ADHD Awareness Week!
October 16-22 is ADHD Awareness week. Although medical and mental health professional know lots about the disorder, many families dealing with ADHD feel that they are alone. With proper education and networking with others this no longer has to be the case.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics “attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder limits children’s ability to filter out irrelevant input, focus, organize, prioritize, delay gratification, think before they act, or perform other so-called executive functions that most of us perform automatically.” It speaks to reason that many children exhibit this form of distractibility. However, ADHD causes distress and impairs the child’s ability to function and learn academically. The symptoms of ADHD are excessive, pervasive, and persistent. Although many of us are distracted from time to time, living with ADHD can be quite overwhelming.
What we know about ADHD is that it does not discriminate and affects people of all ages, races, genders, intellectual ability, and socio-economic backgrounds. The CDC reports that in 2011, 9.5% of children in the United States had been diagnosed with ADHD. Diagnosing ADHD is a complex process that should not be entered into lightly. It requires looking at variety of symptoms that cause impairment in major life areas and have persisted for a minimum of six months. A good diagnosis relies on variety of tools that might include observations across a variety of contexts, the implementation of screening tools, and ruling out other issues that might appear like ADHD such as Sensory Integration Disorder.
Treatment for ADHD is a continuum from least restrictive to most. Often times, the first round of treatment is taking an inventory of what behavioral strategies can be employed and educating the child on ADHD and strategies for coping with the deficit. Changes to the environment or adding tools to the child’s repertoire might also be helpful. Using a collaborative process and taking stock of what works for the child and what doesn’t work is a good strategy. If these approaches are not making enough difference a behavioral plan might be created to help the child be successful. External rewards can be given to help motivate the child and help them use the tools being coached. An additional approach can be medications helping stimulate the executive functioning portion of the brain. The most typical and successful form of treatment is a combination of these methods.
ADHD Awareness Week is an opportunity to reduce stigma and to learn the facts about the disorder and how it affects the community. Log onto www.adhdawarenessweek.org for more information.
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