What You Need To Know About Telehealth And Occupational Therapy For ADHD

There are many ways to deliver therapy services based on sound scientific research and methodologies. In particular, telehealth makes treatments and other forms of therapy, like occupational therapy, accessible.

Telehealth, or telemedicine, is not a new field of practice. In fact, it has been around since the early 20th century. And with the help of advancements in science and technology, it continues to grow. The role of telehealth became more relevant nowadays as we continue to face COVID-19. But how does telehealth practice benefit people diagnosed with ADHD specifically? Read on to learn more!

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Telehealth Connects Therapy And Technology

Think about how technology and the internet have changed our lives. An unimaginable wealth of information is literally at our fingertips. We can use messaging applications to connect with people who are thousands of miles away. We’re also able to purchase our favorite products and services within the comforts of our homes. And the benefits of technology don’t stop here. With it, we can now access reliable healthcare much more conveniently.

Telehealth is a prime example of this. For example, you can use the internet to schedule an online video consultation with your doctor. After your consultation, they might give you an online prescription of the medication you need to take. And since you’re already on the internet, you can also buy your prescribed meds online. 

Furthermore, technology can help us monitor and learn more about our health. If you need to keep track of your weight and diet, there’s an app for that. If you need to set reminders for your next appointment, you can use an online calendar. And if you want to learn more about ADHD or other health concerns, you can know more by reading about them on reliable websites.

Nearly all branches of healthcare can make use of telehealth. Currently, it is a more convenient and safer alternative to an in-person consultation. Therapy services for people with ADHD are no exception. But how do these therapy services work?

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Occupational Therapy Through Telemedicine

Occupational therapy (OT) helps individuals with ADHD conduct their daily activities efficiently and effectively. Occupational therapists use different strategies to support patients in fulfilling their physical, social, and psychological functioning.

Occupational therapists are known for their creativity and resourcefulness. So, there is no doubt telemedicine can be maximized as a platform for OT. Furthermore, those who avail of this service can explore and use what is most effective for them.

OT can be conducted online through live video conferencing using different platforms. Patients directly interact with their therapists through these platforms. In some cases, such as with little kids with ADHD, a parent or guardian will be present in the therapy session. With parent coaching, an adult will implement the activities planned by the therapist while receiving direct feedback.

OT For ADHD

The main goal of OT is to develop skills you need in everyday life. And OT for ADHD can come in different forms, depending on the areas that the patient is struggling with. With this in mind, a therapist will design programs and activities that address the following:

Sensory Regulation 

People with ADHD have a harder time obtaining and understanding information from their surroundings. They can get distracted easily by bright colors and loud sounds. Some move around and fidget a lot. An occupational therapist can design a sensory regulation program to manage these senses. They’ll even structure it into fun and engaging obstacle courses for parents to try on their kids.

Focus, Attention, Impulsivity, Frustration Tolerance, and Following Instructions

Being able to focus, wait, and follow instructions are essential foundation skills for higher learning. When a person gets easily distracted or cannot remain still, these work behaviors will affect their participation in daily tasks. Several techniques help target these difficulties—from modifying the environment to managing behavior.

Self-Monitoring and Cognitive Skills

As we grow older, tasks become more complex and challenging. We need to develop skills like controlling emotions, initiating and completing tasks, prioritizing and organizing time for work, and more. OT can help teach skills and strategies to control and monitor behavior. For example, occupational therapists can help people with ADHD make their schedules and priority lists.

Motor Skills

Because they lack focus, some people with ADHD may have deficits in some motor skills. How could they get better in writing or in feeding themselves if they can’t sit still? An occupational therapist will teach patients to do these tasks effectively.

Social Skills

We use our social skills to communicate and interact with other people around us. However, people with ADHD may find it hard to pay attention to others. It may be more difficult as well because of the virtual distance in telehealth. Luckily, occupational therapists can find opportunities to improve social skills through online group therapy sessions and social skills training.

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An occupational therapist may also make recommendations for your tasks and activities. For example, they may coordinate with your school to adapt activities for a child or teen with ADHD. 

Modifications in the environment can also be beneficial for people with ADHD. Many OT techniques focus on minimizing distractions and keeping the home organized. Checklists and routines are helpful as well for anyone having difficulty with planning and organizing. These can be monitored by your therapist remotely.

The Final Verdict

Every kind of therapy has its pros and cons. Telehealth may require the need for a suitable gadget and reliable internet connection. But why do families and people with ADHD still prefer telehealth? The following are just some reasons why:

  • Telehealth allows for social distancing in the time of a pandemic.
  • Sessions can be more convenient and comfortable at home.
  • Real-life situations can be managed in the home setting.
  • Parents become more involved during the session.
  • Other people may interact better over a screen, such as teens or young adults.
  • It can cut travel time and expenses and may lead to a more consistent follow-through.

No ADHD case is the same. Each person will experience a different set of difficulties and challenges. And so, an individualized therapy program with a multi-modal approach is helpful for anyone struggling with ADHD. 

Meanwhile, times like this call for innovative ways to make therapy more accessible and efficient for anyone who needs help and rehabilitation. Studies supporting the effectiveness of teletherapy for ADHD continue to grow through the years. And through teletherapy, different methods of therapy, like OT, can be utilized and accessed more easily by more people. 

Practicing Mindful Therapy For Adults With ADHD

For many long years, ADHD was thought of as a condition that only affected younger children. It wasn’t common to diagnose adults with the same disorder since the symptoms are often mistaken for laziness or a lack of motivation. Adults with ADHD struggle to balance their work and personal lives.

However, not all is lost. Many studies suggest that mindful meditation is proven to aid adults with ADHD. Mindful therapy seeks to develop a healthy approach to sustaining focus and attention more consciously.

What Is Mindful Therapy?

Mindful therapy helps you gain control of your attention using meditative techniques. Meditation allows you to practice your ability to focus and concentrate in the present. Through meditation, you can be more aware of your focus and listen to your inner voice.

Mindful therapy is a great natural remedy that can help relieve symptoms of ADHD. You do not need to buy specific medications or drive to your therapist’s office, as you can practice mindfulness by yourself. But mindful therapy is not all about relaxation and de-stressing. It helps us exercise our minds to shift attention to the present moment. Many people practice mindfulness in their everyday lives, as it helps them maintain their concentration on activities.

Understanding Adult ADHD

Most adults with ADHD are only diagnosed later on in life. Around 4% of American adults are often diagnosed later. Unsurprisingly, it is because they have mildly visible symptoms. However, adult ADHD can severely debilitate their work, life, and relationships. Many symptoms of ADHD can also be found with other conditions, such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety. This makes it difficult to diagnose ADHD among adults.

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While ADHD can affect people of all backgrounds, individuals of marginalized communities have a higher diagnosis rate. Many people from socioeconomically disadvantaged statuses are more likely to have ADHD due to factors that can negatively affect their upbringings, such as poverty and housing.

ADHD can be hard enough for many, as it can go undetected for years past adolescence. 

Some signs and symptoms of untreated adult ADHD include: 

  • impulse control
  • poor time management
  • a short temper
  • inability to cope with stress, and
  • hyperactivity.

Adults with ADHD may also struggle with multitasking and managing their time. This can strain their relationships with other people, as many don’t see this behavior as a brain disorder. Many adults with ADHD are often called lazy or childish, and it can negatively impact their feelings.

Many therapists would recommend meditation on top of prescribed medication. When your muscles are weak, you want to train to be stronger. The brain is a muscle that needs strength training. This is how mindful activities can work to improve your brain functions. 

Applying Mindful Therapy 

Using mindful therapy plans will help you practice shifting your attention to your inner thoughts. Mindful therapy activities include thinking in the present moment and accepting wandering thoughts with no judgment. 

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Therapy works by paying attention to how your mind wanders and lingers on a specific thought or topic. Tracing back your thoughts is like a guided meditation. Mindful therapy is all about introspection and self-reflection with a state of awareness.

This kind of therapy can also help improve your relationship with stress. Adults with ADHD are prone to procrastinating and putting off work due to an executive function problem or an attention problem. Because of that, many can feel negatively about their work habits and, in turn, feel incompetent and lacking.

Studies have shown that mindful therapy is linked to helping patients with ADHD self-regulate and have emotional control. This means that it could improve your attention span and impulses, a common problem that most adults with ADHD struggle with. Below are some activities that your therapist may include in your treatment plan.

Common Mindful Therapy Techniques 

Taking a walk is a common solution to regulating your ADHD through light exercise. Even a light jog can do wonders for your brain, as it can ease stress and improve executive function. Other benefits of regular exercise include reducing your risk of diabetes and maintaining a healthy weight.

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Yoga is also proven to be effective in treatment. This helps patients with ADHD by focusing inward and concentrating on their position and breathing. It helps you stay present at the moment. Other health benefits to practicing yoga include improved sleep, flexibility, and cardiovascular function.

Another technique is to use guided imagery exercises. This exercise can improve your self-awareness by using your imagination. Color breathing is a guided imagery exercise where you visualize the color and assign it a positive feeling. This exercise is known to improve stress levels and emotional well-being.

Mindful therapy also makes use of Dialectical Behavior Therapy or DBT.  It is rooted in eastern meditative practices that center on mindfulness and emotional regulation. DBT is mainly used to treat patients with borderline personality disorder, anxiety, or PTSD. 

Conclusion

Proper mental health care means basic accessibility for everyone of all backgrounds. Since mindful therapy does not really cost a single cent, many adults coming from marginalized communities can effectively practice mindfulness. 

Practicing mindful therapy can be a great strategy to add on top of your other treatment plans. It includes exercising your attention and control over your thoughts to help you self-regulate. It also allows you to understand better yourself and how your ADHD can affect your lifestyle.

While more disadvantaged groups are prone to ADHD, it’s important to recognize that everyone needs basic access to proper mental health care. Many therapists recommend mindful therapy on top of medications, as it is a natural remedy that anyone can practice anytime, anywhere.

There are plenty of ways to practice mindfulness. Making a conscious effort to succeed in life compounds over time. Discuss the best possible treatment plans for you with your therapist. Mindful therapy may not be for everyone, but many studies support this therapeutic plan, as it positively impacts many people.