Wednesday, October 19, 2011

ADHD Awareness Week

I was going to tell you about my terrible, lousy, no good, very bad day yesterday but I've been busy packing for Australia. Ha ha. No really, I am moving on. I am not sitting in the belly of the fish for three days before I listen to God. He equipped me yesterday with a verse and I NEEDED it. I got to work and all HECK happened...twice! But I ended up taking a class last night...a class that I schedule weeks ago and didn't realize that the topic was Positive Behavioral Support for the school age child. Why would I have scheduled this? Because God knew I needed to hear those words at that exact moment. So, moving along, I wanted to share a little about AD/HD with you. It's a lot of information but it's the first step...what to look for and how to diagnosis your child.


The following information has been taken from Help Guide

There is no single medical, physical, or other test for diagnosing ADD/ADHD. To determine if you or your child has ADD/ADHD, a doctor or other health professional will need to be involved, and you can expect him or her to use a number of different tools: a checklist of symptoms, answers to questions about past and present problems, or a medical exam to rule out other causes for symptoms.

Keep in mind that the symptoms of ADD/ADHD, such as concentration problems and hyperactivity, can be confused with other disorders and medical problems. Just because it looks like ADD/ADHD doesn’t mean it is, so getting a thorough assessment and diagnosis is important.

To be diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, you or your child must display a combination of strong ADD/ADHD hallmark symptoms, namely hyperactivity, impulsivity, or inattention. The mental health professional assessing the problem will also look at the following factors:
§                    How severe are the symptoms? To be diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, the symptoms must have a negative impact on you or your child’s life. In general, people who truly have ADD/ADHD have major problems in one or more areas of their life, such as their career, finances, or family responsibilities.
§                    When did the symptoms start? Since ADD/ADHD starts in childhood, the doctor or therapist will look at how early the symptoms appeared. If you are an adult, can you trace the symptoms back to your childhood?
§                    How long have the symptoms been bothering you or your child? Symptoms must have been going on for at least 6 months before ADD/ADHD can be diagnosed.
§                    When and where do the symptoms appear? The symptoms of ADD/ADHD must be present in multiple settings, such as at home and school. If the symptoms only appear in one environment, it is unlikely that ADD/ADHD is to blame.

When many people think of attention deficit disorder, they picture an out-of-control, hyperactive kid. But this is only one possible picture. The symptoms of ADD/ADHD are unique to each person and look different in adults and kids. 

The three primary characteristics of ADD/ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. The signs and symptoms a child with attention deficit disorder has depends on which characteristics predominate.
Children with ADD/ADHD may be:
§                    Inattentive, but not hyperactive or impulsive.
§                    Hyperactive and impulsive, but able to pay attention.
§                    Inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive (the most common form of ADD/ADHD).

It isn’t that children with ADD/ADHD can’t pay attention: when they’re doing things they enjoy or hearing about topics in which they’re interested, they have no trouble focusing and staying on task. But when the task is repetitive or boring, they quickly tune out.
Staying on track is another common problem. Children with ADD/ADHD often bounce from task to task without completing any of them, or skip necessary steps in procedures. Organizing their schoolwork and their time is harder for them than it is for most children. 

Kids with ADD/ADHD also have trouble concentrating if there are things going on around them; they usually need a calm, quiet environment in order to stay focused.

Symptoms of inattention in children:

§                    Doesn’t pay attention to details
§                    Makes careless mistakes
§                    Has trouble staying focused; is easily distracted
§                    Appears not to listen when spoken to
§                    Has difficulty remembering things and following instructions
§                    Has trouble staying organized, planning ahead, and finishing projects
§                    Gets bored with a task before it’s completed
§                    Frequently loses or misplaces homework, books, toys, or other items

Hyperactive signs and symptoms of ADD/ADHD

The most obvious sign of ADD/ADHD is hyperactivity. While many children are naturally quite active, kids with hyperactive symptoms of attention deficit disorder are always moving.
They may try to do several things at once, bouncing around from one activity to the next. Even when forced to sit still which can be very difficult for them their foot is tapping, their leg is shaking, or their fingers are drumming.

Symptoms of hyperactivity in children:

§                    Constantly fidgets and squirms
§                    Often leaves his or her seat in situations where sitting quietly is expected
§                    Moves around constantly, often runs or climbs inappropriately
§                    Talks excessively
§                    Has difficulty playing quietly or relaxing
§                    Is always “on the go,” as if driven by a motor
§                    May have a quick temper or a “short fuse”

Impulsive signs and symptoms of ADD/ADHD

The impulsivity of children with ADD/ADHD can cause problems with self-control. Because they censor themselves less than other kids do, they’ll interrupt conversations, invade other people’s space, ask irrelevant questions in class, make tactless observations, and ask overly personal questions.
Instructions like “Be patient” and “Just wait a little while” are twice as hard for children with ADD/ADHD to follow as they are for other youngsters. 

Children with impulsive signs and symptoms of ADD/ADHD also tend to be moody and to overreact emotionally. As a result, others may start to view the child as disrespectful, weird, or needy.

Symptoms of impulsivity in children:

§                    Acts without thinking
§                    Blurts out answers in class without waiting to be called on or hear the whole question
§                    Can’t wait for his or her turn in line or in games
§                    Says the wrong thing at the wrong time
§                    Often interrupts others
§                    Intrudes on other people’s conversations or games
§                    Inability to keep powerful emotions in check, resulting in angry outbursts or temper tantrums
§                    Guesses, rather than taking time to solve a problem

The following information was taken from Psych Central

Up to 10% of school-age children now carry a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder (also known as ADHD or ADD), and are in active treatment for the concern. The most commonly prescribed treatment is a stimulant medication such as Ritalin. But some parents and mental health professionals are concerned that ADHD is over-diagnosed, and not enough care is given to the specific conditions that are required to make an accurate ADHD diagnosis.

What to Look For in ADHD

ADHD is characterized by meeting at least six of eighteen inattention or hyperactivity symptoms. Usually both parents and clinicians can readily identify the symptoms in their child, and many believe that is all that is needed in order to make an accurate diagnosis.
However, the DSM diagnostic criteria for ADHD also specify a number of important factors that also must be met.
These symptoms must be present for at least 6 months in two or more settings, e.g., school and at home; play and at school; etc. If the symptoms have not been present for at least 6 months or the child meets the criteria only in one setting (e.g., school only), then ADHD should not be diagnosed.
The criteria also specify that some symptoms should have been apparent before age 7. The ADHD symptoms also must not occur exclusively during the course of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder,Schizophrenia, or other Psychotic Disorder and are not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g., Mood Disorder, AnxietyDisorder, Dissociative Disorder, or a Personality Disorder).


 Making an ADHD Diagnosis

It is especially difficult to establish an ADHD diagnosis in children younger than age 4 or 5 years, because their characteristic behavior is much more variable than that of older children. and include features that are similar to symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder. Furthermore, symptoms of inattention in toddlers or preschool children are often not readily observed because young children typically experience few demands for sustained attention. However, even the attention of toddlers can be held in a variety of situations (e.g., the average 2- or 3-year-old child can typically sit with an adult looking through picture books).
In contrast, young children with Attention Deficit Disorder move excessively and typically are difficult to contain. The mental health professional making the diagnosis should always inquire about a wide variety of behaviors in a young child to help ensure that a full clinical picture has been obtained. Beware clinicians or doctors who ask only basic or shallow questions about the child’s symptoms, without taking time out to delve into the specific situations the behaviors are observed.
As children mature, symptoms usually become less conspicuous. By late childhood and early adolescence, signs of excessive activity (e.g., excessive running and climbing, not remaining seated) are less common, and hyperactivity symptoms may be confined to fidgetiness or an inner feeling of jitteriness or restlessness.
In school-age children, symptoms of inattention affect classroom work and academic performance. Impulsive symptoms may also lead to the breaking of familial, interpersonal, and educational rules, especially in adolescence.
In adulthood, restlessness may lead to difficulty in participating in sedentary activities and to avoiding pastimes or occupations that provide limited opportunity for spontaneous movement (e.g., desk jobs).
ADHD is much more frequent in males than in females, with male-to-female ratios ranging from 4:1 to 9:1, depending on the setting (i.e., general population or clinics).

Ensure your mental health professional takes the time to question both you and your child to get the most accurate diagnosis possible. While family physicians can help screen for a problem like attention deficit disorder, you should trust only a trained and experienced mental health professional to make an accurate diagnosis.

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