ADHD and Asperger Syndrome
People with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have a poor attention span combined with over activity and restlessness. They have trouble focussing on the one thing they need to do and get distracted easily. Without enough attention span learning in school, being successful at work or socializing with others can be much more difficult. This will have an effect on the quality of life in general.
Children and adults with ADHD have problems on different levels such as:
• Inattention; trouble concentrating
• Hyperactivity; trouble getting organized
• Impulsive behavior: trouble controlling their impulses
Impulsive or hyperactive behavior can be noticed at an early age. Children can show signs of restlessness, irritability and act emotionally immature for their age. Some can display aggressive behavior and can be hard to discipline.
When children start school and are expected to be able to complete a task or sit all day, problems such as mood swings or anger outbursts will be more likely to come forward. Their hyperactive behavior can be disruptive in class. Teens or young adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can show signs of aggressive behavior, irritability or antisocial behavior.
A child must have exhibited at least six of the following symptoms all typical off attention difficulties, for at least six months, to an extent that is unusual for their age and level of intelligence:
• Fails to pay close attention to detail or makes careless errors during work or play.
• Fails to finish tasks or sustain attention in play activities.
• Seems not to listen to what is said to him or her.
• Fails to follow through instructions or to finish homework or chores (not because of confrontational behavior or failure to understand instructions).
• Disorganized about tasks and activities.
• Avoids tasks like homework that require sustained mental effort.
• Loses things necessary for certain tasks or activities, such as pencils, books or toys.
• Easily distracted.
• Forgetful in the course of daily activities.
A child must have exhibited at least three of the following symptoms of hyperactivity for at least six months, to an extent that is unusual for their age and level of intelligence:
• Runs around or excessively climbs over things.
• Unduly noisy in playing, or has difficulty in engaging in quiet leisure activities.
• Leaves seat in classroom or in other situations where remaining seated is expected.
• Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms on seat.
At least one of the following symptoms of impulsivity must have persisted at least for six months to an extent that is unusual for their age and level of intelligence:
• Blurts out answers before the questions have been completed.
• Fails to wait in lines or await turns in games or group situations.
• Interrupts or intrudes on others, e.g. butts into others conversations or games.
• Talks excessively without appropriate response to social restraint.
How to cope
The combination of ADHD and Asperger can be hard to handle but is seen a lot. On top of the typical Asperger symptoms you might see more hyperactive behavior in your child then you wished for. It can be difficult to parent or discipline a child who has ADHD and Asperger Syndrome. In order for them to understand the world around them they need their environment structured so they can predict what will happen as much as possible. Here is what you can do:
• Put your daily routine into a schedule. Write down what times you get up, eat, play, do homework, watch tv and go to sleep. The best thing is to put drawings or pictures on the schedule because most of these specific kids think visual. Stick to this routine as much as possible and make room for writing down changes in the routine so they can be warned ahead of time.
• Communicate (one to one) clear, specific and straight to the point. Use short sentences and give the child time to process the information. Make sure the person in question can repeat your directions and has understood what you just said.
• Set up a family meeting and put up house rules. This way everybody will know what to do and what to expect when the rules are broken. Make very clear which behavior is not tolerated and what the punishment will be. Put the rules in writing and post it on the fridge!
• Do homework together, on a set time and place. Children with short attention span can not stay focused for long so make sure you set up a schedule for taking breaks or reward the child after finishing with one task with taking a break. Make sure there is a routine or ritual for the breaks. How long they take is set upfront and stick to it! The more clear you are on any subject the better it will be understood.
• Emphasize good behavior by giving compliments or rewards. (token or money) if you want your child to behave well you have to give it plenty of positive attention and compliments. Their active or impulsive behavior has nothing to do with unwillingness. It’s their inability to focus or think flexible. Focus yourself on the things that go well! Emphasize their strong points instead of pointing out all the things they are not able to do well.
• Inform the teacher. Make sure there is a orderly and well structured classroom for your child. Maybe a quiet place to work set up especially for them without distractions. Sometimes it helps to adjust their school materials or give written instructions on what to do. Make a list of steps to do for them in order to complete the task.
• Be consistent! The most important rule in raising these type of children is to stick to what you have said and do what you promised. There is no sense in setting rules if you are unwilling to stick to them.
Managing behavior at home and in schoolYou can help any child by providing a structured environment with clear rules of acceptable behavior. See a specialist who can learn you the techniques to handle the child’s behavior. Make sure there is consistency in your approach and that of the teachers in school.
Medication a well known medication for ADHD is methylphenidate (or Ritalin). This can reduce hyperactivity and impulsiveness. It will increase the attention span and can help children to concentrate at school.
TherapyPsychological and behavioral therapy can help children who have ADHD and Asperger, to learn how to cope with these conditions. Make sure you find a specialist who has specific knowledge of ADHD as well as Asperger Syndrome.