Awareness on Attention Deficit and Hyper-Activity Disorder (ADHD) is steadily receiving attention among parents in this country. Below are some questions asked by parents about ADHD:
Learners with ADHD are said to have a tendency of performing poorly academically because they are consistently hyperactive and inattentive in their schoolwork. Could their lack of interest be due to inappropriate teaching methods?
ANSWER: It is important to note that children with ADHD have high energy levels. In fact, it can be difficult to reach out to learners with ADHD when their energy levels exceed what classroom-based activities can usually accommodate, the exact reason they are diagnosed with this disorder.
Classroom-based activities, on the other hand, are informed by the curriculum. In that way, it can be a challenge to find some physically intensive activities to accommodate that excess energy during lesson time, especially if the ADHD learners are not strongly interested in such activities.
How come some children go undiagnosed with this disorder in their schools, even though they display the symptoms?
ANSWER: Diagnosis of any mental disorder is done by professionals who are mandated to do so through their training. These include; mental health counsellors, psychologists, pediatricians, neurologists, psychiatrists or clinical social workers. If parents have any concerns about their children’s abnormal behaviour or performance, they need to seek professional help. What does nutrition have to do with learners’ academic performance?
ANSWER: Diet has a strong effect on the higher brain functions that control learning, memory and intellectual functioning. Learners who have a tendency of eating more processed food with excess sugar, preservatives, food additives and trans fats are at high risk of presenting behavioural problems (Jensen, 2011).
Such behavioural problems can include; consistent impulsive talk that is disruptive in the classroom, physical fights with peers, substance abuse, theft and many others. This is so because, over-indulgence in processed or junk food leads to deficiencies in vital brain chemicals needed to inhibit impulsive behavior and make people to “feel good”.
A human being naturally has a tendency to search for happiness. When children and teenagers have shortfalls in “feel good” chemicals, they would naturally develop the tendency to divert their attention away from academic work and search for stimulation to “feel good” in the wrong places such as drugs, fights, risky sexual behaviours and many others.
For a learner to succeed in a mainline academic institution, they need to be able to focus, follow instruction and be adaptable to structure. Learners with ADHD lack these skills. What can be done to help children overcome ADHD?
Parents need to be in the forefront to address factors that cause or exacerbate ADHD in children. It is therefore, up to parents to join hands in curbing ADHD by:
* Making sure their children eat healthy breakfast before they leave for school. Healthy eating does not only nourish the body, but it also nourishes the brain and helps it to perform its function of impulse control, concentration and memory. Healthy food has also been found to have some anti-depressant effect on human beings.
* Promoting “green” waste from food such as fruits and vegetables that can be recycled and put into good use, thereby adding value to the cognitive (thinking) and behavioural habits of learners.
* Volunteering in school based activities to make school a more inclusive place for learners. Learners feel a lot happier when they have a choice to do beyond the classroom activities through different clubs and leisurely activities.