How Can I Support My Child If Undiagnosed/Waiting for a Diagnosis?
HOW CAN I SUPPORT MY CHILD – ADHD UNDIAGNOSED OR WAITING FOR ASSESSMENT?
Do not wait for a diagnosis to start to advocate for the support you need.
Being armed with information is key.
- It is an absolute must to keep a record or diary of main symptoms/triggers straight away. You need to understand and make a picture of your child to get the support you need.
- Discuss with a professional; in your child’s setting (G.P, SenCo, Paediatrician, Key worker. Health visitor) if applicable request they also keep a diary of symptoms/issues/concerns;
- With the help of one of the above medical professionals access your Local Offer.
Practical Advice for Parents:
- Reach out to other parents. Ask for help from your school/setting Senco. Join local support groups. Isolation is a big problem here and sharing your experiences with other parents or carers is invaluable. You will be surprised how many parents feel the way you do.
- Advocate for your child! If you have made your symptom diary you should have a meeting with your Senco/key worker to make a plan to ensure your child’s needs are being met in school and other settings while you wait for medical help. You do not need a diagnosis for this. If you have a list of symptoms ensure that the school/caregiver understands the needs your child has and agree a plan to help alleviate triggers. This will benefit all those in the setting.
- Speak to your GP about any services you can access through them while you await diagnosis, this could be speech and language support for example. This is accessed through the Local Offer.
- Familiarise yourself with available therapies and discuss with your medical professional which may be most appropriate.
- Ensure that you are open to family and friends about what is happening. You need as much support as possible. Respite is key. It is difficult to find care with additional needs.
There is no escaping, waiting times can be very long (even in the private sector) and it’s important to feel like you don’t have to wait for an assessment to start helping your child and get the support you need.
WHAT PRACTICAL STEPS CAN I TAKE WITH MY CHILD?
The diary of triggers will help you gain a better understanding of the areas of focus. Here are some examples of the triggers my son experiences and what I do to alleviate them:
- Provide structure and consistency.
- Create a routine and follow it as closely as possible.
- Break down tasks into small, achievable steps.
- Use positive reinforcement. Praise and reward the child when they complete tasks or display desired behaviours.
- Encourage exercise and physical activity. Exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms of ADHD.
- Stay organised. Create a visual schedule, use lists and calendar reminders to help the child stay on track.
- Help the child stay focused. Use distraction-free environments and limit distractions in the home.
- Allow for breaks. Allow your child to take breaks throughout the day to help them refocus and re-energise.
EXAMPLES OF A PRACTICAL PLAN
Take practical action even if conditions are unknown. List the main triggers and try to make an action plan for the main issues your child faces.
Requires a rigid routine
- Map out a daily routine each day using pictures if necessary;
- Where possible stick to the routine;
- If routine is required to change, ensure you explain thoroughly and allow the child time to ask questions.
Having a short attention span and being easily distracted
- Lower expectations for concentration;
- Leaves the table when finished eating;
- Dot attend events that do not allow movement even if just for a toilet break or two;
- Plan for 15 mins of concentration at a time (maximum).
Making careless mistakes – for example, in schoolwork
- Work is carried out on a Chromebook rather than writing;
- Allow a break to get up and move every 15 mins even during lesson.
Constantly changing activity or task
- Do not organise activities that rely on doing one thing for a long period of time;
- Allow the freedom to change tasks or move on to something else. For example, if 10 pin bowling only book one game and accept they may not want to finish it.
Hyperactivity and impulsiveness
- Organise tasks with lots of movement;
- Sport can help children with hyperactivity;
- Keep sugary food and drinks to a minimum;
- Allow plenty of time to wind down before bed with more gentile flow activities such as having a bath or watching a TV program.