New research published in the JAMA Pediatrics shows the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is up by 25 percent over the past decade.
ADHD is one of the most common childhood disorders which can continue through adolescence and adulthood.
“It’s not curable but it is manageable, so it is a lifetime diagnosis,” said private practice counselor Richard Troyer.
ADHD symptoms typicallysurface before the age of7 and have a strong genetic component. Signs of ADHD include impulsivity, inattention and motor hyperactivity. Many kids have some of these symptoms, but for those with ADHD the symptoms are persistent, not situational, and happen every day for at least six months. Troyer said symptoms like inability to follow through on tasks, sloppy work and constant talking are always present for kids with ADHD in various settings like home, school and church.
“They’re really bright kids that don’t fit in the box. A lot of times it’s just what we want to do at school and home is we want to put them in the box,” said Raya Steele, special education teacher at Mountain Valley Elementary.
Troyer said ADHD can affect a children’s self esteem because they often get in trouble for doing what feels natural to them without understanding their behavior is caused by a neurological disorder. Troyer describes ADHDas a Powerball lottery machine that needs to be slowed down.
“You see that big bowl and all those balls are floating around and once in a while that ball pops up and you see it for a second then another one pops up. So you see it but it’s hard to retain it.
Really, what medication does when it works correctly is slow down those floating balls so you can see them, remember them and understand how they fit together,” said Troyer.
“We notice a huge difference. It is night and day for those kids that it works. I mean, we’re talking about neurologic disorder. So when we match that neurologic disorder with the correct medication, it works for some kids.”
Diagnosing ADHD requires a series of tests and observations conducted at school and at home. A combination of medication and therapy is the common course of treatment. Troyer said the medication component helps stabilize the child sohe or she will beable to retain and focus on learning the tools needed to manage the disorder.
Troyer advises parents who are concerned to make an appointment with their pediatrician or a psychologist.
“If it’s not attention deficit, then you know what direction you don’t have to go. Don’t wait, especially if it’s becoming a disruption to having a good relationship with your child,” said Troyer.
Adults can also be diagnosed with ADHD. Signs of the disorder in adults include inability to keep a job, maintain healthy relationships and stay organized and focused. More information on ADHD can be found at the National Institute for Mental Health.