The American Psychiatric Association states in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) that 5% of children have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a disorder in which children experience difficulty with sustaining attention and concentration, restraining impulsive behavior, and planning and organizing. These problems often interfere with a child’s ability to hear or read instructions, complete school assignments, participate in games, and perform everyday tasks, like getting dressed or doing chores. For help with everyday skills, as well as inattention and other ADHD behaviors, you might want to get help for your child from an occupational therapist. With the help of occupational therapy, a child can learn to master day-to-day skills and be more engaged at school and at home.
Occupational therapists often work with children to help them develop executive functioning and self-regulation skills. By teaching children strategies to address these challenging areas, they are empowered to become more independent and self assured.
- Executive Functioning refers to an individual’s ability plan, organize, initiate and transition between tasks, problem solve, manage time, and self-monitor. Child with ADHD often exhibit difficulties with executive functioning skills. Occupational therapists work with children and their families to identify how these challenges are impacting their daily lives. These areas are then addressed in two ways; helping a child to directly build those skill sets and by working with the family to create routines that emphasize a child’s strengths.
- Self-Regulation refers to an individual’s ability to Identify and adjust their level of alertness. Understanding your current ability to pay attention, be safe, and interact with others is something that often comes naturally to adults. When we are tired and trying to pay attention in a long meeting, many of us make a (sometimes subconscious) decision to increase our level of alertness by tapping our feet, drinking coffee, or chewing on a pen cap. For some children, including many of those with ADHD, it is difficult for them to develop this skill on their own and they need assistance to read their own bodies and choose appropriate strategies to help them focus.
If you have concerns about your child’s ability to carry out executive functioning skills or self-regulation, schedule an evaluation with one of our occupational therapist or clinical psychologist to develop the best course of action.