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A parent’s guide to ADHD and ODD

Around 40% of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) also have oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). [1]

If your child has received a diagnosis for ADHD and you think that they may also be experiencing ODD, we have outlined the symptoms that could suggest your child has these co-occurring disorders. You can also find information on how to receive a diagnosis and treatment for both conditions.

For parents whose children have recently received a dual diagnosis of ADHD and ODD, this guide also looks at the steps that you can now take to make sure your child is as supported as possible.

Symptoms of ADHD and ODD

Classified as a disruptive behaviour disorder, ODD is characterised by frequent and severely disruptive moods and defiant behaviour against authority figures. It affects a child’s ability to build relationships and communicate with those around them.

 A child that has both ADHD and ODD is likely to display a number of the following symptoms:

  • Unable to pay attention at school
  • Difficulties focusing, listening and following directions
  • Becomes easily distracted
  • Struggles with organisation
  • Frequently misplaces items
  • Interrupts others
  • Has difficulties waiting their turn in conversation
  • Frequently loses their temper and seems angry or frustrated
  • Hostile towards authority figures
  • Refuses to comply with requests and rules
  • Intentionally annoys or upsets others
  • Blames others for their mistakes
  • Easily annoyed, angry or resentful

A child with ADHD and ODD is unlikely to display all of the above symptoms.

It is also important to remember that all children and teenagers can be defiant and disobey rules, talk back and disregard requests at times, especially when they are tired, upset or stressed. If these defiant behaviours disrupt a child’s normal daily activities and seem excessive in comparison to their peers and have lasted six months or more, it may be that they have ODD.

ODD assessment following ADHD diagnosis

If you have found that your child is experiencing symptoms of ODD alongside their ADHD diagnosis, it is important to raise this with a doctor.

You may want to take your child to their GP to discuss the symptoms and next steps. You can also get in contact with a specialist child and adolescent psychiatrist who will be able to provide an assessment. At Priory, we have specialist doctors who are able to complete ADHD and ODD assessments, provide diagnoses and advise on effective support and treatment. 

What to do following an ADHD and ODD diagnosis

If your child has recently been diagnosed with ADHD and ODD, there are steps that you can follow to support them and your family.

Learning about ADHD and ODD

Firstly, it’s important to learn what you can about both ADHD and ODD. You can do this by booking an appointment with your child’s doctor to discuss the diagnosis further and to get answers to any questions that you have.  

There are useful websites that can provide you with a wealth of information including ADDitude, UKAP and the ADHD Foundation. You may also want to attend one of the many support groups available around the country, where you will have the opportunity talk with families, discuss your thoughts and feelings, and learn from others with similar experiences.  

Understanding treatment options at Priory

It is recommended that you talk to a doctor about treatment options, which may include medication and therapy. At Priory, the specialists within our hospitals and wellbeing centres can help you to determine the most effective support for your child.

We can provide one-to-one therapy sessions, where your child has a safe space to talk, understand more about their thoughts and feelings, and learn strategies for managing their behaviour.

Family therapy is another option that can be useful. Through ongoing discussions, everyone can get a better understanding of the conditions and learn how to best support one another. Parents can also access a specialised therapy technique called parent management training. These sessions can be valuable when you have a child with ADHD and ODD, as you can learn new ways to respond and positively influence their behaviour.

While there is no medication for ODD, our doctors can provide advice regarding medication for ADHD, which can help with a child’s feelings of anger and frustration, both of which are symptoms seen in ODD.

Talking about your child’s education

You may want to schedule a meeting with your child’s school, and bring a copy of the diagnostic assessment report with you. This external report can help the school as they determine the support they need to provide so that your child gets the education that they deserve. 

Speaking to your child about ADHD and ODD

Talk to your child about their diagnosis to help them understand how it may affect them in certain scenarios. Also, explain the support that you have put in place to help them manage these difficult situations. 

Let your child know that you love them, and that you will always be there to listen and support them. Make sure they are also aware that their co-occurring disorders don’t define them and that they will never stop them doing what they want to do in life.

[1] https://childmind.org/article/adhd-behavior-problems/

 

Blog reviewed by Dr Hayley van Zwanenberg (MBBS, MRCPsych, MMedSci), Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Priory Wellbeing Centre Oxford

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