Children with ADHD

The demands and expectations of children have been increasing in today’s world. These demands and expectations are seen in classrooms, family settings, and social activities which can cause many difficult experiences that these children have to face, especially for children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Children with ADHD have poor concentration, hyperactivity, and impulsivity issues that they have to face as well as these increasing demands and expectations.

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The symptoms of ADHD and the increasing demands and expectations of these children can thus make everyday activities like connecting with others and themselves be very hard. The most common treatment that is suggested to decrease these symptoms is drug therapy (Portrie-Bethke, Hill, & Bethke, 2009). Although this is the most common treatment, recent treatment studies have focused on discovering the most effective treatment, other than drug therapy, for children with ADHD (Edwards, 2002). The most effective treatment found from these studies is a combination of family-based, behavioral-oriented, multimodal, and multisystem approach (Edwards, 2002). This approach has been found to be more effective than just drug therapy alone (Edwards, 2002). So, this study suggests different components that can be successful with children with ADHD. These successful components that are suggested for children with ADHD are counseling services, parental support, educational support, and medication. The adventure-based counseling approach could benefit these children with ADHD that have these difficulties of connection with people and the self because it encompasses important components to treat their ADHD based on this treatment study.

Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

ADHD has been diagnosed to millions of children worldwide (Shillingford-Butler & Theodore, 2013). It has been identified as one of the most common and increasing behavioral disorders of children (Shillingford-Butler & Theodore, 2013). This behavioral disorder affects nearly 5% of children every year but recent surveys suggests that the prevalence may be as high as 11% (Hamilton & Astramovich, 2014). Also, ADHD is about three times more likely to affect male children (Shillingford-Butler & Theodore, 2013). This childhood behavioral disorder cannot be over looked considering it is a major diagnosis for children around the world and affects their ability to function every day. The three main characteristics of ADHD include inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity (Shillingford-Butler & Theodore, 2013). These three main characteristics affect these children in their developmental years causing them to have intense reactions to daily activities, difficulty with delay of gratification, becoming bored easily, talking excessively, interrupting the activates of others, excessive activity, and doing things without thinking (Bragg & Shugart, 2004). These effects could slightly decline throughout their lifetime but more than 50% of these children will have these effects for the rest of their lives (Shillingford-Butler & Theodore, 2013). There are many different kinds of treatment that could help reduce the difficulties of daily activities and one of them that is being researched is adventure-based counseling.

Adventure-based Counseling

Adventure-based counseling is a group therapy technique that can be modified to any setting and is a combination of experiential learning, outdoor education, group counseling, and intrapersonal exploration (Fletcher & Hinkle, 2002). Adventure-based counseling focuses and promotes positive change with activities that involve clients to learn by doing. Some activities practiced in adventure-based counseling are rope courses, rock climbing, backpacking, community service, and any other activities that include problem initiatives. Adventure-based counseling is positively associated with personal growth, accountability, support, trust, and a sense of personal energy (Fletcher & Hinkle, 2002). Clients who actively participate in adventure-based counseling also have seen a major increase in self-esteem (Wick, Wick, & Peterson, 1997). This counseling technique has many different benefits for clients that can affect them positively for the rest of their lives. It makes them conquer any difficulties that may arise and connect more easily with themselves and others, just like they should learn to do in life.

The Use of Adventure-based Counseling with Children Diagnosed with ADHD

Children with ADHD would benefit greatly from adventure-based counseling techniques for many reasons. A major reason that children with ADHD would benefit from adventure-based counseling techniques is that it would positively change their behavior of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity because it can teach them that they can overcome these difficulties in their everyday lives. Adventure-based counseling can teach these children that they can overcome these difficulties because the techniques used with clients are activities that encourage them to set goals, to successfully achieve those goals, and to achieve conclusions to challenges. This would help them learn to apply this to their everyday lives and challenges that they face which could impact them greatly. Another major reason that children with ADHD would benefit from adventure-based counseling is that it encourages those children to make connections with themselves and others around them. Making connections with others and the self can be difficult for these children to foster and adventure-based counseling techniques can help them overcome this challenge. Adventure-based counseling can help children with ADHD overcome this challenge because the activities that are used in the counseling sessions are group based and encourages interaction with the other clients in the group. Also, adventure-based counseling can be used as a strength-based therapy for clients, which would benefit these children greatly because children with ADHD sometimes have self-esteem issues. Adventure-based counseling can be used as a strength-based therapy for clients because it encourages personal growth through character strengths. This growth is seen in clients social and personal life which can cause major increase in self-esteem because there is an increase in their overall happiness. A specific example of a group-based activity is “Circle the Circle (Morgan, 2011). This activity has clients stand in a circle, holding one another’s hands, and their goal is to move two hula hoops around the circle in opposite directions without letting go of each other’s hands until the hula hoops have reached their original starting position. This activity, like other adventure-based activities, encourage clients to practice setting goals, to learn to share personal space with others, and to use encouragement to achieve a successful conclusion to challenges (Morgan, 2011). This activity also encourages clients to connect with the other clients in the activity because it causes communication and awareness of others. Adventure-based counseling can benefit many people who participate but it could really benefit children with ADHD because it can help them overcome the added issues that they face in their everyday lives.

Past Research

Past research on adventure-based counseling used with children with ADHD have also found these benefits. A study found that play, especially for children, has reported to provide people a natural environment to express and communicate feelings and insights about themselves, others, and the world (Portrie-Bethke et al., 2009). It also found that talk counseling for children, ages 3 to 10, can be thought to be very difficult, straining, and incompatible with their developmental readiness (Portrie-Bethke et al., 2009). Thus, we can conclude that the play that is used with adventure-based counseling can greatly impact children with ADHD. This study also found that adventure based counseling focuses on fun and interaction with children, provides guidance to help children develop appropriate control over situations and others, supports the children’s insight into problem solving and teamwork, embraces impulsivity and hyperactivity with challenges that promote personal choice and responsibility, and knowledges on transferring learning and insight into life relationships and real world experiences (Portrie-Bethke et al., 2009). Another study found that adventure-based counseling for children with mental disorders benefited children more with their problem severity than cognitive behavior therapy (Guthrie, 2004).This finding was also found in another study stating that youth clients with mental disorders who participated in an adventure-based counseling group had a decrease in severity (Tucker, Javorski, Tracy, & Beale, 2013). Another finding found in another study was that with adventure play there is a significant increase in the mean of self-esteem scores following the intervention (Glass & Shoffner, 2001). Also, past research found that adventure-based counseling aims to lead clients to leave their comfort zone and to get into the growth zone through facing struggles and achieving success in different engaging activities (Lee, 2009). This provides evidence that adventure-based counseling could benefit children with ADHD by decreasing the severity of their disorder and increasing self-esteem by making them grow as individuals.

The past research of children with ADHD and their use of adventure-based counseling supports this research. Children with ADHD who participate in adventure-based counseling have seen many benefits in reducing their severity of the disorder and have seen benefits with their connection with the self and others. Some specific benefits of the use of adventure-based counseling techniques are a decrease in inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Other specific benefits include an increase in self-esteem, better connection with the self and others, better problem-solving skills, better goal setting skills, and better with overcoming challenges. All of these benefits can really help children with ADHD and their daily activities. These benefits can also help these children with ADHD by impacting their life positively and affecting the rest of their lives. These children can continue using these benefits to change their lives in the present and future.

Conclusion

Many children suffer from ADHD and have not found the right treatment for their mental disorder. These children go through the raised expectations and demands that children without ADHD are going through and on top of that they have to deal with their symptoms of not being able to pay attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. These children with ADHD also have a hard time with making connections with others and the self. A treatment that could help these children control their symptoms, make connections, and complete daily tasks is adventure-based counseling. Adventure-based counseling can help children with ADHD and their daily difficulties because it teaches and encourages clients to set goals, achieve those goals, conquer any difficulties and challenges that get in the way, make connections with others and the self, and even boosts self-esteem. The life lessons that are taught in the activities done in adventure-based counseling could impact these children’s lives forever. Adventure-based counseling could encourage the use of these lessons learned in daily life experiences in the present and future. Past and current research on adventure-based counseling with children who have ADHD provides evidence that this strength-based therapy could benefit and impact them greatly for the best. Therefore, future research should be conducted with adventure-based counseling with these children with ADHD and with other people who have different mental disorders like depression, anxiety, and panic disorders. Further research would benefit the population who has mental disorders and could affect their present and future significantly.

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