddling response. They are children who squirm and fret or show dislike for being held. This can exacerbate problems with the mother-child relationship because it can reinforce negative beliefs about the mother’s parenting skills.

What are the effects of ADD on the developmental stages of a school age child?

First of all the symptoms of ADD like hyperactivity and inattention are more pronounced once school begins. That is why so many children are identified once school begins.

In the family the ADD symptoms may be absorbed into the family and less noticeable since the child is allowed much more freedom of movement and choice than in the school setting. Often too the child’s behavior is merely viewed as just like a parent and thus more accepted.

How soon ADD is recognized is dependent on the school environment, the teachers, and the severity of the symptoms. When the school allows more movement, less structure, and more small group work the child’s differences may not be as noticeable because it accommodates his learning differences and neuronal preferences better. Or if the child is bright enough, as most are (the average intelligence is 110), they may develop sufficient strategies to hide their ADD for years.

It will be important for the child to learn to deal with the classroom situation in order to succeed. Neuro-feedback, meditation, and other interventions can assist the child to do just that. Education is not going to change overnight to accommodate learning and behavioral differences so we must give our children every advantage we can to help them adjust to an environment they don’t fit in well.

Can ADD symptoms in infancy affect development in later years?

Absolutely. Because developmental stages of life are interconnected and many stages of infancy impact school-age development, adolescence, and adulthood dramatically the symptoms during infancy can impact later life. If early development is disturbed later development is also disturbed. That is because as they reach new milestones they do not possess the full range of skills necessary to master the new ones. This makes ADD more complex as the child ages since not only are we dealing with symptoms we are also dealing with a variety of developmental delays or gaps.

Research shows that adolescents and adults with ADD show higher incidence of antisocial personality disorder and other emotional behavioral problems. Since antisocial personality disorders are connected to a person’s earliest relationships – the ability to trust and empathize, as opposed to dehumanizing another and committing antisocial acts against them. When this trust doesn’t develop and mature as the child grows antisocial behavior is often the result.

How does ADD affect a child's ability to make and keep friends?

ADD can have an adverse affect on a child’s ability to make and keep friends.

This situation can become more complicated as the child gets older so it will be necessary for the parents to help their child develop friendships.

During nursery school impulsive behavior and high activity are the norm so children make fewer comparisons regarding different behavior unless the behavior is extreme. By elementary school however, children begin to observe and compare one another. The non-ADD child can listen delay gratification, act less impulsively and conform to group norms more easily then the ADD child. They also may be more hyperactive than non-ADD children and unable to delay responding to environmental stimuli. This may be demonstrated in talking too much, interrupting having difficulty sitting still and not completing classwork.

ADD children are also not as adept in making interpersonal judgments. Reading facial expressions and subtle messages are more difficult for them. Thus, they must work harder than non-ADD children to establish themselves socially and find ways to fit in. Their distractedness and difficulty concentrating adds to the frustration of relationships. They can be left feeling nothing they do is right.

By first grade children begin to be more observant and critical of others behavior. If the ADD child’s behavior is different others may react by excluding them from play or name calling which damages their already fragile self-esteem even further.

As infants these children didn’t have learning experiences that teach them how to cope easily. Therefore, they will experience trouble tolerating emotions. They are also not experienced in finding adults to assist them in coping either. therefore they may react to the seeming unfairness of the situation with tantrums, picking fights, being aggressive, or even losing control of their bladder or bowels. this is why it is so important to help these children label and talk about their emotions. they literally will be blocked to learning without the capacity to express their confusing emotions constructively. And without this outlet they are more likely to develop conduct, anxiety or depressive disorders.

Adult caretakers must be cognizant of the studies that show that children who are rejected by their peer group for a year or more are seen to have character flaws that are unchangeable. This puts these children at a much higher risk of depression, suicide and antisocial behavior. It is our responsibility to prevent this from happening by assisting them to form friendships and teaching other children to become more understanding and tolerant. Children who are failing socially also have difficulty with academic success.

Do ADD symptoms look different in girls?

Although girls may have the same symptoms as boys they most often manifest differently in girls. Girls have a tendency to daydream more, fabricate stories, and not complete academic assignments. She is also more likely to have fears, anxiety, phobias, depression, and compulsive tendencies.

She is often fidgety and restless and may be unaware of herself in space (i.e. bumping into things, knocking things over). She is physically active in that they climb on things and are in motion in some fashion if not confined. ADD girls often walk earlier than the non-ADD child and often crawl less.

Girls also have a command of language, speaking continuously. their speech is usually articulate and clear and they have an amazing vocabulary belying their age. ( This is often why girls go undiagnosed more than boys. Much of intelligence is determined by the ability to use language thus ADD girls are seen as more intelligent than her male counterpart). She often will make up stories about themselves. They are charming, intelligent, and watchful in nature. She is very observant of their surroundings remembering things in a photographic way.

Deficits in early development show up as academic demands increase. Their impassivity can also cause some social issues to appear. They may have some visual spatial problems that interfere with math skills although this may not always be the case. And even if it is they may still be artistically talented.

Her superior verbal skills may mask her inability to express her own emotions and to use language to gain a clear picture of herself. She may be unable to use language internally and understand and process interactions with others. Often she will create a false story and feelings about herself to escape a scary and confusing mental life, which can have overwhelming loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, and fears of abandonment and rage. These states are very frightening because she has no sense that they can be understood and so she will hide and deny them by creating a fantasy world.

It is important to understand that girls have evolved with more neuronal links for language for survival. Because of this, and because of different societal expectations and upbringing they are often perceived as more intelligent and less active than their male counterparts. Their physical activity is usually directed into less destructive ways and for these reasons girls are less likely to be identified ADD or are more often found to have the non-hyperactive form of ADD. This does not mean that there are really fewer girls who actually present the ADD profile. They are just less likely to be identified since they tend to be less disruptive behaviorally and appear to function better academically because they are expressive.