Children with ADD or ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) often have more difficulty with social development than what psychologists refer to as neurotypical children. They often lag as many as three years behind their peers. Research has shown that there is a three-year delay in the development of the thickness of the cerebral cortex in these children. This delay results in the slower development of executive functions critical to social development.
Before these children are diagnosed they may go for years feeling like dummies or brats because they are not able to meet the expectations of their parents, teachers, and peers. This can lead to secondary problems such as anxiety, low self-esteem, or oppositional defiant behavior.
Parents and teachers become more frustrated with these children because they believe that the children are not trying hard enough or are deliberately choosing to be disobedient. For example, they expect a 7-year-old to have his age’s developmental abilities, but he is only at the developmental age of 4-years-old. It’s important to know that the lag is in executive functions and not physical, intellectual, or language development.
Related: ADD ADHD
While medication can improve some executive functions including attention, concentration, impulse control, and emotional regulation, medication alone will not improve social development including social skills, cooperation, motivation, self-esteem, and others. Medication is definitely needed in children with severe symptoms, but children with mild to moderate symptoms can often show significant improvement with a comprehensive psychological and behavioral program.
Implementing such a program properly can also improve the parent/child relationship by encouraging the parents and the child and other children in the family to work as a team; this can actually end up having a positive effect on the entire family. The program should also use tools to enable the teacher(s) to be a part of the team, which makes their job much easier.
I have used this process for years in my private practice, as have other child psychologists, and have seen major improvement in many of the children we have worked with. Unfortunately for many families, access to a child psychologist with this training is difficult. This can be due to a shortage of providers, lack of coverage by insurance, high co-payments, or problems making all of the necessary appointments.
In 2006, Total Focus was published and has helped thousands of kids and their families. In this multimedia program, I am able to talk to you and your child and help you begin to understand each other and begin to work as a team. Through a series of audio programs and a workbook which includes neuropsychological exercises (brain training), relaxation and biofeedback, behavior modification programs and cognitive behavioral, and motivational training, children can improve behavior at home, achievement at school, improved peer relationships, and self-esteem.
This program takes time and effort to achieve your goals but you can work at your pace. The program has been reviewed and recommended by leading experts in the field of ADHD research and is based on the latest evidence based psychological therapies.
If you believe your child may have ADD-ADHD, please have them evaluated by their pediatrician or a child psychologist. If your child has been diagnosed and you are looking for improvement in your child’s social development, as well has academic achievement, please consider giving Total Focus a try.