How active is normal?
It is vital to understand and deal sensibly with children who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
PHOTO: V. RAJU
identify the problemAnd, change your parenting techniques accordingly
“H elp. My child is so active I am unable to cope with it. He is intelligent, answers some very difficult questions, and solves intriguing puzzles, but why can't teachers have him in class? When he was an infant, I was overwhelmed that he was so active — much more than any other infant his age — but, slowly I realised that there was a different angle to this ‘very active behaviour'.”
This is how Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is noticed by parents. The signs and symptoms of ADHD become more apparent during activities that require focussed mental effort.
These signs may include failing to pay close attention to details or making careless mistakes in schoolwork or other activities; trouble sustaining attention during tasks or play; seeming like he/she is not listening even when spoken to directly; not listening even when spoken to directly; difficulty following instructions and failing to finish schoolwork, chores or other tasks; and being forgetful, disorganised and not completing tasks.
Such children also display symptoms of impulsive behaviour — fidgeting or squirming frequently, not waiting for his/her turn, running around the classroom distracting others and not paying attention to multi-step instructions.
Boys are more likely to be hyperactive, than girls. However, parents must ensure that a child is not labelled thus just due to occasional presentation of some of these symptoms. The frequency and intensity of these symptoms have to be considered before a diagnosis is made.
The conditions include that such behaviour must last more than six months and occur in more than just one setting (typically at home and at school). Most healthy children are inattentive, hyperactive or impulsive at one time or another.
For instance, parents may worry that a three-year-old who can't listen to a story from beginning to end may have ADHD.
But, preschoolers normally have a short attention span and aren't able to stick with one activity for long. Even in older children and adolescents, the attention span often depends on the level of interest.
Most teenagers can listen to music or talk to their friends for hours but may be a lot less focussed about homework.
The same is true of hyperactivity. Young children are naturally energetic — they often wear their parents out long before they're tired. And, they may become even more active when they're tired, hungry, anxious or in a new environment.
So, what can parents do? First, they should realise that children with ADHD are different; so, the parenting techniques must be different too. For instance, using multiple intelligence technique.
Cognitive/developmental psychologist Howard Gardner illustrates the following intelligences — linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalist.
Children with kinesthetic intelligence love to — actually need to — move. They are good at any kind of body movement such as dancing or athletics. They might be unusually well coordinated for their age. Children with kinesthetic intelligence also often do well in the dramatic performing arts.
The hyperactive child who is ‘bodily smart' could be good at cricket, swimming and tennis.
The linguistic child may not perform well in math but may create the most exciting story or poems; an interpersonal person could be a great leader, a true human resources candidate; and there are the musically inclined.
An ADHD child may have these energies; combining multiple intelligences activities in the life of ADHD children would bring out brilliance that never shone.
So, how do we use multiple intelligence for all children and those with special needs? More in my next...
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