ADHD and Your Child
Is it ADHD, ODD, or BOTH?
We have received many questions from concerned parents asking: "Does my child have ADHD, ODD, or BOTH"? There is a reported link between having ADHD and developing ODD. The correlation rate for being diagnosed with ADHD and ODD is staggering, ranging between 60% and 80%. It is the most common co-existing condition associated with ADHD. People with ADHD are 11 times more likely to be diagnosed with ODD than the general population. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also reports: Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is one of the most common disorders occurring with ADHD. ODD usually starts before age eight, but no later than early adolescence. 
In this blog we will discuss each of the disorders as separate entities, what the interrelationship between the two is, and conclude with how to deal with the effects of these disorders in relationship to each other.
ADHD as defined by the Mayo Clinic: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often persists into adulthood. ADHD includes a combination of problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Children with ADHD also may struggle with low self-esteem, troubled relationships and poor performance in school.
Signs and symptoms of ADHD may include:
- Difficulty paying attention
- Frequently daydreaming
- Difficulty following through on instructions and apparently not listening
- Frequently has problems organizing tasks or activities
- Frequently forgetful and loses needed items, such as books, pencils or toys
- Frequently fails to finish schoolwork, chores or other tasks
- Easily distracted
- Frequently fidgets or squirms
- Difficulty remaining seated and seemly in constant motion
- Excessively talkative
- Frequently interrupts or intrudes on others' conversations or games
- Frequently has trouble waiting for his or her turn
Play Attention can improve all of the skills mentioned above. Attend one of our upcoming webinars and learn how we can help.
ODD by definition: Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is defined by as "a pattern of angry/irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behavior, or vindictiveness lasting at least six months as evidenced by at least four symptoms from any of the symptoms and exhibited during interaction with at least one individual who is not a sibling.
Signs and symptoms of ODD may include:
- actively refuses to comply with majority's requests or consensus-supported rules
- performs actions deliberately to annoy others
- is angry and resentful of others
- argues often
- blames others for their own mistakes frequently loses temper
- is spiteful or seeks revenge
- and is touchy or easily annoyed
These patterns of behavior result in impairment at school and/or other social venues.
So the question is, what is the link between the two disorders? According to Dr. Russell Barkley, clinical scientist and researcher in the field of ADHD, there absolutely is a link between having ADHD and developing ODD. In fact, Dr. Barkley believes that if you have ADHD you have a propensity for developing Oppositional Defiant Disorder from the start. Why? Because, he believes that ADHD involves one more vital component that has been left out of the Clinical diagnosis for ADHD Emotional Dysregulation: deficits in inhibiting and regulating emotions.
Emotional Self-Regulation is the ability to manage your behavior in relation to the events that happen in your life. This can involve suppressing or inhibiting your response, self-soothing to calm or comfort yourself, prolonging your pleasurable experience, or refocusing your attention to a more positive goal directed activity. By providing compelling evidence where he analyzed neuro-anatomy, psychological evidence, and clinical research, Dr. Barkley found that children diagnosed with ADHD also exhibited difficulties in Emotional Self-Regulation. He found that every rating scale that is given to children who have been diagnosed with ADHD that measures symptoms of emotions is elevated dramatically for hostility, anger, frustration and impatience. These children exhibited much stronger emotional reactions and had much greater difficulty in controlling their reactions once elicited.
Tips for Parents of Defiant ADHD Children:
- STAY POSITIVE: Rewarding good behavior can be more effective then punishing bad behavior. It can also boost self-esteem when you catch your child behaving well, and dole out praise. Treat your child as if he were already the person youd like him to be that will help him develop the self-esteem to become that person.
- TREAT BEFORE YOU PUNISH: Make sure youre not disciplining children for a symptom of ADHD. Once the symptoms are under control, you will know which behaviors are punishable, and which are facets of the condition. In other words, dont buy into other peoples negative remarks. Your childs mind may work differently. Behaviors that other people call may be symptoms.
- USE YOUR WORDS: You always tell your children to use this technique use your words to communicate feelings, but its important for parents to remember too. Hypersensitivity commonly exists alongside ADHD, so spanking can be harmful for kids.
- AVOID MELTDOWNS: Having an escape strategy for tough events like birthday parties and family events can make the difference between a public scene and a quiet exit. The best plans make you and your child co-conspirators in on the same secret. Take him aside and say:s time to be a magician and become invisible. Then, exit stage right!
- ACT LIKE A COP: When you are pulled over, the policeman doesnt berate you or yell. He calmly doles out punishment. ADHD children can be very sensitive to parents anger and wont understand the message of what youre saying. Stay cool-headed so things stay under control.
- BE CLEAR ABOUT RULES AND CONSEQUENCES: Parents need to explain what behavior is not allowed and exactly what will happen if kids dont meet those expectations. Be consistent when reinforcing the rules. Kids with ADHD need to have it all laid out so they dont forget. Do no use the word as a reflexive answer to every question. If the child is impulsive to begin with they are more apt to rebel to the negative word no.
- PLAY BEFORE PUNISHING: Doing creative projects together can help keep kids from misbehaving. When kids do act out, give them a punishment thats so boring theyll never want to do it again!
- KNOW YOUR CHILDS PATTERNS: Honing in on the little quirks and hypersensitivities that make your child tick can help you adjust your discipline plan. It will let you know when your child is being willfully defiant and when emotional overwhelm has gotten the best of him.
- ASK YOURSELF IF YOURE CONTRIBUTING: Could you have ADHD/ODD too? Parents are a childs most influential role model, so think carefully about your own behavior.
In conclusion: Oppositional behavior seems to be a manifestation of ADHD-related impulsivity. While there is no medication that is scientifically established or formally approved to treat ODD, drugs may sometimes be used to treat other mental illnesses that may be present, such as ADHD or depression.  Other forms of treatment are behavior shaping and cognitive training programs. These treatments are either administered by a professional therapist or in home by the parent.
Play Attention integrates feedback technology with cognitive skill training and behavior shaping. You may learn more about Play Attention at one of our upcoming Speed Webinars.
Play Attention advisors are here to answer any questions. Call 800-788-6786 or chat with us from our site.
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