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Gift do’s – and don’ts – for the up to 1 in 10 children with ADHD
Monday, November 19, 2012

Gift do’s – and don’ts – for the up to 1 in 10 children with ADHD
Monday, November 19, 2012

Some simple tips can guide parents of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD/ADD) through a jungle of toys beckoning holiday shoppers online and on store shelves, says a leading developmental child psychologist. Frederick List, PhD., child psychologist at Greenville Hospital System Children’s Hospital, has advice on what gifts to get – or NOT to get – and the answers could save parents, family members and friends some money, too. 

GREENVILLE, SC – Some simple tips can guide parents of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD/ADD) through a jungle of toys beckoning holiday shoppers online and on store shelves, says a leading developmental child psychologist.

 

Frederick List, PhD., child psychologist at Greenville Hospital System Children’s Hospital, has advice on what gifts to get – or NOT to get – and the answers could save parents, family members and friends some money, too.

 

“Any parent knows that the wrong toy in the wrong child’s hand can make for a difficult Christmas morning, but it’s important to realize that children with ADHD may have a lower threshold for frustration and may take longer to recuperate,” said List, who holds a dual appointment as assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville.

“A lot of heartache and tears – for children and parents – could be avoided in the first place by taking some time to consider different types of toys that may better match their child’s specific needs and interests.”

An “ADHD label” on a toy isn’t a one-size fits all solution, he said. Consider the activities the child enjoys, attention issues the child has and the activities that capture the child’s imagination.

For example, a rough and tumble child who likes to play in the dirt would be happier with gardening tools than an arts and crafts kit, and the tools could provide a reason to dig, List said.

Add in some parental involvement. “Helping them with it, showing interest; that can increase the child’s attention span on what they are doing and also increase their success,” List said.

ADHD is a difficulty focusing on things that aren’t stimulating, List said. “Their ability to independently regulate how they are focusing their attention is more difficult for them than for other kids,” List said.

Look for games and toys that will help direct them to where you’d like them to head, he suggested. Try gymnastics, jump rope or basketball for a child who climbs on furniture and jumps on the bed. “Rather than trying to stop a behavior that we don’t like, is there something we can use to help channel that into a more productive manner,” List said.

Up to 1 in 10 children in the United States have ADHD. Nationwide, approximately 9.5% or 5.4 million children ages 4-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For more gift ideas, the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, at www.toyportfolio.com, contains a list of its 2012 SNAP Awards for those shopping for children with special needs.

GHS Children’s Hospital has one of the most comprehensive developmental-behavioral pediatric centers in the nation. Its Donald A. Gardner Family Center for Developing Minds specializes in evaluating and treating children with developmental difficulties and related behavioral issues such as learning problems, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, mental retardation and cerebral palsy.

Dos

 

  • Consider activities the child enjoys.
  • Consider toys that can help channel those activities productively.
  • Consider different types of toys that might involve that activity.
  • Get involved with the child in that activity.

 

Don’ts

 

  • Don’t use a toy to substitute for the parent.
  • Don’t expect an expert or a toy manufacturer to know your child better than you do.
  • Don’t pick a toy just because it has an ADHD label.
  • Don’t let negative criticism outweigh positive encouragement.