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Summer 2015 Health Link Online

HealthLink Online

Uniting Children, Parents, Caregivers, and Health Professionals

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder-Are We Doing All We Can?

Is there a child in the early education program who is more active than the other children? Is this a child who doesn't seem to pay attention or follow directions? Such children are very hard to handle!

Teachers/caregivers, the child's family and the child will benefit from seeking guidance about how to care for a child with this behavior. Teachers should talk with a supervisor about a good way to share their concerns with the child's family. The family may have similar concerns and not know where to turn for help.

Behavioral problems, inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity are symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The American Academy of Pediatrics publishes clinical practice guidelines. One of these specifies how to assess, diagnose and treat children as young as 4 years of age who have ADHD symptoms. The guideline says that the child's health care provider should do an assessment that includes a complete health history, vision, hearing and developmental-behavioral screening and a physical exam. The assessment may reveal one or more problems that require further evaluation.

With parent consent, the early education staff should offer to share with the child's health care provider any information the program has collected about the child. Include any developmental-behavioral screening or observations. You can use the Behavioral Data Collection Sheet, a form in the Tools tab of the ECELS website. This sharing of information can be a valuable contribution to the health professional's assessment.

The initial treatment for preschool-aged children with ADHD is evidence-based family and/or teacher-administered behavior therapy. Plan with the child's therapist and family how the program staff should handle the child's behavior. Consistent approaches at home and in the education program usually work well. The best way to do this is to have a written Care Plan.

Pediatric health professionals will be aware of local options for behavior therapy for young children. A good starting point for families and teachers/caregivers to learn about "challenging behaviors" is to go to the PA Promise for Children website, www.papromiseforchildren.com. Click on the "Help Your Child Grow" heading on the home page. Then select "Dealing with Challenging Behavior". Caring for a child's challenging behavior is difficult. However, the child will benefit when program staff, the child's family and the child's health care provider make and carry out a plan together.

Contributed by Beth DelConte, MD, FAAP - ECELS Pediatric Advisor

Reference: Center for Disease and Prevention (CDC)/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/guidelines.html