Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder face several challenges in nearly every facet of life. ADHD is much more than not being able to sit still or pay attention in class. Children with ADHD are often bullied and misunderstood by their teachers, who think they don’t want to behave. If not treated, ADHD can lead to social isolation and other mental health issues later in life. However, having ADHD has some positive attributes, and knowing what they are and how to build on them can help children flourish.
Symptoms of ADHD
According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, children with ADHD are “always in motion” -- they are fidgety and squirmy and feel restless and need to always be moving. They tend to be impulsive and say words at inappropriate times without giving those words much thought. They might have a hard time waiting their turn and display their emotions without restraint. Children suffering from ADHD are inattentive and bore easily. School is a particular challenge for kids with the disorder because they have difficulty remembering assignments and staying organized, and they are easily distracted. Some children might only be inattentive, appearing to pay attention and work hard in class, but beneath the surface they are not focusing on what they are doing.
Mental Health and Developmental Struggles
The authors of a study published in February in the journal "Pediatrics" culled data from 62,000 children between the ages of 6 and 17 from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health. It found that children with ADHD are more likely to struggle with mental health and other developmental disorders. Sixty-seven percent of the children studied with ADHD also had at least one other mental health disorder or neurodevelopmental disorder; 18 percent had at least three other disorders. They also found that children with ADHD were more prone to anxiety and speech problems and were more likely to be held back a grade in school.
Reasons for Hope
Even though children with ADHD face many obstacles and have a great deal to overcome, parents should have hope because there are aspects of the disorder that are positive and should be encouraged as much as possible. Children with ADHD are often good at math, are good readers, have artistic talent, good memories, are kind to others, are good with animals and are helpful. According to Spark.org, they have good gross motor skills and are good with computers. According to Smart Kids With Learning Disabilities, a nonprofit ADHD organization, these children are deep thinkers who seek out meaning, relevance and understanding in relationships.
Encouraging a Child with ADHD's Strengths
Because the intelligence of an ADHD child is typically average or above-average, it is important for parents and teachers to nurture their intellectual abilities and use them as an encouragement tool, according to TheAffinityCenter.com. It is also helpful to provide children with activities that allow them to work “outside of the box” to solve problems and create. That extra energy that can be so frustrating for parents and teachers can also be a gift, if they learn to find ways to harness it, such as a teacher allowing the student to run notes to the office. Additionally, ensuring a child gets regular positive reinforcement for the good things he does will go a long way toward improving his self-esteem, and will make school time a far more enjoyable experience.