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This is the first post in a series called “Ask Elaine.” Elaine is a mom of three grown boys and an Early Childhood Intervention Specialist with over 25 years of teaching experience in both general education and children with special needs. She will be answering questions from readers once a month…behavior problems are her specialty! If you have a question for Elaine, please email Lindsay@TheNaughtyMommy.com.
Reader Question: My daughter (now six years old) was born premature and with amniotic banding causing her right leg not to form. She is considered an above-knee amputee. She has had over 20 surgeries over the years, the first one on her leg at nine months old. She is our fighter and a pure joy. She was just diagnosed with ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). The psychologist has recommended medications, but we are not sure of that route yet. She is only six, so it scares me. She is very hyper and always on the go…it’s very hard for her to sit and she can’t sit through dinner. With the meds, I don’t want her spirit changed, but we know she needs help. Any advice on books (for me) and games/activities for her?
Elaine’s Answer: Don’t worry- many children are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. There are many support groups for parents of children with ADHD if you feel you need some support for yourself. Here is a link to the CHADD website, where you can search for support groups by state.
The main thing to remember is that your daughter needs MOVEMENT! Limit the amount of time on computers, tablets, video games or watching TV. I know it’s the easy thing to do because it totally entertains them and keeps them out of trouble, but what they really need is to involve their whole body in some type of movement.
(I used to tell my kids to run around the house three times!) Some parents say karate or swimming helps. It can teach their child HOW to focus.
Look into Brain Gym. There are several books as well as activities. The idea behind it is getting both sides of the brain to talk to each other (left brain/right brain- neurotransmitters and synapsis).Some of us do it naturally, others need a little help.
With time your daughter will learn how to manage her impulsiveness or inability to focus, but there are many things you can do to help foster that.
You should also make sure your daughter has the needed supports at school. Many kids need extra time for tests, or need movement breaks, or need to be able to get up from their seat or even work standing up.
This is all very individual depending on the child, and of course, with your daughter’s leg issues, this will be even more important to consider. Talk with the teachers and see what they can do.
I would only go with medication as a last resort. First try things like behavior therapy and the Brain Gym activities. Her leg may limit how she is able to move around but you are right – meds WILL change her. But some kids really need it. When her behavior is interfering with her ability to learn- then it’s time for meds.
Do you have a parenting or behavioral question for Elaine? Email Lindsay@TheNaughtyMommy.com.