Sunday, February 26, 2006

Clinic Notes: ADHD?

Many parents already have an ADHD diagnosis for their child before they bring them to my clinic. I always separate the parents from their child and then observe the child in our playroom while the child is alone with my assistant and me. If the child appears ADHD, we do not say anything. We let the child run around the playroom as much as he or she wants. Often the child will calm down after a few minutes and play appropriately with the toys and then we will praise the child. Occasionally, we ask the child questions and praise the child if he or she answers the question the first time, but we ignore the child for not answering. Once the child has learned to pay attention to us and played calmly for twenty minutes or so, I ask the parents to come into the playroom. If the child becomes ADHD when the parents come in to the room, and do not settle down, I know the ADHD has been conditioned by the parents’ attention. In other words, the parents ignore the child whenever he or she is not being ADHD, and give the child attention whenever ADHD behaviors occur. This attention is reinforcing for the child and the ADHD behavior increases in its frequency. In cases like this I give the parents an ABA program for staying on task and decreasing other ADHD behaviors. The parents have to learn to reverse their behavior at home and give attention in the form of praise for non-ADHD behaviors and ignore ADHD behaviors. This is hard for the parents to do even with my weekly monitoring and guidance, but when they are successful this simple change in the parent’s behavior can decrease ADHD behavior without having to resort to medications.
Excerpted from Case History # 7. "The Night Life Ain’t No Good Life" Available at:


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