Resources for Parents
ADHD Look Alikes
The National Association of School Psychologists has published a helpful handout for parents, detailing a list of psychiatric disorders that can mimic the symptoms of ADHD. It is important for all parents to educate themselves regarding the similarities among various disorders in order to ensure their children are being properly diagnosed and medicated (if necessary). http://www.soesd.k12.or.us/files/adhd%20look-alikes%20forparents.pdf
Everyone experiences some level of anxiety over the course of their life, whether it stems from work, familial relations, financial status or educational responsibilities. When speaking from an educational standpoint, the form most commonly seen in schools is performance anxiety. Although performance anxiety can be experienced before an oral presentation, or when called upon in class, it may be most pronounced once the season of standardized testing approaches. It is best to perceive test anxiety in a whole person context due to the fact that it affects both the mind and the body. When an individual is under stress due to the fears and obtrusive thoughts preceding an important exam, their body begins to release the hormone adrenaline, which in turn prepares the body for the approaching stressor. This process has been referred to as the “fight or flight” response. Once this process has begun the body may begin to experience various physical symptoms often associated with stress, such as sweating, rapid breathing, a flushed expression and a rapid heart rate. Depending on the level of stress the individual is experiencing, these symptoms may be mild or more intense.
In order to work with your child to effectively combat the obtrusive thoughts and physical symptoms associated with school-based anxiety, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind.
1) Allow them to use a little stress to their advantage. Stress can be helpful because it reminds us that something important is approaching. By directing their energy to preparing for the test in advance, it leaves less time to obsess over their worries and concerns surrounding the testing situation.
2) Train their brain to think positive thoughts. Working with your child to recognize those reoccurring negative thoughts, such as “I will never do well on these tests” and “I know I will forget everything,” will help them to replace those thoughts with positive and practical statements, such as “I have worked hard to prepare for the test and I am ready.”
3) Acknowledging that no one is perfect and every one makes mistakes, while reinforcing that mistakes can be perceived as learning experiences for future situations. This is particularly important for those students who tend to be perfectionists.
4) Taking care of the body can strengthen the mind. In order to keep the mind working at its best we must eat a healthful breakfast, get enough sleep, exercise and avoid caffeine which can exacerbate anxiety symptoms.
5) Lastly, relaxation techniques and deep breathing exercises can help to prevent or reduce the physical symptoms and obtrusive negative thoughts associated with the anxiety. The following is an exercise that you can try with your child at home to promote relaxation and reduce stress:
Deep Breathing Exercise
v Find a quiet place with no distractions
v Sit down comfortably in an upright position
v Close your eyes and breathe normally through the nose with your mouth closed
v Focus your attention to your breathing when you inhale and exhale
v Place one hand on your stomach and let each breath expand your stomach as you inhale and flatten your stomach as you exhale
v Keep your shoulders and chest still
v Count slowly to four in your mind as you inhale and slowly to four as you exhale
v Once the breathing becomes easier you can count slowly to four as you inhale and slowly to eight as you exhale
v Focus on breathing peacefully, steadily and evenly