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Children/Teenagers with ADHD
ADHD is a disorder usually first diagnosed during childhood. Children with ADHD often have trouble paying attention for long periods of time, have trouble with going from one activity to another before they finish the previous activity, interrupt or intrude on others, have trouble thinking with rules, fail to think things through or think about the consequences of their actions, and tend to be very impulsive. The term ADHD is somewhat of a misnomer because people with the disorder don't really have a lack of attention, the problem is they pay attention to everything, they have trouble tuning things out so they can attend to the things that are most important. And, as stated above in the description of adults with ADHD, not everyone with ADHD has the hyperactivity part; many people with ADHD have what is called ADHD Inattentive Type, which means they have the same underlying causes but the symptoms are more about inattention and being distracted than about hyperactivity and impulsiveness. While many people who have ADHD learn to make accommodations, some children with ADHD develop poor self esteem or feel they are "dumb" because they can't keep up with other kids educationally, or get in trouble a lot with teachers and parents due to their behavior that is beyond their control. Kids with ADHD tend to forget and lose things like homework, talk too much or at inappropriate times, act impulsively, and can be loud and boisterous.
What To Do if You Think You or Your Child has ADHD
The first thing you can do if you suspect you have ADHD is educate yourself about it. There are lots of online resources where you can learn about all the symptoms of ADHD. This can be helpful in taking the next step which is getting an evaluation.
ADHD Evaluations: ADHD is relatively easy to evaluate in children. There are several evaluation tools that can be used to do this evaluation. In conjunction with formal testing instruments, an evaluation usually includes direct observations in the classroom setting (for students), and interviews with you and the family.
Do I Have to Take Medication or Put My Child On Medication?
No. Contrary to popular belief, schools cannot make you put your child on medication if your child has ADHD. While medication is still the most effective treatment method and will show results almost immediately, many parents have concerns about putting their children on these strong medications, and rightly so. ADHD medications such as Ritalin and Adderral can have serious side effects, just like any medication. My personal viewpoint is that if you have reservations about trying medication it may be best to put it off UNLESS your child begins to feel incompetent, "stupid", or like a "bad kid" because they keep getting in trouble at school or home, or because they can't seem to get things done as easily as their peers. Then it might be a good idea to consult with your child's pediatrician to discuss medication options.
However, there are also things you can do instead of, or in conjunction with, medications. Schools can make accommodations for your child with ADHD and can (and should) also provide your child with a Section 504 plan, which is a legal program similar to an IEP for special education, except it's not special education. Any public entity that accepts government funds are required by law to provide reasonable accommodations to any individual who has a diagnosed disability that has a significant impact on a major life activity. Public schools and colleges are in this category.
Aside from this, there are also various accommodations you can make at home that will help your child work with their ADHD and see better results.
ADHD in Adults:
There are many adults dealing with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, orADHD, who have never been diagnosed and continue to have problems on the job or in college. Although most people with ADHD get diagnosed in school at a young age due to having hyperactivity in school and getting the notice of school staff in the process, many people with ADHD go undiagnosed. This usually happens because they have what is called inattentive type, which means rather than being hyperactive and having trouble sitting still, they tend to have trouble focusing, paying attention, are easily distracted and have trouble with jumping from one task to another without completing the previous task, or with being distracted by their own thoughts.
Adults with ADHD, inattentive type often complain of not being able to do the quality of work they think they're truly capable of, or that it takes much longer than usual to get things done. They often feel disorganized and have trouble managing complex tasks. They also get bored easily, forget or misplace things often, and sometimes are easily irritated.
If you believe you may have ADHD, it may be worth your time to get evaluated.