October 2021 – After the NICU

Jenny R. McCormick, Senior Editor PreemieWorld

October is ADHD Awareness Month. Statistics show that persons who were born premature and of very low weight were about 3 times more likely to receive an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnosis than those who had term, normal-weight births. What do you need to know when you have a recently diagnosed preemie? Here are some helpful tips.

Talk about it: Don’t shy away from talking with your child about ADHD. Help your child understand that having ADHD is not his/her fault, and that they can learn ways to help them navigate home/school life. Remind your child that he/she is more than just a diagnosis.

Be involved: Learn all you can about ADHD. Follow the treatment your child’s health care provider recommends. Go to all recommended therapy visits.

Medication: If your child takes ADHD medicines, give them at the recommended time. Don’t change the dose without checking with your doctor. Learn all you can about each medication and the pros/cons of each medication.

Effects of ADHD: Every child is different. Identify the problems your child has because of ADHD. Ask your child’s therapist for tips and ways you can help your child practice and improve.

Communication with Schools: Work with your child’s school. Talk with your child’s teacher about your child’s needs in the classroom. Meet often with the IEP team to find out how your child is doing. Remember that YOU know your child best and it’s okay to advocate for your child.

Connect: Join a support organization for ADHD parents for support and awareness. Here are some great support groups:

  • https://chadd.org/
  • https://add.org/
  • https://ldaamerica.org/

Expectations: Set clear expectations. Before you go somewhere, talk with your child to explain how you want them to behave. Focus more energy on teaching your child what to do, rather than reacting to what not to do.

Reserve time: Make time to talk and enjoy relaxing, fun activities with your child — even if it’s just for a few minutes. Give your child your full attention. Compliment positive behaviors.

Relationship goals: Your relationship with your child matters most. Protect your child’s self-esteem by being patient, understanding, and accepting. Let your child know you believe in them and see all the good things about them.

Respite care: Remember, you can’t pour from an empty vessel. Carve out time for yourself to regroup and center yourself. Caring for a child with ADHD isn’t always easy so be gentle with yourself and try to give yourself those much needed breaks to walk away for a bit.