Any kind of stressful circumstances can worsen the symptoms of ADHD. As a result, lifestyle changes are an important part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Improvements in your child’s environment, brought about by behavioral therapy, can reduce symptoms a great deal. Because most cases of ADHD are diagnosed in childhood, many of these lifestyle changes are geared toward helping parents help their children cope with ADHD.
The following recommendations all have the same objective: reduction of stress and distractions to help focus your child’s attention. Children and adults with ADHD are more sensitive to these stressors than the average person.
Some research has shown that behaviors like fidgeting, pencil tapping, and constant movement in adolescents may serve a distinct brain function and help ADHD kids stay alert and on task. Some teachers and schools may take a different approach and allow children to move and fidget in a quiet manner (such as squeeze a ball or stand at the back of the room with work).
Talk to your family doctor or a mental health professional if symptoms worsen or you need help addressing these lifestyle changes.
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ADHD basics. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/adhd/Pages/ADHD-Basics.aspx. Accessed August 14, 2012.
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated April 11, 2012. Accessed August 14, 2012.
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated April 25, 2012. Accessed August 14, 2012.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder/what-is-attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder.shtml. Accessed August 14, 2012.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Management. American Family Physician. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd.html. Accessed August 14, 2012.
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4/30/2008 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamicmedical.com/what.php: Pfeiffer B, Henry A, et al. Effectiveness of Disc 'O' Sit cushions on attention to task in second-grade students with attention difficulties. Am J Occup Ther. 2008;62:274-281.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Kari Kassir, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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