Changes in regular activities and routines due to the COVID-19 Pandemic can be stressful for anyone, children and adults alike. Individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) face even greater challenges dealing with these changes. Children whose learning has been disrupted by the pandemic face even greater challenges. Below we will explore some of the issues children may face and strategies for dealing with their problems. If your child is having a more difficult time adjusting to changes created by the pandemic but has never been diagnosed as having ADHD, we suggest that the child be screened for ADHD. Children and adolescents that may have mild and often undiagnosed ADHD may see an exasperation of symptoms due to increased stress and changes. According to the organization, Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), there has been a 62% increase in phone calls to their helpline since the pandemic began. Also, according to statistics from CHADD, ADHD affects up to nine percent of all children and four percent of adults worldwide. This prevalence is indicative of the severity of ADHD and the importance of caring for affected individuals. The providers at Affiliated Medical Group specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD for children and adults and you can reach out to us to arrange an evaluation and treatment if necessary.
The issue most often reported for children and adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic relates to learning or educational processes. ADHD patients tend to thrive better in a structured environment. They need order in their day to be able to function at their best. Changes in schedules and routines, be it at home or school, can increase a child’s ADHD symptoms. These changes often lead to increased behavioral issues during times of stress. It is important to remember that the child is not intentionally creating issues, but it is a result of their disease and disruption in their normally ordered life.
When schools closed to in-person instruction many students found difficulty in transitioning from in-person, very structured learning processes to a more loosely and self-guided learning modality. Online learning often requires students to manage their own time, be motivated, be self-guided and complete assigned tasks in a timely manner.
These are all tasks that are difficult for the ADHD child or adolescent to deal with within a very structured environment so when they are left to more or less fend for themselves, the tasks are often overwhelming.
It is important that that parents be prepared to implement special assistance to their child in order to facilitate learning in the online environment. It is advisable to make the student’s home environment similar to the school environment. A low stimulus, low distraction environment is also advisable with the removal of cell phones and gaming consoles and implementation of internet controls during “school” hours. Additionally, it is important to create a calm environment such as having a physical space that is quiet and tidy. Parents should attempt to mimic the school setting as much as possible perhaps providing a desk and other similar school type items within a specific “school-like” area of the home.
Another key for students with ADHD is to recognize the benefits of exercise. Getting regular exercise may alleviate some of the symptoms of ADHD. In a 2017 Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience study, researchers found that children with ADHD showed improved impulse control and attention after a single 20-minute aerobic exercise session. While exercise is not an alternative for ADHD medications it can offer a calming effect for many children and help them with focus issues.
If fact, it is essential that people with ADHD continue with their current treatment, which may consist of taking medication, attending psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. The providers at Affiliated Medical Group can assist your child with obtaining the proper medication and provide referrals to therapy when appropriate. As providers, we understand that many parents are concerned that their child or adolescent may not be able to see their provider or have concerns about visiting a provider’s office during the pandemic. The providers at Affiliated Medical Group understand your concerns but would like to emphasize the importance of continuing with medications during this time of additional stress. A 2020 article in The Lancet was devoted to stressing the need for ADHD patients to continue with appropriate medications during the pandemic. The article stressed the dangers and concerns of an ADHD discontinuing their medications during the stressful times created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Providers at Affiliated Medical Group have many years of experience in delivering care through Telemedicine and whether your child or other family member is an existing ADHD patient or a new patient, you can be assured that our delivery of care through Telemedicine will be provide the same level of care as visiting our offices.
During this difficult period, the providers at AMG encourage all individuals experiencing any behavioral health symptoms to contact us and let us provide you with outstanding medical services. In particular, if you have a family member experiencing the symptoms related to ADHD, we can help you feel better and perform better in all aspects of your life. Children are particularly impacted, but we encourage everyone to reach out to us and let our providers address your concerns.
As a Leading Provider of Psychiatric Services, AMG is Pleased to Welcome Dr. David Ahlberg and Dr. Harvey Shapiro to our Florida Practice.
Affiliated Medical Group