Living with ADHD is hard. Being the parent of someone with ADHD is hard. Being the teacher of someone with ADHD is hard. Together, with understanding, we can make it through, we can make a difference.
October is National ADHD Awareness Month. Since my eldest son was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of six, I’ve done everything in my power to educate myself, to educate him, and to better understand how his mind perceives the world around him and to understand that my ‘normal’ is not his normal.
I’d like to share 7 Facts You Need To Know About ADHD from ADHDAwarenessWeek.org.
Fact #1: ADHD is Real.
Nearly every mainstream medical, psychological, and educational organization in the United States concluded long ago that Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a real, brain-based medical disorder. These organizations also concluded that children and adults with ADHD benefit from proper treatment.
Fact #2: ADHD is a Common, Non-Discriminatory Disorder.
ADHD does not discriminate and affects people of every age, gender, IQ, religious and socio-economic background.
In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the percentage of children in the United States alone who have been diagnosed with ADHD is now 9.5%. Boys are diagnosed two to three times as often as girls.
ADHD, AD/HD, and ADD all refer to the same disorder. The only difference is that some people have hyperactivity and some do not.
Fact #3: Diagnosing ADHD is a Complex Process.
As a parent, you know when something is “off” with your child. I knew from a very early age (about two years old) that there was something “just not right” with J. and began researching what the possibilities could be. By the time he was three years old, I was convinced he had ADHD, but not a single person would test him until he was school age.
In order for a diagnosis of ADHD to even be considered, the person must show a large number of symptoms, show significant problems with daily life in several major life areas (work, school, or friends) and have had the symptoms for a minimum of six months.
What makes ADHD different from other conditions is that the symptoms are excessive, pervasive, and persistent. They are more extreme, show in multiple settings, and continue showing up throughout life.
Fact #4: Other Mental Health Conditions Frequently Co-Occur with ADHD.
Up to 30% of children and 25 to 40% of adults with ADHD have a co-existing anxiety disorder. Experts claim that up to 70% of those with ADHD will be treated for depression at some point in their lives. Sleep disorders affect people with ADHD two to three times more often as those without it.
Fact #5: ADHD is NOT Benign.
ADHD, when undiagnosed and untreated, contributes to:
- Problems succeeding in school and successfully graduating
- Problems at work, lost productivity, and reduced earning power
- Problems with relationships
- More driving citations and accidents
- Problems with overeating and obesity
- Problems with the law
Fact #6: ADHD is Nobody’s Fault.
ADHD is NOT caused by moral failure, poor parenting, family problems, poor teachers or schools, too much TV, food allergies, or excess sugar. Instead, research shows that ADHD is both highly genetic and a brain-based disorder. The factors that seem to increase a child’s likelihood of having the disorder include gender, family history, prenatal risks, environmental toxins, and physical differences in the brain.
While never medically proven, I am convinced that J.’s ADHD is a result of medications that I took during my pregnancy with him. While his father also had ADHD as a child (and continues to show some residual tendencies to this day), I cannot shake the feeling that, had I not taken the medications that I was taking during my pregnancy, he would not have developed ADHD.
Fact #7: ADHD Treatment is Multi-Faceted.
Currently, available treatments focus on reducing the symptoms of ADHD and improving function. Treatments can include medications, various types of psychotherapy, behavioral interventions, education or training, and educational support.
Join me next month for a series of articles that will explain away the myths, offer support, and give you advice on raising your children with ADHD in a way that will afford them all the support that they (and you) will need to succeed and “make it through to the other side” of ADHD.