Malikot. Makulit. Madaldal. Hyper. Antukin. Tulala. Laging late. Hindi nakikinig. Hindi natututo. These are words you dread because these have been used to describe your child for the longest time. And it’s not that people are using these to hurt your child. The scary part is you agree.
So then you bring your child to a developmental pediatrician, and your worst fear is confirmed. Your child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). So what’s next?
It is understandable for any parent to panic when they are told that their child has ADHD. But it does not mean that it is the end of the world. In fact, aside from a few specific strategies on establishing rules or giving rewards and consequences, raising a child with ADHD is no different from raising child without ADHD.
Dr. Rose Aligada, Dean of Miriam College’s College of Education, and one of the founders of the ADHD Society of the Philippines, shares tips for newly-diagnosed parents:
Acceptance is key Although a diagnosis may seem like a death sentence, bearing a negative attitude won’t help either. Aligada, who is also a Special Education specialist, notes that a parent’s refusal to accept his or her child’s diagnosis can become a huge barrier to helping the child reach his or her potential.
“Parents naturally go through a grieving process once they learn about their child’s diagnosis because somehow, society has led us to believe that having a disability, whether physical or neurodevelopmental like ADHD, means you are limited,” Aligada explains. But she also asserts, “There have been a lot of success stories, especially with ADHD. Parents just need to get past the negativity first. They need to be given time to sort through all these emotions.”
Educate yourself The best way to raise a child with ADHD is by learning about the condition itself. “Once a parent understands what ADHD is and what it entails, the difficulties will be easier to address,” Aligada states. She continues, “ADHD is a neurological condition. This means that there is a big chance that things will be done repeatedly, as if your child isn’t learning what he or she is supposed to learn.” This, she reiterates, is when knowledge of the condition becomes handy.
Without a real understanding of ADHD, it would be very easy for a parent to give up on the child and conclude that the child is making these mistakes on purpose. That being said, Aligada stresses that it does not mean children with ADHD cannot learn. “The best way for them to learn is if parents allow their children to make mistakes. Don’t be so quick to rescue them all the time. Watch them from a distance and when the time is right, coach and guide them. Let them learn by experience.”
Discipline, discipline, discipline! Research shows that children with ADHD have an inherent problem with self-regulation. It means that on their own, they will have difficulty controlling their actions, recognizing their own mistakes, and correcting themselves. So, it is necessary for children with ADHD to grow up in highly structured environments.
Aligada, who has several family members diagnosed with ADHD, attests to the power of discipline. “I’ve seen it happen in my own side of the family, and I’ve seen it happen to others. What we want is for children with ADHD to grow up self-reliant, without depending too much on other people to gain success. Discipline is a good way to teach them to regulate themselves.”
Include your child in coming up with house rules. But more importantly, make sure that you consistently implement these rules.
Value 'values' above all else. Let’s face it. No matter how disciplined you think your child is, the outside world would still be full of things that can tempt him. Alcohol, drugs, bad company, abusive relationships, debt — children and teenagers with ADHD can easily fall prey to these because of poor self-regulatory skills. “What will strengthen children with ADHD is a strong set of values. Make sure to instill these very early in life,” Aligada states.
Finally, Aligada says that being involved in a support group can help families of children with special needs cope with their difficulties because not everyone will understand how it is to take care of a child with different needs. For parents of persons with ADHD, she recommends the ADHD Society of the Philippines, an NGO consisting of parents and SPED practitioners who are committed to empowering families who need support.
“The ADHD Society has different programs to address certain needs: we have monthly parent support groups, support groups for young adults diagnosed with ADHD, parenting classes, and teacher training programs, among others,” Aligada says.
For inquiries, click here and here for ADHD Society's website and Facebook, respectively. It can be reached at 0905-390 6451 and email@example.com.