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If your friend has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

disability; behaviour; learning disability; problems; concentration; attention deficit disorder; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; ADD; ADHD; friend ;


What is ADD?

Most experts now say that Attention Deficit Disorder (say at-ten-shun def-iss-it dis-or-der) is one of a group of behaviour disorders where kids find it really hard to concentrate on what they are doing. They find it hard to make friends and often get into trouble at home or school for not listening properly or not paying attention to what they are doing.

Sometimes it is called ADHD, which means attention deficit hyperactivity (say hi-per-act-iv-it-ee) disorder.  Hyperactivity means being much more active than usual.

What does it look like?

This is where it can be a bit difficult because all of us do some of the following behaviours at times.

You may notice that your friend:

  • talks too much
  • makes careless mistakes in easy schoolwork or jobs at home
  • finds it hard to organise how to do something
  • loses things all the time (sounds a lot like me!)
  • doesn't seem to be listening to instructions
  • gets bored very easily
  • can't seem to finish tasks
  • forgets to do things (sounds like me again!)
  • can't seem to sit still
  • runs about instead of staying in the seat at class 
  • is often noisy and inconsiderate of others
  • shouts out answers without hearing the full question
  • wants all the attention
  • won't wait for her turn
  • pushes into games or others' conversations.

It may be ADD /ADHD if a lot of these behaviours are happening at home and at school a lot of the time.

If these behaviours are causing your friend to get into trouble at home and at school, and he is losing friends or finding it hard to make new friends, then your friend may need some help.

What parents and caregivers can do

  • They can take your friend to see a doctor.
  • learning togetherThey can help him to manage the behaviours at home by having clear and simple rules and consequences. 
  • They can work with the teachers to help your friend manage his behaviours at school.
  • They can help your friend to concentrate on all the things he is good at.
  • They can help your friend by listening to his problems.
  • They can give rewards for changing unacceptable (bad) behaviours into acceptable (good) behaviours.

What your school can do

If someone has a learning disability then the school should know about it. Have a look at the topic 'Learning disabilities'.

Teachers can work with your friend and her parents to help her control behaviours and ways to improve the behaviours that make it difficult for her to learn and be happy at school.

Teachers can:

  • talk to your friend about the problems she is having
  • set up a behaviour management program
  • set up a learning program
  • help your friend to understand about friendships, how to make and keep friends
  • support your friend through sad times
    working with friends
  • encourage her to keep trying
  • make a number of small goals so that your friend can see that she is making progress
  • talk and work with your friend's parents or caregivers so that everyone is working on the same thing at the same time and in the same way.

Taking tablets

Some children with ADD or ADHD take tablets that the doctor has given them.

Tablets can:

  • help them to concentrate
  • help them to manage their behaviour.

Tablets can't:

  • work miracles. Children have to learn how to manage their own behaviour too.

What you can do

  • You can understand that your friend sometimes needs you to be patient.
  • You can understand that she may not be as good at being a friend as you might wish. BUT if your friend is being unkind to you then you must tell her what you think and let her know that unkind behaviour is unacceptable to you.

This doesn't mean that you should stop being friends. Take time to think and then you can give her another chance to be your friend later on.

  • getting help from the teacherYou may be able to help your friend with her schoolwork or be her partner in activities.
  • You can let the teacher know if others are being unkind to your friend or bullying her.
  • You can play with your friend after school sometimes (if your mum and her's say that is okay).
  • You can praise your friend when she has done something well.

How kids cope

These are some comments that kids with ADHD want to share with you.

  • angry person"I don't like people to know that I have ADD because I'm just a kid and I just want to be treated like any other kid." Elise
  • "You get frustrated and you have to take the tablets."
  • "I get fed up seeing different doctors."
  • "I feel angry that I have ADHD I hope that in a few years I won't have it."
  • "Some people don't realise that I sometimes have a problem managing anger."
  • "Help yourself, take the tablets but start to take control of yourself before the tablets kick in."
  • "If you are feeling angry people should back off and let you have some time to manage your feelings again."
  • "Keep positive, take control of your anger and take responsibility for your actions then you will be able to cope." Scott.

Dr Kim says

Dr KimAll kids have problems sitting still and concentrating at times, especially if they're tired or it's a boring lesson or they would rather be somewhere else. For kids with ADD or ADHD it can be really hard to concentrate a lot of the time and even harder to sit still. Imagine how awful it would be if you were in trouble most of the time for not listening, not trying and not behaving well. It would make anyone unhappy and angry wouldn't it? Parents, doctors and teachers can help children to deal with their problems if they all work together. Friends are very important too.

Remember that being a friend is about caring, sharing and helping and encouraging each other to be the best that you can be."

Sometimes it is very hard 
to sit still on a chair.
Sometimes I feel twitchy 
and bored just sitting there.
Sometimes I get angry 
when I don't understand,
or when the other kids say, 
"You can't play, you're banned." 
Sometimes I feel sad  
when I'm trying hard to do my best,
but others won't give me a go 
'cos they think that I'm a pest.
Sometimes I'm in trouble 
at home and then at school.
I get so frustrated  
that I act just like a fool.
My family all help me. 
They're there right to the end
But I really, really wish 
that I could keep a friend.
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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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