Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or AD/HD or ADD) is another developmental disorder. As the name suggests, it is primarily characterised by the co-existence of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity, with such behaviour occurring infrequently. The symptom mostly starts appearing before seven years of age.
As per estimates, ADHD is diagnosed two to four times more frequently in boys than in girls. The diagnosis of ADHD does not, however, imply a neurological disease, instead ADHD is classified as a disruptive behaviour disorder along with oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder and antisocial disorder.
Threefold classification of ADHD includes:
1) Lack of attention (inattentiveness)
3) Impulsive behaviour (impulsivity)
Here, the usage of Occupational therapy for children with ADHD enhances their ability to process lower level senses related to alertness, body movement and position, and touch enabling them to pay more attention to the higher level senses of hearing and vision.
For example, skills related to vision include tracking the object, fixing on the object, changing focus, finally forming a mental image. When all of these are taken care of by an occupational therapist, children can sustain attention, make less errors while reading/writing, give meaning to what they hear and see, and rely less on movement to stay alert.
Occupational therapy also focuses on reducing hyperactivity, impulsivity, wrong adaptive behaviours and enhances attention and concentration, thus, improving social skills like, co-operative play, sharing skills, listening skills, taking turns, following directions, cognitive perceptual skills, and produce expected adaptive behaviour.
The other areas that are targeted by occupational therapists are self-care and school performance. In self care the occupational therapist provide orientation to the child about the dress materials, eating, bathing and grooming equipments in the real or controlled environment.
An Occupational Therapist also focus on developing pre-handwriting skills, writing, colouring, alphabet and numeral learning and recognition, which takes care of the school performance of the child. The occupational therapist can suggest effective ways to the parents on how to deal with the unwanted behaviour or tantrums of the child like when to give a positive (to enhance a response) or a negative (to curb a response) reinforcement which will be the most effective for the child.
A home visit by an occupational therapist, in order to scrutinise the environment at home can be very effective. An occupational therapist can tell general ways to make environment less distractive for the child. Therefore the intervention is not confined for the few hours that the child spends at the therapeutic centre and therefore, it (intervention) becomes more extensive and fruitful.