Attention Deficit Disorder is basically divided into two groups:  those who are hyperactive, and those who are hypoactive. As the name suggests, hyperactive children are considered to be overactive children.  Hypoactive children are considered to be underactive and take longer to get their work completed.

ADD/ADHD involves some dysfunction in attention and concentration. Attention is described as “an awareness of the environment and changes to the environment”. Concentration is described as “the ability to focus consistently upon one specific feature in the environment”. Attention spans are affected by restlessness and distractibility, and concentration problems can be affected by daydreaming.

In young preschool children parents/carers can look out for overactivity which affects family times, speech delays, clumsiness, sleep disorders and a delay in learning colours. Children may go for a pediatric examination, an educational evaluation, neuro-physiological tests or speech/OT therapeutic assessments.

Some of the main features of ADD are short attention span, increased activity level (restless/fidgety), impulsiveness (in areas of behaviour, academics, organisation), poor coordination (gross motor and /or fine motor, eye/foot, eye/hand, physical clumsiness), weak short-term memory (particularly auditory), inflexibility (dogmatic, black/white personality, low frustration threshold, temper tantrums followed by sulking), diminished self-esteem, peer relationship problems, periodic depression, immature behaviour,  sleep disturbances (early rising, difficulty going to sleep, walking/talking during sleep/night terrors), appetite changes (overeating, picky eating, distinct/peculiar taste preferences) and speech disorders ( the delayed onset of speech, articulation difficulties, sentence structure problems, difficulty in sequencing sounds). Children often have most of the symptoms and the symptoms may change at different stages of development.

The brain processes learning in the following hierarchy:

.  Conceptualization

. Long term memory developed over time

. Integration – how things are linked together in the brain

. Perception (register, categorize and compare new information with previously acquired information)

. Short-term memory (retaining information)

. Attention (focus attention upon certain stimuli sufficiently to acquire all the necessary information)

. Sense organs (eyes, ears, skin)

. Emotions have an effect on all the above during different stages of life

Any area will have an effect on other areas. Most children with ADD have dysfunction at the levels of attention, short-term memory and perception. Integrating knowledge is important for comprehension skills. Most ADD children can integrate and conceptualise once they have the knowledge.

ADD children function more effectively in graded, smaller classes with structured activities. They require an empathic, yet firm, teacher who is flexible. They cope better with remedial support. Should there be medical therapy involved, this should be consistently monitored, for example a growth spurt, to avoid a child missing out on important learning because the medicine no longer meets their specific needs.

Popular interventions are:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (moving the child from negative to positive experiences with learning)

Remedial Teaching (using the child’s academic strengths while providing support for weaknesses)

Occupational Therapy (to improve gross motor, fine-motor and hand/eye coordination, left-right progression,  visual-spatial skills, correcting orientation on a page to facilitate writing)

Diet (to remove foods that interfere with successful neuro-transmission in the brain)

medication (to modify disordered communication in the brain).

Parents can make sure that their child has a sound routine for all daily activities. Information that needs to be learnt should be repeated frequently to help the child store it in memory. Routine, regularity and repetition – such as pasting sight words on post-it notes around the home or in a car – will assist in developing confidence. Keeping consistency in ground rules at home will create a more secure environment. Noise levels should be kept to a minimum and constant, appropriate reassurance will improve self esteem.

Should you like to have more information or book individual, tailored online sessions for your child, please email with your request in the subject line and we will send you a booking form.


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