and Treating ADHD
twists and fidgets as he tries to work on his homework. Unable to
find his assignment sheet in his messy binder, he leaps up and begins
to run through the house, pretending to be an airplane with its
engine going full blast. Stop before you break something,
his mother demands. He doesnt look at his mother or even seem
to hear her. Both Kevin and his mother are frustrated by this familiar
battle. But his mom has another worry. Is her son just a very active
boy, or is he one of the millions of kids who have attention-deficit/hyperactivity
disorder, often called ADHD?
is the term now used for a condition that affects millions of children
and adults. It has had several names over the past 100 years, but
todays scientists believe that these names stand for different
types of ADHD. There are three typesinattentive, hyperactive-impulsive,
and combined attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorderand each
has different symptoms.(1)
According to the Center for Mental Health Services, children with
the inattentive type may:
Make many mistakes.
Fail to finish things.
Seem not to listen.
Be unable to stay organized.
Not pay attention to details.
Have trouble remembering things.
Have short attention spans.
Children with the hyperactive-impulsive type may:
Be unable to stay seated or play quietly.
Run or climb too much or when they should not.
Talk too much or when they should not.
Blurt out answers before questions are completed.
Have trouble taking turns.
The most common type is combined attention-deficit/hyperactivity
disorder, a combination of the two lists above.
can a parent or other caring adult tell when a child has ADHD or
when she is just an active child? After all, whose child does not
have trouble sometimes with remembering things, staying seated,
or not interrupting? No simple test can tell whether someone has
trained professional can look at all of the signs, consider different
possible causes, and make an evaluation. A diagnosis of one of the
ADHD types is usually made when children have several of the above
symptoms that begin before age 7 and last at least 6 months.(2)
Generally, symptoms have to be observed in at least two settings,
such as home and school, before a diagnosis is made.(3) Getting
the right diagnosis is the first step toward treatment.
takes a doctor to diagnose ADHD accurately. It will take the childs
family and other caring adults to help treat it. The treatment of
ADHD is changing as research removes many of the myths that surround
causes of ADHD have been studied, but no one cause seems to apply
to all young people with the disorder.(5) ADHD is not caused by
poor parenting, family problems, poor teachers or schools, too much
TV, or food allergies.(6) ADHD does appear to be related directly
to the functioning of the brain. There is increasing evidence that
ADHD runs in families.(7)
Recent research shows that ADHD can happen to girls as well as to
boys and that most children do not outgrow it as they
become adults.(4) It cannot be fixed through harsh discipline. However,
with parents and teachers vigilance and patience, many
children can learn to channel their energyespecially when
Mom and Dad take time to learn about their interests and strengths
and help them find activities that are right for them. Because there
is no cure for ADHD and no single treatment option that
is right for everyone, treatment plans should be tailored to meet
the specific needs of each individual and family.(8) Treating ADHD
often requires medical, educational, behavioral, and psychological
intervention. It may include the following:
Behavioral intervention strategies.
An appropriate educational program.
Education regarding ADHD.
Individual and family counseling.
Medication, when necessary.(9)
A parent or caregiver whose child has been diagnosed with ADHD should
work closely with his teachers to help him do better in school.
ADHD is recognized as a disability under Federal law, and your child
may qualify for special education services. He also will benefit
when his parents and teachers use the same methods at home and school
to help him control his behaviors.
your child has ADHD, talk with her. Let her know that her behavior
is not her fault (or your fault) and do
your best to put yourself in your childs shoes. Facing the
challenge of ADHD will be easier for your child if she feels like
you understand what she goes through every day. Both you and your
child must learn ways to cope with her ADHD symptoms. The goal is
a united effort to help your child do better in school, make friends,
and feel good about herself.
Sources for Recognizing and Treating ADHD
1, 2, 3 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations
Center for Mental Health Services. Childrens Mental Health
Facts: Children and Adolescents With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity
Disorder, last referenced 9/12/2006. (A print version of this publication
was released in 2003.)
National Resource Center on ADHD. Myths and Misconceptions About
ADHD: Science Over Cynicism, last referenced 9/12/2006. (This article
originally appeared in the June 2003 issue of Attention! magazine.)
6, 7 Attention Deficit Disorder Association. Fact Sheet on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity
Disorder (ADHD/AD/HD), last referenced 9/12/2006.
9 National Resource Center on ADHD. Diagnosis & Treatment, last
with permission by SAMHSA Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration. For more information, visit www.SAMHSA.gov
information presented on this site is intended solely as a general
educational aid, and is neither medical nor healthcare advice for
any individual problem, nor a substitute for medical or other professional
advice and services from a qualified healthcare provider familiar
with your unique circumstances. Always seek the advice of your physician
or other qualified healthcare professional regarding any medical
condition and before starting any new treatment.