Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children

Many people are told by their children’s school that their child has ADHD and the school encourages the parent to get the child on medication. Although this is sometimes the case, many children are misdiagnosed with Attention Problems. It is important to have your child assessed by a professional who has a lot of experience with ADHD.
What is the difference between ADD and ADHD. The “H” stands for hyperactivity. So you can have a child with Attention Deficit Disorder that is not hyper. They would have a difficult time focusing, lose things a lot, or have a short attention span, to name a few. Hyperactivity involves blurting out answers in class, disrupting the class, unintentionally hitting peers (and yes, with hyper kids, it IS an accident), or seeming like they have a motor (like the energizer bunny), to name a few of the symptoms.

Other issues that look like ADHD or ADD:

Many issues cause the same result (inattention) that are not ADHD or ADD. A child who has anxiety and a child with learning problems are two examples of misdiagnosed ADHD.

A child with anxiety would have trouble concentrating, would forget things (perhaps because they have their mind preoccupied with what they are anxious about), and would lose focus easily also.
Many children who have learning disabilities, need glasses, or just are a little behind also get misdiagnosed as ADHD. Instead of saying something embarrassing, like “I don’t understand”, it is more acceptable among their peers if they act out. So these kids will disrupt the class, rush through their homework, “lose things” necessary to do their work so that no one knows they actually don’t understand.

How do you know? You may not. That is why getting an outside evaluation (outside of school) is recommended. Some schools (not all) would rather your child medicated so they don’t have to deal with them. Attention Disorders are one of the most misdiagnosed disorders. Although your child may very well have an Attention Disorder, it is important to make sure it is correctly diagnosed so that you can know options that will be best for your child.
One of the most frequently asked questions I get is: “Now that my child has been correctly diagnosed with ADD (or ADHD), does that mean they need medication?” The answer differs from child to child. Some children do very well if you give them small tasks. For example, instead of telling your child to “go get dressed”, tell them to get their shirt on and then when that is complete, tell them to get their pants on, and so on. This gives them little things to remember. There are also great memory techniques they can learn to increase their ability to remember things. A reward system (properly developed for their age) can also benefit them. The bottom line is that any medication should be a decision YOU think is best for YOUR child. You can always try behavioral approaches and then try medication as a last resort. For some parents, the child has gotten so behind in school that they don’t have time to not use medication. You would want to consult with a psychiatrist about this option to see if it is the right decision for your family. Although I work a lot with children with Attention Disorders, I am not a medical doctor and cannot recommend or give advice regarding the use of medication. What I can do is help you develop structure for your child so that they have the best chance of succeeding in school and in life.

 

If you are looking for a child’s therapist for ADHD in Long Beach, please give me a call to ask me a question or to set up an appointment.

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