Mental Health Mondays: Understanding ADHD

Understanding ADHD Title Adult Child

By India Ogazi

Approximately 11 percent of all children are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the disorder affects adults, too. With diagnoses on the rise, most have heard of ADHD. But do you really understand it?

To learn more about ADHD symptoms and treatment, we spoke with Legacy Community Health psychiatrist Dr. Dana Kober. Here’s what she had to say.

What is ADHD and its symptoms?

ADHD is a biological disorder that makes it difficult for a person to pay attention and control impulsive behaviors or hyperactivity. A person can have just one part of ADHD — inattentiveness or hyperactive-impulsivity — or both.

Symptoms of the inattentive part of ADHD include:

Dr. Dana Kober
  • Difficulty staying organized, maintaining concentration or focus
  • Being easily distracted
  • Losing things easily
  • Being forgetful

Symptoms of the hyperactive/impulsive part of ADHD include:

  • Being overly active
  • Not being able to sit still
  • Running or climbing inappropriately
  • Interrupting others frequently and/or blurting out thoughts

How is it treated?

It is most effectively treated with ADHD medications, which can be prescribed by a psychiatrist, primary care doctor or a pediatrician. Patients can also benefit from behavioral therapy.

What do you tell patients who are afraid of treating ADHD with medication?

We have a back and forth discussion about their specific concerns. We talk about the short- and long-term problems of untreated ADHD and the possible side effects of medication. ADHD can negatively affect school and work performance, and relationships with friends and family. The affected person can also act impulsively and get into trouble. But this can be turned around if ADHD is treated.

What should you do if you or your child may have ADHD?

Adults should talk to their primary care doctor or see a psychiatrist. For your children, talk to their teacher about classroom behavior, and see their pediatrician or a child psychiatrist.

What strategies can parents use to help their ADHD kid get focused and organized?

A good place to start is to give the child one thing to do at a time and have visual reminders at home. I also recommend reading “Organizing the Disorganized Child,” “Smart but Scattered,” or “Learning between the Lines.”

What strategies can adults with ADHD use?

Use a calendar and planner to stay organized. Write down your daily tasks on a checklist which you follow. And stop and think before you speak or act. I also recommend reading “Adult ADD: The Guide to the Newly Diagnosed,” and “Driven to Distraction.”

To help an ADHD child at school, parents can request accommodations from the school under two different laws — Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Then, children can have simple accommodations in school, such as longer times on tests, areas of less distraction and breaking up work into smaller chunks.

October is ADHD awareness month. For more information on ADHD check out ADDitude — a free resource for adults and children living with ADHD.