FAQs About ADHD
What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?
The American Psychiatric Association defines the disorder as developmentally inappropriate attention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity so pervasive and persistent as to significantly interfere with a child’s daily life. In other words, ADHD is condition in which a person is not able to maintain attention or control behaviors to level that it interferes with their schoolwork and home life. To read more, go to Kids Health ADHD.
What is the difference between ADD and ADHD?
ADD stands for Attention Deficit Disorder and ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. These days all children with attention disorders are diagnosed with ADHD. However, there are subtypes of ADHD that are used to classify their symptoms. Previously, ADD was used to diagnosis a child with only inattention symptoms. We now use ADHD, Inattentive Type. There are two other types of ADHD, Hyperactive and Combined.
Isn’t ADHD over diagnosed (or under diagnosed)?
Both answers could be right, but the American Academy of Pediatrics has provided thorough guidelines to avoid misdiagnosis. ADHD has been on the rise in the United States over the past 3 decades. Public opinion may be that it is diagnosed too often, but the criteria for diagnosis have remained mostly the same over that same period. The most likely reason for the rise in the diagnosis is increased public awareness of disorder. Estimates vary but we suspect between 5-10% boys will struggle with ADHD and 5% of girls. To read more, go to healthychildren.org ADHD.
When is the diagnosis not ADHD?
There are several disorders where the symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention may be present. Examples include thyroid disease, seizures, depression and other mood disorders, learning disorders such as dyslexia, and nutritional deficiencies (iron deficiency). As a result, the Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children with suspected ADHD be first examined by their pediatrician prior to starting any medication
Are children with ADHD just lacking good parenting?
No. In the past, experts thought that poor parenting or upbringing caused ADHD. However, over the past several decades, most agree that ADHD is an innate disorder caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Though there is ongoing research to discover the root cause of the disorder, we have not discovered any way to prevent the condition from developing. To read more about causes, go to healthychildren.org ADHD causes.
What is the best treatment for ADHD?
Medication, when compared to tutoring and counseling, appears to be the most effective way to control behaviors and help with inattention. However, each child is unique and medication is not always the best option. Other interventions such as tutoring and special accommodations in the classroom may be all that is needed. No therapy will “cure” ADHD and we recommend that you discuss your treatments options with your pediatrician. To read more, please go to Kids Health ADHD Treatment.
Isn’t there some way to control my child’s behavior without medication?
Though medication has helped many children with ADHD, behavioral therapy can definitely help improve the parent/child relationship through improved communication and positive reinforcement. Many families have benefited with working directly with a psychologist, but as stated before ADHD will not be cured by these therapies. To read more, got to healthychildren.org.
What is the best vitamin/diet for ADHD?
If you search the internet, you will a great variety of opinions on diet and supplements for ADHD treatment. So far, there is no vitamin, supplement, or diet that will “cure” ADHD. In general, a healthy balanced diet is the best way to support your child’s health. Pediatricians recommend a daily multivitamin for all children.
As for supplements, omega-3-fatty acids (fish oil supplement) may help overall brain health but the research is still ongoing. Other vitamins such as Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Zinc, or Magnesium do not appear to improve ADHD symptoms on their own.
As for diet, a few patients may respond to elimination diets but we suspect those patients actually have a food allergy as the underlying cause of their symptoms. Other diets such “dye free” or “sugar free” diets have not shown any clinical difference in children’s behavior. To read more, please go to healthychildren.org vitamin/diet for ADHD.
What are places that I can read more about ADHD?
- A great link within the Department of Education to understand your rights within the school system.
- CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) is a non-profit organization that focuses on education and support of ADHD. They also have a magazine Attention that comes out every other month.
- National Resource Center on ADHD is a government agency that is designed to provide unbiased information in regards to ADHD.
Article by Chris M. McGonnell, MD, FAAP, a Plano Pediatrician from Forest Lane Pediatrics of Plano and Dallas.
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