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

By: Patricia Oelze

Updated February 03, 2020

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 suffer from 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 hyperactivity impulsive type, inattentive type, and the 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 typically manifests as a child who cannot sit still, fidgets a lot, and talks more than other children. They seem to move all the time and may even move while they are sleeping. They refuse to wait their turn and disrupt class or interrupt other people's conversations. They just seem to have no off button and never think of the consequences of their actions.

  • Inattentive ADHD

This is characterized by a child who has a hard time focusing on any one thing and get 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. These children also tend to misplace things often and have difficulty processing instructions.

  • Combination ADHD

If your child has signs of both types of ADHD, they probably have Combination ADHD. They may have hyperactive signs for a while and switch to inattention signs on and off or they may have some symptoms of both types. This is usually a clear sign that your child has ADHD and needs to be seen by a professional.

Symptoms of ADHD

Many people think that ADHD is just characterized by a child who cannot sit still or who does not listen in school. While these are definitely 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 squirms
  • Interrupts others
  • Cannot play quietly by themselves
  • Talks a lot or out of turn

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Risk Factors for ADHD

Even though separate and conflicting ideas have been called upon regarding the causes of ADHD, biological issues are generally thought to be the main cause, and 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, there are some risk factors that make it more likely for your child to have 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. In fact, the possibility of getting ADHD increases five times if the parent of sibling has the condition. Studies have shown that twins who grew up in separate households both have the condition. The measurement of heritability of ADHD is about 0.76, which means it is highly heritable. There are other risk factors of course, 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 what the cause, ADHD is a real disorder that causes so much turmoil in the child who is suffering that they tend to have trouble in school, getting along with their peers, or may even self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. That is why it is important for a parent of caregiver to see the signs and talk to a professional right away to get treatment. You cannot officially diagnose your child on your own, 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 best to see your child's doctor first to have medical tests done. This is because other disorders such as medical illnesses can cause the same or similar symptoms as ADHD in many children. Although there are no lab tests or markers to diagnose ADHD, the accurate diagnosis has to be done by a professional. There are several tests that psychologists use to help verify the diagnosis once it is given by your physician. These include the Brown Attention Deficit Disorder Scales, the Conners ADHD Rating Scales, and the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview.

There are also many cognitive tests that can help with diagnosis such as the Woodcock Johnston Tests of Achievement, California Verbal Learning Test, Wechsler Memory Scale, and the Woodcock Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities. There are also many online tests you can do just 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 is difficult to say the least. But think about how difficult it must be for them. It is hard (if not impossible) to understand how other people feel, especially when it comes to mental health disorders. Even if someone explains in detail exactly how ADHD feels to someone who has it, 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 on a daily basis 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 know that it is not their fault and that it is because of their disease, parents often have a hard time not getting mad when their child misbehaves.

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ADHD Simulation

There is a way that you can experience what a child with ADHD goes through on a daily basis. 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 have the benefit of helping you see the world through your child's eyes.

Through Your Child's Eyes

One of the most highly regarded ADHD simulators is called "Through Your Child's Eyes," and 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 are able to choose an age and what 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 called has nine kinds of ADHD simulations and activities to do as well as 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 really 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 suffer from 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 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.com is an online mental health care source that can find you a therapist you can talk to today, no appointment needed. And you do not even need to leave the house.


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