How An ADHD Simulation Can Help You Parent A Child With ADHD

By: Patricia Oelze

Updated October 28, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a common chronic childhood disorder that affects more than 10% of the children in the United States. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately six million American children live with this condition that can cause problems in school, relationships, and employment later in life. The official definition given by the CDC is a brain disorder with the features of impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention.

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Types Of ADHD

Psychologists have now determined that there are three different types of ADHD. These include the impulsive hyperactivity type, inattentive type, and combination type. While they do have similar symptoms, they also have specific signs that help doctors diagnose them if needed.

  • Hyperactivity Impulsive Type

This type of ADHD may manifest as a child who has difficulties sitting still and exhibits frequent fidgeting. Those with this type may seem to be constantly moving, sometimes even when they are sleeping. Children with this type of ADHD might find it challenging to wait their turn, leading them to disrupt class or interrupt other people's conversations.

  • Inattentive ADHD

This may look like a child who has a hard time focusing on anything and becomes distracted often. This is often seen as a classic sign of ADHD, and when parents notice that their child cannot seem to concentrate on one thing, that is usually when they begin to suspect ADHD. Children with this type of ADHD might also misplace things and have difficulty processing instructions.

  • Combination ADHD

If your child has signs of both types of ADHD, they could have Combination ADHD. They may display hyperactive signs for a while and switch to inattention signs on and off, or they may show some symptoms of both types.

Symptoms of ADHD

Many people think that ADHD is characterized by a child who cannot sit still or does not listen in school. While these are signs of ADHD, there are many other signs to look out for, such as:

  • Restlessness
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Unable to follow orders
  • Cannot sit still in class
  • Distracted and forgetful
  • Loses things often
  • Poor organization
  • Unfinished schoolwork or tasks
  • Making careless mistakes
  • Fidgeting, moving hands and feet, or squirming
  • Interrupts others
  • They cannot play quietly by themselves
  • Talks a lot of out of turn

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Risk Factors For ADHD

Even though different and conflicting ideas have been called upon regarding the causes of ADHD, biological issues are generally thought to be the main cause. Additionally, environmental factors are thought to contribute to the severity of symptoms over time. Researchers have considered the role of brain structure, function, and neurotransmitters in the etiology and expression of ADHD and have looked to twin studies for genetic contributions to the disorder.

Although experts do not know exactly what causes ADHD, some risk factors make it more likely for your child to develop the disorder. The main risk factor is gender. Boys are three times more likely to get ADHD than girls. In addition, genetics is a real possibility because there is a strong correlation between family history and ADHD. The possibility of getting ADHD increases five times if the parent or sibling has the condition. The measurement of heritability of ADHD is about 0.76, which means it is highly heritable. Other risk factors increase one’s likelihood of developing ADHD, which include:

  • Chemical influences such as smoking, doing drugs, or drinking during pregnancy
  • Not getting enough nutrients during pregnancy or infancy
  • Other mental or psychological illnesses
  • Medical disorders such as neurological conditions
  • Environmental exposure to heavy metals, pollution, or other toxins

No matter the cause, ADHD is a real disorder that can cause difficulties for children in school and interacting with others. That is why a parent or caregiver needs to recognize the signs and talk to a professional right away to get treatment. You cannot officially diagnose your child independently, but if you see many of these signs in your child, it is time to have your child tested for ADHD.

Testing For ADHD

It is important to see your child's doctor first to have medical tests done. This is because other disorders such as medical illnesses can cause similar symptoms as ADHD in many children. Although there are no lab tests or markers to diagnose ADHD, an accurate diagnosis has to be done by a professional. There are several tests that psychologists use to help verify the diagnosis once your physician gives it. These include the Brown Attention Deficit Disorder Scales, the Conners ADHD Rating Scales, and the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview.

Many cognitive tests can help with diagnoses, such as the Woodcock Johnston Tests of Achievement, California Verbal Learning Test, Wechsler Memory Scale, and the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities. You can also do many online tests to back up your idea to get your child diagnosed. A couple of these include the ADHD test for kids by Attitude Magazine.

Parenting A Child With ADHD

Having a child with ADHD can be difficult. It is very challenging (if not impossible) to understand how other people feel, especially when it comes to mental health disorders. Even if someone explains exactly how ADHD feels, it can be hard to actually "feel" what they are feeling. Even if you have dual therapy with your child and a professional, it can be almost impossible to "get" what your child goes through daily with ADHD.

However, being a parent of a child with ADHD can be a daily struggle as well. You may find yourself getting angry or upset at your child for fidgeting, not paying attention, or getting in trouble at school for talking. It may seem like they are ignoring you on purpose or deliberately going out of their way to make you mad. Even though you may realize that it is not their fault and that it is because of their disease, parents can have a hard time not getting mad when their child misbehaves.

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ADHD Simulation

There is a way to experience what a child with ADHD goes through daily. ADHD simulations are excellent tools for parents, teachers, and anyone else who has someone with ADHD in their life. There are many different ADHD simulators, from professional to entertaining, but they all benefit from helping you see the world through your child's eyes. Utilizing these tools can help you to gain understanding and empathy for what your child is experiencing.

Through Your Child's Eyes

One of the most highly regarded ADHD simulators is called "Through Your Child's Eyes," It is very accurate and professional. You can hear from children who have ADHD as they talk about their struggles and how their disability affects them every day. Then the simulation starts, and you will see how things seem to them. You can choose an age your child most struggles with, such as attention, organization, math, writing, or reading. Afterward, an expert breaks down how well you did in the simulation.

Misunderstood Minds

This PBS site has nine kinds of ADHD simulations and activities to do and videos to watch. The website itself is a companion site to a television show called "Misunderstood Minds" on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). There are four categories, which include attention, reading, writing, and math. It is produced by WGBH and is very educational.

ADHD Simulator Video

This simulation video is very interesting and shows you what it is like to have ADHD. You do not get to choose a subject, but you do get to watch a video where you are supposed to read the information and take a test at the end. There are so many distractions on the screen that it is almost impossible to read. It also interrupts the reading every few seconds with a random thought.

Whether you are a parent of a child with ADHD, a teacher, or just curious to see how it feels to have the disorder, any of these simulations are incredibly accurate, according to those who live with ADHD and the experts.

Talking to Someone

It is best to talk to a professional about getting your child treatment for ADHD. Although many people may try to treat it on their own at home with natural remedies or by changing their child's diet, it is best to talk to a therapist or counselor first to determine what is best for your child. BetterHelp is an online mental health care source that can find you a therapist you can talk to today; no appointment is needed. And you do not even need to leave the house. Today, take this step to connect your child with the support they need to improve their daily functioning and quality of life.


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