Children With ADHD Are Suffering Because of Lack of Awareness

In the light of the recent incident, where a Deputy of Kentucky Sheriff handcuffed an eight-year old boy diagnosed with ADHD, let us talk about children with ADHD.

The incident occurred whereby Deputy Kevin Sumner, working as a school resource officer at Latonia Elementary School in Covington, is been sued by American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for allegedly handcuffing an eight-year-old boy with ADHD, by his biceps at the back, because the wrists were too small, as a part of punishment given for not complying with orders.

ACLU’s Disability Counsel, Susan Mizner has said that using physical punishment for the purpose of disciplining students with disabilities “only serves to traumatize children.” Physical punishment could also further aggravate their behavioral issues Mizner added.

Sumner apparently handcuffed the eight-year-old boy, to “discipline” him and teach him to comply with teacher’s or elders’ orders. The video footage captures Sumner telling the little boy, already crying in pain, that he must “behave” if he wants the handcuffs gone and that he won’t be set free until he stops “acting up.”

This incident raises an important and immediate question about an awareness regarding ADHD, which is still lacking amongst the general public and professionals. There are plenty of us who are not aware of this medical condition and might not know how to react upon meeting kids/adults with ADHD. So what exactly is ADHD if you may ask?

The answer will be this — Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder a.k.a ADHD is a neurobiological disorder, which was earlier known as ADD or Attention Deficit Disorder until 1994. It has three subtypes: an inattentive type, a hyperactive-impulsive type and a combined type. All three affect attention, but with their own set of variations in symptoms. 

An inattentive type will show signs like having difficulty in focusing on simple tasks. The child faces difficulty in terms of paying attention to details or is more prone to making careless mistakes in mundane tasks, is unable to stay organized, or even listen to plain instructions. He/She may be forgetful about his/her belongings.

Whereas, a hyperactive type will have problems with staying calm for even shorter period of time. For instance, there may have trouble staying seated in a place for more than a minute or so, and there may be excessive fidgeting or talking.

The third type, a combined type, is somewhat of a combination of the previous two. It will show symptoms from both the first two categories.

Therefore, the first step towards understanding someone with ADHD is to realize that they are not “acting out” when they behave differently. They genuinely have difficulty with performing simple tasks unlike most of us and hence, they need more sensitive interaction.

So who can be diagnosed with ADHD?

The diagnosis of ADHD often occurs in childhood and the symptoms might recede with age but the condition can last throughout life. There is no particular test for detecting ADHD in a child, thus a complete evaluation by family practitioner or a pediatrician serves best. Though sometimes, the child may also need psychological or neurological intervention, apart from medical intervention, for diagnosing any other possible disability like depression or anxiety.

But don’t just jump to conclusions about considering a diagnosis for your child if he/she is throwing tantrums.

For your child to be considered for diagnosis, you must observe him/her and become assured that he/she shows signs or symptoms of disorder for at least six months and in at least two areas of life. Remember, the child might show anxiety signs if there is some discord in family or school; in which case it may not be ADHD.

Though research does not show a clear cause for the disorder, there are certain pre-conditions which have been identified. For instance, studies highlight that if a close relative has the disorder then there is a higher risk of having ADHD. Smoking or injuries during pregnancy or premature delivery has also been linked with ADHD.

So can children with ADHD lead a normal life? The answer is — yes!

You just have to ensure that the right kind of intervention necessary is provided to the child. And each child with ADHD, being a unique individual like all of us needs to be given individualized treatment. You can consult with your child’s doctor and form an individualized plan for a healthy and effective treatment.

In most cases, ADHD can be best treated with a combination of both medicine and behaviour therapy. It is not a disease that can be cured with just medicine and therefore medical intervention needs to provide for behavioral control too.

When one talks about medical intervention, there are several types of medication that are being used for treating ADHD, like the stimulants, non-stimulants, antidepressants [LINK]. It is always advisable to seek a doctor to help you choose the right kind of medication for your child. But you must not forget that a behavioral therapy needs to be worked out with a therapist, if you want to achieve the best results for your child.

A behavioral therapy requires involvement on part of both parents and teachers to support the child in managing his/her behaviors. Involvement on part of the parent means that they will have to join certain training and education programs, where they will be taught about how to handle their child’s behavior during difficult times and otherwise, help him/her improve behaviors, and also strengthen their bond with the child. If you are unsure of what a behavior module might include, then the following list of activities may help:

  • Create a routine for your child and help him/her get organized by breaking the tasks into simple steps, so that your child can actually aim for finishing them. Once the child starts to finish them, everyday he/she will grow in self confidence.
  • Try to get your child to take part in some social activities making use of role play, such that the child effectively learns about normal behavioral patterns in different situations that come up every day in one’s regular social life. This way you will help him/her improve upon social skills.
  • Avoid any sort of distraction like TV or music when your child is busy with homework as it might lead to him/her losing their concentration.
  • Limit the choices you provide for your child so as not to overwhelm or confuse him/her. ADHD kids already face issues with decision making, so giving them multiple choices will only result in more stress.
  • Try to be empathic and patient when your child is having mood swings. This will help him/her to calm down faster by seeing you breathe easy.
  • Do help your child in discovering his/her talent, as it can be a great way to boost his/her confidence and self-assurance.

A little bit of sensitivity has never hurt anyone.

ADHD is not a recent phenomenon that you and I are witnessing for the first time, but instead it is something that has been often misunderstood, neglected, or taken too casually. It is of vital importance to understand that everyone can contribute towards spreading positive awareness about ADHD.

Benefits of Going On Vacation: Mental Health and Productivity

Who killed summer vacation? That’s the million dollar question — literally. Long gone are the days of casually taking a few weeks off with the family to go on a road trip, or jetting off to a remote destination where the real world ceases to exist.

This is the problem recently addressed by Jack Dickey in a June issue of TIME Magazine, where he talks about the raising concerns and effects of workers not taking their deserved time off — even when paid to. We’ve all seen it. Most of us have even been this person at one point or another: You know, the one who sits poolside at a resort glued to their smartphone or laptop, and whose entire holiday itinerary revolves around whether or not WiFi will be readily available.

Because while traditionally vacations were meant to restore and rejuvenate, our cultural unwillingness to truly “unplug” from everything, especially in today’s digital age, has proven to be more exhausting and stressful than just staying in the office — a mindset that is seriously hurting us mentally, physically and professionally.

According to reports, Americans are taking less vacation days now than at any point in the past four decades. And 61 per cent of the Americans who do plan on taking their paid vacation days say they will be continuing to do work, send emails, and make business calls while away.

So, What’s Wrong with Vacation?

When surveyed, the top three reasons cited by people for not taking their vacation days were:

  • Heavier workload upon returning from holiday
  • Nobody else can do the work
  • Can’t afford to take it

What Does This Mean?

Whether we are at home, away, or in the office, many of us are constantly working. To quote USA Today, “The United States is the only developed country in the world without a single legally required paid vacation day or holiday”. So naturally with all this work and no play, one would think that companies and the workplace are becoming more productive, right? Unfortunately, the answer is no. What is happening however, is that we are breeding a society of overworked, uninspired, physically exhausted, and mentally worn out adults whose health, happiness, motivation, and personal relationships are also deteriorating as a result.

Overwhelmed, Overworked and Unproductive!

As a psychiatrist, I can’t stress enough the importance of downtime, unplugging, and rest to my patients. In fact, the most effective prescriptions I write are often lifestyle recommendations such as sleeping more, making meaningful social connections, routine regular exercise. Think of it this way, the best athletes know that without adequate rest, their bodies can’t perform or train as efficiently — this is no different when it comes to the brain! If we are constantly tired, how can our brains possibly be working at full capacity? Our brains need to rest in order to function at optimum capacity. The term “recreation” comes from the root “to re-create.”

The problem is many people don’t realize just how exhausted and stressed they are until given the opportunity to actually take time off.

As marketing expert Donny Deutsch puts it, “I didn’t realize how unproductive I’d become until I came back from a vacation, where you go, ‘Oh my God, this is what a mind feels like?'”

A study done by the Tatung University of Taiwan, published in New Scientist Magazine, has shown that driving even for 80 minutes straight without frequent rest stops greatly decreases a driver’s rate of reaction, increasing the risk of accidents. Now compare this to people working day in and day out without as much as taking two weeks off in the entire year–with over half of those people not even getting any real rest during those two weeks–you can just imagine the rate of deterioration that would happen to their overall mental capacity and work productivity.

On a positive note, in light of all this information, we now have progressive companies who are coming forward and updating their paid vacation policies–even going as far as offering incentives in bonuses to employees who take all of their vacation days, contingent on the premise that they are doing absolutely zero work on their days off. Because these companies understand that they benefit more and observe higher work productivity from well-rested and balanced individuals who work less months over the year, versus those who work non-stop 12 months a year to the point of burnout.

Resting for your Health and Sanity: Paying the Price

Time is money. Or more specifically, your time is money. According to the study ‘Project: Time Off’ conducted by the U.S. Travel Association, “The value of one forgone day, where workers are de facto volunteers for their employers, totals an average of $504 per employee. Therefore, the value of those 169 million lost days is significant–$52.4 billion in forfeited benefits.”

That is a significant value in benefits that employees are entitled to and yet choosing to forego every year! Instead, they are putting their mental, emotional, and physical health at risk, sacrificing personal relationships, and often end up having to spend their hard-earned money on healthcare due to all of the stress. Because an overwhelmed brain not only results in poor decision making skills and lack of creativity, but also a weakened nervous and immune system. Mental health disorders begin to arise in the forms of depression, severe anxiety, eating disorders, just to name a few. Other health problems that may occur due to lack of rest and stress include: heart disease, autoimmune diseases, insomnia, allergies, accelerated cell aging, cancer, diabetes, the list is simply endless.

The Cure: Less Work, More Play

The next time you think about skipping that well-deserved paid vacation, don’t! And the next time you feel tempted to reach out for your smartphone or laptop while away, focus on being present instead. No matter what, your work will still be there for you when you get back and there will always be more to do. Allow yourself to be rewarded for all your hard work and achievements, and in turn be rewarded with mental clarity, energy, a fresh perspective and overall improved health. Use this time to relax, reflect and repair your mind and body. As a result, your health, relationships and career will absolutely prosper from it.

If you’re concerned about the heavy workload upon returning to work, plan your schedule out ahead of time and figure out a way to complete most of your tasks prior to leaving, or set up the ground work that makes it easier for you to pick up where you left off. When you are well-prepared and show that you are able to maintain (or even increase) productivity after taking time off, it will only prove your capability and value to the company, as well as the benefits of encouraging employees to go on vacation.

Now, excuse me while I head to the beach with my family and indulge in a few good books I have been meaning to read. Life, when you allow it, is really good.