Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) in kids is characterized by lack of attention and unresponsiveness. Cognitive skills such as attention, concentration, memory, judgement, logical thinking and abstract thinking are usually damaged in children with ADD. Occupational Therapist Justin Vens from Pebbles Rehabilitation Centre for Children, Chennai explains how ADD can be addressed to ensure children will be comfortable in their academic performance and social skills.
Q. How do you decide on a course of action to help each child with Attention Deficit Disorder?
AdvertisementA. The first day children are observed, examined and an overall assessment is done. While building a rapport with the child, the likes and dislikes become evident through their general habits and behaviour. We select the desired activities of child and focus on those activities where the child will involve himself/herself. These activities usually last up to 5 minutes to improve the attention span and then gradually increase to 10 minutes during the weekly sessions. The sessions are thrice a week but in severe cases a child may be asked to come for 5 sessions in a week.
Q. How do you get ADD kids interested in their school lessons?
A. A child may like throwing balls, so initially the child is asked to throw the ball in one direction for twenty minutes and then throw in the opposite direction, slowly the child is asked to throw ball in different directions. During the activity the rapport with the child is used as a medium to create interest in activities the child prefers to avoid, such as academics, where children with ADD usually find calculations difficult, have a problem with mathematics, writing, reading and parents generally complain that the child won't remain seated to study or do their homework. A gradual balance in both desired and undesired activities improves the self-confidence in the child and eventually these children show interest in activities they previously did not like.
Q. Usually children with ADD find it very challenging to write. How do you help them overcome this block?
A. When it comes to writing, children with ADD have difficulties in writing, so they write only one line and then are made to write two lines. In due course of time they are made to write three to four pages and depending on the child's interest level they are encouraged to write stories. If a child does not like to write he or she does not write on the board instead the child writes on sand, draws images and then is made to draw on mirrors with paint. We begin with asking the child to write his own name, his father's name, mother's name and then his school's name. The writing will not be consistent so we draw lines and provide spaces for the child to write within those boundaries. This helps in space orientation. It takes three years for a child to reach a certain cognitive level if parents opt for continuous therapy.Q. Expectation from Parents: Parents prepare an itinerary to record the activities of the child beginning from the moment the child wakes up until he gets to bed. The primary focus is in finding how many hours the child spends with physical activities such as playing and especially playing outdoors. Forty-five minute session at the Pebble's centre will not be sufficient for a child's improvement unless parents also co-operate. So depending on the home environment, activities similar to the ones at the Centre is created. For instance the sofa set is arranged in a circle for the child to throw and pick the ball from there. Parents should spend 45 minutes with playing with the children either in the morning or in the evening. However only 2 out of 10 parents are committed. Most parents work or travel around leaving children alone in the house which aggravates such disorders in children. Outdoor activities are important for these children, especially sports. The more children play the more their brain will be active, brain gets a workout, their learning skills, listening skills, logical thinking, attention and concentration improve. Sad state of affairs includes parents confining children in the houses and at the most letting them play in the parks. Junk food also contributes to deterioration in the child.
Social interaction is important for kids. Most activities that help children with ADD to improve cognitively and socially have been incorporated through games. Medindia commends the dedication of Occupational Therapists with their sole focus on making children happy.