Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues can affect any family, at any time. Buts stigmas around these issues can prevent parents from reaching out for help, for fear that they or their child will be judged.

Fortunately, there’s hope. People are breaking down barriers and talking more openly about mental illness and mental health issues. And with increased awareness and visibility comes greater access to resources for parents who struggle with these challenges.

These videos offer parental support and information on topics such as depression, self-harm, and how to obtain the help your child needs.

Is a Suggestion of ADD/ADHD at Age 5 Appropriate?

Is Your Child Modeling What They See vs. Telling How They Truly Feel?

Christina Matthews, MA MS Licensed Professional Counselor. Certified Teacher
Think Learn Change

There are many things to be considered when a suggestion of ADD/ADHD is made for your child. This is a serious diagnosis that will follow your child throughout life, so it is important to be correct.

Most psychologists and psychiatrists agree that assigning the diagnosis of ADD/ADHD at such a young age is difficult for many reasons. Physical, brain and social development vary from child to child, as do language and comprehension skills. These factors make it difficult to get an accurate assessment. They can more accurately assess cognitive deficits and guide you if your child needs specific accommodations in the learning environment such as retention or an IEP (Individualized Education Program) and help you consider the emotional and social consequences of retention, being placed in special education, or just being given time and coaching to improve skills as they mature.

For the parent to consider:

How does the child act across situations? Is the school setting the only place where this kind of behavior is occurring? Have a MH professional visit the school setting to observe what is happening and determine:

  • Is the teacher experienced working with children who have ADD/ADHD/LD?
  • What are the specific behaviors that suggest ADD/ADHD?
  • What kind of relationship exists between the teacher, other staff members and the child?
  • What types of relationships occur between the child and other peers? (personality conflicts, bullying, etc.)
  • Is the environment over-stimulating, noisy, cold, hot, cluttered, physically uncomfortable, restrictive, etc.?
  • Is the child able to comprehend the curriculum and other expectations? If not, cognitive testing should be conducted to assess learning difficulties before making a decision to hold the child back in school.
  • Parents should also consult a physician to rule out physical symptoms that may be affecting the child (allergies, physical pain, vision and hearing, or other sensory deficits)

In the home setting:

  • Is your parenting style effective?
  • Is your child’s room clean and organized?
  • How does the child relate to other siblings? (As an Adlerian, I also think it is important to consider where the child falls in the birth order, as this can affect how quickly a child matures.)
  • Has something sad or traumatic happened recently (death, divorce, re-marriage, step siblings, recent move, auto accident, physical injury?)

A licensed mental health professional can explain the Conners Scale for Assessing ADD or ADHD and collect evaluations from the 2 teachers, and both parents (caregivers). These results can then be used as a benchmark when the child has had more time to mature to evaluate progress or help confirm the diagnosis. This person can also give assistance in behavioral techniques that will help the child learn to manage social and cognitive behaviors, suggest effective parenting techniques, and coordinate with the child’s school to monitor progress.

Parents Matter Too! This is especially true because the brain continues to develop until age 21 or so. During this process, you, the parent, must model and guide the child on how to control the impulsive part of the brain and engage the frontal lobes where reasoning and executive functioning (impulse control, task initiation/completion, planning/organization, persistence, and working memory) takes place. Your active involvement as a parent is extremely important and continues through to adulthood!