1. Every parent whose child is newly diagnosed with an attention problem has a million questions.  There are dozens of books and hundreds of websites with information, but that can make it even harder to find the information and get the help your need! In our center, and in our coaching programs, we help you sort through everything, direct your learning, help you get and stay organized; and become your child's own coach, advocate, and guide.

  1. What is ADD and ADHD, how are they alike or different?

    ADD and ADHD are probably variations of the same disorder. The H stands for "hyperactivity," but some people with attention disorder don't exhibit this symptom. ADD a neurochemical imbalance problem in the brain. It's highly hereditary; it's not caused by environment, diet, or quality of parenting. It isn't curable, and children don't "grow out of it," but as they age they learn to live with and compensate for it

  2. How is it diagnosed? 

    The diagnosis for ADD and related disorders starts with a physical examination, including vision and hearing tests. A careful history of the child and of his biological relative often gives direction to a series of screening tests to measure attention.  Behavioral assessment questionnaires are usually completed by parents and teachers. The assessments have been given to thousands of subjects, and are scored by making comparisons of the responses for your child to the statistical averages. We often visit the child's classroom to observe him anonymously. Afterwards, an interview in the office with parents and child, along with further testing, helps in determining if the problem is likely to be an attention disorder, and whether there are any other conditions present (which is true about 40% of the time).

  3. How is it treated? 

    The most effective treatment for the majority of patients has been shown to be stimulant medications.  These agents, which have been used for over 70 years, are probably some of the safest and most effective drugs still in use today. They help activate the prefrontal cortex, the "boss" of the brain, which regulates executive functions like decision making, direction of attention, etc

    In our center and in our coaching plans, we educate parents about how medication works, what you should be looking for, what kinds of progress can be expected, what side effects might occur and what they mean, and how to keep a log of dosage, effect, and side effects that you can give to your child's doctor.  The dosage for these medications is not a function of weight or age; different children just seem to need different dosages, different administration schedules, or even different medications to achieve optimal results. Your careful observations will help the "tuning" of your child's medication happen faster and more smoothly.

    There are other methods and techniques used to help your child manage better at home and at school.  Some parenting techniques (beneficial for all children, not just kids with ADD) will help your home life in many areas.  Some school accommodations are relatively minor and easily provided; schools are usually willing to help in this area.

  4. What kind of help is available at my child's school? 

    In severe cases, your child may be eligible for an IEP (Individual Education Plan), the most complex procedure for providing for a child with individual educational needs.  In more moderate cases, the simpler Section 504 accommodations plan is often developed, which will permit your child in-class modifications, such as a quiet place to take tests, more time to complete work, smaller homework assignments, or similar considerations.

    Communication with teachers is essential.  In elementary school, this is usually easier and done face-to-face or by phone. In middle and high school, parents often use a daily status checkoff chart, or weekly e-mails, to keep on top of assignments.

  5. What can I do to improve my child's behavior? 

    Children with attention problems require the same kind of parenting that benefits every child. However, in their case, it's much more important that good parentlng be provided all the time.  Because these children require consistency and structure, parents must ensure that they make clear exactly what is expected of the child.  IFor example, you can't overlook rowdy behavior one day, and expect it to disappear with a word of caution the next.

    Because your child's prefrontal cortex is developing more slowly, the parent has to take on part of the job that the brain should be doing.  We estimate that development is 30% slower, on average, in kids with attention disorder.  Does your seven-year-old behave like he's five, or your ten-year-old like she's seven? This is not unusual.  You'll need to help them develop their own self-help organization, and you start with practical, daily tools like lists, charts, and the most imporant thing: immediate reward for good performance.

    There is a lot to learn about parenting techniques, and we guide you through this area in both our coaching plans and in our local center.
© 2007 ADHD Solutions Center

ADHD Solutions Center