COPING WITH ADHD: THE FAMILY’S ROLE

Medication, psychotherapy, a healthful diet, and behavior modification are all essential components of a multimodal approach to the management of ADHD. However, none of these modalities can be fully effective if the patient’s family isn’t behind him 100 percent in his struggle to live a normal life.
Adults with ADHD often have long-standing family difficulties. If married, their ADHD symptoms may well lead to frustration, anger, blaming, and poor communication in the marriage. Frequently, they become less than effective parents, and their impulsivity, short fuse, and emotional liability may lead them to be inconsistent, punitive, and even violent with their children. It is essential that any treatment approach to the adult sufferer include the education of his family about his condition and their involvement in helping to change some of the patterns of behavior and communication within the family.
It is just as vitally important that the family of an ADHD child be involved in his treatment. Parents of a child with ADHD must feel empowered to become their child’s strongest advocates. Once a thorough workup confirms a diagnosis of ADHD, parents must become superbly educated consumers, capable of taking charge of their child’s treatment, education, and other necessary support systems.
Various professionals in the child’s life may focus on the need to modify the child to better fit into his environment, and drug therapy may be the mainstay to this approach. But it’s also important for the child’s parents to focus on the need to sometimes modify both the home and school environments to better suit the child. This may involve the following.
Insisting on a thorough workup and diagnosis and gathering all the information they can find from all sources regarding their child.
Becoming a vigilant and energetic supporter of their child in the community, which may mean making a fuss at school and elsewhere. It may also mean taking a hard stand against their insurance carrier or HMO to guarantee coverage of the medical care their child will require. This can be extremely difficult because managed care companies often set strict limits, such as one medication visit every six weeks, which many providers erroneously claim is the only care necessary for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Having the insight to question the emotional climate at home—how the family works together, what stresses may impact on the ADHD child, how the siblings interact, the state of the parents’ marriage, the consistency of their discipline, the kinds of role models they provide and so on.
In my practice, I usually find it necessary to work closely with families of ADHD children in helping them understand their child’s difficulties and the impact the syndrome can have on the lives of every family member.
The families of adults with ADHD must also strive to achieve a sense of empowerment as they work to help the patient deal with his condition. A great deal of understanding and support is essential here, especially in the first few weeks following a clinical diagnosis. It’s often difficult for the patient to come to terms with his disorder and even more difficult for his family. Everyone involved must work extra hard to help the patient make the necessary adjustments.
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COPING WITH ADHD: THE FAMILY’S ROLEMedication, psychotherapy, a healthful diet, and behavior modification are all essential components of a multimodal approach to the management of ADHD. However, none of these modalities can be fully effective if the patient’s family isn’t behind him 100 percent in his struggle to live a normal life.Adults with ADHD often have long-standing family difficulties. If married, their ADHD symptoms may well lead to frustration, anger, blaming, and poor communication in the marriage. Frequently, they become less than effective parents, and their impulsivity, short fuse, and emotional liability may lead them to be inconsistent, punitive, and even violent with their children. It is essential that any treatment approach to the adult sufferer include the education of his family about his condition and their involvement in helping to change some of the patterns of behavior and communication within the family.It is just as vitally important that the family of an ADHD child be involved in his treatment. Parents of a child with ADHD must feel empowered to become their child’s strongest advocates. Once a thorough workup confirms a diagnosis of ADHD, parents must become superbly educated consumers, capable of taking charge of their child’s treatment, education, and other necessary support systems.Various professionals in the child’s life may focus on the need to modify the child to better fit into his environment, and drug therapy may be the mainstay to this approach. But it’s also important for the child’s parents to focus on the need to sometimes modify both the home and school environments to better suit the child. This may involve the following.Insisting on a thorough workup and diagnosis and gathering all the information they can find from all sources regarding their child.Becoming a vigilant and energetic supporter of their child in the community, which may mean making a fuss at school and elsewhere. It may also mean taking a hard stand against their insurance carrier or HMO to guarantee coverage of the medical care their child will require. This can be extremely difficult because managed care companies often set strict limits, such as one medication visit every six weeks, which many providers erroneously claim is the only care necessary for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.Having the insight to question the emotional climate at home—how the family works together, what stresses may impact on the ADHD child, how the siblings interact, the state of the parents’ marriage, the consistency of their discipline, the kinds of role models they provide and so on.In my practice, I usually find it necessary to work closely with families of ADHD children in helping them understand their child’s difficulties and the impact the syndrome can have on the lives of every family member.The families of adults with ADHD must also strive to achieve a sense of empowerment as they work to help the patient deal with his condition. A great deal of understanding and support is essential here, especially in the first few weeks following a clinical diagnosis. It’s often difficult for the patient to come to terms with his disorder and even more difficult for his family. Everyone involved must work extra hard to help the patient make the necessary adjustments.*88\173\2*

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