UMass Psychologists host ADHD counseling for families

By Alyssa Creamer

This February, the University of Massachusetts’ Psychological Services Center is hosting its program directed at aiding parents in caring for hyperactive pre-school children.

The program initially began this past fall semester, and parents are instructed to attend 15 weekly group meetings to discuss, according to a release, “how to handle the emotional outbursts that are common among hyperactive preschoolers.”

“I was a really hyper and stubborn as a little girl,” said UMass freshman Jessica Lee. “My parents definitely had some hard times controlling my hyperactivity. I basically did what I wanted, when I wanted, all the time. I would run up to strangers randomly while out with my parents and hug them. Or I’d run away from my parents at the mall. I remember this one time, I wanted to read a book, and even though my mom said no, I ran off and did it anyway. My mom had to call for me over the loudspeaker in the mall.”

There are arguments that hyperactivity in young children is an almost normal phase children go through before maturing. However, sometimes, hyperactivity can be a sign that a young child may face issues with their hyperactivity as they age or be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder [ADHD].

According to a release, “clinical psychology members Lisa Harvey and Rebecca Stowe and doctoral student Sharonne Herbert believe that intervening with these children early on may help them experience fewer problems as they grow.”

“This course definitely could have given my parents some useful tips on how to handle a hyperactive child,” said Lee. “I think my parents had a hard time determining whether I was acting out or just hyperactive. And that many other parents might have difficulty deciding whether to punish their kids or treat them differently. If parents know their child is hyperactive or has some sort of hyperactive disorder, it might help them to give their child the best care they need.”

According to an article published on the Web site, Meg Zweiback nurse practitioner and family consultant, writes that it is important to understand “the needs of an active, impulsive preschooler.”

Needs include placing hyperactive children in locations conducive to their need to move around frequently—basically, Zweiback implies that hyperactive children, like bulls, do not fair well in China shops.

“Recognize that your child will be happiest playing in a child-friendly environment where she can run around and touch things, not shopping in a hardware store or going to an art museum,” said Zweiback. “Understand that [your child] won’t be able to sit or stand quietly for long periods, so that asking [the child] to wait in line or sit in an office waiting room may be asking too much.”

Zweiback also advises parents to ensure their children get enough sleep.

“Any child who is tired will be irritable and “wired” during the day will be harder to deal with than a well-rested child,” said Zweiback.

The program is free for families who qualify for its services and agree to take part in assessments before and after participating in the program. Sessions will be held on Thursday evenings in the Psychological Services Center’s facilities in 123 Tobin Hall.

Alyssa Creamer can be reached at [email protected]