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Children having ADHD and other issues together occurs frequently. Having multiple problems is called comorbidity.

ADHD and comorbidity are frequently manifested in behavioral issues, issues with peers, learning disorders, increased risk of injury, anxiety, depression, or conduct disorders such as ODD. 

Understanding ADHD diagnosis and additional issues are crucial for parents. It helps them have realistic views of treatments and what their child is going through. It also helps them better engage with their children.

Parents should report all behavior to their child’s doctors as that information will be important in determining the best treatment course. Doctors will decide what to treat first based on the exhibited behaviors. They may recommend treating one of the other issues before focusing on your child’s ADHD symptoms. 

More information about ADHD and other issues is on SmarterParenting.com.

Dealing with ADHD alone can be challenging, but dealing with multiple issues at once can be overwhelming for many parents. It can lead to feelings of hopelessness when dealing with ADHD and other issues. 

The behavior skills on Smarter Parenting help parents deal with their feeling of hopelessness as it provides parents the tools and resources they need, including coaching. Our ADHD parenting coach, Siope Kinikini, is available to help parents gain clarity and get real solutions for problems. Sign-up for a free 15-minute coaching mini-session. https://www.smarterparenting.com/coaching/

Episode Transcript

Today we’re talking about ADHD and other issues. This is episode 34. Let’s get started.

Smarter Parenting welcomes you to our podcast series, The Parenting Coach for ADHD. Here to heal and elevate lives is your parenting coach, Siope Kinikini.

Hello, my friends. How is everyone doing today? I hope everybody’s doing well. I hope you had a good night’s rest and everything is moving forward in a positive way. I hope everyone’s having a positive day. And if you’re not, then I hope things get better for you.

For me, personally, today I am super excited to talk about this new topic. We’ve covered a little bit about it before in other podcasts, but I think today is a great opportunity for us to talk about ADHD and the other issues surrounding ADHD that may accompany it and some of the difficulties in dealing with those in addition to the ADHD. So we’ll be talking about ADHD and other issues. ADHD and what we call in the therapy world, comorbidity. Or, in the medical field, they call it comorbid issues. And what that means is that you have one issue and you have another issue and they exist together.

So ADHD has a lot of issues on its own, but it can also be accompanied by some additional problems and it may actually invite some additional issues to come along with it. And so to be diagnosed specifically with ADHD, that’s not the end of it for a lot of parents. In fact, you’re dealing with multiple things, which makes it even more difficult and a lot of times more frustrating. And that is a place that drives parents to exhaustion and a lot of times to feelings of helplessness. And so by understanding kind of what’s going on in the direction of treatment and all the other issues that are involved, this will be a very helpful tool for parents to better understand what could be or what possibly may be included with the ADHD diagnosis even if it isn’t officially diagnosed.

So, of course, the recommendation is to go get an official diagnosis by a mental health professional and medical doctor after you’ve been able to review and evaluate the behaviors that you’re working with and then come up with a treatment plan for that, right? And as time goes on, you may see some additional issues come up and be sure to address those with your mental health professional.

The CDC (Center for Disease Control)  actually has some great information on this as well and so I’ve pulled some of the information from there as well as from my own experience in working with families who have children with ADHD and other issues. Not just the ADHD, but other things that were going on.

Now, of course, I’ve mentioned this many times, but in the course of treatment, the focus is always on treating ADHD or whatever the biggest presenting problem is. So wherever the symptoms are, that’s what you’re going to address. And by addressing those you can start to address everything else. So you and the mental health professional are going to work through that and you’re going to decide what the best treatment option is for you guys.

Now, in addition to ADHD, ADHD could be at the core of what’s happening, but the other things that are happening around it could be behavioral problems.There could be learning disorders. There could be peer problems. There could be increased at risk of injury for your child, like physical injury. And it could also come with anxiety and depression. So let me repeat those five things that are kind of surrounding. So if we think of ADHD as the center and then the spokes popping out from the center, you could also be experiencing behavioral problems, learning disorders, peer problems, increased injury, so physical injury, and then anxiety and depression.

Now, you will find a lot of times children with ADHD also have behavior or conduct problems. And so they may be diagnosed with an additional disorder like oppositional defiant disorder, ODD is what we call it. Children with ODD have a lot of issues with authority. They often lose their temper. They’re arguing with adults and they’re refusing to comply with the rules. They often get angry and resentful, wanting to hurt other people that may have caused hurt to them or perceived hurt to them. They can be deliberately annoying to other people. They can push buttons on everybody, right? And they often blame other people and they don’t take responsibility for their actions. These, coupled with ADHD, you’re dealing with quite a lot. So how will the approach be is your mental professional will make a decision with you on what are the most pressing issues and let’s address those. And then hopefully from that we can start moving on to everything else.

Now ODD is just one of those behavioral issues that you’ll run into. Your child could also be diagnosed with conduct disorder. And this is when children show a behavioral pattern of aggression towards others and serious violations of rules and social norms at home, in school, and with peers. So this could involve peer issues in addition to the oppositional defiance. So conduct disorder, it’s kind of this ultimate rebellion. Now, the diagnoses for these, you’re probably thinking, well my kid is kind of like that. These have some very specific criteria and they exist over a period of time so your mental health professional will be able to help you realize if this is really an issue that you are working with that is a diagnosed issue, right?

For both of these, and in fact for anything that your child is going through, early intervention is always the best. As far as learning disabilities, your child could have ADHD but also struggle with dyslexia, dyscalculia, which is a difficulty with math. Dyslexia is a difficulty with reading. They could also suffer from dysgraphia, which is difficulty with writing. They could also have a combination of these different things. That compounded with the issue of ADHD and the inability to focus could really drive anybody bonkers and really cause some internal grief and stress in your child to where they really, really struggle. So be aware that those are some additional issues that exist outside of the ADHD diagnosis that may be connected or involved with them.

So treatment for the learning disorders, it’s something that actually can be treated over time. And if your child is able to receive an IEP or an individual education plan for this, actually it’d be super helpful in the school so they can tailor whatever they’re teaching your child to.What your child can learn and how they learn, right?

Now, in addition to that, they could deal with anxiety and depression and those can be caused by the ADHD or they can have it outside of the ADHD. So with anxiety, it’s this feeling of nervousness, of panic. And this can manifest itself as a separation anxiety, social anxiety, inability to interact with friends, or how to act with friends, or how to make friends. A general anxiety, which is general. They’re just anxious about everything and unsure. The depressive part is feeling hopeless or feeling sad for most of the time. Not wanting to do things that are fun. Having a hard time to focus. And then feeling worthless and useless. So these can be addressed also in the treatment plan that you come up with. So you want to talk to with your healthcare provider to be sure that you get all of those things taken care of.

Now ADHD can interfere with peer relations and that actually also bleeds into self-esteem for your child. So you want to be aware that these are some of the issues that your child may be struggling with. It can make the option of your child creating friendships very, very difficult and may affect their overall sense of wellbeing or a sense of belonging in their school.

Now it’s not fully understood how ADHD contributes to social problems. We don’t really know everything about it, but children who are inattentive are sometimes shy, they’re withdrawn. They actually become more isolated and introverted. If you know anything about me, one of the things that I think is super dangerous for anyone is isolation for extended periods of time. I believe isolation is great for self reasons where you’re trying to recharge your batteries and you need to disconnect. I absolutely believe in that. However, extended periods of time of isolation keep us from being social, which is actually kind of a need for humans and specifically for children. They need to feel a sense of belonging. They need to feel a sense of connection. And so whenever I work with a family and I hear that the child is isolating, it really becomes a worry for me because I need to understand what is keeping them from interacting with other people or with friends, right? So just understand that ADHD can cause some of these issues to pop up, right?

Now this isn’t true across the board. Not every child who has ADHD is going to have issues with peers. In fact, I had one friend with ADHD who is like a class clown. He loved it. And he loved the attention that he got and he actually fed off of it. So there are extremes to either, which is why it’s important to keep track of your child and understand your child in the way that they interact with the world, all right? So pay attention to those, to what’s going on.

Now, I had mentioned that children with ADHD may also have a higher risk of injury to self. This is physical injury. And you probably already figured that out. If you’ve had an ADHD child who’s unable to pay attention, riding a bike, for example, or playing catch, for example, and missing it because you’re just inattentive, you can understand why that could be a problem. Recommendations are to monitor and be sure your child’s safe. Have all the safety gear. If they need to wear a helmet to do an activity, have them wear the helmet. I mean, you’d rather your child be safe, than your child be injured, right? But there is this correlation between children who have ADHD and being injured more often than other children of the same age. So just understand that that’s kind of a risk that is out there. Now, if your child is super shy, and again, this all depends on your child, and maybe they won’t be as daring to try things like this, and yet they might get injured just because of their inability to focus on the task at hand. Right? So definitely work on things like that. So be aware of that issue, right?

Now, we’ve talked about things that are related to the ADHD issue. We focused on behavioral problems with conduct disorder and ODD. We talked about learning disorders, dyslexia, dysgraphia, I mean, those types of things. Peer problems, their inability to connect with peers. Increased for injury and also anxiety and depression. All of these exist kind of in this sphere of ADHD and other issues that your child may be dealing with. Being aware of these things should help you be more productive in the way that you interact and engage with your child. And also kind of give you a blueprint for what areas do we need to focus on and what areas do we not really need to focus on at this time, but we can address later. Helps guide you along your path, right?

Now, of course, every child is unique, and every child is different, and parents’ reactions to their children are different. So Smarter Parenting has created a ADHD parenting coaching process. So if you have a child with ADHD and you need some individual one-on-one counsel or to work through some issues, feel free to contact us because we do provide coaching for parents who have children with ADHD on working on some very specific things depending on what you need. So feel free to contact us. You can find that information over on the Smarter Parenting website.

Now in addition to that, and I throw this out every time that we record a podcast, there are free materials over in the Smarter Parenting website that will help you. Very specific tools that you can learn and that you can also teach to your children to help them along the way. We always want to be giving our children tools. Tools that they can use now and that they can use for the rest of their lives to create greater independence and self-sufficiency. So jump over to the website and you can check out all that stuff. A lot of free downloadable materials as well and just great information.

Again, if you want to do some individual coaching, and we can do that, so all you have to do is sign up, set up a time, and we will meet. We’ll talk about the issues that you’re working on. My goal for all of the coaching is to give parents three, four, five very specific items that they can do. So it’s not really, “Let’s just talk about what’s going on,” but it’s like, “Try these four or five things in order to help your child progress and move forward.” That’s kind of the goal right there, all right? So feel free to sign up for it over on the Smarter Parenting website.

That’s it for me and I hope you have a great day and that everything goes well for you. I actually am going to go take my two dogs. I have two dogs. I have Henry and Bear. They’re half-brothers. One is white and one is black. I’ve mentioned them before. We’re going to go and take a bath. Not together, I’m going to go give them a bath because they need a bath. There’s a place where I can give them a bath that’s a little bit far away.

Anyways, the reason that I share that is because it’s a calming thing for me to take them. They are very responsive to taking a bath and being clean and so it’s a calming thing for me. And it’s a good thing that we always find something throughout the day in order to help us calm down and kind of reset and all about self-care. Right?

Anyways, that’s it for me and I will talk to you again next week. Take care and looking forward to sharing some more great tips from Smarter Parenting to you. All right. Bye.

Resources referenced in this podcast

15-minute coaching mini-session

Episode #28: ADHD and depression

Smarter Parenting: Oppositional Defiance Disorder

Smarter Parenting: Anxiety

When kids hate the sound of no: Parenting ODD

Behavior management strategies for children with ODD

CDC: Other conditions and concerns for ADHD

Siope Kinikini

ADHD parenting coach Siope Lee Kinikini, LCMHC, is a mental health professional who has worked with hundreds of ADHD families. As someone with ADHD, he knows what your child is going through and is able to help you understand what they need. He is married and has a wonderful teenage daughter.

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