Lifestyle Changes to Manage Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
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Any kind of stressful circumstances can worsen the symptoms of ]]>ADHD]]> . As a result, lifestyle changes are an important part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Improvements in your child’s environment, brought about by behavioral therapy, can reduce symptoms a great deal. Because most cases of ADHD are diagnosed in childhood, many of these lifestyle changes are geared toward helping parents help their children cope with ADHD.
The following recommendations all have the same objective: reduction of stress and distractions to help focus your child’s attention. Children and adults with ADHD are more sensitive to these stressors than the average person.
General Guidelines for Managing ADHD
At School or Place of Employment
Modify the environment in an effort to reduce distractions.
- Sitting on a Disc'O'Sit cushion may help improve your child's attention in class. The Disc'O'Sit is a dome-shaped cushion filled with air that requires the child to maintain proper balance.
- Decrease noise and clutter.
- Provide clear instructions, preferably written.
- Focus on success. Reward your child’s progress and reinforce positive behavior.
- Help your child get organized with checklists and reminders.
- Encourage impulse control.
- Encourage your child to do things he or she is good at.
- Don’t require your child to perform difficult tasks in public.
- Encourage active learning, such as underlining, note taking, or reading aloud.
- Break big jobs down into small tasks.
* New research published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology has shown that behaviors such as fidgeting, pencil tapping and constant movement in adolescents may serve a distinct brain function and help ADHD kids stay alert and on task. Some teachers and schools may take a different approach and allow children to move and fidget about, in a quiet manner, during activities (eg, squeeze a ball, stand at the back of the room with work).
- All guidelines for school and the workplace apply to the home environment, as well.
- Address family tensions such as spousal conflicts, ]]>alcoholism]]> , ]]>addiction]]> , and sibling rivalry.
- Create order, structure, and routine in the home. There is comfort in knowing what is going to happen and that things are where they belong.
- Provide nourishing meals.
- If you smoke, ]]>quit]]> .
- A family doctor should monitor your child’s treatment to detect and treat any problems.
- A school or employment counselor may be helpful in making alternate educational or work arrangements.
- Mental health professionals can teach coping skills to help reduce stress and deal with emotional and social problems.
- Specially trained ADHD coaches are available to help provide structure, tools and strategies.
When to Contact Your Doctor
Talk to your family doctor or a mental health professional if symptoms worsen or you need help addressing these lifestyle changes.
ADHD Coaches Organization. Available at: http://www.adhdcoaches.org/ .
Attention Deficit Disorder Association website. Available at: http://www.add.org/ .
Attention Deficit Information Network website. Available at: http://www.addinfonetwork.com .
Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder website. Available at: http://www.chadd.org .
National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/ .
Rapport M, Bolden J, Kofler M, et al. Hyperacitivity in Boys with Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A Ubiquitous Core Symptom or Manifestation of Working Memory Deficits? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. 2009;37:521-534. Available at: http://clclinic.cos.ucf.edu/Documents%20and%20Files/hyperactivitywm.pdf . Accessed July 21, 2009.
The Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://www.nemours.org/index.html .
¹ 4/30/2008 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Pfeiffer B, Henry A, Miller S, Witherell S. Effectiveness of Disc 'O' Sit cushions on attention to task in second-grade students with attention difficulties. Am J Occup Ther. 2008;62:274-281.
Last reviewed September 2009 by ]]>Theodor B. Rais, MD]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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