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January 12, 2008 at 10:51 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

ADHD Misunderstood

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Misinformation about ADHD circulates the internet, our workplaces, and our children's classrooms. The condition continues to be misunderstood by people who do not have the tools to understand it correctly, yet the misinformation is propagated anyway. Learn some of the facts about ADHD and sort them from the fiction, and you'll be much better prepared if ADHD ever happens to you or your child.

Firstly, it's important to remember that the child is not to be blamed for their ADHD behavior, it's not always their fault. Your child isn't trying to cause problems. ADHD is a real condition that requires real treatment, so blaming your child is only going to hinder his (and your) progress.

Attention Deficit

Many parents and teachers are quick to slap the ADHD label on a child with little or no attention span. However, ADHD is more than just the inability to pay attention; children and adults with ADHD have difficulty blocking out all external stimuli and focusing on just one factor.

For example: Tommy, a second grader, is sitting at his desk at school, and his teacher is writing on the board. Next to him sits his friend Casey. Across the room is the cage of the class pet, a hamster. On the other side of Tommy there is a window. The teacher, making sure her students are paying attention, sees Tommy looking at the floor. The next time she looks up, Tommy is gazing at the hamster. Later, Tommy is staring out the window. She concludes that his attention span is too short for her classroom.

Actually, Tommy is looking at the floor because Casey just dropped his pencil. He is gazing at the hamster because the animal just started spinning in its cage. Outside the window, there are birds in trees and kids on the playground at recess. Tommy's condition disallows him from concentrating solely on the teacher, because too many things are going on around him, and they all demand his attention.

Hyperactivity Disorder

Probably one of the most misunderstood aspects of ADHD, hyperactivity, doesn't necessarily mean a child has ADHD. In many cases, a hyperactive child is just that: a child. Usually, bouncy and fidgety children calm down as they get older; children with ADHD do not. Additionally, hyperactivity can refer to different behaviors:

  • The child at Applebees who jumps up and down in his chair, who then crawls under the table, bangs on the legs of the table, and generally seems to drive everyone crazy
  • The child who always has to have something in his hands
  • The child who can talk to you for a half hour seemingly without pausing even for air

This is where the ambiguous nature of ADHD plays a role; these behaviors can describe normal kids as well as kids with a disorder.

Your Child Won't Grow out of It

It is a common misunderstanding that because ADHD is usually associated with children, they will eventually grow up and be cured of their ailment. Medical professionals strongly refute this claim; ADHD is a lifelong condition, even though the symptoms may change with age. Adults can certainly have ADHD. In fact, many parents are diagnosed with ADHD along with their children, reinforcing the genetic link and shining light on the frustrations the parent has experienced throughout life. Like many other illnesses, ADHD needs to be treated, never disappearing on its own.

His Teacher Says ADHD. How Soon Can I get him on Ritalin?

Not so fast! Parents are strongly cautioned against an attractive quick fix. There is growing evidence that teachers are too quick to recommend ADHD and its medication. If your child's teacher suggests an ADHD test, it's up to you as the parent to get the most thorough test possible to avoid a misdiagnosis. You'll need to enlist a team of professionals, including a pediatrician, family physician, psychiatrist, neurologist, or psychologist to make an accurate diagnosis. Although teachers have a good starting point, they can never have enough information to make a full, accurate diagnosis.

Sources:

http://add.about.com/od/parentingchildrenwithadd/a/children.htm

http://www.irishhealth.com/index.html?level=4&id=9229

Photo Credit: {Amy_Jane}

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