Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be a confusing and scary diagnosis to hear from the doctor. Many aspects of ADHD are still being researched, but ADHD typically causes problems with attentiveness and managing energy. Children may resist sitting still for long periods of time or focusing on one activity at a time. ADHD can create challenges in the classroom or workplace. Some doctors recommend working through these obstacles naturally, while other times medications will be prescribed to help control impulses or a wandering mind. There are drawbacks to either approach, and doctors are still looking for alternative approaches and solutions.
While scientists do not yet agree on what causes ADHD, Cardiff University scientists recently discovered evidence of a genetic link. After observing those with and without ADHD, researchers concluded that people with ADHD were more likely to have missing or duplicated parts of their DNA. This supports the statistics that indicate children with ADHD are more likely to have biological parents with ADHD. These findings contradict old beliefs that ADHD is a result of parenting techniques or poor nutrition.
Today an estimated 1 million American children have been misdiagnosed with ADHD. Kids most at risk for a misdiagnosis are those who start school early or are the youngest in their class. When making a diagnosis, doctors partially rely on teacher observations within the context of the classroom. What might just be the immaturity of a younger child could wrongly point to ADHD. For this reason, more doctors are beginning to hesitate before prescribing medications until the child ages and long-term observations can be evaluated.
Parents and teachers can help create an environment that helps children with ADHD, occasionally removing the need for medications all together. Encouraging organization and a regular routine will help children keep track of their belongings and stay on task. Parents might want to limit time in front of the television. Iowa State University reported in July 2010 that children and teens who spent more than two hours a day watching TV experienced a harder time focusing than those who found other activities to fill their time.
Parents of children with ADHD—what are your tips for parents who think their child may have this condition?
ADHD (Kids Health)
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (U.S. National Library of Medicine)