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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Truth or Fad?

I have been doing some thinking about ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) over the last few weeks...Is it a fad diagnosis? Is it over diagnosed? or does everyone who is diagnosed ADHD really have ADHD?

So what does it mean to be ADHD? Does it mean you can't sit still in your chair long enough to write a blog? or you can't follow instructions in order to complete a task? Does it mean that you are a trouble-maker or undisciplined? Maybe, but maybe not...

Let's look at what it means to be ADHD. First of all, the signs must be present before age seven. So if the signs are not present before age 7, then you can be ruled out for being diagnosed as ADHD. However, it's important to distinguish what is "normal" childhood behavior and what may be signs of ADHD. Also, if only a few of the signs are observable, it's probably not ADHD either. Furthermore, if the symptoms do not appear in multiple settings, it's probably not going to be ADHD. A child with ADHD is going to show many symptoms across all settings in their life-home, school, church, and in play just to name a few.

With that being said, lets look further. Not all children with ADHD are hyperactive; they may only have attention problems without the hyperactivity piece. Here's a tricky part: children with ADHD may be able to concentrate on activities they enjoy, but they will still have trouble focusing on tasks within that activity. An important fact to remember with children with ADHD is that even though they may not be able to sit still, that does not mean they are a trouble-maker or are undisciplined. They are not acting this way on purpose, they are just not able to focus or pay attention for long periods of time. Also, children with ADHD will not outgrow their disorder; it does continue into adulthood. There are, however, treatments to help manage their diagnosis. Medication is one option for managing ADHD, but it may not always be the best option for every person. There are other options to help minimize the symptoms of ADHD, including educating yourself or your child about the disorder. Way to go! You are already taking an active step at managing and minimizing symptoms of ADHD! There are also many resources you can take advantage of in school as well as outside of school to help minimize symptoms, such as counseling, special testing, and an IEP (Individualized Education Program) at school to help modify their work during school. Your child's pediatrician and doctor may be able to help as well. Also, a proper diet and exercise may help with symptoms of ADHD.

The reason for my concern about this topic is that is hard to distinguish between children who have symptoms of ADHD or do they have other issues going on. Just because a child is inattentive or hyperactive does not mean he or she has ADHD. There can be certain medical problems that present like ADHD and even stressful life events can look like ADHD. Learning disabilities, such as reading or motor skill problems can also look like ADHD. Psychological disorders, such as anxiety or bipolar disorder can oftentimes look like ADHD as well.

By saying all this, I want to encourage you if you or your child displays symptoms of ADHD or someone mentions to you that you or your child may have ADHD, seek a professional to get an accurate diagnosis and rule out other possibilities that may be showing up as signs similar to those of ADHD. By doing so, you will be able to get the most accurate treatment for whatever is causing the symptoms being experienced.

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." — Henry David Thoreau

I hope that this quote encourages you, no matter what your circumstances, you are a unique individual that deserves the same respect everyone else out there does.

If you have any other comments about ADHD, I would love to hear them!

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