Friday, October 19, 2012

A Week to Focus on ADHD

A coalition of national organizations, including CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) and the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), have declared this to be ADHD Awareness Week, and we thought that this would be a good time to look at the facts about ADHD to help parents, educators, and students better understand this condition.

The CDC notes that ADHD is one of the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorders of childhood, with 9.5 % of children being diagnosed with ADHD at some point. Boys are two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than are girls. Some of that difference may stem from the fact that there is more than one kind of ADHD; the National Institutes of Mental Health notes that there are three different types of ADHD:
  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive
  • Predominantly inattentive
  • Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive
A girl who seems to daydream in class may not be as likely to be diagnosed as a boy who can't sit still and is disruptive, but both students may have ADHD and may need treatment and strategies to get the most out of what is going on in their classrooms.

Research is clear that ADHD has a real, brain-based cause and also has a genetic component. It is not caused by parenting styles or food allergies, although environmental toxins may be a factor in its occurrence. Co-morbidities, conditions that are often diagnosed in individuals with ADHD, include anxiety, depression, and learning disabilities. 

While diagnosis of ADHD is generally made by looking at the how many symptoms occur in various settings -- such as both at home and at school -- it is important to take a nuanced look at what is going in an individual before deciding on a diagnosis and before determining the appropriate treatment. For example, a student who is struggling to process what is going on in his classroom because of a language disability may appear to be inattentive, when the difficulty is actually a learning problem, not ADHD. Only by addressing the language processing difficulty will this student be able to attend properly in his classroom. 

What about treatment? This needs to be an individualized decision, especially for children. There are many medications that can be effective in helping with ADHD symptoms, and the National Institutes of Mental Health has a good explanation of what these are. But these medications can have side effects and parents may want to consider behavioral strategies before they decide whether medication is the best choice for their child. It is crucial that parents work with a physician with experience with these medications to make the right decision for their child.

Related articles from The Yellin Center Blog about ADHD

1 comment:

  1. A lot of ADHD related treatment are trending in the market these days. Are they really effective and result oriented? What is the percentage of success?