Education

Dr. Ayesha Christina Hunter – ADHD

I read a recent study in the latest issue of The Journal of Black Psychology, Vol. 43, No. 4, which discussed “Stressful Life Circumstances, Resources for Support, and African American Children’s Psychological Symptoms”. As a member of the Black Association of Black Psychologists, I am able to read very impressive studies that have been done on African American people. I thought I’d share the findings of this unique study. As a psychologist and clinical psychotherapist, I want to educate and support our African American people. So here is a unique article that I am sure many can benefit from.

I recently did an inservice training on ADHD for staff at a local group home agency and I came to the realization that there are many people who know someone who has ADHD. In case you are unaware, ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a brain disorder characterized by being highly inattentive (unable to focus for too long) and/or being very hyperactive (moving about constantly, like excessively talking, fidgeting, or tapping hands or legs). Additionally, a person with ADHD may also be impulsive (quick to speak something without thinking about it first or quick to take action). A person can have all three, or one of each. Either way, in the recent DSM 5, all are still called ADHD.

The article in the Journal wrote about a report that examined 46 African American children (ages 8 to 12-year-old) with ADHD and their caregivers to determine how often they are exposed to stressors (things that cause them much stress). The researchers wanted to see if caregivers reported feeling better if they got more support while caring with children with ADHD. They speculated that children would report feeling better and doing better if their caregivers felt well supported by others. Not only that, but the caregivers also noticed a positive change in the kids when they felt more supported as well. The findings turned out to be true. The bottom line, support is essential when you are caring for a child with ADHD.

What kind of support is needed, you are probably wondering? Support includes having people to talk to that are helpful and non-judgmental. Support also includes help with resources. Sometimes families need additional help with food, transportation, childcare and other necessities. Getting respite can truly be lifesaving when you’ve just had enough! When people feel like they have someone that can help them in a time of need, they are able to provide the strength to parent a child with ADHD a bit more better.

The study revealed that when the children reported feeling more emotional and instrumental support from their caregivers, they had less bad behaviors. For example, the caregivers noticed that the children had less bad behaviors associated with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and/or ADHD. They reported having better communication, especially when they felt stressed (both for the kids and for the adults), which helped them to feel more encouraged and positive. This support helped to make the caregiver-child bond stronger by the caregiver getting parenting education and resources on parenting. For one thing, learning that the child with ADHD can’t control those annoying behaviors, helps to educate the caregiver and develop more tolerance, patience, and understanding. They learn to not put unrealistic expectations on kids who really can’t control some of those things that they do. Knowledge is power.

Raising a child with ADHD can be very difficult. To say the least, you have to have much patience. I ought to know because all three of my kids have ADHD. I have wanted to strangle each one my kids at some point in time (Lord knows I would not do this, but I am just saying). I have had to learn not to take my frustration out on them. Having this brain disorder means they cannot help being the way that they are. For example, my kids loose things easily. They easily get distracted. I ask them to do something and they lose focus and end up not doing what I asked them to do. Ugh! One can easily understand how a parent can be at his or her wits end with having a kid like this. I mean, I asked God, “Why me?” “Why did all of my kids have this?” As time went on and I became more educated on ADHD and I grew wiser in the Lord, parenting my kids became easier. As I reflect on my parenting journey, I knew that getting support from my mom, spouse, pastor, friends, and family were so important and they helped me to relieve my stress. I had someone to vent to, to empathize with, and to validate my feelings.

So, if you are a parent or a caregiver of someone who has ADHD and you are raising them, keep in mind that getting support is imperative towards your success and the success of the children with ADHD. It turns out that you and the kids can learn to cope better when there is greater support. Need a hand, feeling overwhelmed? Ask for support. Parenting or raising kids with ADHD takes a unique type of person. But one thing is for sure, doing it all alone, with limited support would be a BIG mistake. Getting support will help all those involved.

By Dr. Ayesha Christina Hunter
May 22, 2017

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