Helping kids of all ages to live a more active life through FUNctional movement.
Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is becoming more commonly diagnosed in today’s society. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder, which means that the brain and nervous system have been impacted during development. But could it be over-diagnosed? The symptoms of this disorder are many, and varied, and could easily be confused with other issues like sleep deprivation, anxiety, unfulfilled sensory needs, poor development or nutrition, or many other possible issues.
There are three sub-types of ADHD:
1. inattentive, where the person is easily distracted;
2. predominantly hyperactive-impulsive where the person behaves impulsively and with hyperactivity but focus isn’t a problem;
3. combined presentation, which is a combination of both.
Often the way experts come to the conclusion that someone has ADHD is by conducting a DSM-5 assessment, which is The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fifth edition). Usually the person being diagnosed does this assessment with a psychologist. The interesting thing about this assessment is that it is based on questionnaires – no brain scans included. In Ontario, this diagnosis must come from a medical doctor or from a psychologist.
Can you have symptoms of ADHD but not have ADHD? Absolutely…which is why people sometimes get falsely diagnosed.
It is possible that your child has many symptoms similar to those of ADHD but is not actually neurodivergent. If your child’s brain has not completed its typical development, or his/her/their body is not working optimally, it will be challenging for them to keep up to their peers and the typical demands placed on them, both physically and cognitively.
Here are some things we see that can mimic ADHD symptoms:
Many treatment options are available, including: occupational therapy, behavioral therapy, pharmacological (using medicine), exercise, nutrition, social skills training, classroom Interventions, and more. Some of these are more natural than others, and different people will respond differently to various options. Some are treatment (the attempted remediation of a health problem) options, and some are management (the process of dealing with or controlling things) strategies.
Occupational Therapy is often thought of to help kids with ADHD. Did you know that Physiotherapy can also help?? A tailored, individualized physiotherapy program can help to manage symptoms, or even reduce or eliminate some of the problems causing inattention or hyperactivity. Let me clarify.
If your child has ADHD or its symptoms, physio can help to manage those symptoms by:
Some children who have poor focus may need help with:
Aside: primitive reflexes are an automatic response to a specific stimulus that help us to survive as infants. They should emerge and integrate in a specific order within the first 2-3 years of life. For various reasons this development may not complete as expected which can contribute to things like: poor focus, incontinence, difficulty with reading and writing, emotional lability, anxiety, inattention, fidgeting, poor posture, flat feet, toe walking, learning disabilities and on and on…
Studies show that many people diagnosed with ADHD have a retained Spinal Galant reflex. And girls with ADHD tend to have the Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex that isn’t integrated, and boys are more likely to have the Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex that isn’t integrated.
The way we integrate reflexes is through movement – and specific therapeutic movements led by a trained professional can help your child (or you) with symptoms. This includes physiotherapists (who are trained)! Physiotherapy can be a good adjunct to working with an Occupational Therapist on other strategies to support your child’s learning and behavior goals related to ADHD.
Our team of Pediatric Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists specially trained in Pediatrics here are Play On Pediatric Therapy can help by providing with comprehensive assessments. They can’t diagnose ADHD, but can identify contributing factors and what executive function challenges your child has. (For a formal diagnosis you should work with your pediatrician or a child psychologist who assesses this.) Our clinicians will build treatment plans tailored to your child’s specific needs that can address the multi-factorial issues found. We even now have a class called Movement for Focus here in our Barrhaven, Ottawa, Ontario clinic to help with these symptoms. If you are interested in hearing more about it, or want to register your child, call us – 613-699-0787. We also do 1:1 assessments (although we cannot diagnose ADHD) and develop individualized treatment programs too.