Explaining ADHD to Kids


"My 10-year-old son has ADHD. Is it okay to talk to him about it?"

Dr. Larry Silver specializes in treating children with attention deficit disorder (ADHD).

Absolutely yes. He needs to understand his problems and any treatments in place.

Make sure you understand the disorder first, and then begin the discussion. If he is hyperactive, speak of "brakes" that are not working as well as they should. If he's distractible, speak of the "filter systems" in the brain that are not working well. If he's impulsive, speak of the brain's difficulty with stopping to think before speaking or acting. End each discussion with an encouraging comment.

Explain what is being done to help. Stress that ADHD is not something he caused. Then sit back and listen to his questions. You might have explained everything he wanted to know. If not, he will ask.

Larry Silver, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is a former acting director and deputy director of the National Institute of Mental Health, as well as the author of Dr. Larry Silver's Advice to Parents on AD/HD and The Misunderstood Child: Understanding and Coping with Your Child's Learning Disabilities.
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