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What Families Living With ADHD Need To Know

A health condition impacting many families today is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as ADHD. Joel Desotelle, MS OTR/L, pediatric occupational therapist and program director of Keystone Pediatric Therapies in Chambersburg, offers some insight and tips for individuals and families living with ADHD.

ADHD On The Rise

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) as of 2016, 9.4% of children (6.1 million kids) ages 2-17 had been diagnosed with ADHD. This is up from 7.8% recorded in 2003. Of those, 64% have another disorder, including behavior/conduct issues, anxiety, depression, autism, and/or Tourette syndrome.

Common Problem Areas

Individuals with ADHD have difficulty paying attention, controlling their impulses, and struggle with transitioning to and from activities. While many individuals have normal and even higher intelligence, their limited ability to focus makes listening and learning hard and even uncomfortable or frustrating. To compensate, they often use behaviors to control their environment to avoid difficult tasks or requests. As a result, individuals are often labeled, have difficulty realizing their potential, and even suffer from low self-esteem.

Contributing Factors

Diet, lack of physical activity, poor sleep schedule, and/or extended time playing video games, watching television, or being on the computer/tablet may contribute to your child’s inattention.

Strategies For Individuals Living With ADHD

If you are concerned that your child may suffer from ADHD, you should consult your child’s physician to learn about treatment options. In addition, there are many strategies that are beneficial for all children. First, kids benefit from structure. Having a good daily routine helps children get organized and learn to stay organized. Keeping toys and activities in separate designated boxes encourages structured play, while “toy boxes” containing all of a child’s toys are often overwhelming. Modeling organized play, especially for young children, sets a good standard they can incorporate as they get older.

Secondly, children need physical activity. Video games, TV, computers, tablets, and phones should be limited. While they offer an almost endless vault of games and activities, it is extremely important for children to use all their senses. Hands-on tasks promote cognitive and motor skills that electronics do not. Third, make sure your child is getting a good, healthy diet and lastly, children need adequate sleep to grow and develop. Setting a regular bedtime and being consistent will make sure your child is ready to go the next day. Remember, tired kids have a difficult time focusing.

Occupational Therapy And ADHD

Pediatric occupational therapists specialize in helping kids regulate, improve attention, address delayed skills related to ADHD (ex. fine motor, writing, etc.), and can help you develop home/school strategies so that your child can be more successful, happy, and confident. If you notice your child is struggling in any of these areas, he or she may benefit from occupational therapy services.


This article contains general information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or care by a qualified health care provider.