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Focus, Attention Problems Aren't Always Evidence of ADHD

A study conducted by the Cincinnati Childrens Medical Center found than nearly 9 percent of children in the United States meet the medical definition of ADHD. However, some are concerned that diagnoses are being made too quickly, before other issues are ruled out.

Kindall Nelson addressed this matter in a Nov. 12 article on examiner.com:
Because ADHD diagnoses are usually based on observation of the child, it is possible that the behaviors seen during observation have a different source. Symptoms of ADHD that are most recognized at school include: not listening, not finishing classroom assignments, disrupting other students, and inability to sit still.

While these issues definitely point to a problem, there are other possibilities to consider.
Among the "other possibilities" that Nelson refers to are hearing loss, dyslexia, and even giftedness. A child whos gifted academically may have trouble concentrating in class because shes not being challenged.

If your child is struggling with issues related to focus and attention, ADHD may be to blame -- but that's not the only option. Make sure you work with your child's teachers and your family's health care providers to ensure that a proper diagnosis is made, and all appropriate support services are made available.

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Evaluation Important First Step in ADHD Diagnosis

In the Sept. 27 edition of the Palm Springs, Calif., newspaper The Desert Sun, educational psychologist Brent M. Cooper advised a mother who suspected her high school aged daughter might have ADHD:
The initial step in determining whether your child has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is to seek a comprehensive evaluation. Once you have a final evaluation, you may request a 504 Plan, which can assist your child in achieving academic success by identifying the modifications and accommodations needed.

Following the assessment, utilizing a therapist who specializes in ADHD can be helpful in advocating for your child, facilitating effective problem-solving in school and home environments and assisting the child in developing executive functions such as organization and impulse control.
If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, you may also want to consider consulting with a therapist or exploring the opportunities that are available at a private boarding school for students with ADHD.

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Computerized Test Helps with ADHD Diagnosis

When parents suspect that their child may have ADHD, the next step is usually a clinical interview. The interview is conducted by a doctor experienced at recognizing signs of ADHD, but parents often want more verifiable information.

According to an article on the website of Pennsylvania's WPVI-TV, that additional information may be at hand:
A new computerized test called Quotient can objectively measure the core symptoms of ADHD. To do the test, [a child has] to pay attention, and control his impulses, while an infrared camera [records] subtle body movements.
When the test is complete, a computer printout reports the results. The test has been available for about a year and is gradually becoming more widespread.

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Fetal Alcohol Disorder May be Misdiagnosed as ADHD

A child with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) has a high risk of psychiatric problems that may resemble those caused by ADHD. In fact, according to a July 17 HealthDay News article, a Canadian study has noted that FASD and ADHD present with such similarity that children are sometimes misdiagnosed:
"Behaviorally, FASD and ADHD can look quite similar, particularly with respect to problems with very limited attention, physical restlessness and extreme impulsivity," study author Rachel Greenbaum, a clinical psychologist with the Children's Mental Health Team at Surrey Place Centre in Toronto, Canada, said in a news release.

The study of 33 children with FASD, 30 children with ADHD and 34 children without disorders focused on their social cognition and emotion-processing abilities. Social cognition is the ability to consider and differentiate between the beliefs, thoughts, feelings and intentions of oneself and others. Emotion processing is the ability to understand and process information related to feelings.

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ADHD Should Never be a 'Quck & Easy' Diagnosis

A concerned parent wrote to the the Philadelphia Enquirer's "Ask Dan" column for advice about her son, who has been anxious and easily distracted since he was five years old. Things got worse when he entered middle school, so his parents took him to a pediatric neurologist who offered a diagnosis of ADD after 45 minutes.

Psychologist Dan Gottlieb, who writes the "Ask Dan" column, responded with information that included a rebuke of rapid ADD diagnoses:
Nobody can diagnose ADD or any other learning disability in 45 minutes. And before ADD is diagnosed, other things must be ruled out, such as anxiety, depression, and family conflict.

In addition, not every mental health professional is trained in the diagnosis and treatment of ADD, so before you make an appointment, find out the caregiver's background. Once you find a competent professional, this evaluation should include family history, interviews with parents and school officials, and time spent with the child. Labeling any child after 45 minutes is ridiculous.
Dan also encouraged the parent to have her son evaluated by a psychologist who specializes in learning disabilities. Only a thorough assessment by a trained, experience professional will ensure that a child gets the type of help he needs.

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Researchers Search for Early ADHD Diagnosis

A new study out of Canada aimed at understanding childhood brain development may also help diagnose Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

"Our project investigates how the brain provides ... control by observing eye movements," physiology professor Douglas Munoz said in an article on the website PsychCentral. "Our experiments have been designed to combine high speed eye movement recording with modern brain imaging techniques to identify brain regions that control our behavior."

During the experiment, participants were shown a series of lights and asked to either look at them or look away. As their responses were recorded, their brain activity was also monitored.

Kids with ADHD not only had trouble following the instructions, but their brain activity was lower than normal. Researchers said they believe the study could be used both to diagnose ADHD and to test the effectiveness of new medicines.

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Medical Assoc. Calls for Better Diagnosis, Treatment of ADHD

The British Columbia Medical Association estimates that about 31,000 young people in B.C. have ADHD. It also estimates that less than half of them are getting proper diagnoses or treatment.
"Shelley Ross, who chairs the association's council on health economics and policy, says the resulting social consequences include crime, drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy and traffic accidents."
A study by the association also found there aren't enough services available for people with ADHD. Source: Globe and Mail

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Outward-Turning Eyes May Indicate Risk of Autism, Mental Illness

Scientists at the University of California and Mayo Clinic have found two indicators that can warn parents and doctors that a very young child may develop a mental disorder.

In the first study from the M.I.N.D. Institute of the University of California in Davis, researchers found that even children as young as one year old can show signs of autism. Dr. Sally Ozonoff, who reported her findings in the journal Autism, studied 66 one-year-olds, of nine of whom were later diagnosed with autism. She found that seven of the nine had unusual ways of looking sideways or staring intently at objects. They were also more likely to spin or rotate their toys.

"We feel that our field could do a better job of diagnosis," Ozonoff said. "Our results suggest that these particular behaviors might be useful to include in screening tests. The earlier you treat a child for autism, the more of an impact you can have on that child's future."

Dr. Brian Mohney and his colleagues at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota matched 407 patients with an eye disorder with 407 children who did not have the disorder. Children whose eyes turn outward, upward, or down had a 41 percent greater chance of developing mental illnesses before age 17. Children with eyes that turned inward were not at an increased risk.

Dr. Mohney, writing in the journal Pediatrics, noted that he did not know why there was a link between mental illness and ocular misalignment.

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Link Found Between Brain Injury, ADHD

A study that was posted on the website of the British Medical Journal describes a link between brain injuries and ADHD in young people. A team that was led by University of Utah professor Heather Keenan reached this conclusion after studying the health records of more than 62,000 children.
Results of the analysis showed that compared to non-injured controls, children in both injury groups had similar and significantly higher rates of ADHD. Specifically, having a head injury before age two predicted a doubling in the likelihood of receiving an ADHD diagnosis...
The authors of the study pointed out that a head injury doesn't seem to cause ADHD, but may indicate behavioral characteristics that make an ADHD diagnosis more likely. Source: Medical News Today

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Attention Disorders Often Undiagnosed Until College

Sasha struggled to focus when she was in middle and high school, but she figured out how to work through it. In college, however, her inability to pay attention became too much of a problem to overcome alone. She went to a psychiatrist, and was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Dr. Thomas Kirts, psychiatrist at DeKalb Clinic Chartered, said it is not uncommon for ADHD or ADD... to be diagnosed in college-level students... For some, the change of environment may contribute to a student's inability to focus... The change of difficulty in schoolwork may also contribute..."
A student who is diagnosed with ADHD in college has help available. Most colleges offer a help center, and assistance is also guaranteed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Source: The Northern Star (Northern Illinois University)

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Bipolar Disorder Among Children Increasing in USA, Australia

More children in Australia are being diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, according to a report in the Queensland Courier-Mail. "We are seeing more students with the light gone out of their eyes," said psychiatrist Gordon Parker, "and more students who are behaving erratically."

Professor Parker said that bipolar disorder seems to be increasing in both Australia and the United States. He links the increase to parents who are older when they have their first child and to changes in children's diets.

Bipolar disorder involves periods of mania alternating with severe depression. Symptoms usually begin between ages 15 and 18 years old, although more American children are being diagnosed as young as age two.

It can be extremely difficult to diagnose mental illnesses in children. Dr. Janet Wozniak, director of the pediatric bipolar disorder program at Massachusetts General Hospital, notes that three of the seven symptoms for bipolar disorder are also signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Many children have several diagnoses and are prescribed multiple medications by the time they are in their teens.

Some experts believe that bipolar disorder is over-diagnosed and is actually uncommon in children under 10 years old. Dr. Gabrielle Carlson, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine, said that many explosive and aggressive children who are labeled bipolar are truly "diagnostically homeless."

The number of doctor visits for children and teens with bipolar disease increased by forty times between 1994 and 2003 in the United States. One international survey of school principals indicates that one in five students needs mental health services or emotional support.

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Beware of Finding ADHD Everywhere

Fourteen leading researchers have signed a letter cautioning that a new proposal would lead to increased diagnosis of ADHD among children. The proposal would train teachers how to spot ADHD behavior in their students.
"Dr Graham and her colleagues say that such an approach would encourage teachers 'to act as proxy-diagnosticians by looking for evidence of particular deficits, perhaps missing vital signs which may indicate other difficulties at home or with learning.'"
The group also criticized a proposal that would attach additional funding to ADHD diagnoses. The concern is that such a proposal would further encourage over-diagnosis. Source: Medical Condition News

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ADHD - The Essential Guide

A child who is fidgeting or running around may just be boisterous. But about 5 percent of children who behave this way have diagnosable ADD/ADHD. Author Diane Paul has released a book aimed at helping parents not only get proper diagnoses for their kids, but learn how to navigate a sometimes complicated system.
"Whether you are a parent or teacher, being equipped with the facts will enable you to make informed decisions. Knowledge is the key. Finding out as much as you can is crucial. This book is your starting point."
Published by Need2Know, the book, titled ADHD - The Essential Guide, is in stores now. Source: MediLexicon

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The Teacher Says My Child Has ADHD - Now What?

Your child's teacher calls you one afternoon and says she thinks your child has ADHD. He's disruptive, fidgety, and can't focus, and she thinks you need to get him some help. What do you do?
"ADD or ADHD are terms that have now become generalized to mean children who misbehave. I would like to make it clear that not all children who have ADHD behave badly nor do all children who misbehave have ADHD. There are specific criteria... that must be met in order for a diagnosis of ADHD to be concluded."
Instead of relying only on a doctor's diagnosis, insist on a multidisciplinary approach that includes assessments by a doctor, psychologist, counselor, and possibly someone at your child's school. This type of assessment is more likely to produce an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment (if needed) for your child. Source: The American Chronicle

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CDC Estimates 5% of Kids Have ADHD

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this week that about 5 percent of U.S. children have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It also found an increase of about 3 percent in annual diagnoses between 1997 and 2006.
"ADHD diagnoses were twice as common among boys as girls. ADHD was also more common among adolescents and teens than younger kids, among whites or African-American children than among Hispanic children, and among kids covered by Medicaid than uninsured or privately insured kids."
The CDC report also acknowledged that social and economic factors may affect a child's likelihood of being diagnosed with ADHD. Source: MedicineNet

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ADHD Increasingly Common in Older Children

In a study that drew results from surveys of close to 40,000 U.S. households, government researchers found that an increasing number of older children are being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The study showed no change for younger children.
"Some experts say the increase may reflect that doctors are increasingly considering the possibility of ADHD in older kids who have concentration problems - a trend that coincides with the marketing of ADHD medications to teens and adults."
The surveys were conducted annually between 1997 and 2006 via door-to-door canvassing of selected U.S. neighborhoods. Source: The Daily Gleaner

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Innovative Program Improves Care for Children with ADHD

Researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center have implemented an experimental program aimed at helping primary care physicians better diagnose and treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children. The program is centered on the standardized evidence-based diagnosis and treatment guidelines established by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
"The intervention consisted of an innovative training program developed by Cincinnati Children's on how to implement AAP diagnosis and treatment guidelines. The training focused on modifying office systems to accommodate the AAP guidelines."
Eighty-four Cincinnati-based physicians participated in the program, which resulted in a nearly 50 percent increase in the use of parent and teacher ADHD rating scales and a 35 percent increase in systematic monitoring of patient medication. Source: Huliq.com

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Teachers May Overestimate ADHD

The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in the United Kingdom recently reviewed referrals and outcomes of children who were referred by teachers for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder observation. The study was designed to determine the accuracy of teacher-based ADHD identification.
"Between November 2006 and October 2007, 52 children were referred to CAMHS with ADHD-like symptoms. Enough concern was raised of 14 children to warrant school observation. Of these, only five were diagnosed with ADHD..."
Researchers are unsure why ADHD is being overestimated by teachers, but suggested that more resources be made available to enable teachers to more accurately identify the symptoms related to the disorder. Source: PsychCentral

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Pediatricians can Help Define and Treat ADHD

Kids, it's said, will be kids - and that includes occasional hyperactive behavior. But a child whose hyperactivity is extreme or continuous may have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and a pediatrician can help parents figure out what to do.
"Pediatricians offer a good starting point for diagnosing ADHD. They can assess the youngster or they can refer parents to appropriate specialists such as child psychiatrists or psychologists, behavioral neurologists, or developmental/behavioral pediatricians, if needed."
A pediatrician uses a series of standardized questions that focus on the child's behavior in a variety of locations during a wide range of times to determine if an ADHD diagnosis is a possibility. If you think your child may have ADHD, a pediatrician can be one of your greatest allies. Source: Contra Costs Times

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Clearing Hurdles

A diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is often accompanied by the stigma that the ADHD child will struggle both academically and socially, and will be relegated to remedial classes in school. But Kathrin MacFarlane has proved that this ADHD stigma is not a foregone conclusion.
"Kathrin is a contradiction of sorts. She's been diagnosed with a learning disability that makes it harder for her to understand and express herself in writing. But she's also been labeled as academically gifted... ADHD typically means a lack of social skills... But Kathrin has been in numerous activities such as Girl Scouts, soccer, Beta Club, Bible Club and more."
Kathrin is planning to attend the University of Alabama in the fall. where she'll major in mechanical engineering. She plans to "go for at least my master's [degree]." Source: Gaston Gazette - Gastonia, North Carolina

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Be Informed About ADHD Medication

ADHD medication can work wonders in managing ADHD symptoms for children who have been properly diagnosed. But it's important to know how the medication will interact with other medications; cold medicine, allergy medicine, and even vitamin C can negate the effects of some ADHD medications.
"[Dr. Oluwole] Olusola said the smart thing to do is to be informed. 'Parents should, depending on which medication their child is on, obtain from the pharmacy a list of foods or medications which will counteract the medication in a negative way,' Olusola said."
It's important for parents to take charge and be responsible, taking the initiative to ensure that a child's medication has the best chance of being effective. Source: Mental Hope News

ADD boarding schools help by offering teaching styles geared towards children with ADHD. Find one at TeenBoardingSchools.com.

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Handling the News That Your Child Has Special Needs

Parents whose children are diagnosed as "special needs" often experience initial feelings of shock and confusion. These feelings are normal and understandable, but parents should be careful not to "live" there.
"After the initial shock of discovering your child is unique and special, change your focus from one of despair to gently starting to see it as an opportunity to learn how to help you and your child to explore and discover more about themselves... Some parents will always focus on the difficulties and grieve their child's lost potential compared to others, but I challenge you to see beyond the diagnosis...".
If your child has recently been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, give yourself some time to adjust to this new reality. Take time to develop an understanding of the diagnosis and avoid making any quick or rash decisions. Read more at Ecademy.com.

Talisman offers summer camps for children with special needs across the country. Find a program for your special needs child at www.TalismanCamps.com.

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Dr. Drew Talks About ADHD

He's best known for his radio show Loveline, and his VH-1 television program Celebrity Rehab. But in this interview with LAist, Dr. Drew Pinsky spends a considerable amount of time talking about the realities of ADHD.
"Are alternative treatments for ADD or ADHD, such as changing diet, effective? 'That clearly has been shown to have no effect. Listen, those studies are not neuropsychiatrically tested. Not good stuff. It's very clear if you have a kid with that problem there are two interventions. One is behavioral interventions, which are really quite good, and pharmacological interventions. But once again, these are complicated cases that need to be followed up by skillful people.'"
Dr. Pinsky also stresses the importance of having a child properly diagnosed by a "neuropsychiatric forum" rather than a primary care physician. Read more at LAist.com.

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I Don't Believe in ADHD

Though there are many scientific studies that confirm the validity of ADD and ADHD, there are also many people - both in and outside the medical community - who don't believe it's a real disorder. In this article for ParentingIdeas.org, family therapist Douglas Cowan, Psy.D, tries to set the record straight.
"Look, there are lots of physical differences between the actual brains of people with ADD and those who don't have it, and there are also functional differences in the way that their brains work. And there are lots of scientists and physicians who are investing lots of time and money into identifying and writing about those differences. Just because their research is too boring to make the Morning Show on TV doesn't mean that it doesn't exist, or isn't true."
Cowan goes on to list the many differences that have been discovered via MRIs, PET scans and other scientific studies. Though some of his evidence may be a little hard to follow, it's even harder to refute. Read more at ParentingIdeas.org.

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Help for Parents

Parents with children who have recently been diagnosed with ADHD have a lot of information to sort through. Some may not know where to start. The website Responsible Rx.org has posted a 14-page guide called the Parent Starter Kit that, as the name implies, may be a great place to start.
"You can download the guide and print it out to read. There is no cost. It is a free resource that helps parents work with their child's doctor to navigate the treatment process once a child has been diagnosed and medication has been prescribed."
The guide is straightforward and easy to understand and covers such topics as "communicating with your child's doctor" and "understanding medication guides." Read more at ADD.About.com.

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Experts Call for New Approach to ADHD

Results of a long-term study conducted by researchers at UCLA have the medical community calling for an upgrade to the diagnostic and treatment criteria for ADHD. This first-of-its-kind study found that only about half of the children who were diagnosed with ADHD exhibit the cognitive issues most commonly associated with the condition.
"Part of the explanation may lie in the common method for diagnosing the disorder. ADHD is an extreme on a normal continuum of behavior that varies in the population, much like height, weight or IQ. Its diagnosis, and thus its prevalence, is defined by where health professionals 'draw the line' on this continuum, based on the severity of the symptoms and overall impairment."
Another finding that has raised eyebrows is that, in Finland - where the study was conducted, ADHD is rarely treated with medication like it is in the United States. Despite that, ADHD "looked" the same in both countries, regardless of whether it was being treated medically, which raises questions as to the effectiveness of current ADHD treatments. Read more at PsychCentral.com.

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New Study Launched by Norwegian Institute of Public Health

Though it's relatively easy to find information on how to treat ADHD, information for making an accurate diagnosis is harder to come by. To that end, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has launched what's being called an "unprecedented" study to find causes and early warning signs of ADHD among pre-school age children.
"ADHD is frequently diagnosed but little is known about the causes, despite all the published research. Today there are no diagnostic criteria for ADHD in children under 6 years of age. The ADHD study intends to address many unanswered questions around the causes of this condition."
What makes the study unique is that researchers have access fetal and early infancy biological information, including blood samples from both parents and the child's umbilical cord. The samples will allow for testing of both genetic and environmental links to ADHD. Read more at MediLexicon.com.

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Attention Seeking Confused with ADHD

Independent Educational Psychologist Dr. Nigel Mellor issued a mild warning last week that some kids who are diagnosed with ADD/ADHD may simply be seeking attention.
"The researcher said there are many behaviors which can be observed during attention seeking interactions. Behaviors commonly associated with ADHD (over activity, poor concentration and impulsivity) can appear within attention seeking behavior."
Dr. Mellor's research on the subject focused in part on 15 schools and last for three years, during which time he determined that it is possible to distinguish between attention seeking and ADHD, which allows children to be treated more specifically and more appropriately.

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Symptoms of ADD/ADHD

Most of the articles in this blog share treatment options and other stories related to ADD/ADHD. But sometimes it's good to go back to the beginning, so we've included an article that gives a general overview of the symptoms you should watch for if you're concerned that your child may have ADD/ADHD.
"Understanding your child's possible ADD/ADHD is imperative to getting along with him or her. The earlier ADD/ADHD is identified in your child, the more time you have to work with and understand your kid."
If your child has the symptoms outlined here, it doesn't necessarily mean that he or she has ADD/ADHD. But he or she should be evaluated by a professional who's qualified to determine whether your child one of these disorders, and to what degree.

Just because your child has ADHD it doesn't mean that they can't go to college. A good college preparatory school, like the Academy at Swift River, prepares high school students for college and beyond.

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Be Cautious of ADHD Diagnosis

Concern is increasing over the proper diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in children. Numerous recent studies have found that misdiagnosis and over-prescription of medication are likely. One study in particular notes a 700% increase in prescription medications to treat "child behavior problems" during the 1990s.
"More recently, national research has documented that less than one-third of primary-care physicians adhere to established diagnostic criteria."
An expert panel convened in 1998 determined that, while ADHD as a disorder does exist, it probably affects only 3 - 5 percent of children. In contrast, upwards of 14 percent of boys in America have been diagnose with ADHD. Though this information shouldn't scare parents, it should remind them that caution is required when seeking an appropriate diagnosis for behavioral issues in children.

Private schools for children with learning disabilities can be found in our ADHD Directory.

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Diagnosing and Treating ADHD

Diagnosing ADHD isn't something that a parent or teacher can do by themselves. It takes a team of people to properly evaluate a child's behavior and form a proper diagnosis. Some of the more common characteristics of ADHD are occasionally observed in kids who don't have ADHD, so establishing a patter is important.
"One thing that I have found is that there is a huge division about whether to use medication to treat the disorder (after it has been properly diagnosed) or not. People are completely against or completely for the medication...So speaking as a parent of a hyperactive child, I believe you need to keep an open mind, do lots of research and ask LOTS of questions."

Remember that if you make a decision that doesn't seem to work for your child, you can change your decision. You're not "locked in" for life. If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, remember that physical activities can help your child manage the "hyperactive" part of the disorder.

Therapeutic boarding schools, like Stone Mountain School, help boys with ADHD learn to control their behaviors as they earn school credits.

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Girls May Get Missed

Say "ADHD" and most people think of a child who can't sit still, climbs on furniture and takes dangerous risks. That description is largely true for boys, but ADHD in girls looks very different.
"Girls who have the inattentive type of ADHD may space out in class, miss turning in homework or have trouble starting or finishing projects..."
Because the symptoms in girls are more "low key", many girls get overlooked and are called "daydreamers" or "chatter boxes". Girls who struggle to focus in the classroom, have trouble completing homework assignments on time (or at all), or seem unusually disorganized should see a doctor who is capable of making an official diagnosis.

Girls with ADHD can get the academics and therapy they need to control their feelings at New Leaf Academy.

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A Parent's View on ADHD

In increasing numbers, people are beginning to questions the validity of ADHD diagnoses, especially in younger children. Many of these critics think the kids are simply undisciplined and the parents lazy. But a parent in Sioux Falls, South Dakota was quick to speak against these kinds of misinformed judgments.
"My girls are 11 and 10 and for 10 years it was a literal war from the time I got up in the morning until they finally fell asleep at night... They even started to hate themselves and ask me why they weren't like other kids."
After her girls were diagnosed with ADHD, they began both counseling and medication, which have gotten them back on track both at school and at home.

Learn more about learning disabilities, including diagnosis and ways to help your child at LearningDisabilitiesInfo.com.

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ADHD Forty Years Ago

Today, much is known about ADHD and a diagnosis can be made with relative ease. But that was not the case forty years ago when this mother of six struggled to understand why her son's behavior was so difficult to manage.
"I could go on with how we handled the situation for the next 11 years. I have lots of stories and methods I used to handle different situations. I think I just want to say that situations are different and the same in so many ways. We have to find our way with whatever tools we have at hand and use our common sense and instinct and then just follow through."
Today, her son has his Masters Degree and National Teaching Certificate and has taught at the same middle school for 17 years. He is "a hard worker, kind, considerate, has a lot of good friends, hobbies and is very stable."

Stone Mountain School, a therapeutic boarding school for boys, is set in a rural area of North Carolina that removes distractions and allows boys to focus on their behaviors and their academics.

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Simple Routines

ADHD symptoms are appearing in younger and younger aged children. It is estimated that between one and four percent of preschoolers may have ADHD. Since ADHD medication hasn't been formally approved for very young children, most parents turn to various forms of behavior therapy.
"New research suggests simple techniques that give more structure to a preschooler's day can offer a nondrug alternative to help the tiniest sufferers of ADHD."
Some tips include finding very structured preschools, praising good behavior, and using "transitional systems" like a timer or bell to help children prepare for activity transitions.

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Contest Raises ADHD Awareness

The U.S. Senate recently declared September 19th as National Attention Deficit Disorder Awareness Day. In recognition of this day, the director of ADDClasses.com is holding an ADHD Awareness contest.
"The purpose of the contest is for those affected by Attention Deficit Disorder to come up with creative ideas on how to create and promote ADHD Awareness. Those coming up with the most creative ADHD Awareness ideas will receive prizes."
The contest runs through September 30th and is open to members of ADHDAwareness.org. Prizes will include books, DVDs and club memberships - all ADHD related.

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Prevalence far Exceeds Treatment

Colleagues at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center who studies over 3,000 children found that the number of children who exhibits signs of ADHD far exceeds the number that are being treated.
"Based on standard diagnostic criteria, 8.7 percent of the children fulfilled criteria for ADHD in the year prior to the survey... Among children meeting criteria for ADHD, 39 percent had received some medication treatment and 32 percent were treated consistently with ADHD medications during the previous year."
Additionally, less than half of the children who met the ADHD criteria had been previously diagnosed. Read more at News-Medical.net.

Residential schools offer advanced curriculums, individual academic programs, and a variety of extra-curricular activities. Learn more about residential schools at TeenBoardingSchools.com.

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U.S. Consumes Most ADHD Medication

It's time for kids to get ready to go back to school. Among the ads for school supplies and clothing will be ads for something else: ADHD medication. Though the United Nations passed a treaty banning direct-to-consumer marketing of ADHD drugs, the ads still appear in American magazines, newspapers, and on television.
"Children in the United States are 10 times more likely to take a stimulant medication for ADHD than are kids in Europe. In fairness, children in Europe are also somewhat less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD because of a stricter set of criteria. But that doesn't nearly account for the difference in prescription rates. The United States, the only nation to violate the U.N. treaty, consumes about 85 percent of the stimulants manufactured for ADHD."
Doctors, in increasing numbers, are telling stories of parents who have 'diagnosed' their children and already have a specific ADHD drug in mind. Many in the medical community are calling for the FDA and Justice Department to force compliance with the U.N. treaty in the United States - stating that these medications are potentially harmful if misused. Read more at Courant.com.

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ADHD is a Lifelong Condition

ADHD used to be considered a condition that faded with the onset of puberty. But we now know that people who are accurately diagnosed with ADHD will likely have to learn to manage the condition for the rest of their lives.
"Even as children, they are accident-prone, and their parents get well-acquainted with the local emergency room. As they get older, rock climbing, bungee jumping, car racing, motorcycle riding, white-water rafting and related activities are among their favorite activities."
As people with ADHD grow up and grow older, they learn to be less disorganized and impulsive, but the ADHD symptoms rarely disappear altogether. Read more at SunHerald.com.

Cedars Academy is an Aspergers school that helps children diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.

Labels: adult_ADHD, diagnosis, symtoms

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Finding the Treatment Path the Works

Some families are choosing to find their own ways of treating ADHD in their children, deciding - in some cases - to leave doctors out of the process completely. It's not a decision the families come to lightly, and they advise other parents considering similar decisions to make them carefully as well.
"Samuel had been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, when he was three. He was officially diagnosed with ADHD two years ago. The family went through six months of behavior training in the RIP [Regional Intervention Program], learning to handle tantrums, teach Samuel to share and calm himself down."
Though Samuel's parents eventually felt he needed medication to get his ADHD fully under control, other parents chose herbal therapies like BrightSpark. Read more at Tennessean.com.

Labels: medications, treatment, diagnosis

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Preschoolers and ADHD

The August/September issue of ADDitude Magazine features an article called "Preschoolers and ADHD" that takes an honest look at early diagnosis and what types of treatments work best.
"In a significant piece of new research, the Preschool ADHD Treatment Study (PATS), conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, concludes that treating these symptoms in preschoolers with parent effectiveness training, behavioral therapy and, in extreme cases, low doses of medication can be highly effective."
The article is posted on the magazine's website, along with links to the PATS study and other helpful information. Read more online.

Aspergers schools offer curriculums geared specifically for children with non-verbal learing disorders. Learn more about Cedars Academy.

Labels: treatment, diagnosis, preschoolers

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Treatment of Children with Mental Disorders

The medical community's understanding of mental disorders has advanced significantly in the last several years. This Q & A article from PsychCentral addresses some of the more common concerns that parents have about getting their children diagnosed.
"Talk to your child's doctor. Ask questions and find out everything you can about the behavior or symptoms that worry you. Every child is different and even normal development varies from child to child."
The article goes on to suggest that parents may want to consult a psychologist or psychiatrist if the child's doctor believes he or she may have a mental disorder. Read more at PsychCentral.com.

Labels: treatment, mental_health, diagnosis

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Pediatricians Feel Confident about Diagnosing ADHD

Wake Forest University School of Medicine recently conducted a follow-up study on the ways pediatricians handle behavioral health problems in their patients. The first study was conducted in 2002-03 and focused on "recognition, treatment and referral of children with behavioral health problems."
"ADHD remained the behavioral problem most often diagnosed by the pediatricians, who continued to have a high degree of confidence in treating ADHD with stimulants."
Of the pediatricians surveyed, 83% said they consulted with a mental health colleague concerning patients with mental health issues. Read more at News-Medical.net.

Special programs for non-verbal learning disorder and Aspergers schools are geared to help children get the best education and learn how to deal with their behaviors. Cedars Academy and Talisman Camps offer short and long term schools for children with Asperger's, NLD, and ADHD.

Labels: behavior, health, diagnosis

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Deciding Where to Draw the Line

When a child has ADD or ADHD, it's important that he's diagnosed and receives appropriate treatment to help him learn to function in school, at home, and socially. However, not all children who "simply can't sit still" have ADD or ADHD. Some are just being kids.
"It should not be forgotten that attention span and concentration differs from child to child and they increase with age. Children come into this world with different abilities and timetables. A child is regarded a 'normal' if his behavior conforms to that of his peers, but there are wide variations in childhood behavior and it is often hard to decide where abnormality begins."
It's important for parents and teachers to work together if someone suspects that a child may have ADD or ADHD. Behavior should be monitored at home and at school, and parents and teachers should "compare notes". Read more at ParentingIdeas.org.

Labels: behavior, treatment, diagnosis

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SVSU Psychology Professor Studies Causes of ADHD

The primary tools that are currently used to diagnose ADHD are behavioral. They are often rating scales which are filled out by parents and teachers, and if certain behaviors are present, a child will be diagnosed with ADHD. But Sandra Nagel, a professor of Psychology at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan is conducting a study to develop neuro-chemical diagnoses.
"[Meaghan] Carpenter agreed. 'I would love to see a more biologically-based method of diagnosing ADHD become part of common psychological/medical practice. As Dr. Nagel says, it's pretty ironic that today's method of diagnosing the disorder doesn't involve biological measures of any sort, even though it's a widely accepted fact that the disorder is biologically-based."
Dr. Nagel hopes her research will help her pinpoint different types of ADHD, so that both the diagnoses and the treatment will be more specific. She also hopes it will reduce the number of misdiagnoses. Read more at SVSU.edu.

Labels: medications, diagnosis, biological

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"Godfather" of ADHD Diagnoses Voices Concern

Twenty-five years ago, when other doctors were calling rowdy, uncontrollable children "brats", Dr. Robert Spitzer developed a different classification - ADHD. His ground-breaking classification table gave doctors the tool they needed to more accurately diagnose ADD and ADHD. Now, more than two decades later, Dr. Spitzer's opinion has taken an unexpected turn.
"He says 30 percent of children diagnosed with a mental disorder don't actually have it and are instead showing perfectly normal signs of being happy or sad. 'Many of these conditions might be normal reactions which are not really disorders.' Dr. Spitzer said."
While he's not dismissing his revolutionary classification table altogether, he is urging caution - for parents and doctors alike - when diagnosing ADD or ADHD in children. For some, behavioral therapy may be more beneficial than medication. Read more at News.com.

Labels: diagnosis, pediatricians, classification

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AACAP Introduces New ADHD Practice Parameter and Pocketcard

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has released a new Practice Parameter and Pocketcard that documents the best ways to evaluate, diagnose and treat ADHD.
"AACAP's Practice Parameter shows that ADHD is a medical illness on par with diabetes or asthma. Like these conditions, ADHD can be successfully managed, but not cured."
Included is information about the benefits and potential risks of ADHD medication. The AACAP hopes the information will be beneficial for those in the medical profession who don't specialize in treating children and/or adolescents or mental health illnesses. Read more online.

Labels: medications, treatment, diagnosis

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When to See the Doctor

May parents who think their children might have ADD/ADHD struggle to know when they should seek medical advice and when they need to just wait and see what happens with their child. Some parents don't want their child "labeled" and so they hesitate to seek a proper diagnosis.

"But there are times when you should see a doctor and seek medical help. Much research has shown that ADHD is biological in nature and there is medical treatment that can help alleviate symptoms of ADHD."
In this article from About.com, symptoms and behaviors are broken down by age group so that you know what you look for in children of different ages and can know when it's time to see a doctor. Read more at About.com.

Labels: treatment, diagnosis

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Doctor Describes Benefits of Re-evaluating ADHD Patients

Dr. Claudia Gold was just beginning her own pediatrics practice when she unexpectedly inherited an already-developed practice from a doctor who suddenly passed away. All of her new patients had been diagnosed with ADHD, which fit perfectly with her expertise and experience. Her first order of business was to re-evaluate her new patients.

"If I was going to prescribe a mind altering drug to these children, I wanted to learn what was going on in their lives. I particularly tried to open things up when kids were doing poorly. I didn’t focus on adjusting the dose of medication when they were failing in school, but explored other possible reasons for their academic struggles.” [Source: MedPage Today]

While some patients were frustrated with Dr. Gold’s approach, others welcomed it. Over the course of a year some of her patients have agreed to therapy and other behavioral treatments, and have been able to reduce or eliminate ADHD medication. Dr. Gold knows that some of her patients have neurological deficiencies that require medication, and for those she’s happy to prescribe something appropriate. But she also knows that sometimes ADHD-like symptoms aren’t caused by ADHD, and for those patients, medication may not be needed at all.


Labels: diagnosis

Posted By: Stefanie Hamilton 0 Comments

How Do You Know if it's ADHD?

You think your child is a normal kid. Sure, he’s excitable, has a hard time sitting still, and is a little aggressive when he plays. But boys will be boys. Then you start hearing complaints his babysitter, and his teacher asks if your son could have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Could he -- and if he did, could you tell?

“Don’t assume ADHD just because your child is having difficulty with grades, or seems excitable and hyper. There are indicators, however, which may merit further investigation. For instance, if you’re receiving multiple complaints from teachers, babysitters, their friends’ parents and others, about your child’s inattention or behavior; or if your child’s hyper activity is leading to injuries to themselves or others.” [Source: Canada.com'

If you suspect ADHD, your child needs to undergo a thorough assessment from a healthcare provider who is trained in diagnosing attention disorders. Don’t rush to find a diagnosis. Take enough time to compile definitive results. The better you understand what’s really happening with your child, the better you’ll be able to help him.


Labels: diagnosis

Posted By: 4ADHD.com 1 Comment

ADHD Stigma Seems to be Decreasing

Parents are sometimes hesitant to have their children evaluated for what look like ADHD symptoms. Kids don’t want the label, out of concern that they’ll be picked on at school.

But those fears may be fading:

“According to a survey quoted on the Consumer Reports Health Blog, parents are no longer embarrassed to admit their children take Ritalin and the like.” [Source: About.com]

Unfortunately, some students actually want to be diagnosed with ADHD because it gives them additional time for exams and other special treatment at school. Despite the selfish reasons that non-ADHD students may want to be diagnosed, the decreased stigma around ADHD is good for those kids who actually have it.

Labels: students, parenting, diagnosis

Posted By: Stefanie Hamilton 1 Comment

Educators, Parents Address ADHD Misdiagnoses Among Gifted Students

Some educators and parents in the U.S. express concern over the number of gifted kids who are misdiagnosed with ADHD or other behavioral disorders. Some South African educators are beginning to express similar concerns.

Aconcerned group of Western Cape educators, with the help of the National Association for Gifted and Talented Children in South Africa (NAGTCSA), is planning to conduct a forum for school principals later this year. It is aimed at opening discussion on ways to nurture and meet the needs of gifted children in schools.[Source: Times Live (South Africa)]

A gifted child who is bored in class may exhibit some of the same “symptoms” as a child who has ADHD. A Johannesburg school for gifted students says that over half its students were initially misdiagnosed with ADHD.

Labels: schools, gifted children, diagnosis

Posted By: Stefanie Hamilton 2 Comments

Who Should (and Shouldn't) be Attempting to Diagnose ADHD?

When Amy’s son was a toddler, workers at his daycare suggested he might have ADHD. He was kicked out of the daycare because the workers couldn’t handle him. His impulsive, unruly behavior is what led workers to suspect ADHD. But should they be making such suggestions?

“Many parents begin their struggles with treating their children’s ADHD the way that [Amy] did: with a suggested diagnosis from a school or day care setting. That’s a problem, doctors say, when there could be many other factors contributing to a child’s behavior.” [Source: CNN]

Child psychiatrist Dr. Elizabeth Ross says it’s “inappropriate and dangerous” for teachers to suggest a child might have ADHD. Abuse, depression and anxiety can cause the same symptoms, as can visual impairments and learning disabilities. Parents are encouraged to consult with their children’s pediatricians if teachers or other caregivers begin handing out diagnoses of any kind.

Labels: diagnosis

Posted By: Stefanie Hamilton 1 Comment

Youngest Students Most Likely to be Misdiagnosed with ADHD

Two new studies have found that students who are the youngest in their classes are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) than are the oldest kids in the class. One of the studies, out of North Carolina State University, raises concerns about misdiagnosis.

North Carolina State University researchers found that children born just after the kindergarten eligibility cutoff date were 25 percent less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than children born just before the cutoff date.

For example, in schools where the cutoff date is Sept. 1, children born on Aug. 31 make the cutoff and are the youngest in their class; children born on Sept. 2 will wait an additional year to enter school and will be among the oldest in their class. [Source: NC State University]

Though these kids are just a few days apart in age, there is a significant statistical difference in the number of kids born just before the cutoff date (consequently, the youngest in their class) who are diagnosed with ADHD. Researchers are concerned that kids are being misdiagnosed when, in fact, they’re just less mature than their older classmates.

Labels: schools, diagnosis

Posted By: Stefanie Hamilton 1 Comment

Docs Praise 'Breathrough' New Test to Aid ADHD Diagnosis

Typically, if a child is showing signs of having ADHD, it isn’t the child who’s tested. Instead, parents and teachers are asked to fill out questionnaires regarding the child’s behavior and performance. The resulting answers often vary widely, making accurate diagnosis speculative at best. Now, a different kind of test is available – one that actually tests the child.

“The Quotient test takes 15 minutes for children under the age of 13, and 20 minutes for older children and adults. The patient sits at a specialized computer terminal that is able to analyze motion as well as response time and the ability to accurately follow instructions as he or she is asked to complete tasks, such as pressing the space bar when certain geometric shapes appear on the screen but not when others do.” [Source: Lowell (MA) Sun]

Doctors are calling the new test a breakthrough because it allows them to not only offer more accurate diagnoses of ADHD, but also more accurate treatments – including medication. The test is available in limited areas, and isn’t covered by most insurers, but developer BioBehavioral Diagnostics Company hopes to address both of those issues in the very near future.

Labels: diagnosis, testing

Posted By: CRC Health Group 1 Comment

Do Attention Problems Automatically Mean ADHD?

As the school year gets into full swing, some parents may be hearing from their kids’ teachers – being told that their child has trouble sitting still in class and paying attention. But does that mean the child has ADHD?

“Young children do have trouble sitting still and listening. Sitting still and paying attention in class is a trait that is learned. Children are full of energy, so much so that I wish they could share some of it with me. If a child is disciplined appropriately when he or she disobeys, the learning process will be easier both for the child and the teacher.” - Source: Bella Online

Before jumping to an “ADHD” conclusion, have your child evaluated by a medical professional who has experience diagnosing attention disorders. While your child’s teacher may be well-intentioned, she’s neither trained nor experienced in accurately diagnosing ADHD. Don’t take her word for it. Talk to a doctor.

Labels: schools, diagnosis

Posted By: 4ADHD.com 3 Comments

Docs Often Downplay Autism, ADHD Symptoms in Girls

A recent review of the medical records of 100 girls found that many had sought treatment for autism or ADHD, but had been ignored – or their symptoms had been downplayed by medical professionals.

“The thesis focuses primarily on 100 girls who, before reaching adulthood, went to the doctor on account of difficulties with social interaction and/or concentration at school or elsewhere… ‘They had also asked for help at an early stage, but hadn’t been given a proper diagnosis.’ [says Svenny Kopp, a doctoral student at the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology…]” - Source: University of Gothenburg

A subsequent evaluation found that many of the girls exhibited evidence of either autism or ADHD. Many of those same girls also suffered from anxiety, depression or social behavior disorders. They also struggled in school, were often truant, and avoided sports and other extracurricular activities. Kopp hopes the findings in her thesis will encourage pediatricians and mental health professionals to take autism and ADHD in girls seriously, and offer treatments as soon as possible.



Labels: autism, diagnosis, girls

Posted By: CRC Health Group 1 Comment

Don't Be Afraid to Test for ADHD

If your child was suffering from an obvious physical ailment, you wouldn't hesitate to have him or her seen by a physician in order to get a proper diagnosis and necessary treatment.

But when it comes to issues such as behavior disorders, ADHD, and related issues, many parents often put off getting necessary testing out of misguided fears or concerns.

In a Nov. 15 editorial on the website of the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune, parents were advised to ease their minds, put their worries aside, and focus on doing what is best for their children (and themselves):


ADHD is not because of problem parenting or because we are not organized; the brain just works a little differently. Just like taking medication because we have high cholesterol, we can help our brain function more effectively. Understanding one's symptoms and getting a proper diagnosis is essential in getting proper treatment.

If you are concerned about your child or yourself don't suffer needlessly, get the answers you need. This type of testing is no different and no less important that getting an answer to any physical problem people experience. And as with most health issues, the earlier the diagnosis the better the prognosis. Remember, this is a treatable medical condition, and you deserve the best life possible.

Labels: diagnosis, testing

Posted By: Staff Writer 0 Comments