Post-Pandemic Help For Those With ADHD

Family Counseling Insights brought to you by California Psychotherapeutic Resources, Inc.

After living with the pandemic for two years, nearly everyone has stories about how it affected them personally — and how it affected their loved ones. Unexpectedly enough, one striking aspect of these stories is how much they differed in perspective. Some parents who coped with remote learning reported that their kids adapted pretty well and pretty easily. Others could hardly contain their frustration at how chaotic the whole experience was.

A young girl feeling lonely

For one group of people, though, reaction to a changed world was remarkably consistent: for both adults and children with ADHD, the pandemic was a nightmare. Writing for the American Psychological Association, Zara Abrams quotes a leading expert on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Dr. Jeffrey S. Katz, PhD, who along with being a clinical psychologist is also a board member of the nonprofit Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. He says, “People with ADHD rely on structure. When that structure was removed, symptoms that were under control became much more impairing.”

Among the many things psychologists learned during the pandemic, they realized that there were going to be long-term effects for people who deal with ADHD. Although relatively early in the process of adjusting to the post-pandemic world, experts are recognizing areas of concern that merit further study, including the following.

Early intervention. There is often an underlying cause of ADHD. Abrams writes that “Dopamine dysregulation, which influences motivation, is at the root of many of these issues.” Getting children tested early can help them avoid a wide variety of issues if ADHD is a problem.

Dealing with remote work and learning. There are several issues to be aware of with remote work and learning. People with ADHD often have difficulty learning virtual systems. Simply knowing about this is especially beneficial for parents of children with ADHD because they can focus on getting their kids oriented properly. Time management is also often as issue, so adults working remotely need to understand that they need to create a system to help them manage their Time. Similarly, people with ADHD frequently do not do well with a loss of boundaries — recognizing this as potential problem can help people deal with it early.

Understanding the pandemic’s influence. This is a particularly subtle problem. After all, almost everyone reacted to changed routines to a certain extent. Is the reaction what would be considered normal, or is it a red flag pointing toward ADHD? Abrams sums up the issue by saying, “Are people feeling bored, restless, and distractable purely due to circumstance — or are they living with an underlying condition.?”

Supporting students. This issue is in flux. Students with ADHD who are learning remotely face different issues than those who are attending school in person. In both cases, though, parents should be aware that weekly updates on progress are valuable. They need to check not only the student’s academic progress but also on the effectiveness of any systems they have in place to help them cope.

Ongoing challenges. Uncertainty is the main problem going forward. With the possibility of new variants arising and the potential for new quarantining requirements, anyone dealing with ADHD should be mentally prepared to be flexible and address issues as they arise. That’s stressful for everyone, but especially for people dealing with ADHD.

Read Abrams full article here, which includes many links to other helpful resources.